K-Drama: Growing Pains, Happiness and Everything in Between

by Rebecca Kim

Reply 1988 응답하라 1988 (2015)

Reply 1988 is a truly special drama that is able to capture the feeling of nostalgia and appreciation for all of the joys and trials of life. If you’ve already watched Hospital Playlist (see TMI Vol. 46), which was actually created by the same producers as the “Reply” series, you’ll already know the vibes ✨

tvN | Reply 1988

Reply 1988 is the third and latest instalment of tvN’s high-rated “Reply” series, which all focus on the simple, yet important, themes of friendship and family. Reply 1988 is about the lives of 5 neighbourhood families who are best friends, parents and children alike. Although the parents are just as important in the story, our main characters are the children, Sung Deok-sun (Lee Hye-ri), Choi Taek (Park Bo-gum), Sung Sun-woo (Go Kyung-pyo), Kim Jung-hwan (Ryu Jun-yeol) and Ryu Dong-ryong (Lee Dong-hwi) as they navigate the turbulent emotions of teenage life and beyond. If you also grew up with close childhood friends or in a tight-knit neighbourhood community, Reply 1988 will definitely make you feel especially nostalgic. 1988 was a particularly special year for Korea because the 1988 Olympics was held in Seoul. Huddled around the TV together watching earnestly, it was a time of unity and excitement that brought many families and friends closer together.

Personally, I found the drama to be incredibly relatable, right from the opening scenes where all the mothers are shouting out at the top of their lungs to tell their kids to come and eat 😂 When I asked my own mum why she always does this too, she told me that it’s because food tastes the best when it’s still hot and as fresh as possible, so there’s a sense of urgency for the kids to come and eat it right away 🥺

tvN | Reply 1988

Speaking of food, it’s hard not to notice the emphasis on it in this drama, just like in Hospital Playlist. The simple act of preparing food for someone and eating it together makes food become synonymous with love. For instance, we feel a sense of community and friendship when everyone comes over to eat chicken for Jung-hwan’s dad’s birthday. However, we also see Deok-sun become upset over never being offered a fried egg or the best part of the chicken like her siblings, which she takes as a sign that her parents don’t love her as much. At the end of the day, we all just want someone we love to share good food with. It’s so easily overlooked, but it truly is one of the most simple ways we can enjoy happiness 😊

tvN | Reply 1988

Keeping the tradition of the other dramas in the series, Reply 1997 and Reply 1994, there is a mystery future husband of the female lead that is only revealed in the final episode 🤫 The story jumps back and forth from the past of 1988 and the present-day of 2016, where Deok-sun is doing an interview with her husband. Girl’s Day Hyeri gained a lot of recognition for her great performance as Deok-sun, making her transition from idol to actress very smooth. The chemistry between Hyeri and Ryu Jun-yeol is especially worth noting - it was so good that people even made a phrase out of it! “어남류” (uh-nam-ryu), short for "어차피 남자주인공은 류준열" basically means that no matter how the shooting crew makes it look confusing about who the husband would be, it will HAVE to be Ryu Jun-yeol at the end of the day . If you want to find out if you agree, make sure to watch till the end!

tvN | Reply 1988

You can check out a short teaser trailer for the drama here if you’d like to see more!

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