Right now, I am about to start watching Reply 1994 and I have Reply 1988's soundtrack on repeat.
I am about to blog about the best Korean drama I have ever had the pleasure of watching from the very get-go.
There will inevitably be spoilers so I, as a fan of this drama and as someone who has a huge distaste for spoilers, sincerely ask any of you reading this who have not seen the drama, or is planning to to please just skip the lines in purple. The lines in purple are spoilers and will be at the bottom of the blog post. The overall view and the overall summary will be in black and thus, safe to read.
Though, I will still recommend to refrain from reading this blog post if you don't want to spoil your viewing experience.
My birthday was on the 19th right? Well, so was the last 2 episodes of Reply 1988. They were actually live on the 15th and 16th but the subtitled episodes were only released early 19th morning.
Perfect. Birthday. Present. Ever.
I watched it and I was left devastated because that was it. That was the whole series done and dusted with. What do I look forward to now every Tuesdays?!?!?!
As we might or might not already know, this is the third instalment of the Reply franchise, the first being Reply 1997 and then Reply 1994. I have not watched either. So I don't know what propelled me to watch Reply 1988.
Maybe the heavens and stars.
Because this show is incredible. Every second of it. Every scene, every dialogue, every monologue, every interaction, every gaze and stare. Everything. From A - Z. 머리부터 발끝까지 (which in Korean, means 'from head to toe').
I've watched several dramas before and they were very, how do I word this...
... very drama?
And by that I mean, the running towards each other on the streets in the rain, the professing of love with long, emotional speeches accompanied with a long, emotional gaze (the quiver of lips and the tears in eyes optional).
And that was fine, I mean, it *is* a drama. That's what a drama is supposed to look like. It's supposed to look like it's fictional. It's supposed to look like it's too good for reality.
Take 'She Was Pretty' for example. Man, I really couldn't take Jung Eum's acting in the first few episodes before actually getting used to it. It was very over-the-top and her kind of frenzy was taken to another level. Even her more subtle scenes were very 'acted', very cringe-y. But up til then, I just kinda took it as acting. That's just her being directed and steered to the director's liking and idea of her character. She can't help it (although this is highly debatable, you can be asked to do things but it's ultimately how you do it that changes the game).
Reply 1988 is on a league of its own. I didn't know any of the actors. Except for Hyeri (who played the very lovely Deok Sun) whom I knew from the sphere of K-Pop. But regardless, I was going to watch it anyway!
And if anything, the best thing about this show is the acting that went into it. The actors were brilliant, each carried their characters effortlessly. I was just blown away by every single one. I don't know how else to describe it to you but the actors were just phenomenal in that from all the 20 episodes, there wasn't a scene that I felt that the actors pushed it too far or restrained too much nor did it feel awkward and out-of-place.
It was incredibly difficult to think that the 5 best friends (the main characters of the show) were not already 5 best friends all their lives and that they did not already live on the same street. The actors of this show will, from now on forth, reference their point in lives as Pre-Reply 1988 and Post-Reply 1988 because they have, with this show, set themselves as established actors and have gained so so so so so much fame and recognition (and especially in the case of Hyeri who ridiculously exceeded my expectations seeing how acting isn't her main profession) as they very, very deservingly should. Hyeri, Ryu Jun Yeol, Park Bo Gum, Go Gyung Pyo, Lee Dong Hwi - amazing, amazing, amazing actors. I am already looking forward to their next projects and cannot wait to see what the TV and film industry have in store for them. They have gotten to superstar status overnight with this and when you watch it, you will understand every reason why. When they cry, you cry. When they laugh, you laugh. When they look out for one another, you kinda just sit in silence asking yourself why do you not already have a Deok Sun, Jung Hwan. Taek, Sunwoo, Dongryong in your life. Why!!!!!! (or maybe that's just me)
And then we have the parents of these kids. With their satoori and wild curls. Sung Dong Il, Lee Il Hwa, Ra Mi Ran, Kim Sung Kyun, Kim Sun Young, Ko Gil Dong, Yoo Jae Myung. Phenomenal. With every scene. Gets you in a fit of laughter and the love they emulate for each other and for their kids especially, warms your heart. Just as how the friendship between the 5 youngsters blossomed, so did the friendship between the mums and dads. The depth of character completely and plainly manifested in the emotions they harboured as parents. This show showed that even at that age, as parents, people still learn something new everyday. Showed how even as parents, no one was perfect and that everyone has flaws.
