Answer Me 1997: Episodes 7-8
Boys. How do they make you swoon and sigh in equal measure? I’ve never met a drama with this many love triangles where none of the legs drives me crazy, but there you have it. I love them all. This pair of episodes highlights the two brothers in turn, who are great characters on their own, but really fantastic together. I love them both so much and want them to get everything they want in life… only there’s the one sticky problem of a girl…
SONG OF THE DAY
RiAa – “Tears” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “Future Hopes”
Reunion, 2012. Tae-woong gets a call to move his car, and Shi-won asks him to grab something for her, calling her oppa. Hm, but, they didn’t arrive together…
Yoo-jung can’t believe she’s still calling him oppa. (WHY? Should she call him honey? Darling? Or brother-of-my-husband?) But she says it’s because Tae-woong is destined to be the President someday, and we find out that in the intervening years, he’s finally fulfilled all that top-of-his class potential as a congressman and now potential presidential candidate.
The other guys lament the vast difference between brothers, as Yoon-jae tries to brute-force his way into Shi-won’s cell phone case, breaking it in two. She beats him up for it, and has to be held back from ripping his hair out. These two. They got older, but not more mature.
A news story features Tae-woong on the monitor behind them, and shows his family—little brother Yoon-jae, who graduated Seoul University Law at the top of his class. So, not exactly shabby, eh?
The story says that the 33-year old Yoon-jae is serving as a judge nicknamed the Iceman… as we pan down to Shi-won and Yoon-jae, post-hair-pulling hissyfit. Heh.
February, 1998. Yoo-jung stops in the middle of eating her crab and announces out of the blue, “Let’s break up.” Hak-chan just stares back blankly. At school Sung-jae asks what the reason was for the breakup. “Because I eat with these three fingers.” Cue looks of confusion.
May 1998. Same crab shack, different news story to mark the time change. Yoo-jung: “Let’s break up.” At school Sung-jae asks what the reason was this time. Hak-chan: “Because I wore a v-neck with a v-neck.” Joon-hee actually does a spit-take.
October 1998 (marked as D-30 days till college entrance exams). Same crab shack, this time FinkL debuts on the screen behind them. Yoo-jung: “Let’s break up.” Hak-chan just silently holds up his crab with the proper fingers and his crewneck-vneck combination in protest. She storms out anyway.
Now all four guys are called for a pow-wow, and they ask what the reason was this time. Hak-chan just hangs his head and says she didn’t tell him. The guys collectively sigh. Sung-jae tells him to forget about her and just say fine he’ll break up, but Hak-chan refuses, “No, that I can’t do.”
Sung-jae snipes that this is all Yoon-jae’s fault anyway—if he had accepted Yoo-jung’s feelings, Hak-chan would’ve never been in this mess. Uh, I think you’re forgetting the part where Hak-chan lurves her.
Yoo-jung doesn’t seem too broken up about it though. (Is she giving herself a makeshift straight perm at her desk?) A Jang Woo-hyuk fangirl comes running in to ask Shi-won if she’s really the one who’s writing the popular fanfic in the H.O.T. forums.
She confirms it with a bit of a swagger, and the girl squeals that she’s a huge fan, demanding the next installment. Shi-won says her mom kicked her off the internet for the high phone bill, so she’s waiting to upload it all at once.
The girl pleads desperately—she has to know how that scene with Tony and Woo-hyuk in the shower ends! Pffft. Shi-won sighs and hands her the file on a disk (remember those?) and makes her swear not to put it online without her permission.
Meanwhile Tae-woong is busy interviewing each of the students one by one about their future hopes. It’s a sequence of pipedream jobs – the dumb girl who wants to be a doctor, the girl with a thick Busan accent wanting to be an announcer, and Dan-ji who can’t draw but wants to be a painter.
Tae-woong sighs that future hopes are about reachable, nearby dreams—a career you can attain and make a living doing. Who’ll take responsibility if you waste your life on an unattainable dream?
Tae-woong: “That’s why a person has to be content with a close dream. If you chase after a dream that’s far away, your heart will hurt and your insides will burn. A futile passion only leaves heartache. That’s why they say life’s stupidest thing is a one-sided love.”
