Pardon the slightly cliche title for this post, but it is actually quite fitting. I realize that in my last post I said I’d do a review of Rich Man Poor Woman, but I’ve decided to put that off at present. Why, you ask me? Well, for the simple reason that this morning, I finished watching Answer Me 1997 (also known as Reply 1997). I briefly discussed that drama in my last post as well, but after finishing it, I need to discuss it and something its perfection made me start thinking about.
In the past few years I’ve quite often seen movies and dramas that have been only so so in quality, but nevertheless had moments that really stuck with me. These moments can be ridiculous, or just cute, or heart-wrenching, but no matter what their original intention, there is something about them that really resonates with you as a viewer, and has such a ring of truth and honesty that you end up sobbing your eyes out going I FEEL YOUR PAIN I’M SO SORRY! You may never have experienced anything similar, but between the way the scene is written, the way it was acted, and a myriad other additions, you suddenly become a person with an ocean’s width of empathy who knows what it’s like to have a husband dying of cancer, to have been rejected by the person you love, to become a gangster tumbler, etc etc. Because these moments are so rare, they are even more important, and they always stay with you in a special place of your heart where you’re not just a normal member of society, but also have a large number of fictional friends who have never met you and never will, but nevertheless are real to you.
I’ve decided to discuss in this blogpost a few small moments that always get me no matter what, as well as Answer Me, which had an unbelievably large amount of these moments.
So, first off, one moment that always comes to mind when I think of a touching, incredibly heartfelt moment is in the Korean drama You’re Beautiful.
In this drama, the cutest character ever named Jeremy (played by the unbelievably awesome Lee Hong Ki) has a massive crush on the main girl, only to find out that she’s actually interested in his douchebag bandmate, on the day he’d been planning to confess to her over the radio. When he finds out, he runs away to a bus, but then decides to confess to her tearily anyways.
If that’s not insanely pathetic and tearworthy than I don’t know what is. Between the character being a mixture of a hyper puppy and an adorable stuffed animal, this teary confession breaks even the coldest girl’s heart.
Another moment that resonates with me for an entirely different reason is from the Japanese drama Buzzer Beat. The drama is not my favorite, however I love the first episode so so much I can’t even describe it. It actually took me ages to get through the entire drama because I kept going back to the first episode and rewatching the last scene. In it, the OTP meet for the first time randomly, in a very sentimental, sweet, and whimsical way.
This scene gets me every time, because it’s just so hopeful. I can literally feel the buds of young love growing in my heart. I don’t know if it’s because I played violin for years and therefore any show which incorporates a violin piece jumps a level in my opinion (even if the actress blatantly can’t play the instrument), or if it’s because Yamapi is actually really adorable in this drama (I don’t like him normally but he just exudes scruffy cuteness here), but this is one of my favorite beginnings to a romance ever, and I think of it quite often.
There are many more moments like this, but what shocked me was the sheer quantity of them that were present in Answer Me 1997. It’s literally like the writer had a window’s view into my heart and knew exactly where to push it to start the tears and laughter. While Answer Me was not a perfect drama, and the ending lost much of the charm that it started with, it remains one of my favorites because of certain scenes that were handled with such deftness and depth that I was at once laughing and sobbing into my stuffed animal. While there are honestly too many moments for me to list in a post like this, I’m going to describe the two that really gets me the most.
The first is the moment when Shi Won found out her father had stomach cancer. In episode 5, there was a running gag where Shi Won really wanted a pair of brand name jeans that was being offered on a radio show as a prize for anyone who had a touching story. She had no problem making up loads of wild stories, including that her best friend was suffering on the brink of life and death with severe burns (which was completely untrue, he’d just broken his arm). She tried multiple times to no avail, and her stories grew more and more severe. The episode progresses, dealing with other little things in the day to day life of a student, until suddenly, Shi Won gets a phone call from her mom.
Immediately she has a feeling that something is wrong.
