K-Drama Time Machine: “Reply 1988” Pays Homage To The Irreplaceable Bliss Of Being Young

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Four years ago, Reply 1988 sweetly tapped on our wistful memories.

They say that as you age along, you get more sentimental as you look back on what has happened in your life. Sitting on the neighborhood drama set between 1988 – 1995 made viewers reminisce the good old days of endearing family love and friendship full of laughter.

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Title: Reply 1988
Network: tvN
Theme: Youth, Faamily, Romance
Length: 20 Episodes + 1 Special Episode
Broadcast Date: 5 November 2015 – 16 January 2016
Main Leads: Park Bo Gum, Lee Hyeri, Ryu Jung Yeol, Lee Dong Hwi, Go Kyung Pyo, Ryu Hye Young, Ahn Jae Hong
Overall Rating:
Re-watch Value:
Related Dramas: Reply 1997, Reply 1994

Reply 1988 pays homage to the irreplaceable bliss of being young – of our young dreams and our young love. It gives you a trip to memory lane when technology hasn’t taken over the world yet— when friends meet up at a house to watch movies, to eat and to chat and when romance comes true by heartfelt love declarations, stolen kisses and warm hugs.


The elaborated picture of 90’s neighborhood

Hands down to the extent of the research and the meticulously vibrant writing that were fused together to bring up a chronicle that warms the heart and lingers in one’s mind. The setting, side stories and the cast ensemble will make the viewers feel like stepping to a time-warping machine and bringing out the best memories we could ever have in our lives.

As a trademark of the “reply franchise”, the drama also give hints on the main love couple that will blossom in the story. But out of all three Reply dramas, ’88 is the most discreetly conceived, and it took the last two finale episodes to finally reveal the man who married the female lead.

Reply 1988 tells the growing up years of five childhood friends living in the same block as they go through their studies, dreams and growing up years. Relying on one another, the friendship circle’s families are also entangled as one big family thriving happily and harmoniously in the changing times.

Ssangmundong Neighborhood friends

Sung Duk Seon (Hyeri) the only girl in the friendship circle belonged to a family of five with a scary sister she always bicker with and a younger brother who doesn’t look young at all. They live humbly with his banker father’s salary which has been immensely diminished due to his kind heart always extending help to people in need even sacrificing the finances meant to be spend for the family.

Choi Taek (Park Bo Gum) is the son of a clock repair man who is also a widow. They live quietly amidst the crazy families surrounding them. Choi Taek is a Baduk prodigy, but since not having a normal life, he was often sheltered by the people around him because he is overly kind-hearted. He does not bother much about the cruelties in life.

Kim Jung Hwan (Ryu Jung Yeol) grew up not being wealthy, but in a stroke of luck, their family won in a lottery and became rich overnight. He has one brother who does not run out of a new hobby to try in his life. Their parents worry about him not being able to secure a normal career in his prime.

Ryu Dong Ryong is the easy-go-lucky and the dancing machine of the clique. He craves for his busy mother’s attention and is scared of his teacher-father’s scolding.

Sung Sun Woo (Go Kyung Pyo) assumed taking care of his mother and little sister when his father died young. He is a model student and the most responsible in the group.

Solid Cast & Lingering Lessons

One of the many things I loved in the series is the genuine on-screen bond of the cast. Thus, giving life to the best possible imagination of their sketched characters was fascinating. There was no passerby among them. Not to mention how they all gave distinct colors to their characters.

All have contributed to an almost perfect depiction of how uncomplicated life way back then. With neighbors living up to become a functioning support group with their fellow parents. Definitely not Sky Castle-ish since their focus to direct the well-being of their children does not involve pressure. Because back then, the 90’s youth have inner motivations to chase their dreams and make their parents proud.

That is definitely not the case today with the internet controlling human interactions. People will choose to just browse on the superficial social media status of their family and friends than to take time to catch up with them in person.

The Signature Reply Series Romance

Another wonderful feature evident to all Reply-dramas is the building up of the romance. Fixed in presenting a love triangle, it would always break the viewers’ hearts as they want both guys to get the same girl they were chasing.

I was honestly Team Taek all throughout when it was airing. Who wouldn’t fall for Taek-i’s puppy face? I just really go for cute nerds who are clueless in life but advances strong when the situation required them to go for their one great love. Choi Taek rose to the occasion by waiting for the right time and seizing the moment without looking back.

Jung Hwan had his fair share of sweet moments capping up with that heartbreaking love proposal practice which Duk-seon never realized to be what really was in Jung Hwan’s heart.

But the one great love lesson learned from JungHwan-Dukseon-Taek love triangle is to not blame timing or fate for your one great love to happen.

Choi Taek braved the odds and defied a 20-year friendship and sealed every love he had for Dukseon in a heart-stopping kiss because he wanted to know right at that moment if there is just not a chance, but if love was really there for both of them. It’s not just knowing that love is there, it is being in absolute certainty that both of you feel the same way.


I only have the very best things to say for Reply 1988 – for the neighborhood that I grew fond watching; for the childhood buddies who defined lifetime friendship; and for the sincere love that bloomed from the purest friendship and memories.

Making use of its brilliant sweet melancholia and sending the followers back to their very own youth, like it did to me. It made me want to pay a short visit to the street I grew up with and reminisce the times when I hang out with my childhood friends to play old school games.

It made me glad that most of my precious memories were not digitally induced as is the case of the youth nowadays. Also, it reminded me to still go for the purest romance I can ever have that won’t make use much of the world- wide web and social media.

The ever present humor, the love stories and the amazing neighborhood presented in the series are surely a quick relief for life stress. Reply 1988 is a strip of mementos any person with a euphoric youth can relate to. I strongly vouch for this drama if you have a weekend to spare.

READ: 35 Benchmark Korean Romance Dramas You Should Have Watched By  Now