Aw, no, Tae-woong. Say it ain’t so.
It’s Shi-won’s turn and Tae-woong asks if maybe she could find a future in something sports-related? She insists she has to get into the college Tony oppa goes to, and he has to let her down that with her grades, she won’t get into that college, or any college.
She whines at him to find her some college she can get into, and he figures that there must be something she’s good at, and they’ll figure it out.
It puts her in a funk, and Yoon-jae asks half-jokingly if that monkey asked her to marry him she would, and she sighs no. He perks up. Shi-won: “Oppa deserves a better woman!” Hahaha.
The latest girl with a Yoon-jae crush interrupts to give him a cake, which he snubs coldly. Shi-won calls him a son of a bitch and offers to make sure he gets the cake… and then promptly eats it with Sung-jae.
The boys’ homeroom teacher is livid at Yoon-jae’s future plans, because at first place, he’s got the potential to go to Seoul University, but chose the air force academy instead.
He just tells Teach it’s his choice and suggests he be content to send Joon-hee (Number 2) to Seoul U, but Teach sighs that Joon-hee wants to go to the air force academy too. Yoon-jae: “Eh?”
He comes out to watch Joon-hee run laps in the field, deep in thought.
Dan-ji pesters Shi-won for something in the middle of class, so she takes a set of papers from Yoo-jung and stretches across the aisle to pass it over… when Teach intercepts. Drat. He starts to read: “Woo-hyuk’s lips charge at Seung-ho…” Oh noes! He just keeps reading aloud in this sing-song incredulous voice that cracks me up.
The class bursts into laughter. Shi-won buries her head in shame. Again.
Tae-woong chuckles as he reads the slashfic, while Shi-won stands there completely mortified. She threatens that if he tells her parents she’ll never see him ever again. He just keeps laughing but puts on a bright smile and says this is a good thing: she may go to college after all.
She looks up, say what now, and he digs around for an entry form for a creative writing contest. Nice.
Yoon-jae brings Joon-hee a soda after his run and asks about the air force—aren’t his grades a waste there? Joon-hee just says he’s found a reason to go. He asks if Yoon-jae’s choice was because he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
But Yoon-jae says it’s because of someone else. Joon-hee: “Me too. Because of someone…”
Hak-chan sighs in defeat after checking his pager for the millionth time today. Sung-jae asks if maybe he wore the wrong color socks or something, but Hak-chan says it can’t be that easy. Yoo-jung is meticulous, and he thinks it’s something so small that they can’t even fathom. Sung-jae: “What could it be? Or is she just wacko?”
Shi-won gets to work on her next installment of H.O.T. slashfic, which you have to admit, is primed for good titles. I love her I’m-writing-a-naughty-scene face. Hee.
At home, Tae-woong asks Yoon-jae to reconsider the air force: “Don’t just follow Dad’s dreams, but think of Mom’s too. She’ll be sad.”
Yoon-jae in turn tells Hyung to go do what he wants as soon as he’s graduated. “Mom’s dream was for you to be President. I’m all grown up now, so you should live your life. Any more… would make me too sorry.” Aw. So much unspoken between these two.
Yoon-jae digs out Dad’s old military uniform and tries it on, flashing him back to when he was ten. Tae-woong came running to tell Yoon-jae that Dad was home and he’d gone running to salute him and jump into his arms.
But it’s Shi-won’s awe of his Dad that we end on, as she narrates: “It was on that day that I decided no matter what, I would marry a man in uniform.” That’s adorable. And now we know why he’s so dead-set on this path.
Shi-won comes bounding into his room while he’s changing (though of course she thinks nothing of it) and swoons to see his father’s old uniform. She puts it on and sighs that his dad was so handsome in it—he was her ideal man. Yoon-jae says he knows.
She tells him about her plan to get into college, and has Yoon-jae read her latest fanfic. He reads aloud in robot voice: “Hak. Hak. The sound of their breath filled the room… With a trembling hand Woo-hyuk pulls down his zipper…”
He’s like, this is getting you into college how? She tells him to read for the way it’s written, not the content, but he just sighs that she should hang out with Hak-chan. She turns in surprise, “Does Hak-chan write fanfic too?” Yoon-jae: “No… the genre’s a little different.” Hur.
