Reply 1997 Episode 1 “Eighteen”, Review

Character Ledger:

Seong Si Won (SSW)
Yoon Yoon Jae (YYJ)
Do Hak Chan (DHC)
Kang Joon Hee (KJH)
Bang Seong Jae (BSJ)
Mo Yoo Jeong (MYJ)

The drama starts off in a karaoke room, where Seong Si Won (SSW) and her parents are singing. With only one minute left on the machine, SSW blatantly cancels her father’s song to input her own. Her father, a bit annoyed at being interrupted when he was in the mood, barks at SSW to not choose anything with English or else he’ll kill her. He mutters that old school songs are so much better, and SSW agrees and quickly inputs H.O.T’s Candy, which is considered old since it came out 15 years ago in 1997.

We soon find out that SSW has been a broadcast writer for more than 10 years, but her job requires more sucking up to people than writing, which rarely happens.

“It’s not that I hate this life. I’m just annoyed with it at times,” narrates SSW, “At times like this, little things make it durable, like just a song. Age 33. It’s an age filled with nostalgia, but our lives in the 90s were way too brilliant to be sad about it. Even if our bodies can’t leave, at least our souls can. I am now returning back to the 90s.”

SSW enters a restaurant where her Busan high school reunion is taking place. There, she reunites with Jang Dan Ji (her classmate), who was a well-known Mun Hee Jun (H.O.T) fanatic in Busan. While Dan Ji followed Mun Hee Jun, SSW reveals that she went on around calling herself Ahn Seung boo-in or Ahn Seung Ho (H.O.T’s Tony)’s wife.

SSW is later joined by her best friend Mo Yoo Jeong (MYJ), whose nickname is ship-sa-ppa, one who falls in love easily, referring to her constantly changing obsessions, as shown through her recent crush on Infinite. A several weeks before it was Park Yoo Chun, and a month ago, it was Kim Soo Hyun.

A few moments later, the rest of SSW’s high school entourage comes strolling in. The delicate Kang Joon Hee (KJH), the talkative Bang Seong Jae (BSJ), the charismatic Do Hak Chan (DHC) and the prickly Yoon Yoon Je (YYJ), the four boys of SSW’s adolescent life.

True to his nickname, BSJ talks up a storm as soon as he sits down, already are annoying some of his former classmates. Getting distracted by himself, he asks Dan Ji to take a picture of the group before they get any older.

As the camera clicks, SSW narrates that a couple within this group will later make a surprise wedding announcement at the reunion.

And the recognizable sounds of dial-up internet is heard as the old-school computer signals a flash back into the past. The computer soon turns into a television, where the boys are playing Dance Dance Revolution to the oh-so-familiar song of Butterfly. But the game is soon interrupted by SSW blatantly turns it off because she needs to watch her H.O.T oppas on Star Docu. As the show starts, SSW asks Dan Ji if the show is being recorded on tape. Dan Ji confirms, pointing at the red REC button.

MC Kim Guk Jin takes a tour into the H.O.T apartment, where SSW’s bias, Tony is the guide. He shows the MC all of the presents that his fans gave, especially a teddy bear that lies on his bed.

SSW’s eyes light up at the teddy bear, as it is the same one that she has gifted the megastar. SSW and MYJ scream in glee, just thinking about how Tony had hugged and kissed her teddy bear every night before going to sleep.

As they squeal, SSW’s father enters the room and blurts out his disgust that his daughter is chasing after monkeys, who should get their heads shaven and immediately be sent to the army to become real men.

SSW immediately throws a fit at her oppas being called monkeys and her father ignores it, making it seem like this is a daily occurrence.

The day passes and YYJ, getting ready for school, lights up at a wrapped birthday present on top of a table. He opens it like a kid on Christmas and reveals a Guess t-shirt, but he looks at it suspiciously. Past memories show that he’s received other presents like Adidos and West Pack, all faked luxury items of that time. But he immediately becomes relieved when SSW confirms that the Guess shirt is the real thing, especially because she also has the same thing. It turns out that it is YYJ and SSW’s father’s birthday, but as always, her father is grumbling about his birthday dish and raises his voice. Unfortunately for him, SSW’s mother is just as loud and is enough to pacify the argument.

