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Answer Me 1994: Episode 3

Somebody gets married, somebody breaks up, and somebody falls in love for the first time. Strangely enough, that’s what happens in an episode about everyone’s relationship to their beepers, from what your greeting message says about you, to the life-altering things that get said over voicemail, and the agony of waiting for that page from the boy you like. Welcome to love in the digital age.

 
SONG OF THE DAY

015B – “신인류의 사랑 (A New Generation’s Love)” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 3: “A New Generation’s Love”

As always, today’s breakfast table looks like a feast and Mom happily refills plates, not noticing the glazed-over stuffed-pig faces from the boys. Everyone’s in good spirits because they’re headed on an MT (an overnight retreat where college students drink, play games, and date to their hearts’ content).

Haitai explains as much to Mom who’s never been on one because she didn’t go to college, and Dad who had to skip them because he was always playing baseball. Dad encourages the boys to meet nice girls, but Haitai says Seoul girls won’t give these country boys (pointing to Samcheonpo and Binggeure next to him) the time of day, as if that doesn’t include him.

Na-jung tells them in her gruff way to just nab those girls, and she and Dad get into a yelling match over how he warned her to use prettier language… all the while speaking exactly the way he wants her not to. Lol.

She very nearly swears, crying, “Aissh” in exasperation (*gasp*), which of course gets Dad’s blood boiling. She gets sent upstairs to drag Garbage oppa out of bed, and sits by his bedside for a moment, just staring.

Getting him out of bed requires a little more violence though, so she attacks and shirtless Garbage just throws his arms around her to hold her down. Na-jung chomps down on his arm to get free, and he finally gets up, crying in pain that he has a cramp in his arm now.

He whines at her to pull his thumb to straighten out his arm, and the second she pulls it, he farts. Pwahaha. She runs out of the room calling herself crazy for ever swooning at that disgusting thing, feeling very much cured of her bout of insanity now.

Mom and Dad realize that with all the kids out of the house they can have a date night, and they get all wink-wink nudge-nudge over their big night out.

The phone rings, and Na-jung’s mood turns from bad to worse when she has to deliver the phone to oppa because it’s his girlfriend calling first thing in the morning. As she hands the phone over she complains (loudly into the receiver) that Seoul girls are so rude.

Garbage shoos her away and turns on a dime, speaking comfortably in his Seoul accent and being downright smooth and pleasant on the phone, like a totally different person. He says he won’t stay at the MT for long and then hesitates when his girlfriend requests a show of affection.

He says he can’t do that stuff ’cause it’s childish, but then complies with a, “Jagi-ya, I love you! *kiss*” before hanging up. A moment later he calls out to Na-jung and turns around… to find her glowering right over his shoulder. Hahahaha. I knew that was coming and still it cracked me up.

She wonders what he could possibly see in that girl, and starts getting petty: “She got surgery for her eyelids!” Oppa: “I know.” Na-jung: “And her nose!” Oppa: “I know.”

Na-jung: “And her chest!” Oppa: “No, I touched them and they were definitely real.” LOL. Not the answer she was expecting. She freaks out and yanks his hair, calling him a pervert, and he swears it was a joke.

She finally calms down and he remembers why he called her here, because he needs help setting up his new beeper. She sighs that he’s the last person on earth to get one, and that he needs to keep up with the times to be a true Gen-Xer.

She asks if he wants to use a voice greeting or a song, and Garbage scoffs that of course it’s a song—who leaves voice recordings anymore? Cut to: Samcheonpo, leaving a voice greeting on his new pager.

Na-jung asks which song he wants to use, and sighs at his lame choices, deciding on 015B’s “A New Generation’s Love” for him. She lays out the plan: she cues up the greeting recorder, he presses play at the beep, and she puts phone to speaker. Oh man, this whole setup is bringing back so many memories.

They press play, and Garbage cries, “Oh, I know this song!” and Na-jung slaps the dummy upside the head, having to point out that he just said that into the recorder. Pfft. This is a complicated science, people!

Garbage promises to do it right this time, so they go again, this time staying quiet as mice. Suddenly someone’s voice comes closer, singing along to the song, and Samcheonpo appears at the door to call them downstairs.

Teehee. Garbage sighs in defeat that he’ll just leave a voice greeting.

2013. Everyone’s gathered at Na-jung’s house for the housewarming party, and suddenly Samcheonpo gets a text from Na-jung, who’s sitting on the next couch over. She’s sending him a heart from Anipang, and he marvels at her hip expressions of affection, you know, for a middle-aged woman.

The boys laugh at her epic obsession with winning every new game she comes across, and Yoon-jin says this time it’s Anipang, and she’s always facing off with the son/nephew/mystery boy. Na-jung complains (as she’s playing) that he never studies because of the stupid game, which basically makes her her father, doesn’t it?

Garbage and Binggeure head out for a smoke, and the other guys point out the hypocrisy of the chain-smoking doctor. The conversation turns to famous people from their hometowns, and Yoon-jin and Haitai are like walking encyclopedias of everyone’s birthplace.