But Tae-woong thinks it’s totally fixable—they just change the character names, the shower scenes become basketball scenes, and the kissing into handshakes. Basketball, eh? Am suddenly reconstructing Last Match verrrrrry differently in my head…
At school the next day, Hak-chan sneaks some soju into his thermos. Is this an I-don’t-understand-girls-so-I’m-drowning-my-sorrows-in-the-green-bottle thing? The guys just tell him to ask her already, or they’ll do it, because they’re never going to figure it out.
Yoon-jae asks how he can watch so much porn and not know what a girl is thinking. Pfft, that you had to ask that is funny.
The girl with the Yoon-jae crush comes by, this time with a heart pillow embroidered with a couple in couple-T’s that say “love,” making a heart, in the heart, under a heart. It’s like if M.C. Escher and a valentine’s day card had an unholy lovechild. Joon-hee throws eye-daggers. But as soon as Shi-won runs up to him, Yoon-jae stuffs the pillow behind Hak-chan.
Shi-won: “Take off your underwear.” Wut?
She says that her whole college future is riding on this creative writing contest (first place gets admission into a university), and demands Top Place Underpants Mojo. Hahahaha.
She goes to take them off right there in the schoolyard and Sung-jae helps hold him down. Sadly for all, he complies and tells her he’ll bring them to the post office later, when she mails off her entry. *pout*
She leans in close, “If you don’t want to have them taken off publicly, hurry up and make your underwear delivery at the post office. Got it?” She scratches his chin like a good puppy.
Sung-jae complains that she didn’t bring any gifts to offer in exchange for First Place Underpants, and Shi-won says she’s flat broke—she spent all her money on Yoo-jung’s present yesterday. Er…
They’re like, present? What present? Shi-won: “Birthday present. It was Yoo-jung’s birthday the day before last. Hak-chan should know. Isn’t that why you went to go eat crab?”
Oh no. Hak-chan’s reaction is priceless, but it’s the trio of buddies all slackjawed that do me in. Shi-won guesses he must’ve gotten her something really nice, because she refused to disclose any info.
The guys all leave Hak-chan with slaps upside the head: “Die, you bastard.” He dangles from the steps like dating roadkill.
That night he waits for Yoo-jung outside school, and she coldly dismisses him. But he says, “I’m sorry it’s late,” and takes something out of his backpack…
It’s the heart pillow! Pfffft. Regifting after you’re already in the doghouse?
But she takes one look at it and totally cry-hugs him with a squeal.
One month later, a motel. Yoon-jae and Joon-hee are staying overnight for their entrance interviews to the air force academy. Joon-hee has sample interview questions prepped, and Yoon-jae marvels, “You? The guy who gives the best impression in all the world?”
Yoon-jae offers to quiz him anyway, and gets through all the questions, and then can’t help himself: “Is there someone you like right now?” Joon-hee hedges a moment, but answers, “Yes.” Eep!
Yoon-jae gulps. “Is it someone I know?” Suddenly the air is tense. Joon-hee looks over at him: “Yes.” Omg omg omg. Yoon-jae: “Is it Sung Shi-won?” Joon-hee just looks away and takes another long pause…
And then he changes the subject without answering. Yoon-jae just swallows the silence, sure that it means the answer he fears.
By the time Joon-hee washes up, Yoon-jae’s already asleep. He gets into the bed they’re sharing and closes his eyes.
Flashback to the first day of high school. All the students pile in to find their class and seat assignments, and to their horror, they’re arranged by academic rank. Yoon-jae and Sung-jae scowl, already friends from junior high but obviously on opposite ends of the grade pool.
The students complain that it’s unfair and just get yelled at to fall in line. But Yoon-jae speaks up defiantly that they’ll comply, as long as the teachers post their grades and get assigned by rank as well. Nice.
It’s totally badass. He nearly gets a beating for it, but Tae-woong intervenes, furious. At first it looks like another tense moment between the brothers… but as soon as they’re alone, Tae-woong sighs, “I thought I was gonna pee my pants!” So cute.
Joon-hee just sits down quietly in his assigned Second Place seat, and then Yoon-jae saunters in and plops down in the chair next to his.
