“Dreamy, and nostalgic, and hilariously accurate when it comes to adolescent awkwardness…”
In a nutshell: A lovely little drama-special that does exactly what it sets out to do. The story follows perpetual transfer student, Jung-woo, as he makes unexpected waves at the small country high school he lands in — and gets a bit storm-tossed himself. It perfectly captures that delicate and oh-so-brief period of wavering between the magic of childhood and the responsibilities of being an adult. Dreamy, and nostalgic, and hilariously accurate when it comes to adolescent awkwardness, this is one of those hidden gems you really should not miss.
The Players: It was so, so refreshing to see a teenager played by a teenager. Kwak Dong-yun brought Jung-woo — a delightfully imaginative boy stumbling his way towards manhood — effortlessly to life. Helped, I’m sure, by his being not very far removed from those awkward days himself. And definitely helped by his teenage scrawniness. Inevitable run-ins with older school bullies looked as mismatched as they should have.
It was also fun seeing Kawk Jung-wook, once again playing a character vastly different from his last appearance. His Duk-won was sweet and nerdy and completely unselfconscious (and his character from School 2013 would have wiped the floor with him). But, like any good character actor, Kawk Jung-wook disappears into his role, becoming a perfect foil for the much more easily embarrassed Jung-woo.
Lee Se-young as Yang Ah-young was the other standout for me. Her path was more mellow — at least on the surface — as the, has everything going for her, loved by all, perpetual class president. Of course, she had struggles as well and Lee Se-young gave Ah-young a lovely note of longing to hint at the troubles beneath her seemingly placid surface.
Those three were the actors I most noted, but I really could list out the whole cast. We get enough about the characters surrounding Jung-woo, and they’re all played with such a light, intelligent touch, that you could almost call this an ensemble drama. It’s not — Jung-woo is the main point-of-view character with rare moments of deviation — but that it could have means that the world feels deep and real. Like there are other lives going on beyond Jung-woo’s view.
In Conclusion: A lot is packed into the drama’s four episodes. But it doesn’t feel rushed. There’s a lovely slowness to the scenes that evoke the feeling of summer in the countryside. Where there’s no reason to rush — you’ll get where you’re going as you go. Medley of Youth tells a story that feels well worn and familiar but plays it out in refreshingly unexpected ways. It’s a fun and intelligent and touching watch. I definitely recommend it.
[KBS World has it on their YouTube channel: link to episode 1]