sarea: (min-seok & soo-young)
[personal profile] sarea
All right, so I binge-watched the rest of Answer Me 1997 the previous night, BECAUSE I HAD TO HAVE MY HAPPY ENDING ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Overall, I thought it was a really great show. It made me sob my heart out a few times, in a well-deserved way, and I like that. It did have its slow moments, and parts that could have been trimmed (which I can't believe I'm saying, considering each episode was shorter than the typical K-drama), and I really hated that brothers were rivals for the same girl, but its charm, humor, and heart really made up for a lot of that.

For this K-drama more than any other, I really wished I could understand Korean, because I realllllly wanted to hear the differences in dialect that the characters were always going on about. I could tell that they weren't using the same words for phrases I had come to know from previous K-dramas, or sounded slightly different, but I wasn't sure if it was wording, accents, or both. When Sung-jae griped about Yoon-jae's Seoul accent being especially irritating because it was more natural-sounding than the others, for instance, I wanted to hear it for myself to know what he was talking about!

I did enjoy the 90s nostalgia a lot, though as previously mentioned, I was never that crazy into any band that I would fight people over it, lol. That said, I understand being a fangirl, and that teenage feeling that everything you're doing is the most important and intense thing that's ever been done. And also that parents are both the ruiner of things, and the people who are there for you when you need them most. I was definitely not into K-pop though, so most of that went over my head, and the music was unfamiliar. When they would play music I knew, though, like The Cranberries and "More Than Words," it evoked powerful memories of those bygone days. Music is so insanely awesome that way.

There's so much I want to touch on! I did generally find that of the things I liked, there was probably something about it that I didn't like, and the same was true the other way around, too. So you'll see a lot of that in my thoughts.

- I basically loved every interaction with Yoon-jae and Shi-won. Or Yoon-jae and anyone. SIG is just so watchable to me. He's at his best when he's aggravated and/or flustered. :))

- One of the best scenes/follow-on scenes was when he meets Shi-won again after 6 years in the coffee shop; he tries to lie and say he has a girlfriend, only for her to see right through it. The best is when he discovers later that Joon-hee had actually corroborated his story, but Yoon-jae had given himself away with his nervous backtracking. LOL.

- I didn't, however, particularly like the randomness of their meeting. What, so if they hadn't bumped into one another at that coffeeshop, they would have just never again met? I also didn't like that Yoon-jae claims that by that point, he didn't even wonder about her anymore. Seriously? I hope he was just fronting. Would someone who didn't care make such a point to avoid someone at reunions and get togethers for six years?

I didn't like that so much time passed when they were just okay with not being in one another's lives. :( Then again, Shi-won probably needed that time to be away from Yoon-jae, in order to appreciate what she was missing. Otherwise, he would have always been the guy she'd been with since birth. Is that why she realized how she felt about him?

- I didn't really like how Shi-won comes to the realization that she likes likes Yoon-jae. As in, we never even see her come to the realization at all. Six years pass, and we get no narrative from her on what she was thinking, how she was feeling, etc. None. It was all narration from Yoon-jae. What, exactly, changed between when she asked him in the noraebang if they could just be friends like they used to be, and when she sees him again six years later in the coffee shop? I believe that she might have missed him as a friend, and that maybe in realizing what she lost, she grew to realize her love, but... WE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW. That's something I just made up to rationalize it. But that's something I shouldn't have to guess at; the drama should show us how and when and why she comes to the realization. It's not even like they meet up again, then re-kindle their friendship, and from there, love blossoms. It's not long after they meet again that she confesses she likes him.

That said, I realllllly liked GirlFriday's interpretation of what went down in the noraebang, and why they both behaved as they did: "Yoon-jae thinks it absurd that she could hear his confession and then ask if they can remain friends because he’s so far gone in one version of their relationship—a pained one-sided love—that he can’t go back. But she’s still very much at that first realization when her feelings are starting to make her question what their relationship is, and it makes sense that she’d want to hold onto what feels familiar and comfortable. Everything is changing in her life, and Yoon-jae is the one thing that’s supposed to remain the same. He’s her constant. I completely understand her desperation to cling to that, as much as I understand how impossible that is for him. It’s their crossroads, and I appreciate how organically we come to that point with both characters, facing their first real foray into adulthood."