They lock eyes for a fateful moment, and then Yoon-jae asks if he has a dictionary. Joon-hee hands him one… which he uses as a pillow to take a nap on. Heh. Smartypants AND a rebel? I totally get why he’s in love.
Joon-hee looks over at sleeping Yoon-jae that first day, and we fade back to the boys asleep in bed.
They get to the physical exams at the academy, and Yoon-jae totally fails the vision test. Flashback shows us that his eye doctor back home is blinder than he is.
He and Joon-hee ride the bus back home sighing that they both didn’t know they had physical limitations, and then we see that the interviewer had called Joon-hee’s name but he never even showed.
They cringe at the thought of everyone teasing them about this, and Yoon-jae figures it’s at least half a year of mockery from Shi-won. As they laugh, Tae-woong narrates:
Tae-woong: You have to be content with a dream that’s close. If you chase after one that’s far away, your heart will hurt and your insides will burn. A futile passion only leaves heartache. That’s why life’s stupidest thing is a one-sided love. But the reason that stupid one-sided love is worth trying is… that passion can sometimes make miracles happen… sometimes go the long way around to help you fulfill a dream… and even if it doesn’t allow you to realize that dream, it allows you to linger near it and find happiness.
We see Shi-won get the phone call that she’s won first place in the competition and she’s going to college. The Busan girl with the thick accent eventually becomes a sportscaster, and Dan-ji doesn’t become a painter, but works in a gallery and gets to be near the art she loves.
Aw, yay. And then we flashback to a follow-up session, and this time Tae-woong tells the students: But just because everyone says one-sided love is doomed, you can’t give up before you even start, and worry about how you’ll eat and live.
Tae-woong: “More important than what you CAN do is what you WANT to do. So let’s start with that. You only live once!” Oh phew. I was really worried about you there, Big Bro, but you came back around in the end.
And then we see that tucked in his notebook is his resignation letter. Good for you.
Reunion, 2012. Yoo-jung swoons that she’s still probably the only girl in the world who’s ever received a cross-stitch from her boyfriend as a gift, and Hak-chan immediately jumps to change the subject. Lol. You take that secret to the grave!
Sung-jae asks if Shi-won is still writing fanfic these days and she cringes. Hak-chan: “What’s fanfic?” Yoo-jung explains.
Hak-chan: “Eh. Don’t do that! If the members read it, do you know how uncomfortable and annoyed they’d be?”
Oh, the meta.
EPISODE 8: “D-Day”
SONG OF THE DAY
Sechskies – “Couple” [ Download ]
1998. D-2 till entrance exams. Hak-chan spends his time downloading internet porn. It’s a pretty hilarious sequence where he waits with bated breath for the naked picture to load, only to have his father cut the connection with a phone call just before the goods.
Yoon-jae asks Shi-won to meet him after their exams and she asks if it’s something important. Yoon-jae: “Yes. It’s my life’s D-Day.”
Hak-chan tries to download one more time, only to get cut off again. He whirls around ready to curse someone out, only to be met with a gun to the temple. Whoa. It’s General Dad, holding him up at gunpoint to take an emergency war room call. Uh… message received?
Back to the reunion. Tae-woong introduces a friend to Yoon-jae. Yoon-jae makes mention of a hyung-soo-nim, which means Tae-woong is definitely married. Tae-woong goes to introduce Shi-won, but all we hear is “That I love…. ” and not what he calls her. It’s vague enough that it could be “The wife I love,” or just as well be “The wife of the brother I love,” or any number of other things.
The news report (at D-200 days till the election) says Tae-woong is currently ahead in the polls. Yoon-jae narrates that in 2012, Hyung was finally getting his D-day. And way back when, they were all preparing for their D-days in their own ways.
1998, D-1. Hak-chan sits back while Sung-jae sells his latest hot-ticket item, an edited videotape of all the good sex scenes in movies, with the boring stuff cut out. He’s met a good business partner in Sung-jae, who really knows how to sell it.
