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[Best Friends Forever] The fundamental importance of caring


Answer Me 1994

By Giana

As someone who has been pondering over her own friendships as of late, upon seeing the theme for this month I couldn’t help but laugh — for sheer coincidence, and for the fact that dramas that have strong themes of friendship are some of my ultimate favorites. These are the ones that dominate my top 10 — I wonder if it’s because of my own failure at maintaining friendships, or because it offers an aspect of wholesomeness that one just can’t find in the real world these days.

The first group that came to mind were that of the Shinchon boardinghouse mates of Answer Me 1994. It often made me sad knowing that people didn’t love 1994 as much, especially since it portrayed what it’s like to have a meaningful and long-lasting friendship so well.


Answer Me 1994

Our gang did not start off as a group — they’re all too caught up in their individual lives to bother with all the formalities. They begin to come together through drinking games, exposing each other’s secrets, and by watching whatever was on TV back then. They never really cared about what each other’s favorite movie was or what hobbies they had in common; they were all their own individual people with open-minded dispositions, and what I absolutely adore about this show is how it endorses being yourself.

Often we try so hard to fit in and be liked by others that we lose a sense of ourselves in the process. But not these guys — by living together they got used to each other’s quirks and never tried to change things they disliked about each other. They didn’t stop to make sure that everyone was on the same page, they just accepted the fact that they were all different people living their lives.


Answer Me 1994

Another thing about the Shinchon gang is how they became friends because they wanted to get to know each other as people, and not for facets of their personality that they themselves were attuned with. They helped each other with their problems in spite of not knowing much, they gave advice even if they didn’t have any reason to, they tagged along on trips they weren’t really meant to go on. They glossed over whatever awkwardness might arise and came together as a group of people.

One of my favorite running elements of the show was how much the gang cared for Chilbong. For Chilbong, who never really had a group of people he could connect with, the housemates were like a godsend. Though I’m pretty sure he was there for Na-jung half the time, the memories he created with the others (even the parents!) were what served to tighten their bonds. It’s not as if they all knew Chilbong’s personality and life inside out — it’s because they spent lots of time together that gave enough of a reason to care about him. I also believe that in light of his rejection, he came to see how great a group of people his housemates were, which for our rather immature Chilbong was a great stepping stone as he came to realize that he wasn’t so lonely anymore.

Similarly, in Sassy Go Go, it was again the lack of formalities that formed one of the most genuine and heartwarming friendships I’ve seen. For so long Ha-joon and Yeol only had each other to rely on and be each other’s line of support, and when that starts to sever due to Ha-joon’s battle with depression and self-hatred, we see Yeon-doo step in (albeit unknowingly) to bring some much-needed joy into their lives.


Sassy Go Go

Just by being the pure ball of energy she is, she helped them experience a world outside of the dark reality they’d known by helping them loosen up, giving them fun new memories to reminisce over, and reminding them what it’s like to really live. For our dark heroes who knew nothing outside of grades and the loneliness brought upon them by their fraught experiences with their parents, the effervescent Yeon-doo was like a breath of fresh air. She taught them what it’s like to have fun, what it’s like to care for something, and even what it’s like to feel love for the first time.

One of my favorite things about Yeon-doo was how she never gave up on anyone, and how she would strive to help you out no matter what. And in spite of the love triangle that developed over the course of the show, it never once got in the way of illustrating the importance of friendship first; with these three we saw that through friendship love was found, and through love, friendship. Though there were other notable relationships that have come out of this drama, the bond these three developed really struck a chord with me (I’m sorry, Dong-jae!), seeing as how it was built purely upon trust, mutual respect, and a deep care that came about due to a willingness to do so, rather than an obligation.

In my youth I struggled a lot with superficiality and finding friendships that did not result out of sheer convenience or by finding things in common that would make it worthwhile. To find dramas that allow me to revel in the beauty of what friendships can really be like, I could not be more thankful.


Sassy Go Go

 
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Reply 1994 rarely gets any love but I have to admit it was the series that resonated with me the most. Probably because I knew what it was like to be someone who's not really used to city life and to find long-lasting friendships because you just simply gravitated towards a certain group of people who were genuinely interested in getting to know you.

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I've already seen Reply 88 and Reply 97 and was thinking about skipping Reply 94 but you've convinced me to watch it 🙂
I already watched (and loved) Sassy Go Go.
*I really should stop reading these* *my watch list keeps growing every time I read these articles 😂*

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I watched all of the Answer Me series and I have to say the 97 one was the one I liked the most, probably because it showed the reality of being a die hard fangirls. Haha. As for the friendship, the 97 gang started from high school if I was not mistaken, the 94 gang met at the boarding house and the 88 gang lived in the same neighbourhood.
I totally can understand how you feel regarding not having a life-long friendship. I moved a lot when I was little so that alone was kinda a big reason for me not having life-long friends. As I grow older, and now a regular working ahjumma, I realized that what makes friendship works is vicinity and how often you contact each other. Weekly texting soon becomes monthly, and before I know it, the last time i heard from somebody was years ago. And just like that, the friendship drift apart..
And yes, I was in loved with all of the Answer Me series gangs and one of the reasons was because of the steadfast friendship. All hail answer me series🙌🙌

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I’ve kept putting off watching “Sassy Go Go” but after hearing that it’s got a good friendship in it I might give it a go go

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Giana, you wrote such a beautiful essay on friendship! I really enjoyed all the Reply series for the friendships they portrayed and how I wished that I could have long lasting friendships like those. I know it's never too late, but it's hard. Hopefully, I can make a better effort in the future. Friends just make things better.