When her mother yells for SSW to come to the breakfast table, SSW yells back that she doesn’t want to eat with someone she hates. Her father intervenes, to which SSW shouts, “Ajusshi, who are you?”

YYJ explains to SSW’s mother about the monkey comment that SSW’s father made and her mother says that he was too much, since their daughter doesn’t look like a monkey. When YYJ corrects her and says it’s about Tony, her mother perks up, saying, “You mean the one that looks like a monkey?”
SSW finally comes to the table, handing YYJ some birthday coupons. While YYJ complains about receiving the same present every year, SSW says no one else has used them as well as he does, showing past times when YYJ used his coupons to make him laugh when his parents passed away, to borrow SSW’s parents for graduation and to even poop for him for the poop examination envelope.

YYJ notices that the coupons this year are a bit different as SSW promises to do things no matter what, whether it’s to apologize for something or grant him a wish.

At school, SSW brags about how Tony cherishes her teddy bear and how she has everything recorded on tape. As she continues her bragging, outside on the field, MYJ and YYJ are having a deep conversation.

The scene moves onto lunch time, where SSW asks YYJ to record the last episode of MBC’s The Star in My Heart Since she has to go to a H.O.T performance in Daegu.

MYJ then shares her dilemma in wanting to see both Kang Ta from H.O.T and Ahn Jae Wook in the drama.

Even KJH remarks that he’s watching the drama as well, but only because Choi Jin Shil is so cute.

When asked how she’s going to avoid the after school study period, SSW says she has something up her sleeves.

Her plan?

To tell a male teacher that she has her period and he doesn’t understand how painful it is because he’s never had to experience it. “It feels like something is scratching up my uterus.”

It’s study period and the uncomfortable teacher charismatically scolds a class of male students, who are chattering away instead of studying. BSJ complains about how the teacher is prejudice against male students and knows that he’s good looking. The students then rag on the teacher, talking about rumors that he was super smart in school but due to some reason, ended up just being a high school teacher.

Meanwhile, SSW and MYJ are in Daegu in full H.O.T fan raincoats, ready to cheer on their oppas.

Back at the study period, BSJ and YYJ get in a small scuffle, where YYJ’s new Guess shirt gets exposed. All the students’ ears perk up at the name and ask if it’s real. Then BSJ starts laughing, saying the Guess logo has a question mark and not an exclamation mark, like the one on YYJ’s shirt. As YYJ is dying of embarrassment, the teacher comes back into the classroom and scolds the students saying they broke the last straw. He calls for the class president, who turns out to be YYJ. YYJ says he wasn’t talking, but the teacher calls him out anyways and asks how many hits he wants. YYJ says 10 and he receives all 10 hits.

Back in Daegu, H.O.T has started performing, and instead of cheering, SSW walks down the aisle, appearing possessed. But as soon as H.O.T begins singing, SSW breaks into dance, passionately singing along with her H.O.T oppas. Like the rest of the fans in white raincoats, SSW is overwhelmed with emotion and begins tearing up while continuing her dance.

YYJ is at SSW’s home, ready to record The Star in My Heart. SSW’s mom asks if he’s only here to record the drama and he replies in a regretful tone, “Aren’t I SSW’s errand boy?”

The drama airs and finishes with SSW’s mother Singing loudly – and off key, to Ahn Jae Wook’s Forever.

At the H.O.T concert, a quiz session is happening and with each question that’s asked, SSW screams out all the correct answers, from what disease Tony had or when he broke up with his first girlfriend. But when the most important question where Tony’s sweaty T-shirt is on the line, SSW fumbles and loses her chance to get the prize. Luckily, MYJ answers the question correctly and receives the coveted prize.

