Reply 1988 – Taek and Deok Sun

Hello everyone!  And Happy New Year!  I know it’s nearly February already but as per usual I’ve been busy with life and all the messy intricacies that come along with it, so I haven’t gotten around to writing anything.  But last night I (finally) finished the ridiculously long drama Reply 1988, so I decided to churn out a quick post about it – and specifically about the adorable OTP of Taek and Deok Sun.  If you haven’t noticed from the title, this will be spoiler heavy!

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Now, if you’ve read most of my blog (which most of you probably haven’t), then you’re probably aware that one of my favorite Korean dramas of all time was Reply 1997.  That remains true to this day, and the OTP between Seo in Guk and Park Eun Ji’s characters charmed me to the end of my days.

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However, when I heard that the Reply series was getting a reboot for 1994, I was really hesitant to start.  The episodes sounded bloated and over-long compared to the 30 minute episodes of the earlier version, and the OTP seemed to be all over the place.  I shied away from that season of the show, but followed the recaps over at Dramabeans.  The drama and intense shipping wars that ensued seemed to be my sign to just leave that drama be, and I had all intentions to do the same with this current incarnation of it as well.

But, there was one problem with that.  And that problem’s name was Choi Taek.

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I’m sorry but how could you not love that ridiculous face?  That’s literally how he smiles every single time.  It’s just not fair.  Admittedly, I’ve loved this actor, Park Bo Gum, for a long time. He’s got the face of an angel, but acting chops that can and will blow you away.  I was shocked in Remember You when he convincingly played a serial killer lacking on the empathy scale.  What was even more ridiculous was that he made the character of a murderous psychopath incredibly sympathetic, and killed all us nuna fans in one blow.

However, I’m not the type to watch a drama just for an actor.  I was wary of Reply 1988 because I know the series.  The episodes this time around were nearly two hours each, which was ridiculous.  The family stuff, which admittedly I loved, took up a large amount of time, and the writers like waiting on the romance until the very end, and there’s quite often an incredibly adorable second lead out there suffering.  That remains accurate for this series, and I know a loooooot of people feel burned over poor Jung Hwan’s romance.  However what I wanted to do in this blog post is discuss why I actually think Taek and Deok Sun were the perfect OTP.

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Sorry Jung Hwan, I’m leaving you in the rain

Deok Sun over the course of the show has plenty of crushes.  That’s normal for a girl in high school, hell I know I had my fair share when I was her age.  But her specific habit was finding out (sometimes wrongly) that a guy had a crush on her, and just manufacturing feelings from that.  Her friend Dong Ryong even called her on it.  When she thought her friend Sun Woo liked her, she got all giddy and imagined a ridiculously fluffy romance that involved commercial spoofs and even confessing to a radio station that she was in love.  We find out later that all this time, Sun Woo actually loved Deok Sun’s sister, and she is totally heartbroken over her crushed first love.

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They’re cute though, so no hating on my part

Soon after, Deok Sun is convinced that her other friend Jung Hwan has a crush on her, and she’s not wrong.

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Jung Hwan, played by the adorable Ryu Jun Yeol, is head over heels in love with Deok Sun.  And his crush on her truly is epic.  He’s the adorable guy that waits for her to come home every night just to make sure she’s safe, he knows when she’s in a bad mood, and she’s pretty much the only person he has an unguarded smile around.  In any other drama, the two of them would have been the OTP.  No question about it.  Their bickering romance is pretty much catnip for Korean writers.  And yet… he’s not the endgame OTP.  In a move that flabbergasted many fans, poor Jung Hwan remains heartbroken and nursing his one-sided love quietly, never having confessed.

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I’ll admit, the writers were pretty damn sadistic with this poor boy’s character.  They showed his heartbreak constantly, making the audience’s hearts bleed for the boy.  Then they had him “confess” to Deok Sun, only to say it was all a joke.  He then discarded the ring he was going to give her – the true sign that he was finally giving up.