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"I wonder if it’s because of my own failure at maintaining friendships, or because it offers an aspect of wholesomeness that one just can’t find in the real world these day." Gotta say I'm the same to certain extent. I haven't seen either of the dramas you mentioned, but if there's recommended as a balm, then I must watch 'em!

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Aw, I wrote about R94 too! I love your write-up about their friendship cos I felt the same way. R94 rarely gets mentioned as a fave of the series because of the (infamous?) husband plot that the friendship tends to get overlooked, but it is my absolute fave. They are my fave group and I've rewatched it a couple of times already

I think it's because all the friends have their own interesting story that was also focused well unlike the other ones. And the fact that they're in college and not high school made it seem more realistic and true-to-life for me ❤

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Reply 1994 has always been my favourite of the Replys (though I love them all) and you managed to describe the beauty of their friendships so well! Time and proximity made them accept each other's quirks and weirdness and they grew close without ever losing what made them unqiue.

And Sassy Go Go is just a wonderful drama all over and it warms my heart whenever someone expresses their love for it! Thank you for this post! <3

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Nice article.
I have been wanting to watch one of the Reply shows. I love shows with groups of friends or made families.
Been leaning towards the 97 because when I graduated.

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This is a terrific essay! I think 1994 suffers from being the least liked of the series by most people but we don't stop to realize that we still do like it. For me it got bogged down in the Chilbongie-Trash part of the story and lost the thread of what made it sparkle most, the group friendship. When 1988 came along, I thought they learned from that mistake and concentrated on the group again to much better results.
I loved Sassy Go Go (oy, what a title) and was so relieved that they managed to pull out a friendship of three at the end.

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After Reply 1994, Son Ho Jun and Yoo Yeon Seok ended up living in the same building apartment and became best friends in real life. If I'm not mistaken, it was mentioned during their Youth Over Flowers Laos trip or another variety show. After watching KBS Drama Awards 2017, even the emcee mentioned that YYS knows what SHJ's ideal type of woman. :)

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In Sassy go go, I loved that Yeon-doo was even proud of being in the almost last position at school, and yet she managed to make the Number one fall for her! Why? Just because she was healthy and had a very very good self steem!
I love these kind of friendships where no one is envying nobody else; where echoing your article, people are just who they are, they are themselves. And there is something magical about loving yourself. You can only grow up better.
Each one of us have good qualities. It is not about showing off, or comparing with anybody else. Each person can contribute to the society, just by improving him/herself the best he/she can. Along the way, to find true friends, that is a treasure!!!

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Well written. Thanks. As I was reading, I just remembered a scene where chil bongie was interviewed on TV and he called out his friends but they forgot his birthday....I don't know what it is about the scene but I loved it too...and how my heart broken for him at the end....
With sassy go go, I kinda liked the friendship between dong jae and yoon do than the three you mentioned but since you already apologised.....it is fine by me....

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I enjoyed your ode to Reply 1994's friendships. I loved all the Replys and they each have their strengths. And I do think 1994's strength was the friendships. NaJung and Trash knew each other and Binggeure and Chil-bong are cousins, so the friendships are all newly developed and to know that they remained close friends for the next 15 years was heartwarming.

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I really like the opening song by Roy Kim - Seol here, it really resonated with people that lived away from home and try to fit in the new environment, that exactly how I remember Reply 1994.

I think I really need to go back
This place doesn’t suit me
I maybe smiling inside the flashy temptations
But everything feels unfamiliar

After I’ve gotten used to the loneliness
Being alone is actually more comfortable
You might not understand this yet
Just like I don’t know you either

A decision is always one or the other
Either lovers or strangers
But the sadness of not being able to be either one
All you do is heartlessly look at me

I need to go back to the beginning
Though hardships are all the same for everyone
What I need is just a break
Sorry for showing you my weak side

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I honestly love R1994, it gave me many actors I adore and also friends co-habitation, I like that trope no matter what is the relationship between the people, dynamics totally vary when two people have to see each other for 24/7 like at the worst phase of their day and still accept them.

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I loved Answer Me 1994, despite the criticism (here in Dramabeans) that there were too many unnecessary scenes. I loved each drawn out scene since it added to the charm of a show being about our beloved memories of youth. Don't we all want to replay the best years of our lives down to the most mundane detail? Also, as someone who lived in a boarding house while I was away at university (although I stayed at an all-female one), I related with the life long friendships built and tested by years of watching TV shows, drinking, pulling all nighters, and just joking and laughing together. I shipped the wrong love team, mind you, but it didn't lessen my affection for this show.

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