- I loved pretty much everything in the flashbacks about Yoon-jae and Shi-won's relationship. SIG just plays aggravated so well. I love their banter and even their "fighting," reminiscent of Shi-won's parents.

- I didn't like how they would introduce things and then those things would get dropped like they never happened, sitcom-style. Or at least, they were inconsistent with it. After the Sungs adopt Yoon-jae-the-puppy, the dog is never heard or seen again, and never mentioned. Seriously? And it was supposed to grow into a BIG DOG, so it's not like it was just hiding under a couch cushion. Sure, pretty soon after that, Shi-won leaves for college, and after that, she's an adult, so it's possible that with that much passage of time, the dog could have died. But when she was packing for college, he wasn't there to sniff around her boxes? When she and Yoon-jae were on the outs, the dog wasn't there for her to bury her face into its fur, and pretend like Yoon-jae was still there with her? (See, I could have done SO MUCH with that dog on the show.) I hate the lack of continuity, and I hate the laziness of the production/writing.

As predicted, they also never followed up on the ROTC Seoul guy Yoon-jae scares off on the phone. So... he just never contacted Shi-won again, even to be like, "Hey, I tried to call you, but some dude kept talking about chicken"?

It bothered me, right up until the very end, that the very next episode after that incident was Yoon-jae in the hospital with a broken arm, which was never addressed in any way. Like WTF? At least that was finally answered in the very last scene of the show, but by that point, so many little pieces here and there that they'd left on the wayside had already piled up to make me see it as a weakness of the show.

- The names of the characters are all SO SIMILAR. This is one of the hardest times I've had trying to keep up with all the names and characters! Yoon-jae, Sung-jae, Shi-won, Joon-hee, Yoo-jung... I mean seriously! Other drama characters' names are usually different enough that you can easily keep up with who's being referenced. I mean, it's not as ridiculous as in What's Up Fox when there were literally two women named Joon-hee and Joo-hee, BUT STILL. Even in English, it's a best practice to use names that are very different from one another, just to help the reader/viewer. You don't often see a Will and a Bill in a story, for instance. In fact, I believe you're even supposed to avoid names beginning with the same letter, if possible!

- This is less the show's fault, I think, and more the Drama Fever translations. I've never really had a problem with most of their translations up until this show, but this was OPENLY AND OBVIOUSLY LAZY AND POOR. It was like a parody of subtitled shows -- characters would go on forever with their dialogue, and the translation for it would be a simple 5-word sentence.

There was also one very key scene in which Tae-woong overhears Joon-hee talking to Shi-won on the phone, and realizes that not only does Yoon-jae also like Shi-won, but actually liked her before he (TW) did. Tae-woong doesn't catch the beginning of the conversation, during which Joon-hee calls her by name (which we see on screen), so when he overhears Joon-hee, he could be talking to anyone. (I mean, sure, Tae-woong could make an educated guess, but still.) The translator only uses "he" and "she," even though the names are very clearly being said by the actors. At the end of the conversation, Joon-hee says, "Shi-won, I have to go." And that's when the hammer drops for Tae-woong, to get confirmation that that's who Joon-hee is talking to. Yet the translator lazily doesn't bother to put her name in there; Joon-hee just says, "I have to go" or whatever. So for people who might not be paying attention to what the actors are saying, and instead only reading the subtitles (which would have been me, when I first started out watching K-dramas), they'd be left wondering how the hell Tae-woong was able to put it all together, when Joon-hee never specifically says who he's talking to!!

That was a very long example for something fairly simple, but it was rife throughout. Some of the conversations just didn't make any sense -- a sure sign that the translator was either only translating words and not meaning, or perhaps didn't really understand, themselves, what was being said. One potential hint of this is toward the end, when Tae-woong goes to a DBSK concert. The translation for it was that he was at a TVXQ concert. DBSK is the acronym for the band in Korean; TVXQ is the acronym for the band in Chinese. Why would a Korean translator call the band TVXQ? Additionally, I read all the Drama Beans recaps afterward, and just from the bits and pieces the recapper translated in her recaps, there was so much that I missed/understandings that were simply not there in the DF translation. So big frowny face.