The acting was so natural and there wasn't a scene that didn't already feel completely genuine and true. The family interactions were AWFULLY amazing. I say 'awfully' because I cry about it all the damn time. The emotions and love that went into the family interactions was electrifying. There was none of that looking-into-far-space-with-a-monologue-on-plotting-revenge scenes. No superficial chaebols, no cliched plotlines, none of that. It was very natural, very subtle emotions but incredibly powerful. Just genuine relationships between the families and the sincere character roles with very very relatable stories. Which is why I said it's less drama and more real life. A family with financial problems, how single parents handle being a single parent, how having an absent mother feels like, how failing exam after exam feels like. I feel like it's hardly explored in other dramas and this one really gets to the nitty gritty of the very different lives the characters lived.
Some scenes went on without a dialogue (Taek's 'one word' scene outside on the streets with Dong Il killed me) and some were full blast rants and in both situations, there were capable of moving you to tears.
What's amazing about this show is how they portrayed the true reality of family life.
Being a middle child and getting frustrated about it - check.
Awkwardness between a daughter and her father - check.
Not knowing what to be in the future - check.
Feeling guilty for loving someone - check.
A father not being able to say 'I love you' simply because 'they don't do that to each other' - check.
There are tonsssssssssssss more - so many I can't list. Because i) Every episode takes an 1 hour and 40 to complete ii) Each week there's 2 episodes iii) There are 20 of 'em.
So forgive me!
The relationship between the families were the most precious and the most heartwarming. From the tears to the inside jokes to the VERY relatable screams and fights with siblings. But man, the emotions the actors pour through very generously for each scene was like no other. The kind that pierced right through you, painstakingly so. The romance(s) was/were (i am being so vague here because really don't want to spoil hahaha) never the main essence of the story. The love story did not just encompass between a boy and a girl, it encompassed family relations; husband and wife, parent and child, siblings and my favourite of all, between friends.
It was the chemistry between the 5 friends and the 4 families that shone through.
I love how every plot line had its purpose to the development of the character. They all served its reason and they were all important although from the start seemed rather small and insignificant. Each episode has its little main theme that they stick to and it's not clear in the beginning but I love how for example, an episode about strengths, right? It doesn't just explore the strength from one character's perspective. It explores different ideas of strengths from different characters and how differently they embrace it and how differently it affects them. The plot and writing that goes into this show is so intricate and detailed and the show really doesn't show a bias towards one specific family which is something to note. Every family is always involved in every episode and that's really beautiful to see. I was so attached to all of them. Even little Jinjoo. I got so emotional seeing her all grown up from her Princess Minky days.
And yes, the hour and 40 minutes is super long and it has been the subject of complaints from many avid drama watchers but personally, I didn't mind. In fact, I loved it. I loved that it stretched out to a 100 minutes. I wanted more! Some episodes moved slow (actually, they all did) but at a very comfortable rate. Nothing seemed rush** (subject to debate, please refer to spoilers below if you've already watched the show) and it just flowed very naturally and appropriately.
