[ K ] Youth of May

Don’t let this poster give you the wrong impression that Youth of May is just another sappy romantic series with good looking leads.

Yes it is a love story, a beautiful one in fact. But what’s more important is that it is set against a very dark period in the history of modern Korea – May of 1980.

Known widely as the Gwangju Uprising, a protest involving mostly students from Chonnam University demonstrating against the martial law got out of hand, and soon, ordinary citizens took up arms to support the youths.

Kim Myeong-hee, played by the young but very talented Ko Min-si, is a nurse who ‘accidentally’ falls for medical student Hwang Hee-tae(Lee Do-hyun) when she agrees to go on three blind dates on behalf of her good friend Lee Su-ryeon(Keum Sae-ok), in exchange for an air ticket to Germany. But due to the complicated family backgrounds and the turbulent times, their love is destined to be a rollercoaster ride.

Most Korean romantic dramas can be very over-the-top and will leave viewers disinterested after a few episodes but in Youth of May, when personal relationships are fused with historical tragedies, the sufferings take a different dimension.

Needless to say, it is the director’s way of humanizing a nation’s journey and done very well, enough for me to spend many hours reading up about 5.18 and looking at the images from that period.