Oct 13, 2012

[K-Drama Review] Answer Me 1997

a.k.a. Reply 1997

The thing about K-Drama and I is that the more excited I become for it to premiere, I’d end up disappointed on how it turned out. And the more I am oblivious that such a drama exists before it premiered, I’d end up satisfied and it’ll turn out to be one of my favorites  With K-Dramas everything is a game of chance. It’s either an epic waste of time or an epic win like the gem that is Answer Me 1997.

Answer Me 1997 is one of those dramas that I didn't know exist until the blogosphere buzzed with excitement for the interesting first episode. I was preparing to go into full fan girl mode for To The Beautiful You at that time and I just finished catching up with J-Movies that I thought watching a K-Drama with shorter episodes wouldn't hurt. As it usually turns out, Answer Me 1997 is a drama that got me straight to heart. It was a sitcom with makjang plot but I totally bought it for its ability to stir different kind of emotions and the surprising burst of nostalgia it has given me. It was such a fantastic roller coaster ride!

What is good about Answer Me 1997? Why the loud buzz for this drama? Why did it receive so much love domestically and internationally? Why did I fangirl so hard for it?

Here’s my take…

The Four F’s of Answer Me 1997 Awesomeness


Never underestimate the loyalty of a fan girl. It can move mountains and it can render anyone deaf and/or disabled depending on how loud and/or brutal a fan girl she is.

In AM1997, Sung Shi Won is a dedicated fan of H.O.T. She pulled a lot of craziness as a fan girl. She traveled all the way from Busan to Seoul to stalk, wrote a fan message with her own blood, stayed up all night writing fan fictions, defied parental authority, engaged in a lot of fan wars  lined up in a long queue to get the latest albums and a lot more. All for the love of H.O.T.! For me, her antics are endearing because i can totally relate and it brought back crazy fan girl memories of my own.


Shi Won, Yoo Jung, Yoon Je, Joon Hee, Sung Jae and Hak Chan have the best friendship ever! They tread high school life together, grew up along the way and stayed friends despite the big changes in their lives later on.

I love the way Sung Shi Won and Yoo Jung overcame their fandom differences. Shi Won is Club H.O.T. while Yoo Jung is Team Sechs Kies. Sure, Shi Won felt betrayed for the sudden jumping of ships but one simple act of support from Yoo Jung is enough to heal the hurt and move on. And I hope for every male friendship out there that they have the relationship like Yoon Je and Joon Hee. Later in the story, Yoon Je found out that Joon Hee has a crush on him since forever (Yes! Hoya’s character is bisexual). The coward’s solution would have been for Yoon Je to opt out of the friendship but he did not. He accepted the fact and the two of them remained BFFs. Also, I got teary-eyed when Sung Jae became Yoo Jung’s shoulder of support when her father died. It’s sweet!


Family is the strongest point of Answer Me 1997. It focused on the Sung Family and Yoon Family. The Sung Family is your not-so-regular family who bicker all the time but still remains loyal to each of the family member. Their side of the story showed the depth of a father’s love for his family is unfathomable despite the impossible rules and out-of-this-world mind set. The devotion of a mother for her husband and daughter will bend the toughest of rules, even script writers will have to bow down. The way AM1997 made a point on how parents have a hard time letting go of their children as they go to college was too emotional for my own good. I had the same experience with my mom, you know.

The Yoon Family is brothers, Yoon Je and Tae Woong who lost their parents when Yoon Je was eleven. Siblings either grew apart or grew closer as they get older. In the case of the Yoon brothers, they have a strong bond of love to the point of noble idiocy. They would sacrifice each of their own happiness for the other. Those sacrifices are the root of the main conflict for Answer Me 1997. It’s makjang and have been used too often in dramas that I scratched my head in frustration. But the angst and cry-fest was kept to a minimum so I held on and I know enough about sibling love to go along with the story. For family, sacrifices are common and the way AM1997 captured that is like an arrow aimed straight to the viewers’ heart. I didn't stand a chance.

First Love

This part of the story is stereotypical for a K-Drama. Two friends who practically grew up together since birth developed feelings for each other although not at the same time. Those feelings eventually blossomed into mature love at the same time.

It is a cliché but the way it was played out is pretty enjoyable. Watching the ups and downs of Shi Won and Yoon Je’s wheel of love was like growing up along with them. The guessing game is what I think the most fun part in this first love scheme. I played along and totally bought the silliness of it all.

But wait, there’s more!

The best part of Answer Me 1997 is the burst of nostalgia it gave to the kids of the 90’s like me. It made me smile to see the things that I grew up with. Take a look at this:

The evolution of technology

I remember those days when I spend hours at a local arcade just to play Dance Revolution, the transition from Walkman to Portable CD Player, the way I envied the kids who got Tamagotchis (It was too expensive for a toy at that time!), the VHS tapes that my father collected and the first mobile phone I held. No it was not a Nokia 5110i but a NEC mobile phone that doesn't have text messaging feature.

Of course, who am I to forget the posters on the wall and boy bands with ridiculous hairstyles!

Oh the things that highlighted my childhood. Good times!

So here are my final thoughts…

Answer Me 1997 was described as a sitcom about the entertainment society around 1990. This drama follows female high high school student Seong Si Won (Jung Eun Ji), who idolizes boyband H.O.T and her 5 high school friends. But for the AM1997 fandom it was more than that. It is the story of the six friends from Busan as they learned the important lessons in life. It’s their journey from crazy fan girls and giddy teenagers to mature individuals. Answer Me 1997 is a celebration of long-lasting friendship, close-knit family and the sweetness of first love. It was a drama centered on life, raw and simple.

Hoping for a Season 2!

1 comment:

  1. Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
    Thanks for the great review of Reply 1997 / Answer Me 1997! I enjoyed it a lot.
    I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 97.5%.
    It is now the top scored show of 2012
    Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
    Thanks again for the review. If you want to do something with my blog, please contact me.