Few things I would like to commend in particular;
i) Ra Mi Ran (otherwise fabulously known as the Cheetah of Ssangmun-dong) was phenomenal in all of her scenes. She wore her constant 'resting bitchy face' incredibly well and she did it all with a layer of comedy which made it even more fun to watch. Her frustration with her husband was so funny and whenever she was on screen, I would just always smile. She is a true 'ahjumma' in every sense of the word and man, though she was perpetually annoyed with her husband and with her eldest child (and life in general), the love she has for her family was beautiful and touching to watch and there were definitely scenes where she just melts for her husband and for her kids. She was such a lively and loud character that complimented the rather somber tones of the series. I can't get over her audition. A. Ma. Zing.
ii) Ryu Jun Ryeol (as Jung Hwan) for playing his role perfectly. He now has replaced the boys of BTS' (my favourite K-Pop act of the moment) as my wallpaper on my phone therefore also now, the love of my life.
iii) Hyeri for doing such a great job as Deok Sun. Deok Sun was the sunshine of the streets of Ssangmun-dong and she played it off perfectly. The director (you might already know this from previous blog posts, I mentioned this somewhere I think) specifically chose Hyeri in mind to play Deok Sun because he saw her in interviews and in variety shows and was very attracted to her playful and loud charms. She is actually, very loud. Have you heard the girl laugh? Very unlike a 'girl idol' in K-Pop which is why I love her even more. I love also how she completely let go in her scenes - nothing to be embarrassed about, just her being Deok Sun. Felt like there wasn't really any separation between Deok Sun and Hyeri. You'd think her stupid funny dance was an act? She seriously actually dances like that. Love her.
iv) The props and costume. Unbelievable. From hair spray cans, cars, home appliance to the styling and cultural references. I read in an article (I know, I know... I'm way too invested) that they spent a long time searching high and low for props and outfits. So far as to go to the US where they would hunt for clothes and items through bargain and thrift shopping to car boot sales and endless vintage shops to find 80s-90s inspired anything! The thought process that the show went through in order to really bring about the '80s charm is impressive and deserves to be recognised and acknowledged. Very, very well executed.
v) The ones who stole my tears were most probably the relationship between Taek and his father and Bora and her father. As I say this whilst listening to a song off the soundtrack, I already feel the tears coming on.
vi) The contrasts in family life (one literally lives in the basement of the other family's house) but they still come together and they still share dishes and they still drink Soju together and it's incredibly touching to see. A lot of the dramas these days centre around love lives and although that's kinda what is demanded in the market, I think Reply 1988 has proven to audiences that "See, we can make a drama on family and it's still going to make records in ratings" as it totally did, btw. The difference in family lives, one has a single dad, one has a single mum, one has a rich but very frugal husband, and one has poor but way-too-generous husband. The variety in character roles was so refreshing. Everyone just had something new to offer to the overall feel of the drama.
This drama has set the benchmark for me. And it will for you too, really. It has so much substance and so much heartfelt moments that it just leaves you in awe. And swollen eyes, in my case. The kind and good hearted people of this little neighbourhood tugs at your heartstrings again and again and again and *sigh*, it's going to take me awhile to recover from this drama. The way they take care of each other is just so touching. I'm starting on a few new dramas and I can't help but bringing it to comparison with Reply 1988. I think the only possible way that a drama can ever hold a candle against Reply 1988 would be the next Reply series. I am already constantly checking on any possible rumours of the new instalment although I suspect they won't start on anything at the very least til the end of 2016. That's already 11 months too long.
Ok so to the fun part.
I urge everyone who hasn't watched this show to leave (or stay and contribute to my viewer count and read more of my other posts hehe) this blog because I'm about to go on an intense spoiler rant for the remainder of this post. I'll even put up a photos here as a border because what comes after the photos are paragraphs of spoilers so save yourselves now!!
Thanks for reading and please do yourself the favour of watching Reply 1988. I don't encourage binge watching because you will be super sleep deprived but by all means, watch it. Thank me later.
No, you know what, I already hear your thanks so yes, you're welcome.