(Another example is that I liked GirlFriday's translation of what are Yoon-jae's last words to Shi-won for apparently six years: "A guy emptying out what’s in here, to the girl he likes, who doesn't feel the same about him? It means I have no intention of seeing you ever again." Oof. Punch to the gut. But in a really powerful way, much better than the stilted translation DF has.)

- As previously mentioned, I really did not like that two loving brothers were after the same girl, and that that was the source of the angst for the main pairing. I don't know why it bothers me so much; maybe because I feel that the romantic love between a guy and a girl is sacred, and the love between two brothers is sacred, and by pitting them against each other, one has to lose. That said, they resolved it as well as could be expected, which I give them props for.

- Overall, I really liked Tae-woong as a character, but he had three moments that didn't speak well of him, and two of them now seem out of character. 1) Humiliating his little brother by always giving him faux brandname things (TW actually seems very generous, and has never hurt for money. So why would he buy YJ fakes?); 2) Whipping Yoon-jae during that first episode when he was trying to discipline the class. He didn't know Yoon-jae was the class president, apparently, which also rings false -- TW is a super smart and thorough person who's very dedicated to YJ; why wouldn't he know that? But anyway, once he did know, I can't believe he wouldn't be lighter with his hits (especially given the flashback when YJ was about to get disciplined by another teacher, and TW swooped in to save his ass, in one of my favorite scenes); and finally 3) When he and YJ have the chat over coffee about Shi-won and how he wasn't giving her up, that he would give anything up for YJ but not her. I really kind of despised him then.

But it was only for a few moments, because I realized almost immediately what his plan was. The first inkling came when he makes the very specific bargain that he's going to give it one more try with Shi-won, and that the result will be final, it will be the end of it. It was a very neat out to something that could have dragged on forever. The next inkling came when he reminds Yoon-jae about the blind date, and that the girl was "the daughter of the man I admire most in the world." That's quite high praise from someone like YW, so who could it be? And of course, Shi-won's father, his surrogate dad, popped immediately to mind. There was the name of the restaurant on Yoon-jae's post-it reminder -- something that sounded vaguely Japanese, and I remembered earlier that YW had asked SW to meet him at his favorite Japanese restaurant, deliberately leaving out the name to the audience. There was also the story that was (a little clunkily) being interwoven throughout, with Dong-il's uncle telling the story of him and his hyung. So by the time Yoon-jae arrived at his destination and called Tae-woong to tell him that he wasn't giving up Shi-won either, I had no doubts about what was going to ensue.

The scene where Yoon-jae breaks down into sobs once he realizes what his hyung has done was one of the scenes that made me bawl. I knew when Tae-woong's page came in that it would say "I'm sorry" -- just how Dong-il's uncle's story ended, but it made me cry more, anyway. :)) (Apparently, it actually said "Hyung is sorry," which somehow makes it even sadder. :( Stupid translators!!!!)

The scene was also a little weird, though, because they just have Shi-won sit there, watching him sob his heart out and not trying to comfort him in any way. WTF? At that point, I so would have been running over to the guy I loved and put my arms around him!

- I did love the brother bond between Yoon-jae and Tae-woong, which made it all the harder to stomach the angst and pain they brought to each other.

- Oh but yeah, I can't get over the fact that Tae-woong wanted both sisters. So weird. I still maintain that it was Shi-won being like her sister that attracted him in the first place. The two of them had no sexual chemistry at all; watching them together was like watching an older brother with a younger sister.

- I was also really surprised and happy about the fact that they made an accident baby. :)))) It was far enough along in their courtship that it wasn't the reason they stayed together, but after hearing Shi-won's nonchalant "we might break up" to Tae-woong and the Director Doctor Lady about why it was okay for them to marry before her and Yoon-jae, it was nice that she had a reason from that point on to commit herself entirely. :)) Plus, the scene where she confronts him with the pregnancy test is HI-larious.

