The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Answer Me, 1988 [Reply 1988]

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Answer Me 1988 feels like a larger, bigger-hearted story than its predecessors, thanks to expanding its focus to its community of characters, rather than simply fixating on the leading lady’s husband and the lovelines that feed into it. The adult characters get as much narrative care and attention as their kids, and that helps to make this drama world feel altogether pretty balanced and whole. The entire cast is endearing and committed, and – despite a touch of green in spots with the delivery – exponentially add to Show’s generous earthy winsomeness.

It’s true that the handling of the ending is flawed, but overall, I still found this show to be charming, slice-of-life retro at its best.

Answer Me 1988 OST – 혜화동 (혹은 쌍문동)

THE LONG VERDICT:

I am probably in the minority(?) when I say that I liked this installment of Answer Me the most so far, out of all the Answer Me shows. In fact, in spite of this franchise’s flaws, each new batch of characters in each new iteration of the show has managed to worm their way into my heart just a touch deeper and more firmly than the last.

This means that, much as Trash Oppa (Oppa-yaa~!) stole my heart and I reallyreally loved Na Jeong and her hodgepodge boarding house family in Answer Me 1994, I think I love Answer Me 1988’s characters even more.

With AM1988’s large cast of characters and its intricate-yet-slice-of-life plotting style, I feel like there’s so much to potentially say about this show that it’s pretty much impossible to say it all. Instead of attempting to say all that there is to say about this show (and risk never ever finishing this review), I’m going to touch on the characters and relationships that I’d like to talk about in a fairly moderate fashion.

THE EPISODE LENGTHS

Again going against the grain, I found that I actually enjoyed AM1988’s long episodes. Like, seriously. I’d literally find myself feeling wistful as I got to the end of an episode (particularly if it meant that I’d be all caught up for the week with no new episodes to watch afterwards). Sometimes, I even rationed the episodes, to make ’em last. I’d watch half an episode one day, and save the other half for the next day.

There were times when I found the episodes slow (I wasn’t too interested in the extended Go-Stop arc, and I think too much time was spent on the singing competition), but in general, I genuinely enjoyed Show’s unhurried pace. What a turnaround, since I’d chaffed a fair bit at AM1994’s episodes, which had been just as long, and which I’d found bloated.

In my head, there’s a combination of reasons why I actually liked the long episodes in AM1988 versus the episodes in AM1994 and versus so many of my blogger friends who didn’t like AM1988’s long episodes:

1. No on-going reunion, phew.

Unlike its predecessors, AM1988 doesn’t have an on-going present-day reunion that’s stretched over the entire run of the show, and that helped a lot. I’d quickly grown tired of the long-drawn-out reunions that never seemed to end. Worse, those reunions teased mercilessly at who the hubs was, of each show’s leading lady, and that felt gleefully manipulative, to me. Didn’t like that much.

On the other hand, AM1988 comes right out with showing us Present Day Hubs, and it’s up to us to make what we will, of the clues/red herrings that Show serves up. I know some folks felt played by this too, but I honestly was so relieved at the improvement that I actually enjoyed the segments with Present Day Deok Sun (Lee Mi Yeon) and Present Day Hubs (Kim Joo Hyuk).

I mean, rather than being shown headless/faceless Present Day Hubs, we actually get to see him properly and fully, in the face. AND we get to see him interacting with people too, which I found interesting for the hmm-which-of-the-boys-would-talk-like-that train of thought that I entertained casually.

2. More story room

I also feel like writer-nim was writing for the longer episodes, which helped a lot, I think. The larger cast of characters also provided room for more story to be developed, and I enjoyed how Show gave each character his or her own time in the spotlight.

Of course, it can be argued that tighter editing could have achieved the same result while shaving down the episode lengths. Even though the pace sometimes (or a lot of the time, depending on your perspective) leaned indulgent, I personally liked the languid slice-of-life pace coz it made me feel like I was literally living life with the characters.

3. My lens

I didn’t recap the show. Which sounds like such a small thing, but really, it makes so much difference. Because I didn’t recap the show, watching the longer episodes wasn’t hard for me. I know that if I’d been recapping it (not that I write recaps, since they are SO high-commitment!), I would’ve found the episode lengths and Show’s tendency to linger on small moments much harder to deal with.

STUFF I LOVED

1. THE FLESHING OUT OF THE COMMUNITY

Ahh, the neighborhood. This is seriously my favorite favorite thing about the show, rather than a single character or loveline.

I love that instead of a single household, this installment of Answer Me chooses to focus on several families. Even better, I love how in practice they’re more like one big hodgepodge family, and there are barely any lines at all, defining who owns a particular problem. If one family has a problem, pretty much everyone in the neighborhood fusses and worries and helps, as if the problem was their own. I freaking love that.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Right away in episode 1, with the large-scale food sharing between households that ended up filling Taek and his dad’s (Park Bo Gum and Choi Moo Sung) otherwise sparse dinner table with home-cooked goodness, I knew that I was gonna love this bunch of people.

The matter-of-fact way the mothers of each household prepare extra food and send it along to their neighbors, speaks so loudly, of how naturally the borders of each family’s dinner table – and more than that, each family’s heart – extends beyond their own household to include their neighbors. Guh. It’s such heartwarming stuff, truly.

The members of this big ragtag family care for one another in such everyday ways that it’s impossible to number all of the times they warmed my heart and made me smile. But here’re a handful of highlights:

1. When Sun Woo’s mom (Kim Sun Young) gets the terrible news that she might have to give up her house, the other moms rally around and each offers to give what she can.

2. When Taek’s dad collapses, he’s saved purely by the nosey warmth of Deok Sun’s dad (Sung Dong Il) who seeks him out for a drink. And then, during his recovery, everyone rallies around to bring him food and tend to all of his needs. AND take turns calling Taek over for meals so that he’ll be taken care of. It’s so wonderful and amazing and completely heartwarming that these people love one another so matter-of-factly and embrace and accept one another so wholly. I love it.

I also love the scene of Sun Woo’s mom washing Taek’s dad’s hair at the hospital. It’s such a personal thing, done so matter-of-factly, like it’s no big deal, that of course she would be doing this for him. Sure, later in the episode we find out that they’ve known each other for way longer, but I believe that any of the other moms would’ve done the same.

3. I also find it really charming how everyone in the neighborhood treats Taek with extra affection and care. I feel it’s partly coz they’re proud that he’s the nation’s baduk genius (it’s so endearing how everyone in the neighborhood believes in Taek and waits anxiously for updates whenever he has a competition), and partly, I feel like they’re loving him extra coz he’s the only kid in the neighborhood who doesn’t have a mom. Which, aw.

In episode 13, it moved me to see everyone feeling equally crazy-worried about Taek’s safety. It was so clear, that Taek’s one of their own, collectively. He’s not just Moo Sung’s son, he’s the entire neighborhood’s son, and I love that.

4. In the same episode, I was also moved by how Mi Ran (Ra Mi Ran) and Sun Young fret over Il Hwa’s (Lee Il Hwa) biopsy results almost as much as she and her husband do.

[END SPOILER]

These little moments and story beats all add up to one main theme, that of family.

I love this show because it’s about so much more than who marries Deok Sun (Hye Ri). It’s about interdependence and love, without differentiating what’s yours and mine. It’s about knowing and accepting one another, in all your weaknesses and at your worst moments.

I just freaking love how the members of this big ragtag family take care of one another and look out for one another so completely, so that there isn’t a single member of the community who ever needs to be afraid of being alone. ❤

2. THE CHARACTERS

I really like Show’s way of giving each of the characters time in the spotlight. It feels a little like a family drama about a multi-generational family, in some ways. By the end of the show, I felt like I’d gotten to know each of the characters quite well, and I liked that a lot.

The characters truly are the heart of the entire show, and even though the sheer number of characters is rather daunting, I thought I’d give quick to moderate shout-outs to (almost) all of them.

The kids

Hye Ri as Deok Sun

I’m going to begin by saying that I liked Hye Ri in this role, and appreciate her lack of vanity in throwing herself into the role of Deok Sun. Whether Deok Sun is getting uglified with garish ’80s makeup or being caught in mortifyingly embarrassing situations, Hye Ri goes at it with gusto, and I admire her for being so gung-ho about it all.

However, I do feel that Hye Ri’s delivery is a little flat, overall. Compared to many of her cast-mates, her delivery didn’t quite have the depth and 3D sort of effect, which I thought was a pity. It’s not for lack of effort, though, since I can clearly see that she gives the role her all. I think it’s possibly the limits of her young acting chops.

To Hye Ri’s credit, she still manages to make Deok Sun a very endearing and likable character, and I rooted for her all series long.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Despite Deok Sun’s general lack of talent in most areas, I find her earnest and caring personality very charming indeed. I love the small moments that show us her sweet and giving nature; the way she gives up having a fried egg with breakfast to give Mom an easier time; the way she forgives easily, when Dad meets her with a birthday cake in hand, to make up for years of her having to play second fiddle to Bo Ra (Ryu Hye Young) during their joint birthday celebrations.

My favorite Deok Sun moment, though, has to be in episode 14, when her class president and seat-mate suffers a seizure and she takes charge of the situation. I love how, when Class Prez recovers and slinks into class feeling embarrassed, Deok Sun blithely treats her exactly the same. She talks to her like a friend without tiptoeing around her, and it’s exactly what Class Prez needs, in order to not feel like a Weirdo Outcast, and I love that Deok Sun’s lead also cues everyone else in class to do the same.

Just, so awesome. I mean, Deok Sun’s pretty awesome in general, but in this moment, her awesomeness is particularly clear. Even though Deok Sun’s terrible with the studying, she’s fast, and smart, and is great with people. Which is why I honestly think her eventual career choice of cabin crew is perfectly perfect.

[END SPOILER]

Ryu Joon Yeol as Jung Hwan

Oh, Jung Hwan.. Such a quietly stoic, gruff-on-the-outside, tender-marshmallow-on-the-inside bundle of contradictions. Whom I found very appealing, I might add.

His silent smirks and relative deadpan reticence scream bad-boy swag – which is probably why all the moments that reveal his sweetness and loyalty feel all the more awww-some.

Ryu Joon Yeol embodies Jung Hwan’s awkwardly-sweet-tough-guy to a T, and I couldn’t help melting a little more every time Sweet Jung Hwan showed up on my screen.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Over the course of the show, Jung Hwan shows his sweet and loyal side multiple times, but my favorite time has got to be in episode 11, when he finally realizes that Mom’s been hanging up on him not because she won’t read out her name in English to him off her passport, but because she can’t.

I love how he chooses to comfort her by buying her roasted chestnuts and awkwardly giving them to her, instead of saying anything about how she’d kept hanging up on him. And then, we later see him quietly writing the English spelling in Hangul for her, right into her passport, so that she’ll never feel handicapped in this area again.

AUGH. HOW SWEET IS HE? LUFF. ❤

[END SPOILER]

Park Bo Gum as Taek

OMG guys. Park Bo Gum just totally sneaked up on me and stole my heart as Taek. Which is no small deal, considering how Taek’s introduced to us as quite the silent, reticent character. He almost feels like he’s on the sidelines of the group, and his screen time was correspondingly limited, especially in the initial episodes.

Yet, Park Bo Gum made every second of that initial limited screen time count, and basically engulfed my screen every time he appeared on it. Before I knew it, I had a giant – completely colossal – soft spot for Taek that felt like it had come out of nowhere, but really, had been built up bit by bit, by Park Bo Gum’s meaningful delivery of Taek’s small moments.

As those of you who follow me on instagram probably know, this scene in episode 2 is THE moment when I saw the light.

This is the moment that I realized that Park Bo Gum is So Much More than just a (very, very) pretty face.

Without being spoilery, let me just say that he took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes, when his expression morphed seamlessly from pleasant anticipation to puppy-eyed tearful pain in a mere matter of seconds. Just, wow. He didn’t actually need to say anything (although he does, right after); I was completely sucked into his emotions simply by watching the expression on his face.

Still on the subject of the expressions on his face, I have to confess that it made my day every time Taek smiled. I swear, Park Bo Gum has an internal switch that, when he flips it, just makes him totally light up and look like he’s about to explode. I love that look on Taek, and it melts my heart that his friends bring that out in him.

All in all, even though Taek does do a lot more than just show up onscreen and smile, essentially, that’s all he needs to do to make me smile. Like in episode 11, when Taek shows up at the end of the episode, smiles, and gives a simple Happy New Year greeting to one of the adults. That’s literally all he does, and I was instantly melting into a puddle. Taek’s flat-out adorable, and I want to fold him up and put him in my pocket, for reals. ❤

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are just 2 quick examples of what I mean when I say Park Bo Gum makes every second count, as Taek.

1. In episode 3, there’s a little beat when Taek comes home to the boisterous dancing in his room and silently leaves without being noticed. Little moments like this one consistently feel full of meaning, thanks to Park Bo Gum’s delivery. I feel like these quiet beats actually say something. Another little beat in the same episode, of him continuing to stare at the crumpled and dirtied notice about the overnight trip that his friends had left behind, even while sitting in front of his baduk board, says so much. He doesn’t need to say anything, but it’s so clear that he does feel excluded, and he does feel like he’s missing out. Poor baby.

2. In episode 4, when Taek’s feeling down about losing a baduk match, Park Bo Gum gives depth to Taek’s angst without even saying anything much. There’s a Moment, when Jung Hwan walks into Taek’s room, and Taek looks up, stricken, and Jung Hwan meets his eyes. Seriously, that pause is so pregnant with meaning; there’s a connection there, an understanding, that then is given voice by the rowdy friendship the other 4 bestow on him. It may look like they are making light of his pain, but really, they’re meeting him where it really matters. The way Taek laughs, with relief and release, is such a gratifying thing to watch.