The love I have for this drama and the amount of emotions I've invested into it is laughable to some but so real and genuine to me. I am so very happy that I decided to start watching this series from the very start (which meant I had to somehow find and muster what little patience in me 'til Tuesday came rolling around). I am such a huge fan now of the actors, everyone from the veterans of the show to the newcomers. I've never been so happy with a set of cast that has generously given so much of them into this series and for that, I will always appreciate them as actors and as the characters they played on screen. I will only look forward to everyone's new projects and whatever they plan to do because man, by landing a role in this drama they have just basically set themselves up for future superstardom. I also hope for the friendship between the 5 main actors remain adorably so. The kind of acting they portrayed on screen only comes with love and respect for one another as peers in the same industry and I am just so in love with all of them so I only hope for the best for all of them.
Thanks, Reply 1988, you were kinda, sorta, pretty much, just about, the best drama I've ever watched.
So. Shall we get into the heat of things?
I. CANNOT. BELIEVE. THE. ENDING.
You have to believe me when I say I am typing and reading and spellchecking this post through very swollen and watery eyes. I went to my birthday dinner last night with swollen eyes ok!!! That was how bad it was. I was washing the dishes during lunch and I just kinda cried. Right there. Over the sink.
I am mental.
I. CANNOT. BELIEVE. THE. ENDING.
I am infuriated and I am so disappointed and my whole being just refuses to accept the reality that was episode 19 and 20.
Whilst I was watching the show, I even up til episode 19, had to comfort myself by saying
"This is a dream, this is a dream, you will wake up and you will be glad that it was just a dream. This episode cannot be happening. This cannot be happening"
I'm not joking, guys. It was that bad for me.
I cannot believe the producers and directors completely turned the tables on us.
I am so enraged that they decided to have Taek as the husband because the whole show has been about Jung Hwan and yes some of you might argue saying that
"Well if Jung Hwan had enough balls to just confess to Deok Sun already, he would've already had the girl"
YOU ARE COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT HERE.
What has Taek done through out the series to show that he was the guy for her?!?! WHAT HAS HE DONE???? He has played matches for like freaking 15 hours at a time.
He even forgot that Deok Sun was his Secret Santa guys.
And guess who bought her a present just for the sake of how much HE IS IN LOVE WITH HER??
Jung Hwan. Always him. Him always.
It was an injustice to not just Jung Hwan fans but fans of Deok Sun.
I would have accepted it slightly more with Taek if the producers and directors had given him some airtime throughout the series to show how much he has done for her. They completely left him out and I mean, I cannot even bring myself to articulate a proper sentence when it was finally revealed that he was the husband after all.
First and foremost, you know how the first few times when adult version of Deok Sun and her husband were being interviewed and the husband was being a complete ass???? When No-Eul (Deok Sun's brother) came over and the husband just completely kinda told her to stop babying him so much???? Where in the hell was that in Taek? This doe-eyed kid who didn't know how to use chopsticks now all of a sudden so blunt and brusque??? Did he somehow managed to roughen his edges after marriage?!?!
I think it was super unrealistic how this guy who terduduk terkangkang in the first few scenes as the adult version to now being so lembik could not even muster the strength to open the tin of damn biscuits?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?
I am fired up, guys, hear me out.
The producers very well meant to have Jung Hwan as the husband but completely changed their minds at the very last minute therefore serving us the only ever explanation as to why the adult version of the husband was so floppy. First so macho and so blunt and then growing all shy in front of cameras??
I'm telling you, it wasn't realistic. At. All.
And they didn't give Taek the opportunity to show the little things he would have done for Deok Sun.
The pink shirt.
The pink gloves.
The waiting outside for an hour everyday for school (how freakin' precious was it that he tied and untied his shoes about a million times infront of the house to wait for Deok Sun).
The bed scene when he just melted, MELTED, at Deok Sun's sleepy "Shall we go to the concert?".
The time he stood behind her in the bus so she would not be too rattled by the bus' bumpy rides.
The time he went to the loo and got jealous at the guy who told her she was pretty and then so casually pushed them???