The boy asks, “Edited?” and we see Hak-chan’s hilarious low-rent VHS tape marking/cutting/scotch-taping operation. Sung-jae asks what Hak-chan is going to do with all this money, and he says he’s going to buy stuff for Yoo-jung. Apparently Sung-jae is the only one who sees the irony in selling porn to keep your girlfriend in presents, but applauds Hak-chan for his entrepreneurship.
Yoo-jung wakes Shi-won after class, wailing, “What am I going to do?” Shi-won assumes it’s test-day jitters, but no—Hak-chan invited her over to his HOUSE, after exams. But… that’s at night! What could it mean?
Shi-won: “That he wants… to… sleep… with you?” Yoo-jung: “I can’t!” Shi-won: “Of course you can’t!” Yoo-jung: “I’m on my period!” Hahaha.
Shi-won gapes, “But if not, you would?” Yoo-jung swoons at the thought and Shi-won turns into a mom, clucking at the pair of them. She tells Yoo-jung to just be honest then, but she can’t let Hak-chan down, not when he’s probably dying of anticipation.
Yoo-jung yanks at her hair screaming, “It’s my life’s D-Day! How could that day and that day overlap?”
The boys file out of class and Sung-jae asks what they’re going to do after the exam, wanting to play. But Hak-chan and Yoon-jae already have plans, and Joon-hee’s entire family is coming down—all eight of his noonas. Dude. He says he has no interest in a noraebang anyway.
Tae-woong sees the boys come by in the hall and is suddenly a different person—all nice and smiley and patting Sung-jae on the head. They’re like, what’s gotten into Scary Teach?
He confuses them even more by calling Yoon-jae over, and Yoon-jae laughs that Hyung’s gotten brave, talking to him in the hall in front of everyone. But Tae-woong says his exam is tomorrow—what’re they gonna do if they find out?
He straightens Yoon-jae’s tie and checks the pimple on his forehead like a dad, and the boys watch the curious behavior from the other end of the hall, not knowing what to make of it.
He’s holding a tonic in his hand but says it’s for Shi-won, and Yoon-jae laughs that she’ll still sleep through her exams, no matter what you feed her. Tae-woong gives her the thermos and she marvels that he made it himself. “Oppa, can’t I marry you? You should marry me, Oppa-ya!” They’re adorable.
He offers to buy her a present after the exam and asks what she wants. She lights up, “A beer!” He agrees—but just one. She remembers belatedly that she’s supposed to meet Yoon-jae tomorrow, so they make plans to meet after.
Yoon-jae spends the day before the exam playing Starcraft, with Sung-jae and Joon-hee looking over his shoulders in awe. He beats the other player, saying that he knows the guy’s weaknesses. They ask if he knows this “makjang_1” and Yoon-jae says yeah, “It’s my hyung.” Hee, did they name his handle makjang because the brothers will love one girl?
He tells Yoon-jae to head home early because Mom and Dad are making kimbap. Dad’s mostly busy watching Park Chan-ho on TV, and then turns around to find that Mom’s made the world’s largest mountain of kimbap ever. I love the running gag of her just making these unfathomably large vats of food every time she cooks.
Dad sets out on a scouting mission at local high schools, and tells a coach that this kid is being trained wrong—he should be a pitcher. The coach listens to Dad, who tells the kid to put his bat down. He turns around; it’s Choo Shin-soo (who will eventually end up a star pitcher). Ha.
Dad’s feeling frisky so Mom sends Shi-won out on a beer-fetching errand. She plays with the shopowner’s dog, stretching his eyes and calling him Yoon-jae’s little brother. Aw, they do kind of look alike! She wishes she could take the doggie home.
Yoon-jae finds her there and asks if she doesn’t want to have a drink, so they dig into Mom and Dad’s stash and have a beer. He tells her not to forget about tomorrow, and she tells him to just say whatever it is now. But he insists it has to be that day: it’s D-Day.
Yoon-jae gives her taffy (a traditional test-day present, to “stick”/get in/pass), and asks if she doesn’t have anything for him. She quickly runs off and returns with a tiny S that she says is for Seoul U, and puppy-scratches his chin. She clinks cans with him in honor of his D-Day, and he smiles back.