Love those kids. And, love Taek. Just can’t help myself.

[END SPOILER]

Go Kyung Pyo as Sun Woo

Go Kyung Pyo is pitch perfect as the model boy-next-door Sun Woo. Sun Woo’s a total sweetheart, who’s a good son to his mom and a good brother to his sister, and is doing his level best to be a good man of the house, after the death of his father.

Even though Sun Woo may sound a little vanilla on paper, I appreciate that writer-nim takes the time to eventually peel back some of his layers to reveal the angst that he hides deep beneath the surface.

[MINOR SPOILER]

In the midst of the larger beats, it’s the smaller moments that stick with me, when I think of Sun Woo. Like how he never says anything bad about his mom’s cooking, even though it’s a running gag that her cooking is flat-out terrible. In fact, I love the little moment in episode 2, when Sun Woo stops outside his home to eat the dinner his mom had packed for him, so that her feelings wouldn’t be hurt. Just, so very thoughtful and sweet.

I love, too, the little repeated detail, of Sun Woo always kissing his little sister on the cheek. It’s such a tiny detail, but it’s just so sweet, that he makes it point, no matter what. Aw.

[END MINOR SPOILER]

Lee Dong Hwi as Dong Ryong

Dong Ryong feels a little like a secondary sort of character, in the sense that he gets less screen time than some of the other kids, and we also see a lot less of his family life. In a way, Dong Ryong feels like the proverbial oft-forgotten middle child, in this hodgepodge big family. Additionally, with Dong Ryong’s comic bent, he almost feels like a comic-relief sort of character, inserted only to bring the laughs.

Often, however, that set-up only serves to highlight just how important Dong Ryong is to the group, in contrast to his mostly jokey persona. Consistently, Dong Ryong proves to be the unexpected voice of wisdom to his friends, &/or a caring mother hen. This group would literally not be the same without him, and writer-nim makes sure that we know it.

Credit to Lee Dong Hwi, for making Dong Ryong such a likable, endearing character.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Friendly wisdom

Consistently, Dong Ryong is the one who notices when people are out of sorts. Although Jung Hwan is sweet for stepping out of his comfort zone to make both his dad and his mom feel better in their moments of gloom, credit goes to Dong Ryong for noticing it and spelling out for Jung Hwan what the problem and the solution is.

And what about the time in episode 14 when Dong Ryong points out to Deok Sun the same thing that’s been on my mind all series long: that she should be focusing on figuring out who she likes, rather than who likes her.

Such insight and wisdom, from such a lovably gangly, awkward source.

Mother hen

Honestly, I found the repeated moments of Dong Ryong taking care of Taek really cute. Like in episode 6, when Dong Ryong helps Taek get his walkman to play, and then later, helps Taek button his shirt, all while nagging at him. It’s all so matter-of-fact and so cute.

His moment of angst

I tend to root for the underdog, so when Dong Ryong got his moment in the spotlight with the unveiling of his hidden angst, I really felt for him.

His rejection and dejection in episode 10 feels so poignantly universal. To feel forgotten and neglected on his birthday, many birthdays in a row, must really bite. Dong Ryong’s feelings of neglect, and his hunger for parental affection land with a palpable plaintiveness; another piece of evidence that Dong Ryong is a lot more sensitive than his carefree persona lets on.

Which is why I couldn’t help smiling in vicarious satisfaction when Dong Ryong finally gets some attention from his mom in episode 15, and laps it up with so much delight that he looks like he’s about to burst. Aw.

[END SPOILER]

Ryu Hye Young as Bo Ra

Out of all the characters, I found Bo Ra the hardest sell, at least at first. Her prickly persona, coupled with her scary hair-pulling fights with Deok Sun, made her appear unreasonable and almost hostile.

Thankfully, Show’s efforts to soften up Bo Ra as a character are successful. As early as episode 2, we start to see glimpses of her more understanding side, and by mid-series, Hostile Bo Ra feels almost like a distant memory.

Props to Ryu Hye Young for making Bo Ra believable in each of her facets, and for weaving Bo Ra’s contrary qualities into a cohesive whole.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re just 2 quick instances where Softer Bo Ra came out to play.

1. In episode 2, it’s heartwarming to see that the moment Gran passes away, an unconditional truce takes over and Bo Ra comforts the younger siblings that she usually terrorizes. It’s also sweet that the younger siblings just cleave to that care, without holding a grudge for past terror attacks.

2. I like the quiet way Bo Ra shows care for her family in episode 13, while Mom worries about her biopsy results. Coming home early; suggesting they order in; lingering over dinner while Mom waits for the phone to ring; those little gestures say a lot about how much Bo Ra cares, even though she doesn’t actually verbalize it.

[END SPOILER]

Ahn Jae Hong as Jung Bong

Oh, Jung Bong. He’s the character that I felt bemused by the most, at least in the beginning. He’s So Serious and So Dramatic, and yet, that laser focus and obsessive attention is mostly given to the most inane past-times.

As the episodes progress, though, and as Show revealed more about Jung Bong’s inner workings, I grew affectionate of this earnest Drama Queen – or should I say, Drama King?

[SPOILER ALERT]

I must say, one of the most memorable arcs involving Jung Bong is his loveline with Mi Ok (Lee Min Ji).

At first, their romance almost feels like comic relief, coz both characters approach their loveline in a hilariously dramatic fashion. Little everyday sorts of events get turned into Moments of Destiny by these two, and it’s adorably amusing. Like how they meet in the rain and react to each other in slo-mo wonder, then proceed to obsess over each other with starry-eyed infatuation. It’s very funny, but it’s also a fairly true representation of the dramatic state of the Moonstruck Teenage Heart.

By series’ end, in spite of how their scenes are largely played for laughs, I found their romance very endearing, mostly thanks to Jung Bong being so serious and earnest about it.

[END SPOILER]

Choi Sung Won as No Eul

Maybe it was all because of Eun Ji Won, who acted as a character much younger than his actual age, in Answer Me 1997; it now feels like each installment of Answer Me needs its own much-older-actor-playing-much-younger sort of character. AM1994 had Kim Sung Kyun playing a student, and here, Choi Sung Won fills that need by playing teenaged kid brother to Bo Ra and Deok Sun.

Although No Eul feels like a secondary character compared to the other kids, he does get a spot of narrative attention here and there, and by series’ end, I’d grown affectionate of him too, in spite of his smaller amount of screen time.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of moments I remember most clearly involving No Eul, is less to do with who he is as a character, but more to do with how he affects another character; in this case, his sister Deok Sun.

In episode 8, when Deok Sun thinks that someone’s bullied her kid brother and made him cry, the way she steps out to fiercely (so fiercely!) protect him, is really sweet. Guess you’re never too old to have your noona fuss over you (as we see in a certain present-day scene as well, heh).

[END SPOILER]

The parents

Sung Dong Il as Sung Dong Il

By now, Sung Dong Il (& Lee Il Hwa too, of course) is practically synonymous with the Answer Me series, having played Dad in all 3 installments. The first time he’d reprised the role of Dad in AM1994, I’d felt weirded out, coz it felt like Na Jeong (Go Ah Ra) had stolen Shi Won’s (Jung Eun Ji) parents, in a way.

This time, though, I must say I took to Sung Dong Il’s Dad-ship much more easily. Partly coz the Answer Me franchise has trained me well, perhaps. But probably more because Dad’s a more distinctly different character this time around.

I loved Sung Dong Il’s warmth in the role, which shone through whether his character was being cranky & gruff or quietly thoughtful. There’s this lovely depth that Sung Dong Il brings to the role that I like very much.

Over the course of the series, I really enjoyed seeing Dad’s love for his family come to the surface, in all of the little ways that his gruff exterior can’t hide.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re just a small handful of times when I couldn’t help but stop to appreciate Dad a little.

1. I love the time in episode 1 when Dad bawls with happiness to see Deok Sun on TV. Just, so gruff and loving, and so awesome.

2. After Deok Sun’s tearful outburst about never having her own birthday cake and always having to play second fiddle to Bo Ra, I do love how Dad makes it up to her by meeting her outside the house and presenting her with her own birthday cake. Such a sweet, understated way to make it up to her.

3. Up until episode 3, we see Dad overextending their finances to help people in need, by buying the most ridiculously useless items from them. That it takes seeing his son being called “Half Basement” as a nickname to shake Dad up about their financial situation, says a lot about how much he cares about his kids. All the reasoning that Mom had done, had made no difference, because Dad had been convinced that they were doing just fine, and were happy. But to have his son saddled with a derogatory nickname because of their financial situation, that he can’t live with. Such a protective big-hearted Papa Bear, truly.

[END SPOILER]

Lee Il Hwa as Lee Il Hwa

As with Sung Dong Il playing Dad, I also got very comfortable with Lee Il Hwa playing Mom in the Answer Me installments. There’s something very soft, warm, and also, a little fragile about the way she plays Mom that I really like.

Behind the gently cheerful surface, Mom worries for her family, and Lee Il Hwa brings out that quiet concern in a way that is subdued and elegant, yet speaks volumes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re just a couple of moments where Mom touched my heart in her own understated way.

1. It’s almost a throwaway sort of thing, but we’re shown how Mom scrimps on herself, while trying to give as much as she can, to her children. The scenes where we see her quietly using almost-empty bottles of lotion and skincare samples on herself, feel so poignant because it’s just rather sad to see her scrimp on herself so much, while trying to be a good mom to her kids.

2. In episode 5, when Mom spots Bo Ra being confronted by police officers, the way she throws herself in front of Bo Ra to protect her in every way she knows how, with such desperation, completely moved me. It’s so clear, that she literally loves her daughter more than her own life.

3. I love the beat in episode 14 when Dad confirms that he is now out of debt. It’s such a breathlessly poignant moment for Mom especially; you can just see the wonder and joy in her eyes. I love how she splurges on breakfast the next day, and pretty much has tears in her eyes at the reality that she can now buy the things that her children want. So sweetly moving that I had tears in my eyes too.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Sung Kyun as Kim Sung Kyun

After seeing Kim Sung Kyun play a student in AM1994, it took some getting used to, having him here as one of the neighborhood’s dads.

Initially, I found his character’s sense of humor pretty weird and out-there, but I eventually developed a soft spot for him. Although Kim Sung Kyun the character is played a lot for laughs, I really appreciate the thoughtful underbelly of the character that we eventually get to see.

[SPOILER ALERT]

My favorite thing about him is how he loves his wife, really. In episode 11, there’s a scene where he tells elder son Jung Bong that Mom didn’t go to college but is the smartest person he knows, and that he’d like Jung Bong to take after Mom instead of himself. Aww. How perfectly lovely, right? What a wonderful way to see his wife. ❤

[END SPOILER]

Ra Mi Ran as Ra Mi Ran

OMG Ra Mi Ran’s Cheetah Ahjumma is totally one of my favorite parts of the show.

Loud, brash and naggy a lot of the time, Cheetah Ahjumma is easy to dismiss at first as a one-note – or rather, one-layer – sort of character type. But she’s so much more than just a loud ahjumma. She’s also empathetic, sensitive and giving. And fragile and insecure too, when she thinks nobody’s looking. She’s such a layered character, with so many different facets to her, and Ra Mi Ran brings out all of those facets with a natural, seasoned sort of ease that is enviable.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re just a few of my favorite moments featuring the awesome Cheetah Ahjumma.

1. I really like the beat in episode 1, where she reaches out to a reticent Jung Hwan to ask him to talk to her more. I really liked that. Instead of screaming or crying, she talks to him nicely and shares how she feels ashamed in front of the other ladies. Even more, I love that she then hugs him a little, even though she’s so awkward about it. It’s so awesome, how she’s stepping outside of her comfort zone for this. She really does want to connect with her son.

2. Something that we see over and over again, is how she shares her abundance with her neighbors. She always cooks enough to share with everyone, and the way she gives it away isn’t condescending. It’s genuinely warm, and I like that about her a lot.

3. Mi Ran’s audition for the singing competition in episode 16 is freaking hysterical, and it’s thanks to Ra Mi Ran being so gung-ho about it. I mean, I experienced So Much secondhand embarrassment just watching her, but she just goes for it, and I really hafta admire that about both character and actress.

[END SPOILER]

Watching AM1988 showed me that Ra Mi Ran is absolutely fabulous, and I can’t help but luff her for her awesomeness.

Choi Moo Sung as Choi Moo Sung

Aw, Taek’s Dad! I can’t tell you enough how much Taek’s Dad ended up surprising me through the course of the show.

He’s so very stoic and deadpan almost all of the time, and yet, beneath that controlled gentle-giant sort of surface, there’s a velvet teddy bear that’s just waiting to come out. I loved discovering new layers to him over the course of the show, and he’s one of my favorite parents in this lovable ensemble.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re a handful of moments where I felt Taek’s Dad shone particularly brightly.

1. I love how he loves his son. He’s far from demonstrative, but there’s so much care and love that runs deep below the surface, that we see expressed in the mundane and everyday, like how he waits for Taek with an umbrella every time it rains.

2. I love how much pride he takes in wearing Taek’s decidedly girly gift of fluffy pink mittens. Seriously, isn’t that so very sweet?

3. It’s completely adorable how he takes care of little Jin Joo (Kim Seul), and lets her tie up his hair into the most ridiculous little pigtails, and carefully and patiently cuts out paper clothes for her dolls. So Cute!