Chilbongie (the only native Seoulite of the group) gapes, always having been amazed that country folk know where everyone else is from. The entire group turns to him defensively: “It’s not the country!”

We go back to 1994, where the kids are saying the exact same thing back then, busy defending their hometowns as cities to their Seoul classmates on their MT.

Haitai and another classmate get into this my-hometown-is-better battle, arguing back and forth over things like “My city has an airport!” and “Well my city has a mall!” Hers doesn’t, so Haitai wins, while the Seoulites laugh at their intensity over basically arguing the heights of acorns.

At home, Binggeure and Chilbongie are the only two kids around, and Dad fondles Chilbongie’s pitching arm with all sorts of advice on how he should treat it like a million-dollar limb because he’s destined for the major league.

Binggeure tells ajusshi not to pump his cousin’s ego too much, because he’s already so popular at school that it’s gone to his head, and girls are lined up to go on dates with him.

Dad gets ready to lecture him about dating, but Chilbongie swears he’s only got his eye on the prize, and won’t date till he’s in the majors. Dad seems pleased with that answer, like he’s already his coach.

The boys are headed out in the same direction as Mom and Dad, so they offer to give them a ride. Dad’s adorably busy swooning over how pretty Mom is, and Chilbongie asks if he really thinks she’s just as pretty as she always was. Dad guffaws at the dumb question, all, “Just look at her!” Aw.

Mom wonders why Binggeure didn’t go on his MT (he would’ve gone on the med student one with Garbage), but he says in his shy quiet way that he isn’t really into that drinking and partying stuff.

Chilbongie says his cousin is planning to change majors because medicine doesn’t seem to suit him, and Dad gets all huffy about throwing away the opportunity. Binggeure just hangs his head.

Dad’s excitement over his first drive on the big city highway starts to dwindle when he needs a bathroom, and Mom asks if the boys have time to make a pit stop. Chilbongie assures her politely that they do, even though it’s only now that he tells her that the family event they’re headed to is technically his mother’s wedding.

The air in the car turns awkward for a moment (clearly the boys avoided telling them until it was expressly asked), but the bigger concern is how to get off the highway, which for some reason seems to be impossibly difficult for Dad. He keeps missing every exit that Chilbongie points out, taking them further and further away.

Even still, Chilbongie remains good-natured about it and tries to guide hapless Dad off the highway. Sometime later Dad winces and then admits, “A little bit came out.” Ewww.

This whole car ride is intercut with Na-jung’s MT games, where one by one the other kids lose and drop off to sleep, until she’s the last one standing. They weren’t kidding about her competitive streak.

She heads out looking for Garbage who’s at the same campsite with the med students, and leaves a pager message asking him to call because she’s had a tummy ache since morning. She washes up for bed and waits and waits, but there’s no answer. He’s too busy playing games at his own MT to notice his pager going off, and Na-jung finally nods off to sleep with her pager by her pillow.

Dad finally stops the car to go looking for a bathroom, where he finds one locked door after another like a cruel joke. By now they’ve long missed the wedding, and Mom apologizes for the terrible timing. Chilbongie says it’s okay because he’s not really that close to his mom, and she probably didn’t even notice he wasn’t there. She didn’t even tell him she was getting married until a month ago.

Mom thinks that’s hogwash (that his mom isn’t worried) and hands him her phone card to go at least leave his mom a message: “Still, a mother is a mother!” He trudges out toward the payphone, and Binggeure explains that his aunt was never really very motherly.

Chilbongie dials his mother’s pager number for the first time, and smiles to be greeted with a song, saying to himself that she’s hip, as always. It leads to a voice greeting, where she thanks everyone for wishing her well on her big day, “And even though he’ll probably never hear this, to my precious son, Joon-ah, mom is sorry and loves you very much.”

It shocks him, and he leaves her a message that he’s sorry about missing the wedding, and jokes that he’ll make it to her next one. He apologizes for their recent fight, admitting that he felt like she was going away forever or being taken from him.

He goes on this tangent about craving her radish kimchi lately, and asks her to make him some, promising that he won’t share with dad. This whole one-sided message is so heartbreaking.

He says he thought about it, and he loves her very much, “And I don’t really mean it, but congratulations on your wedding.”

He hangs up, and then turns around to find Dad peeing in the phone booth next to him. Pffft. “That was beautiful, what you said!” Well that’s just awkward.

With everyone’s plans blown for the evening, Mom and Dad take the boys to dinner, where Mom refuses to let Dad order anything with soup for fear of repeating the bathroom debacle.

Na-jung wakes up at the crack of dawn and frowns to see that there’s still no answer from oppa. She goes out for a walk, and who should pull up next to her but Garbage. She’s still mad about her message going unanswered, but perks up when he explains he drank too much and lost his pager.

But when she asks where he’s going so early, his answer deflates her even worse than before: he’s headed out to meet his girlfriend for White Day (a version of Valentine’s Day) armed with a giant basket of sweets, and adds that he won’t be coming home tonight.

