S1 Ep6: Reply 1988: The Warm Embrace of Memory

We are back after a two month break! And we’re celebrating by diving deep into the beloved drama Reply 1988. As always, there are MAJOR SPOILERS in this episode so if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it and then come back and listen.  Here’s some recommended viewing and reading if you want to learn more about the events and social changes we discuss in this episode:  Watch Youth of May for a depiction of 80s era Korean student protests Read "A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present" to learn more about recent history: https://amzn.to/3oiEiKl  This article describes South Korea’s transformation from one of the poorest countries in the world to today’s economic powerhouse: https://asiasociety.org/education/population-change-and-development-korea This paper describes changes in the South Korean diet from the 1970s to the present: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/1/44/4729146?login=true Show Notes: 1:36: We discuss the dramas we watched over the summer:  The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Vickey, Alisa and Melanie all LOVE this underrated drama Hometown Cha Cha Cha: Vickey and Melanie are all in on the dimples When the Camellia Blooms: Everyone was surprised that Alisa, the Drop Queen, loved this, but Kang Ha Neul won her over Arang and the Magistrate: the other Shin Min A drama!  Into the Ring and City Hall: Katherine has a thing for small political stories  DP: features two Reply 1988 actors in a very dark social critique drama 9:23: Start of Reply 1988 discussion.  10:36: Vickey and Melanie have a fangirl freakout over their new fave, Ryu Jun-yeol. 11:50: The genesis of this episode: we started out wanting to talk about food in dramas and  eventually landed on the social, economic and political history of The Republic of Korea over the past 40 years (really). 14:06: Alisa gives a very brief history lesson that illustrates the scope of the absolutely massive changes that Korea has undergone in a very short period of time. And all of that change is illustrated in one way or another in Reply 1988. 16:30: Melanie discusses the massive movement of population from rural areas to cities and how the parents in Reply 1988 have recreated their rural communities in the alley neighborhood in Seoul. Everyone shares food and resources and looks out for each other’s children.  19:20: Vickey discusses the enormous appeal of the drama: it made her cry because she grew up in Ghana in a similar community where the aunties were like second moms and all the kids played and ate together. The idea of family, friendship and love lost was deeply appealing to her. Mel and Katherine share similar stories. 25:19:  Mel and Katherine discuss how the Reply 1988 parents were not very literate but their children attended Seoul National University. A huge and poignant change in one generation. Melanie also talks about the writer’s style. She is not someone who is plot driven but instead focuses on the specificity of the characters and their lives and making you wish you could be part of the community.  28:43: Alisa also grew up in a similar insular community but she doesn’t share nostalgia for that way of life. She understands the appeal of a community of people looking out for you but she was frustrated by the drama’s sentimentality. 32:04: We get into a long discussion of Bo Ra’s political activities and how they are portrayed in the drama. Alisa is frustrated that her political interests are treated as a distraction from school and romance. Vickey points out that it’s valid for ordinary people to want to protect their children and avoid politics. Mel observes that Bo Ra’s protesting is treated as teenage hijinks instead of as something politically momentous.  40:36: We get into a long discussion of how Deok-seon is treated on the show. Alisa is appalled that the family doesn’t feed her the same food as her siblings: they get a fried egg and the best pieces of chicken while Deok-seon gets beans. She rants about what this says about the value (or lack of value) Deok-seon has in her family. Mel observes that the neighbors (and Taek) notice that Deok-seon doesn’t get the best food and feed her to make up for it. 46:08: We have a long discussion of the Korean economy at that time and how that’s reflected in how the different families live and eat. Also, why did the writer choose to have the lottery family win their money instead of making the money themselves? It may have to do with a perception that capitalism has winners and losers and where you land is arbitrary--a theme you see today in Squid Game and other dramas.  55:32: SHIP WARS! Mel aka Team Jeong-hwan and Vickey aka Team Taek face off on who Deok-seon should’ve ended up with. Katherine suggests that Deok-seon was originally supposed to end up with Jeong-hwan until Park Bo-gum’s fanbase made the writer change her mind. Vickey insists that Taek was always the end game and Alisa agrees.  1:08:11: Alisa wishes Deok-seon had pulled a Kelly in 90210 and chosen herself. Everyone else laughs at her. 1:15:24: Melanie gives a warning that if you watch this on Viki.com all of the TV shows and original music is scrubbed from the drama so you will have to seek out...less than legal sites if you want to watch with all of the pop culture references intact. 1:21:05: Katherine brings up a deeply disappointing part of the drama: In Reply 1988,  Jeong-hwan is compared with Michol, a television character from the 80s who wore blackface. The writer chose to include that racist caricature in the drama--and it’s not okay. Unfortunately, blackface continues to be a part of Korean pop culture. We also discuss MBC’s infamous coverage of the 2021 Olympics opening ceremony.  1:27:41: Alisa asserts that Reply 1988 is regressive in many ways, as exemplified by how the working mother was treated in the drama (her kid runs away from home for two days and she doesn’t notice???).  1:32:46: Melanie takes a moment to appreciate that the drama gives the parents their own stories and their own struggles and even a romance.  1:34:36: Vickey says that the show doesn’t so much put on rose colored glasses but is instead more about learning to appreciate a time when the characters found friendship, home and love and connecting with cherished childhood memories.  1:39:31: Melanie reminds us that the show was a launching pad for so many young actors, including Ryu Jun-yeol in Lost (not to mention he won Hyeri in the end!).

Om Podcasten

A deep dive into the classic Kdramas that have hooked fans around the world and across decades. Are you crazy for Coffee Prince? In love with My Lovely Sam Soon? Can't get enough of Boys Over Flowers in all its incarnations? This is for you! Hosted by the F4, aka the Flower Fans 4. Vickey and Katherine are longtime Kdrama fans while Melanie and Alisa have just jumped into the Kdrama pool. But we all share a love of good storytelling, epic romance, shower angsting, piggyback rides, back hugs and yes, 🤞❤️. Follow us on Twitter: @daebakpodcast1 (https://twitter.com/daebakpodcast1) _________ Melanie reviews Indian cinema on her YouTube channel, Pardesi Reviews (https://youtube.com/c/PardesiReviews) . Find her on Twitter @PardesiYT and also @moviemavengal where she’s been gushing about Kdramas for the last year. Instagram: @pardesireviews _________ Vickey reviews and react to Indian cinema/music videos as well. She also reacts to music from other countries, such as KPop, Indonesian music and etc on her YouTube channel -https://youtu.be/C76njJFlzZk. Find her on twitter and Instagram @thatvickeygirl. She’s been a kdrama fan for a year and a half _________ Katherine (@kaymatthews (https://twitter.com/kaymatthews) on Twitter) fell into the world of Kdramas in 2013, when she bought the DVD set of Arang and the Magistrate, and although sageuks (historical dramas) remain her favourites, she watches a wide range of dramas, and is happy to share them (though don’t ask about the year of the “no drop” rule).  A fan of Malayalam cinema for a little longer than that, she writes about it (and occasionally other Indian cinema and television) at http://totallyfilmi.com (https://t.co/d8ujNOb8Hc?amp=1) . _________ Alisa reviews and fangirls over Indian films and Korean dramas on Twitter @BollywoodNewbie.