[Review] Answer Me 1997 – 응답하라 1997

DOES HIGH SCHOOL EVER END?

The drama follows the lives of several Busan high school students through maturity.

Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji) idolizes Tony from H.O.T. but because of her activities following the group she’s at the bottom of her class.  Yoon Yoon Jae (Seo In Guk) is at the top of the class and secretly crushes on his best friend, Shi Won.

Kang Joon Hee (Hoya) is smart and well-mannered but has a secret he’s hiding from his friends.

Mo Yoo Jung (Shin So Yul) may fall in love at the drop of a hat whether it’s boys or boy bands but she’s loyal to her friend Shi Won. Do Hak Chan (Eun Ji Won) is an army brat and he’s popular because he’s good at sports and got an extensive porn collection.  His one weakness is actual girls as he becomes paralyzed in fear every time he’s around them.

Finally, there’s Bang Sung Jae (Lee Shi Un) who doesn’t know how to stop talking and serves as the group’s one-man rumor mill.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here.  I luff this drama.  I luff this drama so much.  I see so much of my youth in this drama which is probably because I’m the same age as these characters.  I was surprised to find that it didn’t matter if I grew up in the States.  So it doesn’t matter where you’re from or how old you are in order to find it relatable.  It’s for anyone who has ever fangirled, had lifelong friendships or crushed on a friend.

This is Jung Eun Ji’s first time acting.  I think she was amazing as Sung Shi Won.  Sure, there is probably a lot of herself in that character and she’s originally from Busan so she has no trouble with the accent.  But her character is so refreshing and the delivery of her lines is sharp.

I have to admit that I didn’t fangirl after Seo In Guk as much.  I just think that I was more attracted to his character than him.  I felt bad for Yoon Jae’s one-sided crush and I loved Seo In Guk’s chemistry with Jung Eun Ji.

I even loved their adorable kid versions.  They didn’t have a single line but they totally embodied the characters of Yoon Jae and Shi Won.

Seo In Guk & Jung Eun Ji – All For You

서인국 & 정은지 – All For You

Out of all the boys, my heart went out to Joon Hee the most.  Although it is revealed early on in the series, I prefer not to give away Joon Hee’s secret for those that haven’t seen the drama.  Knowing my friends who have had to admit that to me, it certainly wasn’t easy and the nature of Korean society makes it all the more difficult.

But I thought the drama dealt with tactfully.  For those that may be uncomfortable with the subject and for those that would like more realism and openness in Korean dramas.  Sure, it was tame by American standards and while Joon Hee’s story isn’t everyone story, I felt they were able to balance between both worlds.

But the most surprising character for me was Bang Sung Jae.  I thought he would just be there to act as the comic relief of the group but Episode 13 not only showed me what a great friend he was to Yoo Jung but what an awesomely patient and kind human being he was.  Aww Sung Jae, you talk a mile-a-minute and might be jealous that you’re not paired up with anyone by the end but I’m yours.

The drama didn’t just focus the story on the kids.  The parents (Sung Dong Il, Lee Il Hwa) were also an important factor in it as well.  I have to say that this was one interesting drama to watch with my parents.

My mom and I made fun of our old selves.  My mom is totally Sung Shi Won’s mom.  Me: What the hell!  Do we really need all that food?  Mom: Yes, you’ll eat it up.  A month later, I’m still eating the same thing.  It must be because both Sung Shi Won’s mom and my mom grew up during the aftermath of the Korean War.  She’s always worried that we’d go hungry.

Me?  I supposed I went to K-Pop concert and chased my share of stars.  My mom and I reminisced about how we stayed up all night watching Star in my Heart, putting in VHS after VHS until the sun rose.  I also realized things I didn’t understand as a teenager; it was all part of the growing pains for that time.  It was a truly mother-daughter bonding experience.

In fact, I love all the characters in the drama.  They brought a comic or heartwarming aspect to it.  So much so that I didn’t mind the different love triangles that formed throughout and the writer’s need to drag out who is Shi Won’s husband/baby daddy issue.

Though it did get a bit ridonculous at the end, the drama had so many other elements working for it that I didn’t feel the drama needed to provide me with that answer in order to keep me going.

And if that’s not enough you’ve got some really great cameos.

I also loved that the writer made a conscious choice to play with time.  It was a great device to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and disparate stories were found to have a commonality by the end.  However, it also made the lessons learned in the past still relatable in the present and between various generations.  Sure, there were times I felt like they went overboard with it by the end when it seemed obvious what the conclusion was but nevertheless the drama still managed to keep a few cards up its sleeve.

The music.  Gawd, I wish they made a compilation soundtrack for the series.  I probably do have a good chunk of the songs somewhere but it would still be nice to reminisce about the drama and its scenes with the songs that were featured here.  Those songs were really the songs of my youth so it makes me feel very nostalgic.

Hong Ji Ho – 너를 위한 기도 (Praying For You) from the 1997 Drama, Propose

홍지호 – 너를 위한 기도 (Praying For You)

And the 90’s memorabilia.  From movies like Introduction to Architecture to this one, I so appreciated all of the 90’s references and memorabilia.  I often felt that the 80’s is covered so often and perhaps now I am at an age now where the 90’s is retro.  One day soon, the 2000’s will be covered in the drama.  Perhaps that should be the sequel.

The drama is hilariously funny, it made me reminisce, it made me swoon, it broke my heart and then mended it back together again.  Definitely one that’s not to be missed.  In fact, anyone want to do a marathon of the drama all over again with me?  🙂

Rating

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One thought on “[Review] Answer Me 1997 – 응답하라 1997

  1. OMG I really really love this drama! I actually watched all episodes in one day TT~TT
    I want to watch it over and over again.
    I was born during 1990, but I can still relate to all the 90s references..
    And that sound effect that plays when something awkward or funny happens is epic!
    It’s like a goat saying ‘andweeee’

    Like

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