When he went out in the rain and brought her the umbrella.
When he went to hurriedly peaked through the windows to see her when she was wearing the hanbok.
When he intended to give the ring after his graduation. No one else but her in mind.
When he let her sleep on his shoulder on the bus.
When he went to McDonalds all the way to save her from being lonely.
When he just put his arms around her (and rubbing her arm oh so nonchalantly) and let out a smile for the picture at the concert. He made the move, not her.
When he said "Don't go" when Deok Sun asked about the blind date.
When Deok Sun made him laugh although he very seriously did not want to at the dinner table. (I died).
When he told the bus driver to hold for 10 seconds so that Deok Sun could get on the bus.
When he couldn't sleep waiting for her to come back from the library.
When he, although he would do anything for his brother, told him straight off that his pink shirt was off limits.
And my favourite of all,
When he confessed without a break in his sentence or without a falter in his voice.
Jung Hwan is the unsung hero of the show and I feel like in the world of Reply 1988, I can imagine him still being very hurt, not just at Taek, but at himself, for missing out on the first love of his life. His confession over dinner was heartbreaking, I was crying the ugly sobbing cry that comes every so often.
Sure, Dongryong and Sunwoo blew it off as a joke but both Deoksun and Jung Hwan believed every single word.
It was just an epic failure on the writing and directing aspect of things because although it was meant to look like a Team Jung Hwan and Team Taek situation, it was only very evidently biased towards Team Jung Hwan throughout the show.
If they had wanted Taek to be the husband (which I 100% can say they didn't) then they should've balanced it out a little bit better. He was away like 75% of the time throughout the show, ffs.
I would have understood the logic behind Taek being the husband VERY slightly better if
1) Taek was more involved in the show.
2) Taek showed little acts of love and showed some form of progression in his love for Deok Sun. He just kissed her?? That's it?? That's your big act of confession??
3) Deok Sun atleast even entertained the option of Taek. Think about it; she only really looked at him as a man when Taek carried her running halfway across the field (Episode 17). She looked at Jung Hwan the same way when he stood behind her in the bus as he made sure she didn't fall (Episode 4).
4) Jung Hwan early on just gave up. He didn't. Until at the very least episode 18. Only because he hardly showed up in the last 2 (also another point of deep intense anger and hatred towards directors and writers of the show). Who the hell believes Jung Hwan's "Go for her" when Taek came over to his workplace?? Please.
They should have atleast introduced the idea of Taek as the husband to the actors (they didn't know til very late in the show) because the scenes between Deok Sun and Taek were very awkward and very unnatural, in my opinion. Their 'saranghae' came off awkward. They showed that Taek has indeed loved her since he was young but I've always only thought of him as someone who looked at Deok Sun as a mother figure and as help because he's (admittedly adorably) hopeless at basic life skills like the chopsticks and boiling water, for example.
Yes, I will completely agree that Taek is indeed wonderful. He has shown himself to be the man of many girls' dreams but I just really cannot bring myself to see that he is the husband. Jung Hwan was just always there for her and always showing that he cared. Every time he saw the opportunity to do right by her, Taek was just always there a second earlier. Literally. With the concert and the scene at the stairs when Deok Sun was crying and Jung Hwan saw her and was about to go to her when Taek reached her first. And he just rested his head on her shoulder, completely missing the fact that this girl was crying?
I understand people's POV of how frustrating it is to see Jung Hwan just soooooo slow and I agree, 85% of the time I was just like, man, just go for her, what you waiting for!!!
Yes, Jung Hwan was slow but it wasn't like he didn't want to do it, he just didn't have the courage to break his friends heart. You can't blame someone for not taking life by the balls. Some people are just not built and engineered that way. Some people still, through and through, prefer to put other people first. This drama put family relations first and foremost and love lines second, so other than just the love between boy and girl, we're also completely missing the fact between the love between the 4 best friends. The bromance is kinda super special and maybe just for Jung Hwan, it trumped his love for DS just by a tiny micro nano bit. Which is not something you can fault a person for. He always had his friends interest before his own (he did that even when Deok Sun was so enamoured with Sunwoo) and so with Taek, he just wanted to be the one to not cause trouble and saw it as
"It's okay, let me be the one hurt and not him"
Which just makes it ever so tragic.
