“Answer Me 1988”: Post-Finale Afterthoughts

First thing first: To gloat or not to gloat, that’s the question.

** spoiler alert **

Of course I am gloating. However, fellow shipmates have sworn to uphold the Baduk Etiquette — win or lose it graciously — so let’s do this Choi-Taek-6-Dan-style: with a quiet smile, followed by pizza party in Taeki-bang.


Ssangmun-dong F5 in Taek's room
“And who should get that last cut of pizza, by the way?”


On the subject of shipping, I can accept personal preference for X to end up with Y. I also understand the stages of grief start with denial and anger. Yet this shipping war had turned ugly. To have borne statements or excuses such as eleventh hour change in script or lack of narrative to support the endgame when most of these woes had stemmed from misreading clues, dismissing them as red herrings, selective viewing, wishful thinking, and mass hysteria, is just downright dishonest and insulting.

Just admit it and move on, for goodness sake! These are fictional characters! No need to hurl abuse at the writer and production crew.

Shipping aside, and now that the Show has ended…



Five families shared an alley at the neighbourhood of Ssangmun-dong and together raised nine children. Five of them (let’s say Ssangmun-dong F5) at eighteen in the year 1988 arrived at the brink of adulthood. Seen through older version of two members of Ssangmun-dong F5, Deokseon and her Mystery Husband reminisced about their brilliant and bright youth.

Should I just say I love everyone in Ssangmun-dong? Because not a single episode passed by without tugging at my heart for the simplest tiniest details: Sunwoo’s love for his mother and little sister, that he wouldn’t waste an almost stale lunch mum had made so she wouldn’t worry; Junghwan’s silently caring for his family; Dongryong’s longing for Mum’s seaweed soup on his birthday; Taek’s quirkiness; Deokseon’s bright nature and resourceful ways; Appa Sung’s useless buys; Boss Kim’s hilariously unfunny jokes to cheer up his family; Madame Cheetah’s order-bordering-chaos household; The Chois’ serene existence amidst Ssangmun-dong pandemonium; The Three Mums’ mischiefs and mayhem; the happy-go-lucky Jungbong and Noeul; the adorable Jinjoo.

“Answer Me 1988” has got to be the best of the “Answer Me/Reply” franchise so far, and best Korean drama I’ve seen since “Misaeng” [1]. Both shares a feel of authenticity in the portrayal of their subject matters. This is not about grand gestures and proclamations of undying ever lasting love. This is about being together in chaos and silence, sharing time and space comfortably. This is about the triumph of the mundane and everyday life, celebrating the bonds of family and friends that some have been so lucky to keep for a lifetime, that has marked a generation.

This show is a love letter to that generation, to that era.

Have no worries please, my dear
Let us sing our hearts together
Take all your pained memories, dear
Bury them away deep in your heart
I know you have gone through a lot
And your life has lost its youth
Take all the bitterness out of you
Just shrug it off as your fault and move on

Just let the past be the past
It’s meaningful that way
Just sing it to the one who has left you
Say you’ve loved giving all you got without regrets
Say you’ve dreamed without holding back
Say you’ll have a brand new dream

Parts of “Have No Worries, My Dear”, Jeon In Kwon (of Deulgukhwa). The Reply 1988 OST is sung by Lee Juck

Reminiscing about one’s youth does not mean one wishes to go back to it. One just needs to give it a proper send off, tuck it in and leave it in its time.

D@#$ you, Show! I wanted escapism not a reality check!



[1]. Move aside “Answer Me 1988” for I’ve spoken too soon! Of course, that title should go to “Signal”, another drama by none other than the “Misaeng”‘s director himself. (Footnote added in mid-March 2016)



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