- I also greatly enjoyed the scene when the resulting daughter randomly shows up at the reunion. That was awesome, and so unexpected! Everyone (including me) assumed that the sonogram we saw earlier was of her first baby. Although apparently at some point, when the others are talking, Sung-jae says something like, "When did you guys have time to make another baby?" I don't know if that was even IN the Drama Fever subs! I think the DF version just says "When did you guys have time to make a baby" instead of "ANOTHER baby."

- I'm not sure I understand the timeline, though. I assume it happened pretty soon after they got together again, because Yoon-jae says that it hasn't been long since he and Shi-won started dating. But if they're talking about marriage to Tae-woong and the Doctor Lady, who apparently seem ready for it, does that mean that TW and DL had a whirlwind courtship? I'm not sure I like that, because it screams rebound.

- I don't like that Yoon-jae and Shi-won are now a weekend couple. :( In my version of events, that stops being the case soon after baby #2 is born. :P

- If they were going to give Shi-won an unexpected early pregnancy, I don't know why they had her resist Yoon-jae's physical advances for so long. What was the point? Just because it's a K-drama and that's what girls are supposed to do? I mean, she was trying to avoid kissing him even after he quasi-proposed and they agreed to live together! I watched the final episode on Viki and everyone was perplexed there, too. Why was Shi-won acting like it was such a chore/undesirable thing to kiss/be intimate with her own boyfriend? K-dramas are so bizarre this way. Women are like, not allowed to have sexual desire or something.

- I don't mind Shi-won continuing to be a fangirl in the future, but couldn't it have been with a new band? I mean, once a fangirl, always a fangirl, but interests come and go. And it's not like H.O.T. is still around, like U2. How would there even still be an active fanclub for them??

- Where was Yoon-jae and Shi-won's 7-year-old daughter when everyone was at the hospital?? This is just like the puppy!Yoon-jae situation. She appeared, and then suddenly she wasn't needed anymore, and disappeared. Sure, if this were an American drama, you could say that she was with a neighbor, or a babysitter. But this is Asia! She would have been with her grandparents! But they were clearly at the hospital, and she was nowhere to be found! Did they leave her home alone? But they were in no hurry to get back. And yet she couldn't have been in the hospital, either, because her grandparents seemed like they wanted to sneak away to have a good time themselves, and were not concerned about their granddaughter at all. So bizarre! I wish the show would address details like this. Did BOTH grandparents need to be there? Couldn't one of them have stayed home with the granddaughter? Maybe she's off playing with dog!Yoon-jae somewhere. AT LEAST THEY HAVE EACH OTHER.

- That moment when the TV show host is bragging that she's going to seduce Yoon-jae in 10 minutes, but he has eyes only for Shi-won. <333333

- I think I talked about this in my last post, but it bears repeating: Yoon-jae playing Starcraft, so hot.

- I loved that Shi-won stayed herself, even throughout their courtship. She's not a romantic girl, and it's awesome and funny that she can turn the "Iceman" into some swoony boy.

- They never actually confirmed about the couple rings. Apparently Tae-woong and Yoon-jae both gave Shi-won the same damn ring, so it would have been nice to have it be confirmed that she kept Yoon-jae's this whole time. I kept waiting for the reveal of her showing him the ring, actually. Then again, are those rings sold in pairs? Where did Yoon-jae get the one he's wearing? Did Shi-won keep them both and give one to him? That's a little weird. They could have gotten another one later, I suppose, but that many years down the line, I would find it hard to believe they still manufacture the exact same cheapo ring. (Also, they played fast and loose on this so that they could keep up their suspense. In the 2012 scenes Shi-won is always wearing her ring, while the guys are not wearing rings at all, except for the one time her husband reaches for the extra-whip iced caramel mocha.)

- I loved Shi-won's parents. I really liked how they bickered and loved in equal measure. I loved that they treated their friends' sons like their own. I loved the complicated relationship Shi-won had with her father. So real. I enjoyed seeing the flashbacks to their courtship, too.

