Youth of May is a romance series about the fateful meeting of medical student Hwang Hee Tae (Lee Do Hyun) and nurse Kim Myung Hee (Go Min Si), who fall in love amid the chaotic events of May 1980, a historically significant time period in South Korea. The K-Drama ended on June 9 with solid ratings.
In a recent interview, Director Song Min Yeob shared his thoughts on the show’s conclusion and how it felt during filming. Firstly, he commented that he almost couldn’t believe the K-Drama ended, and it only felt real once he saw the premiere of At a Distance Spring is Green (the series taking over the timeslot).
I thought that I had to approach [the series] carefully. In general, I wanted to show the truth without any inaccuracies or distortions. If you watch Youth of May, the incidents aren’t portrayed in detail. There are still people around us who have experiences and memories of those incidents. Although they may each have different memories, it’s something we can’t make up as we please.
—Song Min Yeob
He continued by saying that the cast was essential for accuracy as he said the story changes depending on which actors play which roles. He believes his entire cast portrayed exactly what he wanted, and he couldn’t have asked for a better team.
I worked with Go Min Si and Geum Sae Rok for the first time and I think the two are great actresses. In the case of Lee Do Hyun, he was very familiar with his role of Hee Tae. He went into more depth than even me or the scriptwriter. Sometimes, I couldn’t answer Do Hyun’s questions. He understood Hee Tae to that extent.
—Song Min Yeob
Of course, he also showed appreciation for Oh Man Seok, who played the villain Hwang Ki Nam. He was the most grateful to him because his character was perhaps the most difficult to portray as there were many difficult scenes. He explained, “He used ‘satoori’ (Korean regional dialects), even though there was barely any in the script. When he was angry or emotional, he used ‘satoori.’ He expressed it so well to the point that it was almost scary.”
Since the cast and staff were mostly younger than him, the director revealed that he often felt pressured when he had to lead the cast. This was another reason he was grateful for Oh Man Seok, as he said he felt like an older brother. He often asked him for his opinions, and although his character was scary, he was actually very cheerful and comforting.
When asked why Hwang Ki Nam’s present status isn’t revealed in the series, the director shared, “Whether Ki Nam lived well or died, he was one of the main perpetrators.” When he thought about that, he thought that depicting Hwang Ki Nam in the present would make people very uncomfortable. He finished with, “That’s why I wondered if it would really be worth showing Hwang Ki Nam in 2021.”
At the end of the series, Kim Myung Hee dies by a gunshot wound from the martial law army. Afterward, the show revealed the lives of Hwang Hee Tae and the people around them 40 years later, living with Kim Myung Hee in their hearts. Director Song Min Yeob explained that Kim Myung Hee’s death had already been decided from the first episode where her remains were shown.
After Myung Hee died, the show reveals the stories of the remaining people. The show is trying to say that numerous people are living while carrying their own burdens. There were and are actual people like this. It was effective for Myung Hee to die in order to portray various people. Another reason why Myung Hee had to die was to bring out the emotions in the surrounding figures, and it’s the reason why they won’t forget even after time passes.
—Song Min Yeob
Finally, the director shared that he wanted to leave the future of many characters to the viewers’ imagination as there were many things he couldn’t elaborate on with the series being only 12 episodes long. He felt sorry that he had to edit out parts from all the actors because he had many characters close to his heart.