Her mother tells her that her father has stomach cancer and is going into surgery. Shi Won needs to come to the hospital in a cab, and bring his toothbrush and underwear so he can feel more comfortable. She crumples in shock, silently crying. Next thing we know, she’s in a cab, sobbing silently but trying to hold herself together. The cab driver turns the radio on out of concern for her, only to listen to the broadcast declaring the new winner for sob stories. Shi Won had days before written in a fake story saying her father was suffering from cancer and she wasn’t sure he’d be able to get through it. Now, she hears her words being played black for her with a sickening sense of irony, as she finally wins the long-coveted pair of jeans.
This scene was so simple in its delivery, but so much more because of that. There was no loud wailing, no screams, no pounding on the wall in angry tears. Instead, there was just a girl suddenly realizing how scary the world really can be, and how much the things she cared about beforehand no longer mattered.
The next scene which had the same affect on me also surrounded her father’s cancer (which if you haven’t watched the show, I must say, it really isn’t that big of a story line. It gets resolved quickly and happily, but the two episodes it was in added so much depth to the characters I just have to talk about it). This one focuses on how Shi Won’s mother deals with it.
The episode starts off with Shi Won’s father, miraculously cured, though still under observation, being grumpy because he’s been forced into a crowded hospital wing with a horde of loud women who all watch a ridiculous TV show each day. It’s hilarious watching these women scream over attractive men and the newest trope on the television.
However, one of the characters in the soap opera is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and all of the women (and Shi Won’s father) watching it suddenly become depressed and hopeless. That show had been an escape from the horrors of their own lives, and now that they were faced with it even in their fantasy, hope was essentially lost.
Shi Won’s father in particular suddenly had a huge amount of fear that even though he was on the mend, he would relapse and die. His wife, witnessing the change in atmosphere, gets furious and defensive, and CALLS THE WRITER OF THE SHOW YELLING HER LUNGS OFF.
It’s at once hilarious and horrible, as she screams “What will the wife and kids do!? Why do cancer patients always die!? Are you trying to be God!? I’LL KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T CHANGE THE STORY!!” The writer just listens to her and hangs up, letting this crazy lady scream it out. This goes on for weeks, until finally she calls one last time, before the very end of the show. Instead of screaming, she quietly speaks this time.
“I’m Shi Won’s mom from Busan, Miss Writer. My husband has stomach cancer. At first I was desparate. I couldn’t even breathe. I wanted to die because my family seemed so miserable. But one day I was watching a show, and I found myself laughing. I was shameless. Miss Writer, do you know how powerful you are? Some patients receive anti-cancer treatments for five hours, others have terminal cancer, but when your drama is on they all gather around to watch it. They talk about the actor all day. But when his character got cancer, all the laughter disappeared from our ward. Miss Writer, don’t see it as a crazy woman’s request. Couldn’t you save his life just once? Couldn’t you show people that they can get over cancer? That they can live happily ever after? Everyone in our ward lost reasons to laugh when they realized that they had cancer. So couldn’t you make them laugh just once? Miss Writer, this is the only way I can help my husband. Please.”
The writer listens to the message quietly, nodding to herself. The camera then pans back to Shi Won’s mom. She slowly puts down the phone, and sits down, and as she leaves, the camera shows that her husband has been listening to the entire conversation. He hugs her and tells her he missed her.
In the end, the writer does listen to her, and allows the character to survive. However, even if she hadn’t done this, it wouldn’t have mattered, because Shi Won’s father had seen how much his cancer was affecting not only himself, but also his wife, and chose to rise above his circumstances. This selflessness on the part of both characters is so touching, I can’t even handle it. So many dramas focus on young teenage love and the pangs of new love because it’s more exciting, but this little clip that shows a real mature relationship and how they deal with pain leaves the audience feeling more profound after watching it. I honestly believe that this is one of the best stand alone scenes from any drama.
Anyways, that’s all from me today guys! I’m sorry if I came off a bit over dramatic or heavy-handed, but Answer Me 1997 has left me with such an amazing feeling after watching it that I want to share it with everyone. Have you guys been watching it? Do you agree about how certain moments can affect you? I always love comments!