D-Day. Tae-woong gives Yoon-jae a big earnest hug, saying he’s worked really hard. Yoon-jae calls him gross, but totally smiles. Dad walks Shi-won out and tells her that life is 70 percent luck and 30 percent effort. “Our family’s all luck. Don’t trust the other thing.” HA.
He tells her to figure it out and do well, and runs inside because it’s cold. I luff Dad. Even Shi-won’s like, That’s it, that’s the big speech? and stomps off to school.
The test begins, and at the same time Tae-woong starts to pack up his desk—as a teacher to seniors, he’s effectively done as of today. As soon as it’s over, the boys rush up to Yoon-jae to ask if they got this or that question right. He hands them a list of his answers, already prepared.
Yoon-jae runs off to somewhere in a hurry, and arrives at a grandpa’s house, where he greets a little white puppy as Yoon-jae. Flashback to two months ago, when Yoon-jae began a lookalike puppy search, asking the pet shop owner if any of the dogs look like him.
He scours pounds, rescue shelters, and then finally finds one that’s perfect, but he’s already got an owner. So he goes to see the grandpa and begs for the dog, and finally gets him to agree by replacing the puppy with another, and then goes to pick him up on D-Day.
The grandpa asks why this puppy, and Yoon-jae says it has to look like him because he’s going to give it to a girl and ask her to be his girlfriend. He wanted to get her this puppy so she could carry “him” around all day.
Grandpa asks what’ll happen when the puppy gets that big, pointing to the full-grown version, and Yoon-jae says she’ll just use a leash then. “I just don’t have a leash, but I’m the same as that dog.” Awwww.
Sung-jae drags Joon-hee to the noraebang, and starts scouring the rooms for pretty girls. He bombs twice, once with Jung Juri and then Kim Tae-won? HAHAHA. Well, he does have very pretty hair. He finally scores with two pretty noonas. (Another cameo by an announcer from Busan.)
He makes a big presentation of introducing his friend, and Joon-hee sighs, but follows suit with a big dance entrance… only to freeze in shock when he sees the girls. The room goes quiet.
Joon-hee: “Noona…” Sung-jae’s like yeah, they’re noonas… but Joon-hee means the other kind, as in his big sister, and he’s in deep shit. Oh crap. That’s embarrassing AND scary. She yells up a storm and drags him out by the ear, telling Sung-jae to follow.
Yoo-jung paces back and forth outside Hak-chan’s house endlessly, and then finally rings the doorbell. They’re both awkward and jumpy, flinching at everything.
They sit like that for a while, tripping up on every word and gesture. After another excruciatingly awkward minute goes by, he gets up to dim the lights.
She starts to panic. He sits down, and then reaches his arm behind her…
She closes her eyes and screams, “I’M ON MY PERIOD!”
Only to find him holding the TV remote and doubled over in shock. LOL.
They turn on the TV and watch a Sechskies video (Aw, tiny Eun Ji-won!) and then Hak-chan says awkwardly, “If you were expecting… something else… we could… now…” She buries her face, mortified.
Shi-won waits for Yoon-jae to show, and he hurries along with puppy tucked in his jacket, when Tae-woong pulls up in his new car to offer him a ride. He tells Yoon-jae about his plans to buy Shi-won a beer later and Yoon-jae warns him good-naturedly that if he’s too nice, Shi-won’s so immature that she’ll think Hyung likes her. “You can’t kid around with her. She’ll believe you.”
Tae-woong: “I’m not kidding.” *THUNK* Yoon-jae’s heart drops to his feet.
Yoon-jae turns to look at hyung, who confesses, “I like Shi-won. Didn’t you know?” Yoon-jae just remains speechless.
Tae-woong says he’s planning to tell Shi-won how he feels tonight. And he adds that he tendered his resignation at school. “You’ve taken your exams so now I’m going to live my life too. Today is Hyung’s D-Day.”
Oh noooo. He leaves Yoon-jae holding his puppy in the street, reeling.
Yoon-jae slumps against a wall in utter shock and defeat, and we see that Shi-won is just on the other side of the wall, still waiting. Yoon-jae narrates about D-Day like he’s prepping for war:
Yoon-jae: You have to know where your enemy is, understand their situation, and be able to read their hearts. Even if you’re sure you’ve prepared perfectly, you can’t lose your chance, your timing. Because D-Day only gives two results: win or lose. My life’s first D-Day. November 18, 1998. I prepared meticulously… but lost the first post. The cause of defeat: reconnaissance failure.