- I'm not sure why they had Shi-won's mom go on and on about how she would have liked for Joon-hee to be her son-in-law. Just to get the obvious laughs because the audience knows he's gay? I mean, who does she love more than Yoon-jae? I would think she and Shi-won's father would have been over the moon that Shi-won and Yoon-jae got together, just as she and her BFF always plotted!

- Speaking of, I really feel like we were robbed of seeing them confess to the parents about being together and about accidentally making a baby. :)))

- I both liked and didn't like the way they treated the Joon-hee crush. On the one hand, I was pleased that they had a gay character on the show at all. I also loved the way his friends continued to treat him as their same friend as always once they found out, particularly Yoon-jae. I'm of the camp that thinks it's for the best that Joon-hee never openly confessed to Yoon-jae; he didn't want him to know, and I think Yoon-jae knows that, which is why he keeps it a secret that he does know. What Joon-hee wanted more than anything was for them to at least remain friends, and I think he probably felt that it being out in the open would have ruined it. But all that said, I'm a little bummed that his storyline never really amounted to anything other than being yet another person who loved Yoon-jae (not that I can blame him), that he stuck around him THAT LONG while putting his own love life on hold (given that he knew Yoon-jae would never return his feelings -- not only because he's heterosexual, but because of how deeply his feelings ran for Shi-won), and that at the end, we don't get to see him actually be with another man. I mean, we assume that's who picks him up in the sports car, but would it have been asking too much to confirm the dude was young and hot? :)) Still, for the most part I did like how it was handled, and of course, loved Joon-hee himself. Also, it cracks me up to think of Yoon-jae realizing that all the angst he had as a teenager, thinking that Joon-hee was moving in on his girl, had been totally pointless.

- I see the validity of the two kinds of one-sided love that's presented on the show... one is the high road that Joon-hee and Tae-woong take, where they just want the person they love to be happy, even if they can't be the one who's loved in return. They want to at least still be in the person's life as their friend. The other one is the kind of love I always sign up for in fiction (and let's face it, RL), the kind of crazy, consuming thing that's like, if we can't be together, we can never see each other again because the idea of being friends with you is ABSURD (aka, Yoon-jae's love).

- They really shouldn't have dragged out the "who's the husband/baby daddy" for so long. As the DB recapper notes, it was pretty much game over when Shi-won confesses to Yoon-jae that she likes him, in 2005. That said, they did a good job with freshening up the mystery once in awhile, so it didn't get totally stale. First it was who at this table is going to get engaged? And then they tell you. And then it was, OMG Shi-won is pregnant, who's the father? And after that, they still pull one more -- whaaaat it's not even the first baby? So props to them for that. What you think you're watching with the first scene of the reunion isn't what you're seeing at all, by the end.

- The one time I thought Yoon-jae was an unforgivable ass was when he asked Yoo-jung to give him all the tickets to the basketball game. I mean, it was a little hilarious and endearing that he did it in order to prevent Shi-won from going somewhere with Joon-hee alone, but it was also incredibly selfish and almost over-the-top ballsy. Who does that?! They were her tickets! And everyone else was gonna get to go!

- I wasn't expecting the big time jump, and I think I would have preferred it not to happen, honestly. Iit took us out of the element that made the show so great -- that teenage angst and passion, not to mention the 90s, which was a big part of the charm of the show. However, it works out for the reunion being in 2012, and the fact that they have a 7-year-old daughter, and makes the leap from them as teens to them as adults less jarring. And some of my favorite scenes from the show was from that period when they were dating, so I guess I really can't complain too much. :)

- I really didn't like the fact that they had a major death in the family, yet it was never addressed except in the most superficial of ways, by anyone. I mean, seriously?!

- I wish they would have done more with the coupons. It was a super cute idea, and we only ever got to see Yoon-jae use one of them, in an oddly-early, charged moment. After that it was like they didn't exist. This is another example of how I wish they had spent more time in 1997, rather than skipping forward so much, so fast.

- I enjoyed this so much I'm definitely going to watch the other Answer Me/Reply series!
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