4. I totally teared up at how he worried over Taek’s safety in episode 13, when it was feared that Taek might’ve been in a plane crash. The desperately violent breaking of the lock on Taek’s drawer, to get the phone number of the hotel; the shaking hands; the tears. And then, reining it all in once he knew Taek was ok, so that he wouldn’t worry Taek. Just, wow. This scene showed me beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Taek really does mean the world to him, in spite of Dad’s normally stoic exterior.

5. I think it’s really cute, how Taek’s Dad turns out to be so athletic in episode 15. I feel like there’s so much depth to him that we just might never run out of new things to learn about him, heh.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Sun Young as Kim Sun Young

Widowed at a young age and doing what she can to give her two kids a happy life, Sun Young is an underdog sort of character that I enjoyed rooting for a lot. Even though she doesn’t have much, she’s earnest and grateful for the small things in life, and happy to share what little she has, with her friends and neighbors.

Like Il Hwa, Sun Young scrimps on herself as much as she possibly can, if only to give her children a life that’s just a little bit better, and that motherly sacrifice touched me every time it showed up on my screen.

[SPOILER ALERT]

As strong as she tries to be, Sun Young has her own fears and worries as well, and the scene that stands out in my mind around this, is in episode 5, when Sun Young’s mom comes to visit.

Sun Young does all she can – from wearing borrowed clothes to filling her rice chest with rice from Mi Ran’s kitchen – to set her mom’s heart at ease. Mom notices her hardship anyway, and leaves her money, along with a letter containing the accepting, encouraging words that Sun Young needs to hear.

The way Sun Young breaks down bawling over the phone with her mom afterwards, totally tugged at my heartstrings. Even though Sun Young works so hard to be strong for the people around her, she needed to cry her heart out to her mom too. Such a poignant message, that Moms need to be encouraged and strengthened as much as they encourage and strengthen their families.

[END SPOILER]

Yoo Jae Myung as Ryu Jae Myung

Among the parents, I felt least connected with Dong Ryong’s parents – which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Dong Ryong’s home life gets the least amount of screen time in the entire neighborhood.

Still, I appreciate that Dong Ryong’s Dad gets to reveal a couple of layers in the course of the show.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The beat that left the deepest impression on me, with Dong Ryong’s Dad, is how he quietly takes over the household duties, including cooking and cleaning, and caring for a baby, when Dong Ryong’s Mom struggles with her identity and self-worth and leaves home, in a late-ish episode.

Given how Dad’s consistently been shown to be either a strict and rather harsh parent to Dong Ryong, or a bit of a joker among the parents, seeing him be so patient and understanding with his wife really felt like a breath of fresh air. It totally helped me to see him in a brand new light, and I thought the way he handled the situation was pretty darn awesome.

[END SPOILER]

3. THE RELATIONSHIPS

The kids

I love-love-love the friendship among the kids, particularly among the dong-gap five pictured here. They have so much easy fun sharing everything, from the happy, to the sad, including all the food, fun, foibles and feelings in between, that it makes me want to have my own faux-sibling sort of clique too.

It never ceased to give me heartwarming tingles to see them practically live in one another’s homes like it was the most natural thing in the world. Everyone going in and out of Taek’s home whether he or his dad was home or not, and everyone defaulting to hanging out in Taek’s bedroom as a matter of course, was one of my favorite quirks of this bunch of friends.

I love the matter-of-fact way they embrace, accept and love one another, faults, farts and all, even if the words aren’t explicitly said.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I found it endlessly charming that the kids are all super proud of Taek. Even more, I loved that even though Taek plays in big championships and his winnings are big, that all the celebrations are so homely and small. The kids demanding things like ddukbokki and pizza, and Taek himself, choosing to watch a movie as his reward. It’s all so down-to-earth and endearing.

One of my favorite moments of these five friends is in episode 6, when Taek wins a competition and the rest of the kids wait in line outside his room, and take turns greeting him with a congratulatory hug. Augh. SO ADORBS. I LUFF the hug line!

Afterwards, I love how the boys promptly and very naturally sleep over at Taek’s, all lined up in a row, sharing blankets. Hee. Like cuddly little pigs in a blanket, happily snuggling up to one another.

Aww. Cuties.

[END SPOILER]

The parents

I love how the parents form a very natural sort of support network for one another, in their little neighborhood.

In concept, most of them are pretty different from one another; Deok Sun’s Dad is loud and gruff; Taek’s Dad is quiet and stoic; Jung Hwan’s Dad is offbeat and quirky; Deok Sun’s Mom is long-suffering and gentle; Jung Hwan’s Mom is outspoken; Sun Woo’s Mom is a little shy. But in practice, I love that they just all get along, and genuinely care about one another.

I love how they support one another beyond surface things like feeding each others’ kids. [SPOILER] Like in episode 7, when Taek’s Dad confides in Sun Woo’s Mom about feeling like a terrible father, and Sun Woo’s Mom consoles him. I found it very sweetly poignant, that these single parents try so hard, for their kids, and found it comforting that they aren’t actually going it alone, but are part of a larger community. [END SPOILER]

The way these parents care for one another’s families at a genuinely heart level, I can totally imagine how they might’ve raised their young kids together in that neighborhood; quite possibly with one set of parents easily calling out to another set, “I’ve got your kids with me; don’t worry about them. They can eat and sleep at my place until you’ve come back from your hometown and gotten that thing sorted out.” Or something like that. I just love that level of care and trust that they share. It’s all just so easy and personal.

Parents and their kids

Another important type of relationship that gets showcased in AM1988, is the relationships between parents and their children.

What I love about how these relationships are handled, is that it’s all far from preachy or treacly. Instead, it all feels true to life, in how the relationships tend to be teased out in the small, everyday moments. Love is demonstrated, not in grandiose statements, but often through wordless, almost mundane sort of gestures. I love the end-effect, of uplifting warmth that feels real and true.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’re just a handful of the parent-child moments that made my heart a little warmer, and often, my throat a little tighter too.

1. Taeks’ Dad crying overwhelmed, happy tears at the girly pink mittens that Taek gives him in episode 7, is so sweet. That just got me right in the heart.

2. Sun Woo’s mom taking on a job at the bathhouse, so that she’ll be able to save for Sun Woo’s education, and Sun Woo then getting all upset at his mom working, and then swallowing it all, for her sake – to allow her to express her care for him in the way that she wants to – is very poignant. She would give her son the world if she could, and he would do the same for her too. Aw.

3. It’s a small but momentous moment between Taek and his dad in episode 16 when Dad broaches the subject of wanting to spend his life with Sun Woo’s mom.

Dad’s all awkward about it, and Taek smiles his bashful smile and tells Dad that he’s ok with anything as long as Dad’s happy. The tears in both their eyes gave me tears in my eyes too.

4. When Bo Ra moves out, the feelings on all sides come leaking out unbidden. Mom gets all teary-eyed, and Dad waits around the corner to give Bo Ra a bag of just-in-case medicine to take with her. And then we see Bo Ra driving away, bawling properly as she goes. Aw.

5. In episode 17, when the topic turns to dreams, each and every parent talks only about dreams related to their kids and their kids’ well-being. Not a single parent harbors dreams for themselves, and dream only for their children. It’s a smallish moment, but speaks such volumes of the kind of matter-of-fact, sacrificial love that parents have for their children. Not gonna lie, this moment brought a tear to my eye.

[END SPOILER]

The ahjumma sisterhood

My gosh, I freaking love these 3 ahjummas together. They truly are more than neighbors, and more than friends. They are sisters.

I love how they spend their time together so consistently. Literally not a day goes by without them having a chat, or at least touching base. And nothing’s off-limits too, with their chats dipping past children and household matters, into bedroom talk as well.

Most of all, I love how much empathy they have for one another. There are no lines drawn between them, when it comes to problems or worries that crop up in their lives. If one of them is worried about something, the other two hearts are engaged at almost the same level as the one who’s worrying. I truly love the solidarity that they share, beneath the good-natured, easy, everyday sort of vibe.

Sun Woo & Taek

You know how, sometimes, you just sort of fall into a closer sort of friendship with one friend, among a group of friends? I feel like this is the case, with Sun Woo and Taek. Even though they’re buddies with everyone else in the group, these two fall into an almost confidante sort of relationship which I found all kinds of heartwarming and adorable.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The two boys confiding in each other about their respective love interests is super cute. Sun Woo talks to Taek about Bo Ra, and Taek tells Sun Woo about Deok Sun, and I practically implode from the cute.

Case in point, this conversation from episode 14:

Sun Woo: “Why Deok Sun? I mean, there’s tons of girls who like you. Why Deok Sun? What’s the reason? Why do you like her?”

Taek: “I just like her. I just like her when I’m with her. When she smiles… I almost feel like I could die.”

OMG, how adorable is that?

On a more serious note, I love that these two boys get to legit become brothers. When Sun Woo’s Mom and Taek’s Dad start to become closer and it becomes a distinct possibility that marriage is on the cards, I love the quiet conversation that Sun Woo and Taek have about it, in episode 17.

Sun Woo: “Taek.” … “Never mind.”

Taek: “Sun Woo. Before… One time I was at the Baduk Club and came home early. But Dad was alone. He was eating just cold rice mixed with water. He hadn’t expected me to be home early. Dad was so flustered and surprised. I had a thought at that moment. When I saw him so flustered… And so surprised that he didn’t know what to do with himself… When I saw him standing there like that… I thought to myself that it would be nice if he had a good person by his side. I’m happy that it’s your mom. It’s a relief.”

Sun Woo: “You’re okay with it? You don’t think about your mom?”

Taek: “It’s been longer for me than it has for you. I guess that’s why it’s easier for me.”

Sun Woo: “I must be younger than you.”

Taek: “You didn’t know that already?”

And just like that, it’s settled; they’re ok with their parents marrying. I love that their conversation is so quietly understated yet so needed. They needed to express to each other that they were ok with it, and inquire whether the other person was ok with it, and it’s so warmly, quietly, matter-of-factly done. I just love these two together.

[END SPOILER]

Jung Hwan & Jung Bong

Jung Bong and Jung Hwan are as different as chalk and cheese, but as the show progresses, we get a better sense of the deep brotherly bond between them underneath the gruff, and I must say that that bond moved me deeply.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Jung Hwan, taking it upon himself to fulfill Jung Bong’s dreams by becoming a pilot, because Hyung’s heart condition prevents him from doing so himself, is just so impossibly sacrificial. I mean, making your Hyung’s dream your career is no small deal. You’ll eat, sleep and breathe that career for the rest of your life. And yet, Jung Hwan does it willingly for the love of his brother, all the while insisting that he’s becoming a pilot because he wants to.

And in spite of his surface cluelessness, Jung Bong’s deeply aware of just how much his younger brother is doing for him. That moment, in episode 17, under the stars, when Jung Bong makes his wish about Jung Hwan, “For my little brother to be able to do what he really wants to do,” is just really sweet.

These two clearly mean a great deal to each other, and it’s a pleasure to witness.

[END SPOILER]

Deok Sun & Bo Ra

When we first meet Bo Ra and Deok Sun, they’re usually at complete loggerheads, literally screeching and pulling each others’ hair. What I found poignant, though, is that underneath the antagonism, these two really do care about each other, and when push comes to shove, they cleave to each other and help each other as needed.

[SPOILER] I like that we see this pretty quickly too, at the passing of their grandmother early in the show. Gone are the antagonistic scowls and barbs, replaced only by comforting words and a sense of solidarity. And true to real life (for most folks, I think), these two become even closer in adulthood. I liked the scenes of Present Bo Ra hanging out at Present Deok Sun’s house, chatting and sipping on coffee instead of heading home to her husband. I really enjoyed that little detail, that Bo Ra actually really likes hanging out around her sister. Aw. [END SPOILER]

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

Sun Woo & Bo Ra 

I must say that Show took me by surprise with the loveline between Sun Woo and Bo Ra. Particularly given how when we’re introduced to Bo Ra, she appears pretty unreasonable, what with her prickly, shouty and hair-pully ways. Yet, when Show builds the context and teases out the relationship between Bo Ra and Sun Woo, I honestly couldn’t help thinking that these two are quite perfect for each other.

The entire side arc of Sun Woo wearing Bo Ra down, and Bo Ra agreeing to date him, is really cute. When Bo Ra agrees to date him in episode 10, Sun Woo’s face, wearing an expression alternating between disbelief, wonder and happiness, when he realizes what she’s saying to him, is adorable.

Plus, both Jung Kyung Pyo and Ryu Hye Young approach the skinship gamely, making the kisses between Sun Woo and Bo Ra pretty hot indeed. In particular, I love the low, husky, almost-cracking tone of Sun Woo’s voice in episode 11, as he asks if he can kiss her. Ooh sexy.

They definitely kiss like they mean it, and the long, extended beat, of them just taking their time and drowning in the feels, is hot.

More than the giddy courtship and the sizzling skinship, I do love that these two truly care about each other.

In episode 14, when Sun Woo struggles with his guilt towards his bio dad, I love that he’s able to cry about it to Bo Ra. And then in episode 15, when we see Taek’s Dad run out excitedly to meet Sun Woo, Bo Ra watches from a distance, with a smile on her face. It’s just really sweet that they connect so deeply, and care so much.

I was a little disappointed, though not surprised, when Bo Ra broke up with Sun Woo in order to focus on her studies. But, she totally makes up for it by stepping out of her comfort zone to ask to start over, in episode 18.

I do love that the 3 conditions that Sun Woo lays down, have nothing to do with punishing her for how she’d treated him in the past, and everything to do with building a healthy foundation for their relationship, and planning for the future. That’s how serious he is, about making the relationship work. I do love that after Sun Woo’s got his 3 conditions, he really is the Oppa in the relationship. And, I’m just really glad for these two, that they got their happy-ever-after. ❤

As an aside, I thought the big reveal of Sun Woo’s relationship with Bo Ra, in Taek’s room in episode 20, was priceless.

