"The reason why I like you is because you're you. Could there be another reason? I wish I knew. Then I could figure out how to stop liking you." People are asked this question and there is no better ...
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It tells the story of 6 former high school friends from a school in Busan who meet again in 2012 and brings back memories to 1997 when they were still high school students. Moving back and forth between the '90s and today, the story centers on the life of Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji), who idolizes boy-band H.O.T., and her 5 high school friends.Written by
2012 1st K-Drama Star Awards: Best Couple Award (Seo In Guk and Jung Eun Ji) 2012 1st K-Drama Star Awards: Rising Star Award (Seo In Guk) 2012 1st K-Drama Star Awards: Rising Star Award (Jung Eun Ji) 2012 1st K-Drama Star Awards: Best OST - "All For You" (Answer Me 1997 Love Story Part 1) by Seo In Guk and Jung Eun Ji See more »
Reply 1997 aka Answer me/to 1997. Korean TV drama. 16 Episodes. Summer of 2012.
Story: Teenagers go through their final school years on the way to young adulthood. As adults, they reconvene in 2012 for their 15 year class reunion; while there, they all reflect on their past while their history together unfolds via back story. It's primarily a life story drama about growing up.
A half dozen high school kids or so are focused on throughout this show (some more than others), along with one young teacher, and one set of parents. The vast majority of the story is told from 1997 to 1999 and takes place against the backdrop of the birth of K-Pop. The kids meet at high school, become friends, experience awkward first loves, graduate, drift apart, move on in life, etc...The remainder of the story flashes forward in time periodically until it arrives at the present, where you eventually get to see what happened to everybody involved.
KTV shows come & go at such a rapid fire pace that it's virtually impossible for a viewer to figure out what's actually going to be good and what's not until a show is well into its compressed run time. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to determine if a show will be suitable to your own personal tastes right away, and I must say I quickly developed a fondness for this particular one. "Reply 1997" doesn't have an overly famous cast, a huge budget, or a massive pre-air marketing campaign to prop it up, so it has to work a little a harder to prove itself, and figure out how to find an audience along the way. It basically has to rely on smart storytelling, and subsequent word-of-mouth, in order to be successful, and it did all of this, and then some, really well.
Clearly, the best thing this show has going for it is its creativity and intelligence. It's quite well written, and the way it implements a multiple time line is highly effective; subtle hints are dropped at the current day dinner party during each episode, then it flashes back to the past to see how things came to be in the present. This method of storytelling serves to successfully further the plot while keeping you interested in the story & characters along the way. This show also refuses to pander to viewers; it's completely devoid of one-note characters and typical antagonists, and it does not rely on being overly formulaic (which is a frequent problem that is inherent to this industry). Its willingness to openly deal with oft addressed topics in a thoughtful, and often hilarious, manner is rather impressive as well.
The late '90s/early K-Pop theme is frequently focused on throughout this show, despite the fact that it's somewhat irrelevant to the true heart of the story. This is all implemented exceptionally well however, and while this show could have succeeded without it, it is certainly better off for including it. There's a good deal of nostalgia involved as a result (from an array of props, to the soundtrack of that era, to cameos, period references, and so on), and, everything is nicely woven together into one seamless tale; none of it ever feels out of place, or tacked on, just for the sake of making it part of the overall story.
The cast is pretty solid at getting their jobs done, and they're all afforded well rounded roles. While not unrecognizable to most fans of the Korean entertainment industry, this is primarily a very youthful cast without years & years of experience in this field. Several of them are current K-Pop industry crossover stars as well, and the irony of having several actual K-Pop idols portraying high school kids obsessed with K-Pop is not lost on me. The lead role is reserved for Jung Eun-ji (of APink fame); she could use a little more seasoning going forward as a drama star, but she is way ahead of the curve already and makes for an oddly charismatic and impressive young actress for someone who's relatively new at this. Everybody gave nice performances throughout, and they were equally believable as both high school kids and their future 30 year old counterparts. The two parents are even given diverse parts as well (which is rare for these shows); there are usually only a handful of the same tired old roles available to K-drama parents/elders (i.e. usually you're either: a rich manipulative ass, a drunken deadbeat dad, a poor sick mom, etc). Here, the parents are refreshingly portrayed as regular people going through their everyday lives as a normal middle aged/middle class couple. In many ways, the parents practically exemplify what the entire spirit of this show is all about.
Summary: All in all, this is a quickly paced and very effective series that I have virtually no complaints about whatsoever. It features a simple and approachable story that should resonate with a wide range of viewers; young/old, Korean/not Korean, male/female, it doesn't really matter. Engaging, smart, funny, poignant; this is a perfect example of how good KTV dramas can be when they aspire to be more than just "stylishly status quo".
Bottom Line: A real gem for K-drama fans that's not to be missed! 9 out of 10 stars!...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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