He asks her to tell Mom and Dad, and drives off even though she refuses to answer. He drives away, but then stops and runs back to her. He takes his jacket off and puts it on her, before pinching her cheeks and then running off again. Bah, oppa, stop doing swoony things!

Later that night Na-jung refuses to come out of her room, still unable to digest her food from the day before yesterday. She sits huddled in oppa’s jacket in a funk, when suddenly his voice echoes from downstairs.

She perks up right away to hear him tell Mom and Dad that his plans went south and he hasn’t eaten dinner, and she runs down like the wind to ask why he came home. He points at the basket of candy and tells her to keep it, and she beams.

He adds a nagging, “And brush your teeth after!” at which Na-jung grumbles, “What am I, a child?” Garbage mutters under his breath, “Of course you’re a child. What else would you be?”

She doesn’t hear it because she’s so busy running upstairs to check her hunch that he broke up with his girlfriend, and she calls his pager to listen to his messages. An angry one from the ex confirms it, and immediately she lets out a giant burp, her digestion troubles gone in a flash.

Na-jung: We’re Generation X. Of course now we’ve been replaced by a new generation, armed with smartphones and the internet. But at age twenty, we were the first consumers of a cutting edge civilization. We found love through PCs, confessed our hearts on beepers, and broke up over voicemail. We were the youngest new generation.

But then and now, the reason a new generation’s love makes a heart flutter or skip a beat isn’t pagers, smartphones, or any cutting edge trend. Youth must be clumsy and crude, and love must be innocent and old-fashioned. That’s the only requirement for my love at age twenty to be remembered as making my heart flutter and skip a beat. I am twenty, and starting a clumsy and old-fashioned love.

While Na-jung jumps up and down clutching her basket of ex-girlfriend goodies in her room, downstairs Mom explains to Dad that Garbage got dumped because his girlfriend showed up on their date with blonde hair. Dad assumes Garbage didn’t like it, but Mom explains it’s because he didn’t notice. Ha.

Garbage goes to bed and Na-jung pops her head in the door: “Oppa-ya. O~ppa. Goodnight.” She waves and smiles, suddenly all shy and sweet.

Na-jung (voiceover): “At age twenty, I’m experiencing my first love.”

 
COMMENTS

Aw, I sort of love that she falls in love first. I’m preparing myself for heartache—even if oppa ends up seeing her differently later, she’s bound for a world of hurt with her one-sided crush. But I love the first stirring of feelings for her, and that we experience every crushing blow when oppa makes a date with another girl, and every upswing every time he does something unbelievably sweet. I’m still sad that he’s not her real oppa, but it does make the bachelor-off much more interesting. How’s anyone going to compete with Best Oppa Ever, bearer of cookies and warm milk?

My favorite thing is that he gets to see a side of her that no one else sees, when she’s not swearing like a sailor or bellowing or biting, that is. She can be downright bashful, which is adorably earnest and worlds apart from the Na-jung who argues with Dad at the breakfast table or screams her way through basketball games. We have yet to actually see her AT college (I’m beginning to think she only goes to the basketball games and MTs) but I hope we’re going to open up the world a bit more. Having everyone connected to the boardinghouse makes it the natural center of the drama, but I’m ready to see the kids’ world broaden a little to include school and people outside the family, especially for Na-jung.

It was great to finally get some screen time for Chilbongie, who has the distinction of being the outsider among the outsiders for being, well, an insider. I enjoy that he’s the one who sticks out for being a Seoulite, which is a fun reversal. Even his way of life seems foreign to Mom and Dad, who are new to the idea of parents who divorce and remarry like modern folk. His conversation with Mom in the car struck such a great chord, with her refusing to believe his mother wouldn’t care and his fear that she might be wrong. That car scene made me wish he’d marry Na-jung, just so Mom would end up his mother-in-law. Is that wrong?

1994 isn’t a fast show by any means, and sometimes (okay, lots of times) there are endless stretches of jibber-jabber that are just there for color, and have nothing to do with anything. When they do get to the emotional punch though, it’s fantastic. I just always want to get there a little faster. Perhaps now that the romance train has finally left the station with our heroine’s burgeoning crush, we can get the boys onboard. Because we could really use some conflict around here. I mean, you have a house full of young single twentysomethings. Why are we not drowning in mixed signals and romantic hijinks crossed six ways to Sunday? Chop, chop.

 
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I LOVE the jibber jabber. I love that this drama takes its pace and isn't solely about the romance. But the in-betweens. It's about LIFE

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For me, song of the day for this episode is when NJ was waking trash oppa, anyone knows the title or have the mp3? thanks..

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I want tha song plying in part that" chillbongi He keeps missing every exit points out, taking them further and further away"

.... :"/

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Thank you for the recap. I am a bit late watching it but enjoying coming by and reading it, after everyone. Just to see what you wrote and what they did.

The phone message sucker punched me, oh poor boy. Now you know that it's okay to admit to loving your mum.

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I have a feeling that the main character will end up with the guy who kept getting lost in the first episode.

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