warning: may contain spoilers
Answer Me series brings back its third installment which is set in the year 1988. The setting is mainly based in the neighbourhood of Ssangmun-dong Dobong Distict in Northern Seoul. Five friends and their families live in the little neighborhood and they all come together to eat, talk and just be each other’s companion. Sung Duk Seon is the second daughter of Sung Dong Il and Lee Il Hwa. The Kim family comprises of Kim Sung Kyun and Ra Mi Ran, and their two sons: Jung Hwan and Jung Bong. Sung Woo is a dependable son and he lives with his mother and little sister. Choi Moo Sung is a store owner and he lives with his only son Choi Taek. Ryu Dong Ryong lives with his father but he’s barely home since his father is the school principal. Coincidentally, Duk Seon, Dong Ryong, Taek, Jung Hwan and Sung Woo are all born on the same year, so they frequently bonded together. The drama portrayed the day to day life of these characters.
Following the success of the first two seasons, Answer Me/Reply series came back with a new season this 2015. I really loved the uniqueness of the series wherein it makes us reminisce the old days. We also get a chance to guess who the female lead ends up with. This new season further goes back in time to 1988 and they brought in more actors to join the cast. It was nice how there were so many characters involved, so it wasn’t just the romance or the leads, but everyone had a fair share of their own story. I really like big casts because they don’t concentrate on one pair or one person only, which makes it a little boring for me. This season had more parents instead of just the parents of the main lead. I simply loved the friendships, parents, children and just that little neighbourhood. I loved how they talked about realistic and relatable themes. Whenever there were problems, everyone solved it together. It was just a lovely sight. I never had the chance to have this kind of neighbor or neighbourhood. Playing outdoors wasn’t a thing and my childhood play mates were only my cousins, so seeing this kind of neighbourhood come to life is just so touching and heartwarming.
Although I enjoyed many parts of the drama, it became a little draggy during the middle. I finished this drama in almost 2 weeks, which is quite rare for me. Usually it takes only a week, and 4-5 days if it’s good. I realised that most of the episodes ran from 1:30 to 2 hours, so it means that it’s actually worth at least 30 episodes compared to the usual 1 hour long episode of a 20 episode drama. They tried to show the day to day lifestyle of the characters, but during the latter parts, it wasn’t as funny anymore. I guess 16 episodes would probably suffice.
The main cast were all well picked. Each of the actors were great in delivering their respective roles. Ra Mi Ran has such a motherly role. She acted the oldest out of all mothers and she helped them financially even though her family wasn’t really well-off. Her husband, Kim Sung Kyun from 1994, came back to be the father of Jung Hwan. I enjoyed his acting in the past season, and in this drama he finally acted his age. He both did well regardless of the age though. He’s really suitable for comedy roles. I also enjoyed Jung Hwan’s older brother and his own story. He was busy doing all the useless things, but he can’t even enter college. I also enjoyed his little love line. Each role was distinct and they all shined at a certain part in the drama. I heard that the staff handpicked these actors so they really chose well. The production team really did wonders on the main cast. After the drama ended, most of the actors received love calls from various shows/ads. From just an ordinary actor, they actually made a name for themselves through this drama.
Lee Hye Ri as Sung Duk Seon / Sung Soo Yeon — All of us doubted her abilities since this would be her first lead role. I haven’t seen her act before, and she’s from Girl’s Day. An idol always gets criticised, but I guessed the director/staff chose her for a reason. Duk Seon was really meant for Hye Ri and it was a role created for her. Duk Seon was a character who’s not perfect, doesn’t like studying and just likes to fool around. She was lovable though that all of the guys really cared for her. She was lucky that she was the only girl in the group. Props to her too since she did well in the emotional and crying scenes. Duk Seon’s character was really unforgettable and Hye Ri delivered the role really well. I wonder if she can handle other kinds of role..
Park Bo Gum as Choi Taek — I still remembered the first time I saw Bo Gum when he was hosting in Music Bank with Irene. I already knew Irene, but always wondered about the cute guy who’s with her. I became a little fan who enjoyed seeing him host the music show. Little did I know that months after, he joined the cast of this drama and his popularity just exploded. Bo Gum really fits Choi Taek’s character because he’s a goody goody too in real life. The character was timid, kind, and all of his friends adored him. He’s really a gifted chess player. He’s always joining in tournaments so he’s missing in action all the time. There were several moments especially in the first few episodes wherein he should’ve joined, but he missed out all the fun. I felt that he needed more screen time. Nonetheless, he was just adorable all throughout and I don’t mind seeing an eye candy in this drama. He just made the group of friends complete with his addition.
Go Kyung Pyo as Sung Sun Woo — Sung Sun Woo is another character who’s very kind. I think he’s probably the nice guy after Taek. He always cares for his younger sister and also for his mother. He does well in school and he juggles it with his love life. I enjoyed his love line with Duk Seon’s older sister too. Go Kyung Pyo handles the role well because he also has a ‘nice guy’ image. Although I heard he had attitude issues in the past, he really looked convincing with this role.
Ryu Jun Yeol as Kim Jung Hwan — He isn’t really the handsome or flower boy that we are used to seeing on tv, but he looks like a neighborhood oppa or a guy who lives next door. When you look at him for the first time, there’s nothing special about him. But the longer you look at him, you’ll find him charismatic. I think that I have fell for Jung Pal’s charms. He’s quite cheeky and he annoys Duk Seon a lot, but secretly cares for her. I enjoyed Ryu Jun Yeol’s acting. I think he’s just being himself?! lol Which makes me doubt if he can also do well if given other roles. I’m pretty much excited for his lead role in Lucky Romance. I’ll definitely add it in my watch list.
Lee Dong Hwi as Ryu Dong Ryong — A group of friends needs to have a mood maker right? Well, Ryu Dong Ryong is the funny guy and usually sets up the mood of the drama. He’s as bad as Duk Seon when it comes to studying. I also thought that the character was meant for him. He was so natural with his eyeglasses and his crazy antics.
I accidentally read about the spoiler. I was actually rooting for Jung Pal. This is probably the first drama wherein I guessed the wrong leading man. For the past two seasons, it was so easy to guess the guy. Even in 1994, wherein everyone’s hearts were broken. I knew from the start who’ll actually end up with her. This time, they made it so hard to guess. I think the writer didn’t have a husband in mind yet. He was testing the waters and go with who the audience was leaning towards. When the husband first appeared during present time, his personality and way of talking seemed like Jung Pal, but during the latter episodes, he softened a bit and matched Taek’s. It just made everyone including me confused. Taek didn’t seem to be the lead during the start since he was missing most of the time. Jung Pal seemed to be more of the leading man since he had many moments with Duk Seon. It was only the latter parts wherein Taek joined the fun. I think the crucial part would be Duk Seon accompanying Taek to China. Nonethless, both guys were credible candidates for the husband. At the end of the day, I didn’t really mind who Duk Seon ends up with since both guys were loveable in their own way.
Answer Me series made me reminisce the good old days wherein cellphones and the internet wasn’t existing or rampant, yet I still enjoyed my day. Therefore, I always look forward to watching this series. All the actors did well in their respective roles and the plot set in a small neighbourhood was such a clever idea. Watching this drama was also heartwarming because of the big cast and their life stories. I’d say it was a little bit draggy because it was too long, so I kind of lost interest in the middle. Nonetheless, the actors saved the day because of their natural acting. I couldn’t find anyone awkward in the drama. In my opinion, 1988 is better than 1994, but 1997 is still the best. Nothing beats the first season. I’d recommend this if you enjoy unique plots and just the word ‘reminisce’ makes one curious of the setting of the drama.