I didn’t see it coming, but it’s So Perfect, coz everyone does hang out in Taek’s room. And Taek’s deer-in-headlights face is just perfect too. Hee.

Moo Sung & Sun Young

As the only single parents in the neighborhood, I felt a sense of solidarity between Taek’s Dad and Sun Woo’s Mom long before Show started hinting at a possible loveline between them. And it’s that quiet solidarity and understated interdependence that remains my most favorite thing about this couple.

Honestly, I would’ve been perfectly happy too, if Show had made them besties instead of a couple. I really wouldn’t have minded either way. I just liked seeing them support each other and give each other the listening ear and companionship that they both needed.

What a bonus, of course, when their connection started to turn romantic, coz I thought it was the sweetest thing. I loved the idea of Mom and Dad having each other, and Sun Woo getting a new Dad and Taek getting a new Mom.

There’s a sweet understatedness about Moo Sung and Sun Young’s relationship that I find very heartwarming. Like, I love how he goes to wait for her at the corner and walk with her, after she’s done with work, all without a word, because he’s worried about her and knows that she’s scared.

With this couple, I never felt the need to see them in overtly romantic conversations or situations. Just watching them do little everyday things together, in a family sort of manner, was enough. Like this little scene in episode 17, where they walk home together after he greets her at the corner, and she feeds him red bean bread as they walk, with Jin Joo fast asleep in his arms.

Just, so subtle and so endearing.

The way Show treats their romance, is just right. Nothing more is said after he quietly pops the question. All we see is that there’s now a doorway linking their two houses now. Which, awww.

The new family

In the same way, the new family comes together without a whole lot of dramatics. The biggest hurdle is Sun Woo’s guilt towards his bio dad, and even that’s resolved relatively quickly.

The thing I love the most about this new family, is how completely each parent embraces the other’s child. Dad practically trips over his own feet in his happy hurry to play catch with Sun Woo in episode 15, and Mom fusses over Taek like he’s her own son.

I love that Sun Woo and Taek now share a family and get to bask in the attention of two parents instead of one, and I love that we see Slightly Older Jin Joo nagging both of her oppas equally. It just makes me feel that this family has thoroughly fused into one, down to its core, and I like that a whole lot.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE LOVE TRIANGLE/HUSBAND HUNT

To be honest, I’d felt rather peeved, when I first realized that tvN was reneging on its promise to stop with the Who’s-The-Hubs game with this installment of Answer Me. I hadn’t liked Who’s-The-Hubs in AM1997, nor in AM1994, mostly because I’d felt like the production was being gleefully manipulative about dangling almost-answers at the audience, before not answering anything at all. All. Series. Long.

BOTH. TIMES.

Gah. By the time Am1988 rolled around, I was SO ready to leave Who’s-The-Hubs behind.

In principle, I’m a little exasperated with tvN for clinging to Who’s-The-Hubs. BUT, I’m (very, very) thankful that in terms of its execution, Who’s-The-Hubs went down a lot easier for me this time around. In my head, there’re a couple of reasons for this.

1. It’s doesn’t feel (as?) manipulative

I know not everyone felt the way I did about this, but I actually didn’t feel like Show was being manipulative in terms of teasing the audience about the identity of Deok Sun’s husband. I mean, yes, there was teasing and there were red herrings, but it didn’t feel mean-spirited, to me. In fact, it sort of felt like writer-nim hadn’t made up her mind, sometimes, and that she didn’t know who the hubs was, either.

To me, this was such a big improvement from AM1997 and AM1988, where Who’s-The-Hubs had often felt like the production was purposefully trolling us and having a cruel sort of fun with it, that I easily forgave the teasing and red herrings that we did get, coz those felt mild in comparison.

2. It isn’t the main focus

Because there’s so much more to this drama world than Deok Sun’s love life, each episode felt rich with meaning and story enough for me to not really mind the lack of progress or clarity with Who’s-The-Hubs. I loved getting to know the characters for themselves, and enjoyed their stories very well; enough to treat Who’s-The-Hubs as a secondary sort of thing, rather than THE thing.

3. Both potential husbands are great choices

Show does an excellent job of helping us get to know both of Deok Sun’s potential husbands, so much so that I had gigantic soft spots for them both. I loved both characters so much that I desperately didn’t want either of them to have his heart broken.

I honestly think I would have been fine with either boy getting the girl, since I loved them both and couldn’t ever seem to choose between them myself. I mean, under a microscope, you’d be able to see that my soft spot for Taek is a teensy-weensy, tiny bit greater, but the difference is totally puny, I swears.

During my watch, I’d regularly muse to myself something along the lines of, “Egad. I love both Jung Hwan and Taek. So much.” ❤ ❤

On a slight tangent, I thought it was a pretty great twist, to set perfect-boy-next-door Sun Woo up as one of the potential husbands, only to have that turned on its head 6 episodes in, when it’s revealed to us and to Deok Sun, that he’s been crushing not on Deok Sun, but on Bo Ra, all this time. It’s so neat, coz it makes all his excuses to borrow things from Deok Sun still valid, but in a completely different way. That totally changes the perspective. Nice move, Show.

I liked how that kept us on our toes, and evened out the playing field all over again, with Taek in the game the second time around. Very well-played, I thought.

Jung Hwan

Silently stoic, yet often simmering with quiet smolder with a side of smirk, Jung Hwan completely fit the bill of romantic leading man. In fact, Jung Hwan’s just the sort of male lead that I would swoon over.

Honestly, the best part of Jung Hwan’s crush on Deok Sun, was seeing his dorky side emerge in spite of his best efforts to hold himself in check. The amused smiles that he can’t quite hold in; the gruff yet silently thoughtful things he does for her; the adorably petty jealous reactions at the prospect of Deok Sun being alone with some other guy; his I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself discombobulation when Deok Sun’s nearer than he expects.. It’s all deliciously melty stuff, and I lapped it up eagerly every time Jung Hwan did his leading man thing on my screen.

Umph. Cuteness!

The problem, though, is that Jung Hwan never acted on his feelings properly, to let Deok Sun know how he felt about her. Given that the odds were stacked in his favor at one point, with Deok Sun nursing a crush on him, it’s doubly frustrating to see Jung Hwan alternate between reining in his feelings and denying them completely.

I do appreciate, though, the fierce loyalty to Taek that drives Jung Hwan’s ultimate decision to suspend his feelings for Deok Sun indefinitely. As nobly idiotic as it may appear to some, it does demonstrate just how much his friendship with Taek means to Jung Hwan.

Of course, it can also be argued that if Jung Hwan had just turbo-charged the turtle’s pace at which he’d been approaching Deok Sun, he might’ve already swept her off her feet before Taek made his announcement about liking Deok Sun.

…Which brings me back to my earlier point, about Jung Hwan hesitating far too much. In episode 18, after the time skip’s evened out the playing field all over again, Jung Hwan again chooses to cop out, this time with his real-to-fake confession to Deok Sun in front of Dong Ryong and Sun Woo.

Truth be told, I was mad at him for copping out, even though I get that he was doing it as a way to formally let go of his first love. Those flashbacks of Jung Hwan secretly peeping at Deok Sun outside his window, and grinning happily to himself, and waiting for her in the rain, and then grinning to himself, hit me right in the gut. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him, but I also couldn’t help being mad at him for being a cognizant coward. Still, I give Jung Hwan points for being self-aware enough to admit to himself that it was his own indecision that got him in this situation.

I tell myself that we all have growing up experiences like these where we live and learn; I also tell myself that very few people get their happy-ever-afters with their first loves. Even though Show doesn’t show it to us, I’d like to think that Jung Hwan learned from this experience, and the next time he met a girl who made his heart flutter, he acted a little faster to let her know.

In the meantime, here’s Jung Hwan being silently swoony in his gruff, stoic, melty sort of way:

Aww. Such a sweetheart. ❤

Taek

Because of the Sun Woo twist, Taek’s late to join the husband game, in the consciousness of the audience at least, and yet, he manages to steal my heart, so well.

It’s partly because he’s a bit of an underdog, given his socially awkward tendencies, and I almost can’t help myself when it comes to rooting for underdogs. Plus, Taek doesn’t have a mom. I just wanted him to have everything and receive love and be happy, y’know?

More than that, I have to credit Park Bo Gum, who makes Taek so compelling and endearing. Park Bo Gum’s wonderfully 3D delivery gives Taek’s reactions to Deok Sun a lovely depth that sucked me right in. For example, the way Taek smiles when he looks at Deok Sun is altogether wonderful. It always looks like it’s a joy that’s coming from deep inside, rising to the surface. I just can’t help but melt, in the face of that. Love.

Of course, the deal clincher, is that Taek, as reticent as he usually is, is unflinching and direct when he needs to be. Like how he moves so swiftly to shield Deok Sun from being hit by a stray volleyball in episode 10. And then, when Deok Sun teases, “Oooh, you’re a man,” I love how direct and matter-of-fact Taek answers, “Of course I’m a man. I’m not a woman.” 

Plus, there’s that unhesitating declaration that Taek makes to the rest of the boys. “I like Deok Sun. Not as a friend, but as a woman.” Squee! And, flail.

I find that undaunted decisiveness very swoony indeed, and every time Taek demonstrates that quality, I found him a little sexier. Especially in this moment of decisiveness, when he decides to kiss Deok Sun even though he isn’t even sure if it’s a dream:

Omona. This gave me legit tummy tingles, y’all.

When I think about it, every key milestone in the journey towards Taek and Deok Sun actually coming together as our OTP, has to do with Taek being sharply, swiftly decisive.

Like when he forfeits a baduk match, in spite of his highly competitive streak – in order to be there for Deok Sun at the concert. And then when he gets the first indication from Deok Sun – from her single utterance of the word “but” – that she’s willing to look beyond the fear of awkwardness growing between them; the way he moves in so decisively to kiss her is melt-to-the-floor hot, seriously.

Guh. Flail. Puddle. 

Armed with this kind of laser-sharp, ultra-sexy decisiveness when it really matters, I really can’t begrudge Taek getting the girl.

As an aside, have I mentioned that I find there’s something very sensuous about Park Bo Gum’s lips? They mesmerize me. And not only when he’s kissing his leading lady either. (Ok, they mesmerize me extra, when he’s kissing his leading lady. Ahem.) They also mesmerize me in general, they’re so.. expressively sensuous. A slow smile from Taek is enough to make my eyes glaze over, seriously. ❤

Jung Hwan & Taek

We see how both Jung Hwan and Taek take steps back from their respective feelings for Deok Sun, once they each clue in on the other’s feelings. While some might find this nobly idiotic (all’s fair in love and war and all that), I actually like the driving force behind the action: the desire to honor the other person; the choice to honor their friendship over and above matters of romance.

Beyond this, I really liked how we get to see what their friendship is really made of. They truly care for each other as friends and brothers, and nothing – not even an epic first love sort of crush – is going to get in the way of their friendship.

I do love that we see Jung Hwan taking the time to care for Taek in episode 12, even though Taek’s technically his romantic rival. There’s just something so sweet and endearing and pure about that.

And I really like how, in episode 19, Taek goes to visit Jung Hwan at the air base, to make sure the air between them is clear, before he resumes courting Deok Sun. It shows how serious he is about his feelings for Deok Sun, and his care for Jung Hwan, at the same time. I love that.

Of course, it pained me to see Jung Hwan brush it off as nothing and laugh about it. But the point is, these two valued their friendship above romance. And that’s what gets me in the heart.

The OTP

Although many of Jung Hwan’s scenes with Deok Sun are admittedly pretty melty, there’s something that consistently niggled at me. And that is, Deok Sun’s feelings are shown to be quite reactive, from the very beginning of the show.

Before her friends had planted the idea in her head that Sun Woo must like her, she’d had no discernible special feelings for Sun Woo. The big crush on Sun Woo had only appeared after she got “clued in” that he liked her. Similarly with Jung Hwan, her crush on him had appeared only after her friends  had insisted that Jung Hwan liked her.

For most of the show, we see Deok Sun basically obsessing about who likes her, and reacting to it by reciprocating with a crush. Taek is the only person whom we see Deok Sun react to with hyper-awareness, without being first triggered by someone convincing her that he has feelings for her.

In that sense, Deok Sun’s romantic feelings towards Taek are unadulterated by external influences. This is purely her, reacting to Taek. And that’s how it ought to be.

Taek, telling her in episode 12 that there’s nothing wrong with crying, after she encounters a flasher. Taek, waiting outside the bathroom for her, on the pretext of wanting a smoke. Taek, listening to Deok Sun when he won’t listen to anyone else. Taek, princess-carrying Deok Sun and running off with her, off the closed school grounds, while being chased by an angry guard.

I believe that bit by bit, Taek made his presence felt, and eventually, we see Deok Sun reacting with hyper-awareness and expectancy every time the door chimes tinkle in the cafe, in episode 18. She was waiting for Taek. Eee!!

I have to say that I liked Taek making his way to Deok Sun, slowly but surely. The way he enjoys his time with her, slowly and deliberately, is really endearing. And quite swoony too, really.

I also really enjoy how Taek and Deok Sun affect each other. He tells her it’s ok to cry, and carries her when she can’t walk. She is able to get through to him, about having his meals and taking less medication, when no one else can. And once they become a couple, he’s able to sleep like a baby without his pills. Which I find such a deep, significant detail, really, since Taek had been so dependent on the pills, for years. Deok Sun is good for him, literally. I love that.

As a couple, Taek and Deok Sun are absolutely adorable together, and I love that the way they interact is fundamentally the same as before, except with cuddles and kisses. So Perfect.

