After The Door Closes
Episode 8 of Youth of May begins with Hee-Tae at the station where Soo-Ryeon’s family show up. Soo-Ryeon reflects back on moments with Myung-Hee, breaking the news to her that she’s leaving for Seoul. Myung-Hee simply smiles; a bitter sign of acceptance in the wake of this occurring.
Hee-Tae and Soo-Ryeon eventually leave together, tellingly sitting opposite one another on the train and unable to talk. When the pair depart the station, Soo-Ryeon finds herself caught up in the middle of the protests, watching as the students passionately declare their wishes for ending martial law. Eventually Hee-Tae grabs her suitcase and brings her in.
Hee-Tae is cold toward the girl, offering Soo-Ryeon money and leaving their empty house to visit the students up on campus. He doesn’t tell her that though and instead tries to reach out and contact Kyung-Soo. After what happened in the past, he receives a pretty frosty reception from his fellow students.
Meanwhile, Ki-Nam shows up before Soo-Chan, who tries his best to keep it together. He arrives at work, challenging Soo-Chan’s declaration that he doesn’t want a joint management program.
Meanwhile, Myung-Hee heads out to see the kids, including Jung-Tae, where she gets them all fried chicken. Myung-Soo meanwhile, asks his sister why she broke up with Hee-Tae. She smiles, brushing it off and claiming they’re still friends.
Myung-Hee eventually meets up with Soo-Chan who has big news. Her passport visa has been accepted. She brushes it off as it being fine but Soo-Chan is most certainly not. He wants to help Myung-Hee after what’s happened and admits he can’t stand leaving things unresolved. With tears running down his face and his lip quivering, she refuses to accept his help.
Out at a coffee house, Soo-Ryeon overhears some protestors talking about the recent marches, In fact, they recognize her and encourage the girl to come and join them. They believe she’s part of the protests too and this prompts Soo-Ryeon to hurry outside, apologizing to Sang-Min and taking off.
When she heads home, Hee-Tae decides to go out without spending time with her. Soo-Ryeon confronts him and asks the boy about his avoidance. She wants to feel anything but numb and blames herself for what’s happened.
Hee-Tae knows it’s not her fault and eventually takes her to the hospital. She meets the leader of the labor union strike first-hand, which is of course Seok-Chool. She’s about to be transferred and now Soo-Ryeon understands where he’s been going.
She also reflects on her own cowardice too, given this woman gave her all to become a symbol. After seeing this, Soo-Ryeon encourages Hee-Tae to head back to Gwangju as well. She even breaks the news that Myung-Hee isn’t really angry at him. She breaks things off with Hee-Tae and shakes his hand.
Another protest goes ahead and Ki-Nam is urgently called to HQ, leaving behind a whole army of people ready to follow his orders.
Of course, Hee-Tae’s return also brings him back to Myung-Hee too. She signs off the papers and realizes the name there reads Hee-Tae and it brings back painful memories.
After seeing the priest in church, Myung-Hee runs into Hee-Tae out in the street. Teary-eyed, he tells her he wants to be with her and asks if he’s allowed to come closer. Myung-Hee rushes forward and throws her arms around him, allowing the emotion to come pouring out.
Back home, Hee-Tae likens himself to a lonely signal from a radio, with the two poetically talking about how they found each other. They then kiss; a tender sign of respect and love, as Hee-Tae promises her she doesn’t have anything to fear anymore.
As the episode closes out, sirens wail overhead as soldiers rush to their posts. Martial law is about to start. Ki-Nam tells his troops to mobilize as the nation goes into a state of emergency.
Just as predicted, the country is gripped by this mania and as Soo-Ryeon shows up to see her protesting buddies, she finds the place empty. The soldiers however, are inbound to Gwangju.
The Episode Review
Youth of May bows out with a really solid episode, one that serves as a proverbial deep breath before next week plunges into a lot of drama – especially if that ending is anything to go by.
This tightly written melodrama has done an excellent job telling its story thus far, and this chapter sees Soo-Ryeon finally coming clean and owning up to her own issues. Her redemption, accepting Hee-Tae heading back to see Myung-Hee, was really well written and goes some way to help her character redeem what she’s done in the past.
Everything builds up nicely to that ending too, which sees Hee-Tae and Myung-Hee sharing their first kiss and a touching, poetic story about the radio. It’s a really nice way to end things but also one that readies itself for a much more tense chapter to come next week.
With only 12 episodes rather than 16, this Korean drama feels much more tightly written than one would expect – but it’s certainly no less dramatic. This is definitely one of the better dramas of the year!