What a wonderful and lovely piece.
Takes us back to school, to the youth and times of adolescence that we wish we could relive and re-experience just for the sake of nostalgia. Brings us back to times when feelings were fresh, when real friendships were forged, when curiosity was our friend. Medley of Youth aka Adolescence Medley does it spot on, taps on the best of your emotions being a high schooler, every single one of them, so real and relatable, you cannot miss, you cannot forget, and nor can you not outright say, it has never happened to you. Doesn’t matter who you are in the drama, Jung Woo, Ah Young, Yeok Ho or even the minor supporting of Deok Won or Won Il, there is someone in here, just like you and just for you.
Medley of Youth is a perfect mix of everything that you want and can expect from a high school drama. As commonplace and typical the genre may be, every lil detail about high school life is somewhat touched upon in here, in a very poignant and endearing way. There are no manufactured histrionics, no drama for the sake of drama, and better, the drama has a compelling heart that permeates, through and through. Though not entirely explored upon, the essence is there – the relationships and friendships forged, the whirlpool of emotions one encounters dealing with them, the good and bad, the ups and downs. Even the deepest thoughts of insecurity and fear when dealing with certain people and situations, the kind that you’d never want anyone to know i.e your deepest secrets, you have it all here. In this 4-part Drama Special.
The drama zeroes in on certain emotions and sequences particularly well, especially those relating to Jung Woo’s “trials and tribulations” in an environment entirely new to him (new school). Though it’d be easy to say and judge from his point of view, that having been transferred to one school to another countless times, it’s nothing new and should be a piece of cake, realistically, from the RL world, it is never easy. You start afresh and anew, and that is already a challenge in the first place. It’s what makes this drama slightly different, in that it doesn’t merely touch upon Jung Woo’s fear and insecurity as a new guy on the outset, but it highlights them internally as well, from the inside voice of Jung Woo’s, that it ain’t all that easy to overcome things first hand. There’s a mix of cowardice, fear, scaredy cat and slight boldness on his part, and the drama (as well as the actor) sell all of that extremely well.
The romance is more heavily emphasised in here than anything else, but never overdone or intrusive to the extent that it detracts you from the rest of the elements (the other sub-plots are also succinctly and well placed in between). In fact whatever we get in terms of crushes and lovey dovey moments in here, they’re all only lightly touched upon, if not glazed through without the typical rom-com sugary glossiness. The awwwwww heart-fluttery sweetness, the awkward first interaction, jealousy, bitterness etc everything about crushing on a guy/girl, they’re all in here. 4 episodes, you have everything and that’s all you need actually.
The direction is wonderfully breezy and lovely thru out. There are no spectacular stellar shots, but I give the PD lots of credit for his ability to weave gorgeous scenes into the drama seamlessly, which also happen to fit right into the individual sub-plots. My most ultimate favourite has to be the massive gigantic shots of nature surrounding and encapsulating the OTP whenever they walk thru each day together. Those shots – absolutely captivating, to the point you could feel the breeze and wind blow by you, to the point you could feel yourself being part of the picture. The quiet music also adds to the nostalgia overall, you feel like you’re being transported back to times when memories mean so much to you.
Major credits however have to be given to the actors for their performances. Newcomer Kwak Dong Yeon (a 16 year old! who looks more mature than his age and who played young Dong Pyung in JOJ) plays the main character Jung Woo with such immense endearment you cannot NOT feel for the boy. He nails the facets of emotions of a boy confused about his surroundings and his newfound feelings for his monitor Ah Young perfectly, with the perfect mixture of charm and naivete, making you root for him through and through. For the first time in K-drama history in that I’ve seen, the romance doesn’t happen between the girl and the cool loner guy who rebels and knows how to fight! This time, it’s with the normal and next door-feel boy who’s just like any other ordinary school boy out there. Lee Se Young also gives a wonderfully down to earth performance as the other OTP counterpart Yang Ah Young, followed by decent performances by the immensely charming and alluring Choi Tae Joon (currently playing Hyun Seok in Ugly Alert if you’re watching), Park Jung Min (he’s such a scene stealer!), Kwak Jung Wook (how many times has he played a student now?) and also a special appearance by Baek Sung Hyun. These youngsters are exactly the reason, apart from the storytelling, why this drama manages to rise above being just average. They look the part, feel the part and embody the characters in and out. These are characters which you can relate to in the RL world, and not in the likes of fantasy HongSis or Kim Eun Seok dramaland. These characters are real and genuine.
This is a drama that you’d fancy and love if high school dramas and romances are your cup of tea, you know, the straight up no nonsense ones, the ones with a story to tell? You’ve got substance, poignancy and endearment all wrapped into 4 eps, with solid writing and decent performances to sit through. If you want to enjoy your afternoon with a good lighthearted laugh, recollect and relive moments of your youth in a day, why not try this?
It’ll only take you a day. 😉
All episodes are subbed on KBS World and are available with English subs on KBS World Youtube Channel.
My Rating: 7.5/10
credits: Photos as tagged