Answer Me, 1997 – Thoughts after episodes 1-4

August 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

I had been wanting to watch the new Korean drama 응답하라 1997, translated to respectively “Answer Me, 1997”, “Reply 1997” or “Answer to 1997” (sigh), for a couple of weeks before I actually found subtitles for it. The first four episodes are subbed and can be streamed from KimchiDramas as well as DramaCrazy and since I’ve caught a cold, I don’t feel the least guilty about having stayed home watching them instead of being out in the nice summer weather. Actually, that’s rather fortunate for me, because this far it’s a great drama that I have enjoyed a lot, even though I realize that it probably would have appealed to me even more and in other ways if I’d had a different upbringing.

I honesly don’t know that much about how any of the Korean countries were during the 90’s. For example: since I have read a little about Confucianism and its influence on Korea, I could guess why girls and boys had separate classrooms even during the same class at the same school, with the teacher going back and forth between the classrooms, but I absolutely had no idea that it was still like that back in 1997. Same goes for how the teenagers in the drama speak in hushed voices about things imported from Japan – I did know that Japanese-Korean relations were even frostier back then, but it’s one thing to know it and a whole other thing to see it played out in a drama.

I also don’t really have that much knowledge of 90’s Korean idol bands (it would feel strange calling them kpop idols, considering how kpop hadn’t been coined as a term back then) beside some basic knowledge gathered mostly as a consequence, and I have never been a teenage boyband fan.

But I can still relate to the show. Because more than anything, this is a show about being a teenager, with all the pains and troubles that holds. Even though my pains as a teenager weren’t exactly the same as the characters’ of this show, I can still relate to them.

SPOILERS UNDER THE PICTURE!

So far, I am extremely pleased with the sensitive portayal of especially two characters of a kind that are seldomly that well carried out. I’m thinking about the female lead, the very believable teenage girl Sung Shi-Won (Jung Eun-Ji from A Pink), and her friend Kang Joon-Hee (Hoya from Infinite!), who has realized that he has fallen for a classmate – no less than the male lead Yoon Yoon-Jae (Seo In-Gook). I know I have whined over annoying female leads before, and both Eastern and Western mainstream media tend to portray people who don’t identify as straight in a very prejudiced manner. But Shi-Won is more than just a passable kdrama female lead, she is actually a really good female character over all – she has a strong but  definitely flawed personality, all too rare in mainstream media. And Joon-Hee is more than just The Gay, he is a good friend and a person who struggles with his feelings as well as expectations from his surroundings. I was also a bit surprised at both these actors, because despite being the group’s main singer, dancer and rapper, Hoya has never really caught my eyes in Infinite, and I have not particularly payed attention to A Pink either. This drama has sort of opened my eyes to them.

All I can say is: please continue this way!

/Mis

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