On their way back to Busan, MYJ gives the sweaty T-shirt to SSW, saying that SSW can pay her back when she gets Kangta’s sweaty T-shirt later on. SSW tries to act cool and pretend that it’s okay, but quickly loses face, as she sniffs into the glory of Tony’s sweat and promises to never wash the shirt.

MYJ then tells SSW that she confessed to YYJ earlier that day, but has yet to receive an answer. She asks SSW if it’s okay for her to date SSW’s childhood friend. MYJ states that she’s now going to like someone who’s smart, athletic, and handsome as YYJ, characteristics that SSW says she hasn’t noticed.

As SSW walks to her home, she meets YYJ on his way out.
After confirming that he’s recorded the last episode, YYJ announces that he received a confession from MYJ and asks what he should do. He asks SSW if he shouldn’t date her. SSW asks why he’s asking her. YYJ asks again if he shouldn’t date her, but SSW doesn’t answer. Finally, he rips off the ‘Grant Any Wish’ coupon from his birthday present and hands it to her. SSW asks for the wish, and YYJ says, “Tell me not to date her.” Her answer goes unspoken as the next scene is of SSW and her mother watching The Star in My Heart and eating an abnormal amount of Korean pancakes.

YYJ arrives back home…and to our surprise, it’s the teacher who hit him. Tae Woong (TW) tries to apologize for earlier, but YYJ storms into his room, ignoring the birthday cake set up for him in the living room. YYJ bursts out of his room again and shouts at his brother that it’s a question mark, and not an exclamation mark. YYJ slams his door closed as his older brother ponders at the difference.

Back in SSW’s house, SSW and her mother are once again chanting along the drama’s theme song. SSW’s father walks into the house and quickly walks past, as if this is completely normal. The mother and daughter compliment on the great ending to the series. When all of the sudden, the ending of The Star in My Heart gets fused together to the sound of Kim Guk Jin’s voice. The tape fizzes to an episode of Star Docu. As SSW realizes that her only proof that Tony sleeps with her teddy bear has been recorded over, she begins to scream bloody murder.

Meanwhile, TW is at YYJ’s door, trying to apologize as YYJ cries under his blankets, mourning about his terrible birthday. At the same time, his pager is vibrating endlessly, flashing the number ‘18’ and ‘4.’ It turns out it is SSW, cursing at YYJ and telling him to go die. MYJ also calls YYJ’s pager repeatedly, but just to hear his recorded voice.

“His rear end hit by his older brother for the first time
A torn-apart heart like a cut up videocassette.

“Feeling like you can love just about anyone, an age where you can let go of your life for the smallest things. Age 18. Adults say that our age is a time when we can laugh at even a tumbling leaf, but at that time, we were as serious, as intense, and as tested as any adult. 1997. Our age 18 started out just like that.”

In the morning, SSW wakes up to find her mom doing the laundry…and spots her sweaty Tony shirt on the hanger. She screams and beats the ground about losing her oppa’s precious sweaty smell as the exclamation mark on her Guess shirt is highlighted.

“BUSAN STYLE” like PSY’s song GANGNAM STYLE, this drama has its own unique theme, which is the Busan dialect *and I’m so much loving this dialect right now.*

Not bad for a First episode, some of the characters (the major characters) show themselves to the viewers already, like the first two main characters Si Won and Yoon Jae, (I thought they’re siblings, but they’re not) they already introduce their characters in the past (so clueless in the future of Yoon Jae, not like Si Won). I was so confused at first two scene, because of the past and the *poof* of the future (the restaurant) but thank god there are singes when they are shifting the scenes.

More like technicalities, TVn has their own way of filming a drama. Like I Love Italy and The Wedding Scheme. The settings of the cameras are so different not like others. Not-so-HD-ish, because I think that they are always basing their settings to the flow of the story.

I hope the next-next-next-next-next until the episode finishes, the story will have its own shape.

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