Record of Youth episode 16 recap – the finale explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 27, 2020 (Last updated: January 10, 2024)
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Record of Youth Season 1 Recap
Record of Youth Season 1 Promotional Image - Credit via Netflix


Record of Youth episode 16 serves an important message for the finale — time heals. After many stresses of growing up, embarking on romances and careers, the last episode reminds viewers that sometimes, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate where we are in life.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series Record of Youth season 1, episode 16 — the finale explained — contains significant spoilers.

We will be recapping every episode — check out and bookmark the archive.

The opening

The Record of Youth finale opens with Jin-u, Hae-hyo and Hye-jun getting together outside — it feels like a long time since they’ve gotten together. Jin-u heads home as he’s upset at Hae-hyo regarding the sister situation. Hye-jun tells Hae-hyo that he’s struggling with the break-up. The friends are at a crossroad — it’s a difficult moment in their lives for various reasons.

The scene then flits to Hye-jun and An Jeong-ha in the car in the pouring rain. Neither of them is talking until Hye-jun breaks the silence. The conversation starts casual, but there’s a real tension between them — they are parked up, and the rain stops. An Jeong-ha tells Hye-jun that he did nothing wrong, but he wants an explanation.

The finale starts with plenty of emotions.

Break-up talk

An Jeong-ha explains how she’s against being dependent on others and hates unpredictable people; she wants uncomplicated love and stability — she felt she was changing with Hye-jun. And then Hye-jun said that he will try harder and says “I love you” which makes the conversation more difficult between them both. An Jeong-ha responds, stating she wants to be remembered as a beautiful memory.

Episode 16 presents very wishful thinking from both characters — An Jeong-ha wants uncomplicated love with certain conditions, but there’s this sense that she’s slightly unrealistic. No relationship is perfect. There’s so much regret and anguish in this scene, you can feel it.

Do-ha has his own scandal

Agent Lee Tae-su is impressed with the new ratings for Hye-jun’s TV show — Do-ha walks through the door and tells his agent that Ming-jeon is suing him for improper conduct. Lee Tae-su wants to see all the texts and calls he exchanged with her. Lee Tae-su asks Ming-jeon if it’s illegal for Do-ha to fall in love with a hostess from a bar — she walks off angry.

Do-ha gets a small subplot in episode 16, but there’s no real ending to his story — rather it’s just chugging along as part of the finale.

Hye-jun has one request for his mother

Hye-jun tells his mother that he and An Jeong-ha has broken up. Afterwards, he asks his mother to quit her job at Hae-hyo’s house — he wants her to have an easy life now that he can provide.

The friends shoot hoops

Hae-hyo uses a salon coupon to see An Jeong-ha. He tells her he is enlisting in the military — Hae-hyo remains the most complicated character of this series — he has feelings for An Jeong-ha, and as the series has worn on, he’s become less persistent. Afterwards, Hae-hyo, Hye-jun and Jin-u shoot some hoops on the court. They seem to be learning how to be friends again.

The group talk about Hye-jun’s career — Hye-jun talks about enlisting to the military, but they advise him to postpone it as much as possible.

Hae-hyo has an epiphany

Hae-hyo returns home drunk, and Kim I-yeong wonders how he can be around Hye-jun. He tells her that he isn’t the centre of attention anymore and that he likes himself more now — he explains he doesn’t feel inferior to Hye-jun and wants the best for him while also believing he can make it. Kim I-yeong is proud of her son and tells her husband of the changes he is making.

This felt like a breakthrough for Hae-hyo — he’s not blaming other’s for how he thinks or feels — he’s taking responsibility for his life and wants to succeed on his own terms — he’s removing the victim mentality that has been sat on his shoulders.

Hae-hyo tells Won Ha-nae that he will support her regardless of what decision she makes. The next day Won Ha-nae meets Jin-u. On their drive, Jin-u tells Won Ha-nae to return to her normal life as he is downbeat about their situation. Both characters seem upset.