I love that they aren’t afraid to just cuddle in the middle of the street, even though any of their neighbors could pop up at any moment. And I freaking love the way Taek looks at her, with such unadulterated joy on his face. She totally lights up at him too. And I love how naturally he holds out his hand to her, and how easily she takes it.

I could gaze at these two just being goofy-sweet on my screen for hours, and am a little wistful that we didn’t get to see more of them as a couple.

THEMES

I really like that almost every episode is built around some kind of theme, often with the characters going through experiences that look disparate on the surface, but which somehow all fit into the same theme. Sometimes, I really had to think about it, to figure out how the various threads across characters fit into that episode’s theme, but it would mostly become clear on its own, eventually.

I do love how the different threads each add a different facet to the theme, so that by the end of the episode, we get a deeper, more 3D sort of immersion into the theme, and the theme itself tends to linger afterwards as well.

Here’s a quick list of highlights, of some of the bigger themes in this show:

E2. The idea that adults feel sad too, and are just too busy being adults and therefore bottle it up. That’s such a universal thing.

E5. Moms and the way they love. And how moms need love too.

E7. Love comes in all shapes and forms, but still, tell each other anyway. And love now, today.

E8. Being strong for the ones you love.

E13. All dads want to be Superman to their family, even if they really are far from it on the inside.

Ultimately, I have to say that I enjoyed this neighborhood so much that I got to a point where I almost didn’t care what the focus of the episode was. Coz I knew it would be warm and cozy any which way. And I was not disappointed.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

By now, you’ve probably guessed that I liked a lot about this show, heh. Still, were there things that I didn’t like, or thought Show could’ve done better? Absolutely. Here’s a quick list:

1. I don’t love the eventual treatment of Jung Hwan’s arc. Although I get that the confession fakeout was his way of letting go of his first love, because we don’t see Jung Hwan eventually healing from this, and moving on, it feels like he got the short end of the stick, somehow. Show should’ve shown us – at some point, even if it was in the final episode, in the present day – that Jung Hwan’s moved on, has found someone really special, and is happy. That would’ve helped to balance things out, and by quite a lot too.

2. I wish we could’ve seen Taek and Deok Sun’s wedding. Those two are so cute together, their wedding would’ve given me goofy grins for days. Days, I tell ya. ❤

3. At least a glimpse of the rest of the gang, in the present. We see Deok Sun, Taek, Bo Ra and No Eul.. and that’s all. I’d have loved to see the gang together, and have the assurance that although times, circumstances and locations may have changed, that they are still the same bunch of friends who tease each other, and love each other, and find ways to still hang out together.

4. Same thing, for the parents. These weren’t people who just happened to live in the same neighborhood. These were genuine friends who cared deeply about one another. I would’ve loved a scene of the parents, all white-haired and wrinkly, still chuckling over coffee.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It honestly broke my heart more than a little, that the families moved away and left the neighborhood behind. I mean, even when the gang was growing into adulthood, I’d already felt rather wistful. I just didn’t want them to grow up; I wanted them to just be the same gang, living on the same block, all young and bright-eyed, always.

But true to real life, Show demonstrates that time keeps moving on, and that often forces people to move on too. At the same time, I’m thankful to Show for also reminding us that it’s really all about savoring the memories that you make while growing up and figuring out life, and the people with whom you make those memories.

Those memories – like this show – are like a magic time capsule; step in for a bit, and all of the feels come rushing back. Even as time continues to pass, and as we continue on our life journeys, those memories are ours, always. Just like the memories shared by our AM1988 gang.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Poignant and heartwarming, with a mildly bittersweet aftertaste. Definitely recommend.

FINAL GRADE: A

TRAILER:

MVs:

…And a special spotlight on Taek/Park Bo Gum. Coz this boy legit gives me the goofy grins just by showing up on my screen. ❤

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

70 thoughts on “Review: Answer Me, 1988 [Reply 1988]

  1. I’ve still got 3 episodes of this left, so I’ll have to wait to read the last part of your review. I also haven’t seen 1994, but I can compare it to 1997. I too found it very heartwarming and slice of life. I do think the episodes were way too long and would have enjoyed tighter editing. I did enjoy the expanded community, but I would have liked to seen the teens get more screen time like in 1997. Aside from Taek, I liked the teens better in 1997 too. But I do love Taek!

    I’m one who isn’t bothered at all by the husband guessing game. I found it fun in 1997 (although completely obvious who it was). This one is more low key, but still fun.

    I’m going to end up giving this one a 7/10. Pretty much everything was wonderful about it, but it did feel quite draggy, especially the last third. But it got right what it needed to and it was enjoyable 🙂

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    • Aw, I’m glad you managed to enjoy this one, even if it’s in a more muted and moderate fashion than how you enjoyed AM97. 🙂 I think we all respond to the different installments differently, depending on our personal context and history. I know lots of viewers loved AM97, but I personally liked it in a more moderate fashion than most other viewers. I think with AM88, the community is what gets me right in the heart. There’s something about the community focus that warms my heart in a visceral, exponential fashion. So much so that I’d even say the romance is a secondary arc, which, gasp! 😄 And yes, how wonderfully adorable is Taek?!?? I LUFF THAT BOY. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The way you break down your review is always the highlight for me. It is well articulated. It makes it easier to digest this drama specifically due to its length and number of characters. So, thank you.

    You’ve already said what I wanted to say about this drama. I agree to basically everything you mentioned. I’ll just add a few things on my mind. I am grading this drama A as well. It would have been an A++, but then Episodes 18-20 happened. The husband hunting became the focal point of the last three episodes. Add in the fact that they left us hanging with some of the characters, specifically Jung Hwan and the parents. I badly wanted to know what happened to them. Other than that, this drama took me by storm. The roller coaster of emotions I go through every single episode is something I rarely get to experience in dramas. The drama brought me to that neighborhood like I was one of them. I laughed, cried, and fell in love with them. It made me wonder of the technology they did not have, yet still managed to go through their day. Heck, it made me appreciate bananas more. My gosh, I did not realize they were expensive then. Oh, 1988, how I’ve missed you.

    As a comparison, the original, AM 1997, is still my favorite of the three (also my favorite Korean drama). AM 1997 was flawed as well, but the episode lengths, the number of episodes, and my satisfaction with its ending made it the top drama for me. AM 1988 comes in second, while the 1994 version is my least favorite. Still, all three dramas are worth watching. I will have to give credits to the director, the writer, and the entire staff for always giving us that nostalgic feeling during the drama and remained there long after it’s over.

    Slice of life dramas are rarity in an industry full of makjang, chaebol, and romantic dramas. So, I find it odd that Koreans don’t make them as much. I believe there’s an audience for them, as evident with the record breaking ratings of Answer Me 1988. Misaeng, another slice of life drama, also managed to do well in ratings two years ago. I mean if you and I get affected with this drama so much, I don’t understand why there’s a few of them. So, I ask you, why Koreans don’t make them more? Would you like to see more? Or Is it better that they are those rare diamonds in a sea full of shiny, but useless stones?

    Again, thank you for your dedication. Enjoy your week. Enjoy your family. Have fun and enjoy the little things.

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    • Ahh, I’m so glad you enjoyed AM88 as much as I did, drawde!! 😀 And I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this review, and felt that it helped you organize your thoughts about this drama. Coz indeed, this cast is quite large, in that almost all of the characters feel important. I usually choose a few characters to zoom in on, in writing a review, in the interest of brevity and focus, but in the case of AM88, I literally felt bad at the thought of leaving anyone out. I couldn’t pick just 1 or 2 of the dong-gap 5, nor could I pick just 1 or 2 of the parents. They all felt important to me – which is how I embarked on the relatively ambitious approach of talking about almost everyone. I think I only left out Dong Ryong’s Mom, and I felt ok about that, since we didn’t see much of her. That attachment I have to the characters is testament to just how well Show engaged me at a heart level. This show made me laugh and made me cry, and the characters totally feel like real people to me. People that I know and love and care about. ❤ Totally agree on the things I'd have liked to see in the ending. If Show had managed to accomplish that too, on top of everything else that it managed to do, this would've been an A++ for me too, for sure. 🙂

      As for your question about slice-of-life dramas, I would like to see more of them too. I think part of the reason that not many kdramas go slice-of-life, is that it's harder to get right. When it's not done right, slice-of-life can be boring, and audiences won't bite. And even when it's done right, audiences aren't guaranteed to bite. Case in point, Plus Nine Boys is one show which I enjoyed for its understated, warm slice-of-life approach, but the show did poorly in ratings and even among international audiences. It's just harder to capture audiences and ratings with slice-of-life, and with so much on the line, broadcasters are more willing to bank on tried and tested makjang to bring in the numbers. Certainly, I'm hoping that we'll see more well-done slice-of-life in the prime-time slots.

      I think mostly, audiences who want slice-of-life kdrama get their fill from family dramas. There are some really good ones, though like everything else, they aren't created equal. My absolute favorite family drama is Life Is Beautiful. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. It's so heartwarming and feel-good, I never wanted it to end!

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  3. Pingback: Year In Review: 2015 | The Fangirl Verdict

  4. I’ve just finished the AM1998 and reading your review felt like there was someone else with me to gush about the show haha 😄 This is one of the few dramas that I have consistently looked forward to watching every week (I may or may not have been rationing last episodes so as to prolong the agony of separation). Your review manages to capture all my emotions about the Show (and Taek especially💜)

    Like you said, the long episodes were no problem – the fact that the show went at a slow pace made me really appreciate the small moments and I think that’s what makes the drama so loveable!

    Anyway, thank you for making my Monday a happier one with your lovely post 😉

    PS Is anyone else joining me to rewatch AM1988 again?!?!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, I’m so happy that you enjoyed this review, naomi! 🙂 And I totally know what you mean about rationing episodes! I regularly rationed them, just to make them last longer. I loved visiting their little neighborhood, so much. And OMG yes, Taek is ❤ – I felt like I couldn't ever get enough of him, he's so lovable and endearing. ❤

      I definitely see myself watching this again sometime.. I'm not ready to join you on a rewatch just yet though. I typically like to give shows some time to rest and breathe and fade a little from my memory, so that my rewatch feels as fresh as possible. 🙂

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  5. Kfangirl, I love the review and I enjoyed the drama. I still have one episode to go but I just don’t want the drama to end.

    I would have liked the episodes to be a little shorter but watching AM88 didn’t feel like a great stretch compared to AM94. I think that is based on what you have mentioned about the drama being more on community and family. I really got a sense of ‘loving your neighbour as yourself’. You talked about some really good examples of acts of love between different characters that I really liked.

    I loved Jin Ju, played by Kim Seul. She stole my heart. She is literally the queen of heart or maybe to be more relevant she is the “magically princess Minky” to Muffin’s heart. 😛 She is so precious and I was elated to see a little bit of her in YOF Africa.

    I think Park Bo Gum is a pretty awesome actor and person. I really loved all the detail he put into Taek. There so many scenes to talk about but one of my favourite was when Duk Seon was trying to teach Taek how to swear and to be more brusque. There was one point in her lesson where she would naturally roll her neck and eyes and then when it was Taek’s turn to repeat after her he would mimic her neck roll and eye roll but with bigger movements. Like a litte bit exaggerated. I laughed so much.

    :):):)

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    • *Magical Princess Minky

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    • I totally know what you mean, Muffin, about not wanting this drama to end!! I loved visiting their little neighborhood, and wanted to be able to keep visiting, indefinitely. Provided they continued to stay there, forever and always. ❤ And yes, Jin Ju was adorable! I did feel a little alarmed at the earlier episodes, where she kept eating the most unhealthy stuff in large portions. OMG that gigantic sausage she was gnawing at still gives me the shudders! 😛 But otherwise, yes, absolutely endearing and adorable.

      And yes, Taek! OMG I LOVE TAEK. Park Bo Gum is wonderful as Taek, and I just can't enough of adorable Taek. I love how slowly and deliberately he does everything – it just amps up the moment, and gives everything he does a Taek feel. Like that scene you mentioned.. I loved the slow and deliberate way he did those movements, which is what made it funny, coz he looked like he was trying so hard and concentrating so intently, on something which should be effortless. So cute! ❤

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  6. I made every effort to avoid the spoilers and you have no idea how much I’ve restrained myself from doing such. Haha! Reading a portion of your review makes me ALL THE MORE excited to watch this drama. (School holiday, please come fast! )
    I’ll get back to this review once I finish the whole show.

    And… your reviews had now become a sort of stress-buster for me. You’re awesome kfangurl. As always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw! Thanks Xia.. You’re always so sweet and encouraging! ❤ I'm honored to be a stress-buster for you! 😉 And yes, I do hope your holidays come fast so that you'll be able to finally watch this show! I'd love to hear how you like it. 🙂

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  7. Great review!!

    Out of all the Reply heroines, I related to Deoksun the most, especially when she had the talk with Dad in the steps and said that she didn’t have any dreams (future) because I had that moment too. I just wished Hyeri was a much stronger actress in general but nonetheless she did pretty good.

    I already loved Bogum ever since Cantabile and Gaksitaaaaaal and I’m glad he portrayed adorable puppy Taek.

    I was heartbroken when the husband wasn’t JungHwan because unlike in R1994 where I loved both male leads equally, this edition I loved JungHwan more than Taek by just a little bit. And I blame Ryu Jun Yeol for it, he just took my heart and never let go. (The bus scene, where he shielded Deoksun!!!! *squeal*)

    I also dislike what they did with JungHwan’s arc because we should’ve Atleast saw him moving on, there was a serious lack of JungHwan in the last episode though I’m equally frustrated at the more serious lack of Dong Ryong in the whole series(!!!!).

