29 December 2013

응답하라 1994 (Answer Me 1994)

Title: 응답하라 1994 Eungdabhara 1994
English Title:
  • Answer Me 1994
  • Reply 1994
  • Respond 1994
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Year: 2013
Episode: 20
  • 고아라 Go Ah Ra (아라 Ara)
  • 정우 Jung Woo
  • 유연석 Yoo Yeon Seok
  • 김성균 Kim Sung Kyun
  • 손호준 Son Ho Joon
  • 차선우 Cha Sun Woo (바로 Ba Ro)
  • 민도희 Min Do Hee
  • 성동일 Sung Dong Il
  • 이일화 Lee Il Hwa
  • 윤종훈 Yoon Jong Hoon

더블루 The Blue - 너만을 느끼며 Neomaneul Neukkimyeo (Feeling Only You)
유연석 Yoo Yeon Seok, 손호준 Son Ho Joon , 정우 Jung Woo - 너만을 느끼며 Neomaneul Neukkimyeo (Feeling Only You)
Sung Na Jung is a college student who is obsessed with basketball and basketball players.

Kim Sung Kyun (nicknamed Sam Chun Po), Son Ho Joon (nicknamed Hai Tai), Kim Dong Joon (nicknamed Bing Geu Re), and Jo Yoon Jin are from various provinces who came to Seoul to pursue a college education. Kim Jae Joon, also known as Sseu Re Ki, is Na Jung's childhood friend and he is in medical school. They are all boarders in Na Jung's parents' boardinghouse.

Bing Geu Re's cousin Kim Seon Joon (nicknamed Chil Bong) is an ace baseball player. Chil Bong goes over to the boardinghouse often and he develops romantic feelings for Na Jung.

서태지 Seo Tae Ji - 너에게 Neoege (To You)
성시경 Sung Si Skyung - 너에게 Neoege (To You)
유연석 Yoo Yeon Seok - 너에게 Neoege (To You)
Answer Me 1994 is about students from different provinces who go to the big city for college. I like the drama's premise because it resonates with me on a personal level. I lived in a city in the province when I was younger and I also had to move to a bigger city for my college education. I remember how conflicted I was because I love living on my own but I also miss my family, I was excited for new experiences but I was also afraid of a lot of things, and I liked meeting new people but I also wished I was with old friends.

College basketball is a big deal where I come from and  I was also obsessed with it while I was in university, like Sung Na Jung. I started watching the basketball games because my friends and I had free time but we later became quite fanatic; working out in the college gym when the basketball team has a scheduled practice, eating in the nearby cafeteria after basketball practice because some players will surely be there as well, etc.

Although the drama is set in the 1990s, the themes discussed in the drama such as the close friendships, the loneliness of being away from home, and the challenges of becoming independent are as relevant then as it is now.

I like the discussion about how our lives are all about our choices: whether we choose to do something or to not do something, whether we choose to move forward or to stay where we are, whether we choose to have a relationship with another person or not (be it a friendship or a romantic relationship).

Kim Sung Kyun, also known as Sam Chun Po: Living is a choice made at every moment. Even if it's a log bridge, you have to make a choice. Should I go straight or turn back? Or should I stop there? After all, this point in time that I'm stepping on right now is a result of those innumerable choices I made in the past... Because of those tiny choices cumulatively, we've become what we are today. No matter which path you choose, it's normal to have a lingering attachment to the paths you didn't choose. That's why there's no such thing as a choice without regrets. That's why there's no such thing as a right answer in life. You need to believe that the path you chose is the right answer and make it the right answer. That's all. Living without having regrets on the choices you made -- that's the right answer in life.

I like all the characters in the drama and I like that I saw their relationships with each other develop and become stronger over time. It was nice to see the whole gang hanging out together, but it was also nice when the focus was on two or three characters and their close friendship.

I'm a little disappointed that the characterizations of Na Jung's parents were exactly like the lead character's parents in Answer Me 1997. I liked those characters and they were portrayed by talented actors but I can't help but wish that the parents in this drama are entirely different characters.

My favorite character is Kim Seon Joon, also known as Chil Bong. I can't really explain why I was drawn to him immediately when he first appeared in the drama. The more I knew about him, the better I liked him and before I could even comprehend it, this drama became all about him for me.

I am invested in his story and I have no problem following whatever that may be, even if his story arc is unrequited love. I have seen his feelings grow from interest, to like, and love. When he realized that Na Jung loves someone else, I have been with him as he suffers from the pain. I was so looking forward to how his issues will be resolved, whether he gets together with Na Jung or whether he has to move on with his life. I wanted to see that whole process of him becoming happy and hopefully, being loved back by someone the same way that he loves: wholeheartedly and deeply and completely.

Unfortunately, the drama felt it had to uphold the farcical love triangle and to keep the pretend mystery about the identity of Na Jung's husband until the end. As a consequence, Chil Bong had to suffer for his unrequited love for years (and I had to suffer right with him). I held on to the belief that good things are in store for him and since it doesn't seem that he's moving on from his unrequited love anytime soon, I even hoped that maybe he ends up with Na Jung.

To state that I'm unhappy and frustrated with his resolution is the understatement of the century. The careless and haphazard way of showing him moving on and being loved back by someone in the last episode is inversely proportional to his suffering that was extensively shown throughout most of the drama.

Given the context that he is not the husband and the occupant of that apartment (even though he is the actual owner), his actions are inconsistent with his characterization throughout the drama. I am mostly disturbed by this fact actually. I mean, what happened with him?!

I also thought it was exceptionally insensitive to make him and his unrequited love the joke several times over. Yes, those jokes were said in 2013 and it had been a decade since his major heartbreak but as a viewer, I saw those distressing and agonizing scenes literally minutes away from when the jokes were made. So no, those jokes were not funny then and will never ever be funny at any other time, at least in my opinion.

응답하라 1988 (Answer Me 1988)
응답하라 1997 (Answer Me 1997)

응답하라 1994 (Answer Me 1994)