The thing of it was that with Taek, Deok Sun had to take care of him where else with Jung Hwan, he would take care of her. And yeah whatever lah with girl power and all that fancy talk, in a relationship, you still do want the guy to just look out for you. Not for the girl to constantly check if he is sleeping right and tucked in well. Deok Sun is a strong girl with an even stronger personality so in that perspective, Jung Hwan was just a lot more suitable match for her.
Do you get it? Do you get why I'm angry??
Don't even get me started with the confession scene. So angry.
His confession was beautiful and for those not as invested in the show as I am you might not know this, that scene was what Junyeol regarded (on his broadcast on the V app) as his farewell scene because he did not appear as frequent in the last two (still harbouring hatred and anger for that thanks writers you are cruel) and also his farewell to Deok Sun, the love of his life.
He himself said that when both of them found out that Taek was the husband, it was very difficult on them as actors and as the characters they played. One would assume it is because they had built so much chemistry throughout the episodes only to ultimately be shot down as what could potentially be a great love story. If you watch the scene (which btw is now forever my favourite point in the whole story) properly, Jung Hwan and Deok Sun (or rather Junyeol and Hyeri) looked to the side after the confession, with notable welled up tears in their eyes because they were actually not supposed to cry in that scene but Hyeri could not stop crying between takes and at one point cried way too much and way too hard that filming had to temporarily stop. It was a difficult scene for them both to film because it was the end of an era. I am so dramatic, it's a known notion but WHATEVER. Let me just be emotional. I expect as actors very much invested in their roles, to have a love line for as long as that, to say goodbye to one another is tough and hard to do.
Omg I'm already crying. And this damn song doesn't help.
I think it was an incredible injustice to the chemistry that Junyeol and Hyeri had developed, to the characters they played (including adult version of husband) and to the fans of this couple.
I am very curious as to know what was the justification behind the very sudden change.
I am also sooooo angry and disappointed that Jung Hwan was played as such a minor character in the last 2 episodes when in fact, he had been such a core player in the show. It was as if the directors and writers were mustering every last strength and film time to very very quickly sum up the """love life""" between Taek and Deok Sun. And it was quite obvious that that was exactly what they were doing. Which just made me not appreciate the ending even more.
The transition between Jung Hwan to Taek was just very sloppy, very rushed and very irrational on so many fronts. I don't care for it and I hate it. You know the part when they both rushed to Deok Sun at the concert hall? Why the hell did they spend the next following camera shots on Jung Hwan? Jung Hwan walking away, Jung Hwan crying in the car? Jung Hwan's monologue? Why bother, man when you're just going to make it look like it was just silly puppy love.
Also, why make Deok Sun a stewardess and Jung Hwan a pilot or fighter pilot or whatever it was?!?!?! Why??????? The writers were building up to the very end and it was super obvious that they were meant to be a couple in the end.
I am heartbroken for Jung Hwan to have let the love of his life go. For a twist to happen, it has to happen right. I don't mind plot twists and what not but when it's done so unfavourably and so sloppily, it shows poor planning and execution on the writers behalf.
This drama is definitely a lot more overwhelming than I initially had thought. I've never really cared for a character or a couple as much as I do with Jung Hwan and his love for Deok Sun.
He really is for me the true unsung hero of the show and I wished that the writers had seen him more favourably and given him the ending he truly and absolutely deserved.
Forever and ever a fan of Jung Hwan and more importantly, of Ryu Junyeol's. Fantastic acting and so much heart went into his role, there was just nothing I could do other than just fall for him, head to toe, 머리부터 발끝까지