    I also wanted to see the parents in present time but the depressing reality is most of them probably passed away and I think the writer intended for a more bittersweet ending by making us long for our by gone youth. As narrated by Deoksun at the end.

    If ever they make another Reply (which they will), I hope they make it just like 88 with more focus on family and friendships and of course, cast Ra Mi Ran again. She definitely stole the show for me. Cheetah Ajummah fighting!

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    • Thanks Jen, I’m glad you enjoyed the review! 🙂 And I so agree with you.. I identify with Deok Sun the most too, out of the 3 Reply heroines. I never was a rabid fangirl, so I couldn’t quite identify with Shi Won and Na Jeong on that. But that thing, about Deok Sun not knowing what her dreams were, that was me too! I completely agree that it would’ve been awesome if Hye Ri had managed to do better in the role. I do find her likable though, and seeing her try so hard and give it her all, totally helped to endear her to me, in spite of her acting limitations.

      Oh yes, Jung Hwan had plenty of melty moments, I do agree! That bus scene made me squee too! I loved both boys so much, that I knew I’d be a little either way, whoever got the girl. Although I think the story could’ve worked just as well if Jung Hwan had been written to get the girl, I do get the logic of why Taek was written to get the girl – which I’ve already written about in the review, and so won’t repeat here. I guess I should be grateful to Park Bo Gum being so amazing in the role, coz he made my soft spot for Taek so huge that I was perfectly happy when Taek got the girl. 😉 But ugh, they really should’ve done more to give us closure on Jung Hwan’s poor hurting heart. That was such an oversight, I felt. I wonder why the writers didn’t show us more of the friends in the present day timeline.. I mean, I reluctantly buy your point about the parents (so sad!), but what about the rest of the friends? We should’ve totally had a glimpse of all of them.

      Let’s hope they get that right in the next installment – and I do hope that they’ll continue to be genuinely inspired to make these. The shows are always so full of heart that I end up loving all the characters, and that’s pretty darn special. ❤

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      • “…but what about the rest of the friends? We should’ve totally had a glimpse of all of them.”

        You know, I had a funny thought about this. A really Meta explanation would be that which actor would they get to play adult Junghwan? Wouldn’t it be someone like Kim Joo Hyuk? They resemble each other so much that I really believed (as did a lot of viewers) Junghwan was the hubby because his appearance and personality matches the hubby. Just popped in my head. Lol!

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        • Lol! That’s a good point, HyunnJi! Who would they have gotten to play Jung Hwan?? Maybe they just couldn’t find the right actor and just decided that they couldn’t show Present Jung Hwan? Although, looks aside (and when is casting mainly on physical resemblance anyway, right?), I’m thinking Lee Jong Hyuk could’ve done a nice job channeling Jung Hwan.. He’s got a similar vibe as Jung Hwan, even if he doesn’t quite look it as much as Kim Joo Hyuk, I think? 🙂

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  8. Thanks for the woderfully detailed drama recap @ kfangurl! AM1988 is the first Reply serial I’ve watched. And i binge watched it in less than 7 days in early Feb. I literally cried at almost every freaking episode for all the reasons you mentioned! No other serial has touched me so deeply as this one. After 1998 though, I was so hesitant to watch either AM1997 or 1994 as I was too afraid that AM1988 has spoilt it for me, in that surely, the others COULD NOT POSSIBLY AS GOOD??!! Or maybe I was too affected by the withdrawal symptoms of 1988 and could not bear the thought of embarking on another one so soon. Like I’m still getting over my last relationship and can’t bear to start dating again coz I’m afraid I might forget my first love too quickly 🙂 I was neither in Taek-camp nor Jung Hwan-camp for most of the episodes but by episode 14, Park Bo Geum managed to worm his way into my heart with his earnest purity and can I be so shallow as to say, his perfect face… After reading the rave reviews of him in I Remember You, I started on a couple of episodes just so that I could ogle at him some more. But the realisation that he was the “evil brother” made me give up on watching it as I still can’t look at PBG without thinking of the innocent and pure hearted Taek. I can’t allow my illusion of him be shattered so quickly!! So I guess I’ll just take a breather from k-dramas for a while and allow my heart to heal a little first… All this emotion is too much to bear!

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    • Hi there Sundazzler!! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this review AND the show! Isn’t AM88 such a lovely, lovely watch? ❤ I've seen both AM97 and AM94, and I enjoyed AM88 the most. Of course, I do feel like I'm in the minority here, since many of my blogger friends have expressed that they prefer AM97 or AM94. I guess it all depends on personal context, in a way. This one just got my heart is a big way, and I can't help loving all the characters. ❤ If your taste is like mine, then you might enjoy AM94 more than AM97. I'd say that if you're planning to watch either of those shows, to just be prepared to shrug off the husband hunt. I felt the husband hunt wasn't handled very well in those shows, coz it felt long-drawn-out and eventually, annoying and boring. BUT, I did love the nostalgia that both shows evoked. Lovely retro worlds, lovingly created by people who clearly have personal affection for those eras. Worth watching for the nostalgia alone. Plus, both leads are pretty swoony in AM94 as well 😉

      And yes, I so feel you, in terms of Taek. He's so lovely and endearing, I just wanna squish him and pet his head furiously, lol. 😄 If you're longing for more Taek, I do think that watching Youth Over Flowers in Africa is a good way to get some of that. Coz Park Bo Gum's real personality does seem uncannily like Taek's. Aside from the baduk genius part. 😉 You can check it out here.

      I also feel you, in terms of finding it weird watching him in IRY, after AM88. I’ve paused on my watch of IRY, coz I find it too disconcerting to see Taek being in serial killer mode. It just feels wrong. 😛

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      • I love it that you reply to our comments personally 😍! Such a great community we have here to share our views and opinions in a warm and friendly environment! Yes to get my dose of PBG I’ve been watching out for the youth over flowers to Africa episodes. Only ep 1 has been subbed into English..waiting for the kind souls to sub ep 2. But wasn’t it hilarious how PBG missed his flight as he took his own time to shop and eat? He’s such a sweetheart I’ll bet none of his hyungs or the staff could stay mad with him for long! IRY serial I will attempt again some months down the road when I want to watch PBG the actor, rather than PBG the Taek sweetie pie.
        I did attempt to watch AM 1997 the other day but could only get through one episode. The leads didn’t appeal to me and I missed the nostalgic, family slice of life feel of 1988. Maybe I will try 1994 later this month after I get over my withdrawal symptoms of AM1988 AND Healer which I only watched very recently as well (yeah really late on the Ji Chang Wook train 😁). Too busy with work now, so I watch very selectively and use your reviews to decide which ones are worth the time as I suspect my tastes in kdrama are similar to yours!

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        • Aw! The comments section is where I get to chat with everyone about dramas and stuff, which, in my opinion, is a Very Good Thing! 🙂 So glad you’re enjoying your time here, Sundazzler!

          You might’ve already seen it by now, but E2 of YOF Africa has been subbed, woot! I am SO glad that it’s being subbed, coz I think the other seasons didn’t get subbed. I actually watched E1 raw, and even though I understood a fair chunk of it without subs, it’s always nice to have subs to clue me in to stuff I would’ve missed otherwise, thanks to my limited grasp of Korean. 😉 And yes, PBG is SUCH a dorky sweetie! I can’t get over how he’s so much like Taek. I find it completely endearing, and it boggles my mind how he’s such a good actor, while being such an innocent dork at heart! Kinda like how it boggled everyone’s mind how Taek could be a baduk genius, while being unable to tie his own shoelaces! 😄

          I do recommend AM94 over AM97, even though most folks prefer AM97. I found AM94 grabbed my heart a lot more than AM97 did. If you’re like me (which you seem to be, since you love AM88!), you might prefer AM94, I think. 🙂

          PS: I’m so pleased that you find the reviews useful in general – that’s why I write ’em! 😀

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  9. Ei!! I was actually very suspicious (and surprise) to hear from my friends that AM1988 is the best so far among the AM series. Due to work, I have to spend 4 weekends to complete the whole series. Lo and behold it is one of the best!! The camaraderie, family, the ahjummas!!!

    Watching the last five minutes of Episode 20, it so bittersweet that it hurts a little. You learned to care to these characters and ye i agree, it would be great if we are given a guarantee that all these characters met their own happy ending and that they are still in touch with each other. Then and again, in real life, it doesn’t happen. We lost touch with the friends we grew up with, some lived a happy life and some…surviving. And that’s what these series was able to project, a-true-to-the-heart reflection of our childhood.

    At times it makes me jealous that I hope i had spent my childhood like them. 🙂 Nah!

    AM Series will always be best and 1988 is the one to beat.

    And oh, cheers to you in responding personally in each and every comment. :p

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    • Ah! I’m glad you enjoyed AM88, CJ! 😀 This installment of the AM series got less love than it deserved, imo. I’m so pleased that you agree that this one is the best! The camaraderie, the families, the neighborhood, augh, I love it all! ❤ And yes, that last bit is really so bittersweet. I wanted so badly to see the community together again, even if it was a reunion type thing coz they don't live near one another anymore.. that would've been so nice, to see that the times and circumstances may have changed, but their love and affection for one another stays constant through it all. That's how it works in my head, anyway! ^^

      Thanks, I like to respond to all the comments, coz it's great getting to know everyone, and chatting dramas. So feel free to leave a comment when you come by, CJ! I may not always be quick with my replies, but I get there! 😉

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  10. Hi! Thank you for this wonderful review. Before I comment about the drama itself, let me just praise your blog! It’s so informative and you really capture the gist that I’m looking for in reviews. Continue doing a good job!

    To be honest, I’m a newbie when it comes to dramas. I know my country (Philippines) has been in love with K-dramas since time immemorial, I’ve only opened my heart and mind to it just a few years back. And it was because of AM1997. AM1997 really changed my life. It was so real, so honest and so heartwarming. I was born in 1995 but the way the drama spoke to me was just simply amazing. Because of that, I’ve really put the AM series in high regard.

    Buttttt…. I wasn’t impressed with AM1994. It was too long and draggy (and I wanted Chilbong to be the husband lol) but I guess I only had that thinking because AM1997 was short and sweet. However, I’m in the verge of re-watching AM1994 because of AM1998. Don’t get me wrong, AM1988 is even longer than AM1994! But I tried watching some episodes and it really caught my heart. Admittedly, I was looking for the development of the lovelines more but the interactions between the community was so touching! I cried in a lot of scenes that I saw.

    I’ll be going back here in your blog once I’ve finished watching this drama. Thank you so much and more power! Wonderfully written blogs like this makes me want to start my own too. Hehe.

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    • Hi there Ken! Thanks for your lovely encouragement about the blog!! I’m so glad that you enjoy this space, and find the reviews helpful. 🙂

      I can imagine how you’d feel more than a little sore at AM94 if you were rooting for Chilbongie.. 😛 (I was on board with Trash Oppa from the beginning, so I ended up loving the show.) I’m so glad that your disappointment with AM94 didn’t stop you from checking out AM88, coz AM88 is literally my favorite of all the Reply shows so far. Such a wholesome, lovely watch that completely captured my heart. ❤ I hope you enjoy the rest of your watch of AM88 – I'd love to hear how you like it, once you're done! 🙂

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      • Hi Kfangurl! (I don’t know your name, hehe sorry) I know it’s a bit late but I revisited your site and saw this comment so I might as well reply.

        Just like what I’ve written in my previous post, AM 1997 has had a special place in my heart ever since I watched it and I was kind of afraid that no other drama could match up to it. AM 1997 changed my life forever in ways that only I can understand! Haha. I sound like a K-drama character when I tell people about that.

        But I was blown away by AM 1988. Literally. AM 1988 was so amazing. Watching the entire Ssangmundong neighborhood was so endearing. It really felt so magical to me. Also, the timing when I watched AM 1988 was just spectacular. I was a few days away from graduating in college (Yay me!) and watching the entire series made me feel nostalgic about my own life. Watching this series made me appreciate everything that happened in my life.

        It’s been 4 months since I watched the drama (It came to a point that I would watch the drama everyday just to “feel” being part of the neighborhood hehe; thankfully I got over that point already) and I still haven’t organized my thoughts about this drama because it still broke me to pieces. It’s that good. I almost felt that I was the 6th person of their squad. But here’s three points at the top of my mind that I loved about this drama.

        1.) I loved Deoksun. Although I’m a guy, I really related to Deoksun’s dilemma of not having a dream for myself. I just recently graduated and I’m not really sure what I want to be in the same way that Deoksun felt like a loser of not having any dream. But hey, she became successful so I think I will be too?? Haha. 🙂
        P.S. My favorite scene of Deoksun was her Spanish duet song with Dong Ryong in EP 4. It was so funny and I had to look at the Internet to see if that was a legit song they were singing. HAHAHA

        2.) I was ready to fight everyone who thought that Taek wasn’t deserving to be Deoksun’s wife and Jung Hwan deserved it more. Jung Hwan had MORE chances to confess his love to DS, but he wasted it all. When he finally confessed, Taek has captured DS’s heart already. And about Deoksun’s feelings being so fickle: I don’t know but for me, it felt so real. I saw DS in the drama as someone not knowing what romantic love is so she depended on external factors to decide how she should feel. Also, not everyone has the luxury to know their true feelings at such an early age. I’ve fought with a lot of antis in the internet because of this. (Trust me, it’s good brain exercise!)

        3.) Park Bogum and Hyeri are good kissers. HAHAHAHA. Sorry if it sounds a bit pervert-ish, but I really liked how passionate their kisses were in the drama. All their romantic frustrations were encapsulated in those kisses and I’m so happy that the directors didn’t succumb to using the the K-drama land patented ugly kisses.

