17 January 2016

응답하라 1988 (Answer Me 1988)

Title: 응답하라 1988 Eungdabhara 1988
English Title:
  • Answer Me 1988
  • Reply 1988 
  • Respond 1988
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Year: 2015
Episode: 20
  • 박보검 Park Bo Gum
  • 류준열 Ryu Joon Yeol
  • 고경표 Go Kyung Pyo
  • 이동휘 Lee Dong Hwi
  • 이혜리 Lee Hye Ri (혜리 Hye Ri)
  • 류혜영 Ryu Hye Young
  • 최성원 Choi Sung Won
  • 안재홍 Ahn Jae Hong
  • 성동일 Sung Dong Il
  • 이일화 Lee Il Hwa
  • 김성균 Kim Sung Kyun
  • 라미란 Ra Mi Ran
  • 이세영 Lee Se Young
  • 이민지 Lee Min Ji
  • 이미연 Lee Mi Yeon
  • 김주혁 Kim Joo Hyuk
  • 전미선 Jeon Mi Sun
  • 우현 Woo Hyun

This is a drama about five families who are neighbors in 1988. The mothers and fathers are close to each other, and their children also get along well.

Sung Dong Il and his wife Lee Il Hwa live in a basement apartment with their three children Sung Bo Ra, Sung Deok Seon, and Sung No Eul. Eldest daughter Bo Ra is a student at Seoul National University. Youngest son No Eul looks much older than his age. Middle child Deok Seon is close friends with four other boys in the block who are of the same age.

Kim Sung Kyun and Ra Mi Ran live in a huge house with their two children Kim Jung Bong and Kim Jung Hwan. They used to be extremely poor but their family won the lottery so they are now financially well off. Eldest son Jung Bong has been studying for the college entrance exams for the last three years. Youngest son Jung Hwan is a quiet boy who is at the top of his class.

Choi Moo Sung owns the jewelry store in the block and he lives with his only son Choi Taek. Moo Sung is very supportive of his son's professional career. Taek is a genius baduk or go player who often competes in international competitions.

Kim Sun Young is raising her children Kim Sun Woo and Kim Jin Joo alone after her husband died. Eldest son Sun Woo is the president of his high school, and he is also one of the top students in his class. Sun Woo often helps his mom take care of his younger sister Jin Joo.

Ryu Jae Myung is the dean of the all boys high school. He lives with his wife and his son Ryu Dong Ryong. Even though Dong Ryong doesn't get good grades, he is called the 'counselor' in the block because he often gives good advice to his friends about relationships.

Answer Me 1988 is about neighbors who have become like family. The parents have such good relations with each other, and their respective children have also become close friends.

I couldn't help but want to live in a neighborhood where unrelated families are close to each other while watching the drama. Where I come from, families tend to live together in the same area so people live next door to grandparents and cousins and other relatives. It is an interesting experience in itself, but it is different when you are family by blood as opposed to when you create a family by bond.

It's great that Answer Me 1988 showcased close friendships between the parents, as well as between their children. I think it's sometimes hard for parents to be close friends, and for their children to also have the same kind of relationship.

I went to school with a few of my parents' friends' children but we remained good classmates and we never really became quite close as our parents. I don't really know why, perhaps we just had different personalities or maybe we didn't have similar interests. But when I think about it, perhaps I didn't really make much of an effort to get close to them because I thought it would be too complicated for my liking.

Anyway, what I like best about Answer Me 1988 is the fact that the parents are shown more extensively as characters. We tend to see parents as just parents, and we sometimes forget that they are also sons and daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, friends, colleagues, and many other roles in society.

I like all the characters in the drama, but my favorite is definitely Choi Taek. I think some part of it is because Taek was portrayed by charismatic and talented actor Park Bo Gum, who is the main reason I even watched Answer Me 1988 at all.

But some part of it is also because I can identify with his personality. Like Taek, I seem to be in my own world most of the time and I sometimes don't do well in social situations. Like Taek, I hate being indebted to other people and I don't really like it when other people ask me for favors. The list goes on, really.

I wasn't sure about watching this drama because of all the issues I had with 응답하라 1994 (Answer Me 1994), a drama that was created by the same production team behind Answer Me 1988. But then, despite my problems with the drama production team's way of doing things, I had enjoyed watching their previous works anyway.

However, I have learned my lesson. Although I am concerned about Taek, I have detached myself from what happens in his love story. It's not that I have lowered my expectations in terms of logical consistency of the narrative, I just couldn't be bothered to care at all.

I think it's a good drama after all, and I might love it more if I am much more invested in its world and its characters. But that didn't happen since I remained guarded because of the said unfortunate past experience.

응답하라 1994 (Answer Me 1994)
응답하라 1997 (Answer Me 1997)

응답하라 1988 (Answer Me 1988)