Reply 1997 (also known as Answer Me 1997) tells the story of a group of friends living in Busan during the 1990’s. The drama also switches between scenes of them growing up and scenes from their school reunion in 2012. The central figure of the group is Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji) who is a bit of an immature teenager who is obsessed with the boy band H.O.T.
Reply 1997 was cute and down to earth. All of the teens felt very real and their simple life stories were well played out. Being set in the 90’s, the drama did really well at capturing the nostalgia of the era by highlighting many key things that defined the time period. Of course, some of the Korean cultural references don’t have the same meaning to international watchers, but it was easy to compare similar popular culture elements from my own country. But there were plenty of things that many fans can relate to such as the slow dial up internet, boy bands, and simply what it is like being a teenager.
Our main girl Shi Won is quite the character. She’s so lively and animated with a very direct personality. And let me tell you, this girl can cry! I cracked up every time she did her over the top whiny cry. But mostly she won me over with her bright smile and charm.
Then we have Yoon Yoon Je (Seo In Guk) who is the central male figure of the group. He has been friends with Shi Won since they were little, but he eventually develops feelings for her. He’s not too great at expressing his feelings though, and he frequently lets her slip through his fingers.
Kang Jun Hee (Hoya) is the sweet, quiet friend of the group. He is very close with Shi Won who he eventually tells his big secret too. He has a crush on Yoon Je. Yoon Je frequently misunderstands their relationship thinking Jun Hee likes Shi Won. Even then, Jun Hee is able to maintain a close relationship with both Shi Won and Yoon Je.
Bang Sung Jae (Lee Shi Eon) is the jokester of the group. He’s loud and a bit oblivious. His mouth frequently gets him into trouble. But he really is a good guy.
Moo Yoo Jung (Shin So Yool) is Shi Won’s best friend, and she is quite adorable. After being turned down by Yoon Je (yes, everyone likes Yoon Je), she begins a relationship with Hak Chan.
Do Hak Chan (Eun Ji Won) moved to Busan from Seoul, and he is terribly awkward around girls. Despite being in a relationship with Yoo Jung, the whole dating thing is still pretty difficult for him. But he always does his best to make her happy. And they do make a cute little couple.
Yoon Tae Woong (Song Jong Ho) is a counselor at the high school and is also Yoon Je’s older brother. Things get a bit complicated in their relationship when Tae Woong develops feelings for Shi Won. We end up with a brotherly love triangle.
If your a fan of bromance, which I definitely am, the relationship between Yoon Je and Jun Hee is quite interesting. First and foremost the two are close friends. I loved the conversations between these guys as they shared their burdens. Things get a bit complicated when Yoon Je thinks Jun Hee likes Shi Won, but eventually Jun Hee assures him that he doesn’t like her.
Sadly, Jun Hee is left to deal with a one sided love for Yoon Je. It’s something that is always running in the background of their friendship, but it is many years before Yoon Je learns about Jun Hee’s feelings. I was actually really impressed with how the drama handled their relationship, and I thought both guys were really mature in their handling of the situation too.
In the 2012 timeline, we get to play a bit of a guessing game as to who is Shi Won’s husband. They like to tease which of the brothers it could be, but you’ll have to wait until the final episode for the big reveal. With all I had heard about the husband guessing game, I kind of thought it would be difficult to guess. I will just say that it is pretty obvious who it is.
One thing I didn’t love was the constant time jumping. I would have been fine if it had just been the two main time lines: 1997 and 2012 (and even as it moves forward as our teens grow up). But it frequently jumped further back to different points in time. These were done to give more detail to a particular scene in the present, but so many different time periods were flash backed to that it was sometimes difficult to keep things straight. I just felt they got a little carried away.
I felt like the drama lost a little steam in the last few episodes, but it was still enjoyable. Overall, Reply 1997 was a fun watch that really stirs up all of those feelings of nostalgia. I really enjoyed our group of friends and was sad to see their story end. It was definitely a good watch.
My Rating: 7/10
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