        So, in the end, do I like this more than AM 1997? I’m not quite sure. AM 1997 related to my fanboy side and my love for the “bestfriends-to-lovers” romantic genre. Not to mention the many quotable quotes every episode. On the other hand, AM 1988 related to me as a simple person. AM 1988 tells us that each person has an amazing story despite all the hardships and un-exciting stuff that may happen in our daily lives. For short, both AM 1997 and AM 1988 changed my life and I’m forever thankful to those who created these dramas.

        And just like what I’ve said, I actually opened my blog now! I’m still doing K-pop song reviews but I promised to myself that I should review AM 1988. You’re one of my inspirations (and I always go back here for drama reviews for series I want to watch) so thank you!

        Like

        • Hi there Kepol! Great to hear from you again, and to know that (1) you reallyreally love AM88 (YAY!), and (2) you really did start a blog! Congratulations on the new blog, and I hope you enjoy your blogging journey. It tends to have its ups and downs, and running a blog tends to entail a lot more work than one might first imagine. The most important thing is that you like what you do though, so keep on following your heart where it leads. 🙂

          As for AM88.. YES IT’S SO MAGICAL, ISN’T IT?? ❤ ❤ I love the community too, and these people legit made me cry, more than a few times. They just feel so wonderfully real, and I want them to move into my neighborhood and be MY neighbors, heh. I'm so glad you're on board with Taek being the hubs.. I know a lot of viewers wanted Jung Hwan to be the husband, but I feel like Show did a very solid job of showing why it was Taek and not Jung Hwan. More than that, though, I love each character on his or her own merit, and I definitely see myself revisiting this one again. ❤

          Like

  11. Reply1988 was a very good drama, no surprise when both 1997 and 1994 was very good dramas. It’s always hard to compared dramas, especially some years after you have seen the first one. But I think I liked the supporting characters in the 1994 version, so I think Reply1994 is somewhat my favorite, but all three versions has pros and cons, with1997 had the best leading couple.

    My favorite character in 1988 was Bo-ra, and I often enjoyed her scenes. But what I did not like was that their parents/adults had such a big part in the drama, even if I’m middle aged adult myself (a bit strange maybe….). But it was so many boring scenes with them, it was a bit tired-some seeing the mothers all the time. I would prefer giving more scenes to the kids. I think the drama lacked a bit “action”, like the friends doing stuff together either than eating and watching movies. It felt a bit strange that they was so good friends, but you rarely saw them do stuff outside their home-street. They had the school-trip scenes, but not much more I think. And the way Taek talked was so annoying…

    But at the end of the day a very good drama, that maybe was a bit more about family and social problems in South Korea in the 80ies than romance. For the romance, I already around episode 2-3 matched both sisters with the “right” guy, mostly by luck, but some gut-feeling too.

    One more thing, loved Hye-ri in long hair and the outfit she was wearing when her character was going on a movie-date with a random guy.

    Like

    • Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Patrik – in spite of the stretches that you didn’t like as much. 🙂 I personally loved the adult scenes as much as the ones involving the kids, and I really liked the mothers together.. their friendship was a highlight for me. But I do get that we all have difference preferences and expectations. Which is why I’m so pleased that in spite of our different preferences, we both still managed to enjoy the same show. 🙂 And yes, I agree Hye Ri looked nice with the long hair! 🙂

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  12. – Thank you so much, your review is very similar to my thought but I can’t write as good as yours indeed. This 1988 has not focused too much to find the husband and actually the production team gave explicit clues pretty naturally like they did not intend to hide at all.
    – For family and neighborhood, this 1988 nicely presented.
    – For love lines, I like the way to convey message from Dong Ryong to Deok Sun to consider whom she likes, rather than who likes her. Deok Sun showed her special feeling to Taek via her actions constantly over episodes.
    – From men’s side, I can’t bear the character of Jung Hwan in the way of hiding his feelings, the quotes Jung Hwan mentioned why he missed opportunity in love is his hesitation constantly, this is the fact of life. This character annoyed me for hiding his love, rather than let me cheer up.
    – Taek, whilst in the look of less matured, can speak his love much more out loud with high determination. Park Bo Gum is really good actor who portraited the role thoroughly(Actually seeing his award’s short scenes from KBS’s Hello Monster, his acting is exceptional.

    Like

    • Hi there atuitui! We do seem to have pretty identical thoughts about AM1988! Hi5! 😀 Indeed, the family & neighborhood were wonderfully fleshed out, and big kudos to writer-nim for managing to make the community even more compelling than the loveline itself. That takes some serious skill, particularly in romance-centric dramaland, and it was so effective that I didn’t even mind when the lovelines didn’t move much at times.

      I do agree that Jung Hwan was too hesitant, in acting on his feelings for Deok Sun. But like you said, it’s a fact of life, and I’m sure many of us can identify with not having been quick-acting enough, at some point in our lives. And yes, I agree that Park Bo Gum is quite the actor! I am more impressed the more I see of him, and I can’t wait to see him in more projects. 🙂

      Like

  13. I am so happy that you loved AM88. I am so happy about this drama I cannot get over it. I think this deserves a lot of credit and good ratings. I honestly do not understand some other reviews where they find it difficult to understand Taek ends up with Deok Sun when it was actually a perfect match. They are both perfect for Deok Sun it is just that Jung Wan was always too late and very hesitant when compared to Taek who knows what he wants and is not afraid to get it. It is also sad that I was unable to see their marriage. I totally agree with you that it would have been very nice if they showed as their wedding, a glimpse of happy Jung Wan with his wife and the whole gang in a one happy reunion at the end. I cried a lot during the ending because it felt like something was missing and you were able to pinpoint the missing pieces. T.T I will watch this drama again. I am also in love with Taek. I love his smiles and his simple romantic gestures. awwwwww T.T I am crushing on Park Bo Gum after watching him here. Lol

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    • Aw, yay that you loved AM88, Marrion!! 😀 I feel like this one received unnecessary flak from viewers who were rooting for Jung Hwan’s character to get the girl. I felt like Show did a solid job of showing us why Taek was the one who ended up with Deok Sun, so I’m with you in feeling bemused at all the upset feelings directed towards this show. Like you, Park Bo Gum completely stole my heart as Taek, and just a smile from him is enough to give me a case of the goofy grins. ❤ I can't wait to see him in his next drama – I think he'll be a very charming Crown Prince! 😉

      Like

  14. Aw, I loved reading this well-written tribute to a superb drama. You really hit on why it was so special. I was heartbroken when Jung-hwan wasn’t the husband(to an unreasonable degree I’ll admit), and I felt betrayed, but I realize now that it was my expectations that betrayed me, not the writer. I see that it was written where it could really have gone either way, and if only I had it to do over again, I would just want to watch with a totally open mind to the end, not having any conclusion about who the hubs would be. What you wrote helped me feel a little more peace over the matter. (And as a side note, I really really did love both Taek and Jung-hwan so much, but for some reason, I just wanted Jung-hwan to be the husband-perhaps because I tend to sway my feelings toward my expectations?) I have so many “if only”s: If only Jung-hwan had at least gotten his own happy ending. If only it didn’t feel like he was being punished for being considerate. (‘Cause it seemed that he was doing a good thing by being considerate of Taek and yet he is judged for hesitating ((although I admit he was slow about it even before he knew of Taek’s feelings, but still!))) Anyway, this drama has so much for me to love and appreciate aside from the hubs game, and these characters just completely melted my heart with their low-key, mundane expressions of love, and like you, I didn’t feel bored by the long episode length, but savored it. 😀

    Like

    • Aw, I’m glad you enjoyed this review, Jennifer. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the show so much, coz I do feel like this show deserved more love than it got. I’d totally watch this one again, long episodes and all. There’s just so much warmth and earthiness in this one. Perhaps on your next watch, you’ll enjoy it more, with a more neutral husband lens on? I find that sometimes happens to me, that I enjoy a show more on the second watch than the first, coz I’m able to adjust my lens in hindsight 🙂

      Like

  15. Warm fuzzies all over… *melting* *swooning* *sighing* Where are all the cute emoji’s when I want them? 🙂 *hear, hear* *cheer!* I haven’t seen 1994 yet, and 1997 was so long ago that I didn’t remember a lot about it, so this was even more fresh for me. I thought it was cool that the parents kept their names (pretty much) 😉 Everything you said about the good and things I wished had been done in the show, is what I feel, too. I loved Jung Hwan’s confession but was ticked at the way they blew it off, it was very unsatisfying, especially because his love story was given such swoony attention at first. Park Bo Gum really grew on me. I was surprised he was put to the side that much in the beginning, because his face was on the DF “next ep starting in” screen. 😉 He really grew on me. OMG I just said that. Guess it’s super true 🙂 Or maybe I’m demented. Taek started off so quiet, but you could see with time he had special affection for the only girl in the group. I initially thought he was uncomfortable, because sometimes his smiles seemed a little troubled, but they warmed up so nicely and became so genuine! It came on so slowly that I can’t remember exactly when and how I started to really pick up on it. It had to do with constancy. I had to let go of my initial crush on JH-DS in order to receive Taek-DS well.

    I didn’t notice the ep length at first, because I was marathoning and it was so good. I just started and stopped and moved on to the next one whenever. At some point I was watching while eating lunch and noticed the hour and half total. This really worked for me. Hour episodes always feel short. This is almost like watching many connected movies, each episode was a lesson in love and acceptance, giving of yourself, and the meaning of family. It really hit home.

    Sure, some things were dragged out, and the time warp injections were deliberate (news programs with various historical points that weren’t necessarily pertinent to the families with exceptions of the Olympics and the thieves), but most of the comedic relief was welcome to me. I really liked Jung Bong’s antics, really sweet and careful personality, even handling the chain letter. He made his luck in many ways. His love store with Man Ok was cute.

    There was a uniqueness in the show about allowing characters to succeed other than by book learning and the traditional path, and also to succeed at their own pace. It made me feel like there’s room in the world, if we just make some. There were also different parenting styles, some clashing, and being a parent now, though my kids are still younger, it offers both a very nostalgic and also very current perspective.

    This show, to me, is a reminder that life is meant to be shared, love is meant to be given and received, and unconditional love means acceptance and support no matter what. Family is about who you care for and who cares for you. Friendship is about those that take you as you are and protect you. It’s a show about humanity, and what people need to survive and be happy. There’s a limited amount of conflict, mostly between couples, and a little bit between siblings, but nothing serious that would divide them. (I guess they’d have a harder time explaining those away. There were no cheating lovers or unforgivable acts.)

    Definitely a show I’d watch end to end again someday 🙂 Thanks for the lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG I am SO PLEASED that you love AM88, lyricalpeach!! 😀 Seriously, this show deserves more love than it gets. I love-love-LOVE it!

      You’re so right that the characters all grow on you. Before I knew it, I loved them all. Especially Taek, who snuck up and stole my heart when I wasn’t looking. That just felt extra sneaky, since he didn’t even have that much screen time in the beginning! 😄 You make a great point about how Show allows our characters to succeed in other ways besides book learning. I LOVED that Deok Sun became cabin crew, because it’s just SO PERFECT for her. It uses all her strengths in the most awesome way. She didn’t have to force herself to get good grades in order to succeed; she just needed to find a job that fit her existing strengths, and what fabulous strengths they were! 🙂

      I completely agree that this show is a lovely reminder of life, and love, and family, and I would so watch this one again. ❤ ❤

      Like

  16. Pingback: Newly Taken With: Park Bo Gum | The Fangirl Verdict

  17. My favorite Duk-Seon (Caring&lovable) moment, was during Taek’s competition in China. I thought she’s not of any help, but by the end of the competition, she has done everything that needs to be done and more. She’s a great friend. And it show how she really cares for Taek, no questions asked. She makes it so normal to take care of Taek not because she’s asked, but because she wants to. It seems unconditional and very normal.

    Like

    • YES, I loved that China competition arc.. It was nicely handled, and like you, I loved how matter-of-factly and effectively she took care of Taek, in the kind of way that only she could. Loved their dynamic so much, particularly in how Taek would listen only to her. Aw.. ❤

      Like

  18. I’m only on E1 and I’m already LOVING this drama! And it’s the first time ever that I got teary-eyed so early in a drama. Damn onions exploded in my face!

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    • So, this drama has become one of my favorite Kdramas of all time! It has just the right mix of cute, sad, happy, romance, and all-around fantastic acting! I’m amazed at PBG and RJY’s acting, and really liked GKP. I was younger than the five kids in 1988, but I can totally relate to the disastrous fashion and hairstyles. In fact I probably had Deok Sun’s hairstyle at some point, the bob with the sky high fringe haha… Also the mixtape! Brings back so many childhood memories, of family, school, and first love. I too had a Jung Hwan who broke my heart because of his indecisiveness haha… I’ve saved this drama to re-watch later. Also just got my hands on Reply 1997 to see if it compares.

      This show got me to watch Youth Over Flowers: Africa which featured PBG, RJY, GKP, and Ahn Jae Hong from Reply 1988. I’d really recommend you watch it for the true bromance, so sweet! I fell for all four boys again on this reality-travel show.

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      • Ahh! I’m so pleased that you love AM88, neve!! It’s such a heartwarming, poignant piece of drama goodness, and I never wanted it to end. I loved every character, and enjoyed every relationship, and I just so enjoyed how Show allowed us to experience life with these people. ❤ ❤ I personally felt more connected to the characters in AM88 than the characters in AM97, but I would definitely recommend AM97 regardless. 🙂

        I did watch several episodes of YOF: Africa for the boys, but got sidetracked after a while. I did like what I saw though, those boys are very cute together!