As he narrates, he starts to see Tae-woong’s concern for Shi-won in a different light. Hak-chan puts his editing skills to use in making a tape for Yoo-jung, called “Couple,” after the Sechskies song, edited with clips of her favorite idol, Eun Ji-won. Aw. That’s what he called her over for?
And even though Shi-won waits and pages Yoon-jae to hurry, he turns away and leaves. Nooooo! Don’t go!
As the closing credits roll, Dad goes to another school to scout a player, and sighs at this coach’s idea of trying this pitcher out as a hitter. Dad warns that such a large kid can’t even run across the bases, and dismisses him entirely.
The kid turns around… and it’s Lee Dae-ho (who basically grows up to become the homerun king). So, Dad, not so much the genius after all.
The way this show plays with the meta of knowing the future is so cheeky. It’s a clever way to make the characters seem either prescient or totally stupid at any given pop culture reference, and make us feel in on the joke. But what I like most is the way the story plays with time, whether across fifteen years or a few days. This writer really knows how to play up a reveal, subvert expectation, and follow through on a narrative arc, whether you see it pay off fifteen years down the line or in a flashback that’s cleverly withheld. Every episode is scripted so tightly with its theme—a coming-of-age motif that’s familiar and obvious, and yet played to subvert expectations.
You think that an episode about future hopes and dreams will be about the kids and their future careers. And it is. But it’s as much about the teacher who’s giving the advice, and about the life that Tae-woong chose in giving up his dreams. I’m glad we got to spend more time focusing on him, because he’s had a nice gradual development and I really love his relationship with Yoon-jae. His decision to hope again and start living his life was such a fantastic arc for his character in these episodes.
But then of course, the brotherly relationship isn’t without its major conflicts. I’m sure we all expected D-Day to fail spectacularly for Yoon-jae. We think he’ll get another kick in the shins, be told he’s crazy. Rejection, we expect. And we even hold out hope that he might succeed. But to have his D-Day thunder stolen by Hyung? Ouuuuch. It’s a double whammy for Yoon-jae, who is (and feels every bit) the goofy kid brother to the warm, charming, smarter, grown-up Tae-woong. He can’t NOT have an inferiority complex about that.
It killed me that he couldn’t speak up and say he liked her first, more, something. And that he gave up on his D-Day confession without even trying. But it felt so real that way—a banner moment for Being a Teenager Sucks Sometimes. I actually don’t mind the brother rivalry on this show because it’s not played for the makjang, but to emphasize the debilitating lack of self-esteem you can feel in adolescence. Yoon-jae can be James Dean in one moment and a blubbering fool in the next, perfect in Joon-hee’s eyes, no different from the neighborhood dog in Shi-won’s, and then made to feel so small next to his brother when he finds out they like the same girl. I love that angst and I just want to hug him and say it’ll get better.
The D-Day concept was one of my favorites because it encapsulates that thing you always do when you’re young—you put all your expectations into one day, one event, one moment that will change everything. You plan, you calculate, you fantasize, you let your expectations rise to such a degree that there’s no possible way they can be met. But you do it every time, I don’t know why, and then always crash and burn. I distinctly remember this feeling. It’s another of those perfectly inexplicable teenage things. You wish you could stop yourself, but your heart just goes like a freight train, no matter how doomed you know you are. I think that’s why Joon-hee’s crush on Yoon-jae kills me the most—because he knows that Yoon-jae won’t love him back, but he can’t help the way he feels. It’s like Drama Second-lead Unrequited Love Super Concentrate, and it does me in every time. Add that to Yoon-jae’s Puppy Love gone literal, and I’m just toast.
- The Answer Me 1997 love keeps growing, along with ratings
- Answer Me 1997: Episodes 5-6
- Answer Me 1997 draws praise and strong ratings
- Answer Me 1997: Episodes 3-4
- Answer Me 1997: Episodes 1-2
- Character introductions for Answer Me 1997
- Answer to 1997 starts filming, adds to cast
- Eun Ji-won stars in new sitcom