Kim I-yeong doesn’t want Ae-suk to quit

Ae-suk tells Kim I-yeong that she is quitting because Hye-jun wants her to have an easy life, but Mrs Kim is obviously against the idea and wants her to stay.

At dinner, Hye-jun tells his family that he wants to enlist in the army. His family tells him that he’s worked very hard for his career, and when he comes back from the army, he will not be young. The father is not in the mood for arguing and leaves the family meal.

A new contract for Min-jae

Hye-jun then tells Min-jae that he wants to enlist. She tells him he should postpone for a year. Hye-jun tells her that he isn’t scared of a two-year hiatus. He renews his contract with Min-jae for three years, including the time that he will be in the military.

Hye-jun shows his loyalty here — he is confident of being able to continue his career after the army, and he is ready to get the military out of the way but also, at the same time, ensure Min-jae keeps him as a client.

Do-ha has a scandal

A damning article has been released regarding Do-ha, so Lee Tae-su meets reporter Kim. She tells him that he doesn’t care if other people suffer. Afterwards, Lee Tae-su tells Do-ha that they can take advantage now Hye-jun is joining the army and that reporter Kim is jealous of him.

Enlisting “Tomorrow”

Record of Youth episode 16 really punches the heart as it reaches the ending.

An Jeong-ha meets Hae-hyo at a library, but she misses Hye-jun — the place reminds her of him. She quickly departs as it hurts her too much. Hae-hyo joins An Jeong-ha outside for a walk so she can head home. Hae-hyo tells her he is enlisting, but he doesn’t tell her that it will be tomorrow.

Before he enlists, Hae-hyo hugs his mother and tells her that he loves her. Kim I-yeong has no idea that he’s leaving for the military. He leaves her a heartfelt note regarding his enlistment to the Marine Corps. Kim I-yeong sobs uncontrollably — there’s a pain in her cries.

Remembering the past

Hye-jun heads to the library, and he remembers seeing An Jeong-ha there, and he gets emotional. Both characters are not over the break-up — again, there’s so much regret in how both handled it — it was the wrong time for them to be together. It has remnants of career ambitions exceeding romance like La La Land. Someone at the library asks Hye-jun for his autograph as his grandchild is a big fan. Afterwards, Hye-jun initiates a live feed — he talks about how he always wanted his own room since a young boy. Hye-jun tells his fans he is grateful for them and that he’s joining the military service. Many fans who joined the stream are distraught.

The oldest model

The episode then flits to two years later; An Jeong-ha is well established in her industry now. Hye-jun arrives at The Restart Academy Awards — his grandfather is nominated for one of the awards, and he wins it; he’s a successful and older model now. Sa Min-gi dedicates his speech to his son and explains how he wishes to repay him. Later, Ae-suk tells her husband that he’s been a great father.

The ending

Hye-jun’s father apologises to Hye-jun for not being there for him when he was in a rough patch. He regrets hitting him when he was younger and admitted he was scared. Hye-jun apologises for resenting his father. Both men are in tears as this is a breakthrough moment, showing how much they care about each other.

The finale draws near an end and Hye-jun meets Hae-hyo and Jin-u late at night in the usual spot — Hae-hyo and Hye-jun have finished their time in the army. Afterwards, Hye-jun is on set getting ready with his make-up team for his latest show. An Jeong-ha arrives, and they see each other for the first time since Hye-jun joined the army. She’s wearing the shoes that Hye-jun got her. There’s less tension between them now as they playfully talk to each other. The series ends with the question — is it now the right time for both characters?

Record of Youth episode 16 serves an important message for the finale — time heals. After many stresses of growing up, embarking on romances and careers, the last episode reminds viewers that sometimes, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate where we are in life. In the end, despite many poor chapters, Record of Youth leaves on a poignant message.

Additional points
  • Min-jae meets with Hye-jun’s brother for a meeting. She tells him that the complainant has dropped all the charges. Afterwards, the pair agree to go for lunch.
  • An Jeong-ha stops her YouTube channel.

Netflix, TV Recaps
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