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Reply 1994 (2013) Review


It's the year 1994 in South Korea. Technology has not blossomed into what we know today. People still rely on their handy beepers to communicate, and payphones remain a hit for many. KPop is still a growing genre, and the Korean Basketball League is beginning to take off.


Plot Overview


Similar to Reply 1997, the story centers around a single female lead. Sung Na-jung is a university student who moved to Seoul with her parents, Sung Dong-il and Lee Il-hwa. She and her family own a boarding house that caters to students. Their main tenants reside in different provinces of South Korea and are called by their nicknames.


Sseureki, or Trash, is an aspiring medical student and the best friend of Na-jung's late brother. He grew up with her and always made fun of her during their idle time. Chillbong is a baseball star and freshman who spends most of his time competing in different minor leagues. He soon develops a crush on Na-jung. Samcheonpo is a student who gets mistaken because of his older looks. He always dresses up formally and gets teased by many. Haitai the roommate of Samcheonpo, has a family that owns a Bus Transportation business. He has a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend from the province, but it didn't work out. Binggurae, Chillbong's cousin and Trash's junior at school, always skips school and begins to work on part-time jobs to raise money. He has always wanted to be a doctor but must support his family first. Jo Yoon-jin, an avid fan of Seo Taiji, is a quiet yet frank tenant who always goes ballistic to meet her idols. She and Samcheonpo began dating even though many think they do not fit.


Fast-forward to 2013, Sung Na-jung and her friends reminisce about their past by watching her wedding video. They recall the friendship they shared and the trials they experienced. She reveals a question to the audience: who among the residents of their boarding house is her husband?


Characters

  • Sung Na-jung - played by Go Ara. She is an avid basketball fan. Earlier in the series, she suffered a slipped disc on her back because of too much cheering. Although she's a short-tempered personality, she's very caring. She gets devastated when Sseureki leaves home to fulfill his dream and continue his medical studies.

  • Sseureki - played by Jung Woo. He has been very close to Na-jung since they grew up together. After her late brother died, he acted on his behalf. He is like the big brother of the other tenants and provides guidance when needed.

  • Chillbong - played by Yoo Yeon-seok. An excellent baseball player and was noted to become a star player in the future. For most of the series, his character doesn't appear much. He is like an outcast in the group but cares for them as much as anyone.

  • Samcheonpo - played by Kim Sung-kyun. He is one of the most recent tenants they have. He is roommates with Haitai, and they both hated each other at first. He gets teased for his older looks, but technically, he is among the youngest among other tenants. He has romantic feelings for Yoon-jin, although he has difficulty understanding her fangirl personality.

  • Haitai - played by Son Ho-jun. He is a happy-go-lucky guy who initially butts heads with Samcheonpo. He and Na-jung are very close and often provide advice to one another.

  • Binggeure - played by Baro. He is a cousin of Chillbong. He is very quiet and laid back. He views Sseureki as his mentor and respects him.

  • Jo Yoon-jin - played by Min Do-hee. She is an avid fan of Seo Taiji and is willing to go to great lengths to attend their events. She starts as a quiet girl around the boarding house but softens as the story progresses.

Review


Reply 1994, a sequel to Reply 1997, shares the same generational-drama feeling. It reuses the concept of having a single heroine and the question of who she married. It also features some historical events experienced by people who were aware of this period in South Korea. I like being intentional with the start of KPOP, considering that the genre is well-known today. It adds a bit of history.


This series has longer episode runtime than its predecessor. While the story may feel heartbreaking and funny at times, it doesn't match well with Reply 1997's pacing. Reply 1994 features a slow-paced delivery that takes forever for the story and its characters to develop.


While this series features colorful characters, it lacks dynamic and depth, but after two episodes, everything becomes predictable. Na-jung's husband may initially be intriguing, but you can spot the symbolism early.


I still like the story and how it was set up. The history and tragedy that Korea encountered during this time period are evident and show how the creators respect those events. However, it lacks enjoyment when the story becomes too predictable.


A good 3 out of 5 stars.

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