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        • Yesss it did feel like I was one of the neighbors. I’ll check out AM97 next, thanks for the recommendation!

          YOF is really worth watching to the end. I loved the entire premise of the show, and of course the boys!!! ❤❤

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          • To be honest, if I had to rank the Answer Me dramas in order of how much I loved them, I’d got with AM88, followed by AM94, and then AM97. So while I do recommend AM97, I have to admit that I enjoyed AM94 more. So if you haven’t seen AM94, I highly recommend that one too. 😁 But none surpass the warm fuzzies I got from watching AM88.. Ah, just loved being part of that neighborhood via my screen. ❤

            I will keep YOF as a possibility for when I feel in need of a variety fix. At the moment though, I can safely say I just have too many things I want to watch, and not enough time nor mental bandwidth to cover them all. 😝

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            • Isn’t the lead in AM94 the baddie in A Werewolf Boy? I really disliked him in Werewolf, so I’m not so keen on starting AM94 😦

              As for too many things to watch, same. But I have my priorities, and PBG is high on that list haha… Did you hear he’ll be touring Asia?

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              • Yes, he was the baddie in Werewolf Boy. If you watched Werewolf Boy first, I can see why you might have difficulty warming up to him in AM94! 😛 I will say he’s super sweet in AM94, and I really liked him in it, so if you can possibly get past the Werewolf Boy association, I think you might like AM94 and him in it. 🙂

                YES, I read that PBG’s touring Asia. AND, he’s coming to my neck of the woods! Ahhh! Maybe I should go attend his fanmeet! 😱 But then again, the dates haven’t been announced, so I don’t even know when it is, and whether I’d be in town when it happens. We will have to see!

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                • Hmmm I’m about halfway through AM97 and I don’t love it as much as AM88. Not sure if I’ll start 94. Maybe when I run out of things to watch (which is probaly never lol)

                  I hope the PBG fanmeet dates are announced soon, I really want to go too! I’ll be the ahjumma screaming in front 😝

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  19. Just finished ep13, thank you for recommending this to me. I really REALLY HATE you for that. This series made me cry at least twice per episode! Haven’t read your review yet, I’ll read it when I’m done with the show (and weep some more). everybody spoiled the ending for me already so I’m preparing my heart for the worst….

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    • I only have R1997 to compare but after just two episodes, I just know I love it more. Huhu. I love all the families! And I’m probably in the minority, but I adore Hyeri as Deok Sun vs. Eunji’s Siwon!

      Like

      • Ah, I’m so glad you’re loving AM88!!! 😄 It’s so heartwarming and is so full of feels of all kinds, seriously. This show made me cry too, but in such a good way that I never wanted it to end. I will definitely watch this one again sometime; I consider it one of my all-time faves now. ❤

        And you know what, I think I’d agree with you about Hye Ri vs. Shi Won. I think I do like Hye Ri more than Shi Won.. but that’s possibly because I love AM88 the most, out of the AM series. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Great Review! You said all I wanted to say regarding the drama! Including the frustration of wanting to see them gather for the last time as adults as well as the duk seon-Taek wedding, aah.. it could have been better. But nevertheless, I recommend this drama to everyone seeking for feel-good Kdrama. I love AM1988 so much! ❤ It never fails to tear me up especially the last episode. Thank you for this review, Im going to rewatch all of the episodes! 🙂

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  21. hey hey!

    talk about coincidence, when you replied on my comment yesterday on the ‘newly taken with PBG’ thread, i was almost at the end of AM1988,, binged it in a week, would have been done faster if i did not have social engagements (sometimes i hate real life getting in the way of drama watching), and i just saw the ending, and well i LOVED it, , despite that the handling of the ending was indeed flawed, i loved it more than AM1997 (<3 SIG ), and PBG stole my heart, actually the whole cast did, i do wish we knew more about Jung Hwan and Dong Ryong's life.
    The length of the episodes scared me a bit at the beginning but honestly, it never really felt long, it was most of the time well-paced with a theme for every episode, and well this one is easily one of my top ten series right now, and definitely one of the best i've seen so far 🙂

    and am running out of words cause well the feels are overtaking my brain 😀

    Like

    • Wow, that IS a coincidence, what perfect timing!! 😀 And I am SO, SO HAPPEE that you love AM88, sia!! This show deserves more love than it gets, and it truly is such a heartwarming, lovely drama. ❤ The entire cast stole my heart too, but I think I have an extra big soft spot for Taek. He’s just so endearing; seriously, all he has to do is smile, and I feel like my heart is exploding with unicorns and rainbows and sparkly puppies with fluffy tails. 😍😍😍 I really could’ve watched more episodes of this, if they’d have shown us more of all the things that I wanted. Like Taek & Deok Sun’s wedding, Jung Hwan’s personal loveline at least start to blossom, and just more of everyone together, in both generations. I would’ve watched another 10 episodes of that happily.

      I totally get what you mean about this show igniting so many feels that you just can’t express it properly. That’s a big part of how this monster review came about – it just took that many words for me to even begin to express what I felt about this show. 😅

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      • i agree, i wouldn’t have minded for the show to be longer and address the storylines we wished we had seen,
        Taek’s smile is unicorns and rainbows and well all the fuzziness , but i just realized something else, i started watching MDBC and i love his voice, my first voice actor crush 😀 , somehow i am only more curious to what he can do acting wise, yes he has to grow but still , i already like him where he is

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        • PBG is wonderful, even right now. He always looks like he IS the character, and not just an actor acting a part. I always believe him 100%, and his layers of emotions always play out so beautifully and completely on his face. I can only imagine how amazing he will be, as he continues to hone his craft. 😍😍😍 And YES, his voice is lovely indeed. I can totally understand you falling for his voice! ❤

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          • His voice is … warm, deep,wonderful, pleasant, sometimes cheeky? i just love it (saying this while listening to him sing with irene), he actually has the exact pitch which i fall for in pop singers, i swear, if he would voice like audiobooks, i could listen to it the whole day, (not understanding one word) , was sold on his acting talents and now on his voice, i hope he graces our screen soon again, but also takes some rest in between his projects,

            Like

            • Ooh, talking about PBG’s voice, I’m really digging his singing voice. Someone shared this with me on FB, it’s a mashup of a snippet of PBG singing, with an interlude featuring d.ear. It doesn’t quite work for me, since my musically-familiar ears can tell right away that the two snippets are in different keys, but, I can’t deny that PBG’s singing and playing have me quite mesmerized. Since you love PBG’s voice, I thought you’d like this:

              Like

  22. For me, R88 is the best in Reply series. It was sincere, warm and the environment was relatable. It was so each to be attached to the characters. Would have enjoyed seeing more scenes of Taek and Dukseon, how they break the news to the community and preparation of wedding, even if not the actual wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved this one the best out of the Answer Me dramas as well! It’s just so wonderfully warm; I wanted to live in that neighborhood right along with them, and I wanted them to never move away, ever. ❤ I would’ve loved to see more scenes of Taek and Deok Sun’s relationship and wedding too – I seriously would’ve watched another 10 episodes of this – and then some. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: TV Review – Reply 1988 | Damian Che

  24. Just wow.

    I have always been confused why AM1988 was not deemed as the best of the series. I guess because for me I watched it first, but after watching them all, AM1988 was incomparable to the rest.

    And reading your review was equally amazing. I watched AM1988 just last October mainly due to Bo-Gum after watching him in Lovers, but AM1988 won my heart as a show overall. And this is speaking as a KDrama newbie myself, I was just blown away how the Show is at par to the American shows I watch.

    I really felt your love for the Show and got teary eyed reading your review. I will now read the rest of your posts and will look forward to your new ones as well.

    Like

    • Hi there boink! Welcome to the blog! I’m sorry this reply is coming to you so late (a whole month, yikes!); I basically spent the whole of December being sick, and am now just getting back into the swing of things. Glad you found my little corner of the interwebs, and that you enjoyed this review! 😄

      And yay that you love AM88 as much as I do! This show definitely deserves more love than it gets, so I’m always super pleased to find another fan! To me, AM88 is the best of the Reply series, and I can see myself reaching for this show again. I miss the neighborhood and the entire community already. ❤

      I’m looking forward to chatting more dramas with you, boink! 😄

      Like

  25. Pingback: Year In Review: 2016 | The Fangirl Verdict

  26. This drama just completely satisfied me. I found myself laughing and crying along with the characters, and each episode was just an emotional rollercoaster. Although I would have loved to see more of Jung Hwan (especially since if I dig deep down I have to admit that I was rooting for Jung Hwan slightly more) in the ending, I rather liked the way they ended it. Some aspects were unsatisfying, but personally I appreciated the last message, and felt any oversights were justly explained by the show’s realistic approach and emphasis on how time moves on. The only reason I’m unsatisfied with the ending is that it felt slightly unorganized somehow and I didn’t cry as much as the first few episodes – yes, I judge my dramas on how much they can make me cry :’)
    Personally I loved the faux-confession from Jung Hwan, and how he accepted his fate knowing that it was his hesitation that led to it. Really, I related too much. It even touched me how he didn’t really cry at any point, despite his heartbreak. Again, that somewhat detached feeling that life will move on, despite all this pain. The confession was rather fitting this time, since Jung Hwan’s biggest mistake was his hesitation, and all the emotions he withheld. It was fitting that he managed to obtain closure, while still remaining true to the decision he made, that the result all stemmed from his choices. I think I was able to accept it because by that time, it felt like the love triangle was already over, or at least any competition was. He finally gave up completely when Taek reached Duk Seon first at the concert. And by that point, Duk Seon had already fallen completely for Taek, looking for him at the restaurant.
    I agree that I felt like Duk Seon felt more compatible with Taek in that he was the one she liked for herself, and not because she thought he liked her. But all them cute scenes with Jung Hwan~~ And really, I guess I related to Jung Hwan a lot, which made me root for him. The thing that pushes me over the edge though, is just how much he likes her, and the way he shows his affection. Although my mind agrees that Duk Seon and Taek are great together, each time Taek beat Jung Hwan with his decisiveness, I couldn’t help but wish, just a little, that it had been Jung Hwan instead. Basically, I agree with the ending, but throughout the show, as Duk Seon fell for Taek little by little because of his actions, I couldn’t help but wish it was Jung Hwan instead who was doing those actions.
    And I totally loved the plot twist with Sunwoo at the beginning too. I was completely fooled, and shipped Sunwoo with Duk Seon all the way until the reveal. Even more than Jung Hwan. Which just make it all the more impressive that show managed to turn it around and have me supporting Sunwoo and Bo Ra later in the drama.
    I think this is my style of drama, with that warmth and fuzzy feeling as well as sad, relatable moments. I love the realistic dramas that take both the good and bad in stride, and the lack of romance doesn’t bother me. Before, my favourite drama was Page Turner, but with this, I can’t pick a favourite anymore. I’d love it if you would give a recommendation🙂
    Would you suggest watching the other Reply series? Do they give off the same warm, fuzzy mood?

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    • Aw, I’m glad you loved AM88 this much!! It truly is a lovely, lovely drama. ❤❤❤ And I agree that Jung Hwan really pulls at the heartstrings, particular with how much he liked Duk Seon. That’s why I wanted Show to at least give us some insight into Present Day Jung Hwan, so that we can verify that he got a happy ever after too, with a great girl. Oh well. I guess I have my active fangirl imagination for that, since Show didn’t go there! 😆

      In terms of the other Reply series, I cautiously recommend AM94. The reason I say cautiously, is because out of the 3 shows, I love AM88 the most, and I feel like maybe when watched out of sequence, that AM94 may not feel as satisfying as it did when I first watched it. The other thing is, the other shows (both 97 and 94) drag out the Who’s The Hubs game too much, and play the audience to the point where I felt annoyed. However, if you can look past that, you do get a nice warmth in AM94 that’s centered around the hodgepodge boarding house, rather than the community warmth that we get in AM88. For the record, I did experience warmth and fuzziness with AM94, in spite of my peeves. I hope that helps! 😊

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  27. I love AM88 to the point that I wildly, incessantly recommend it to people I know. My love for this drama is beyond just love. It made me reflect on my definition of happiness and reinvent my thought about friends (Only couple months ago I lived like I don’t need a friend cause most of them are either don’t care or wanna crush me). I love it to the point that after each episode ended, I felt hollow and left. The warmth AM88 radiate was just… Incredible. All the soundtracks, the jokes, casts, and especially, Ssangmundong (which picture I display as my laptop wallpaper) mixed into one pill of happiness.

    Hate that it has to end, but it has to end. Sometimes it felt wrong to watch AM88 first. Haven’t touched AM94 or AM97, but AM88 for me was not only relatable, but it posit itself, subconsciously, as a satirical drama for today’s life. I live around people who relentlessly pay attention to their phones all the time and disregard neighborhood relationship.

    Can’t describe how sad it is knowing that Ssangmundong squad ended, and the place will never be alive again. I might have to search for more family-themed dramas, any recommendations?

    Anyway, your writing is beyond the par. Gosh, how you describe things were on point!

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    • I’m so glad that you loved AM88, Farizky! I love it to bits too, and having seen all 3 of the AM series, I have to say that AM88 is my favorite by far. And that’s because of the warm community vibe, which I didn’t find coming through in the other two shows. I hated that this had to end too.. and that they moved away from Ssangmundong 😭😭😭 I just wanted them to stay there forever, and be around one another and one another’s kids and grandkids, like forever. ❤

      If you’d like more family-themes dramas, might I recommend my top 2 favorite family dramas? Life Is Beautiful is my #1, and Ojakgyo Brothers is not too far off, as my #2. My reviews are here and here. I hope you enjoy both of these shows as much as I did! 😊

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