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I know a lot of fans are upset about poor Jung Hwan, and I get it.  The boy was adorable.  Seeing the way he covered his soft-hearted worries about everyone he loved under layers and layers of gruffness is enough to slay even the coldest hearts out there.  The writers didn’t give him the ending he deserved, so a lot of his fans are left without closure.

However, I do agree with the OTP of Taek and Deok Sun.  And no, it’s not just because Taek is adorable.  A lot of people have been complaining that the writers for Reply didn’t let us see Deok Sun’s feelings, but I disagree.

Going back to Dong Ryong’s statement – Deok Sun realized that she needed to stop falling for people just because they liked her.  Instead, she had to take a deep look into herself, and ask who SHE really liked.  Once she posed that question, I think it became pretty obvious to her.  The person that always won the competitions of “who do you like best?” was Taek.  The person she enjoyed spending time with most was always Taek.  The boy she worried about most?  You called it… Taek.

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And though she didn’t know it, Taek had always been in love with her.  Even when they were little kids and he’d hit his head, she was the one he wanted by his side.

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I know fans were heartbroken by Jung Hwan’s fake confession to Deok Sun, but even in that moment, it was obvious to me that she didn’t reciprocate his feelings.  Throughout his entire confession, every time the door opened, Deok Sun looked up hopefully.  The only person they were waiting for was Taek.

And then the camera starts showing us more of Deok Sun’s reaction every time she sees Taek.  Taek had long been guilty of lighting up like a jack-o-lantern every time he saw her, but take a look at this gif and tell me it’s not reciprocated.

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LOOK AT HOW CUTE THEY ARE!

That smile is the reason I ship these two completely.  Deok Sun, like pretty much every teenage girl in existence, was more in love with the idea of romance than she was with any person.  As soon as she thought a boy liked her, she immediately got ahead of herself and just imagined this swoon-worthy, cotton candy pink love affair that wasn’t realistic.  She never really questioned her own feelings.  But when she finally asked herself – who was the boy she liked?  The answer was the one that was by her side.

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And let’s be honest, how can you blame her when a little phrase like “I love you” slays him that much?

So, that’s my break down of the OTPs of Reply 1988.  You can feel free to disagree with me, and I’m willing to admit that if Jung Hwan had actually confessed to Deok Sun when she was younger, their paths might have gone in different directions.  But Junghwan didn’t, and instead Deok Sun was given the space to grow up on her own and find out an answer for herself.

What are your thoughts?  Did you love Taek and Deok Sun?  Are you still heartbroken over Junghwan?  I’m still crying over the finale of the show – that wedding made me sob like a baby.  I’m not sure I would recommend this drama to just anyone, because it was exceedingly long, and some things were unecessary in my opinion, but in general the show was great, not only because of the romance, but because of how well it depicted families supporting each other and growing old together.  The last episode, and its focus on the loss of youth and how much that nostalgia can hurt really struck a chord in my heart.

Anyway, comments are loved!

And here’s a last little present of our baby Taekie.

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7 thoughts on “Reply 1988 – Taek and Deok Sun

  1. I love your post, and totally agree that they could have handled Jung Hwan’s ending better, but Taek and Deok Sun are meant for each other. Reply 1988 is not a breezy watch for me due to the length and the frustrating holdup of the romance until the very end, but I love this OTP to bits. I wished there were longer scenes for them at the end.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I totally agree with you, I found parts of the drama really frustrating, and as much as I loved all the development for each character, certain scenes like a 30 minute card game between the moms struck me as really unnecessary filler.
      Personally, I wish that we saw more of Deok Sun and Taek’s growth once they’d gotten together. I wanted to see them confront the parents, I wanted to see their wedding, I wanted to see how they changed and grew together once their relationship had finally been established. That’s why I’m not sure I can recommend the show, but for those of us that did struggle through to the end, I still love this pair!

  2. I absolutely loved this show. It had so much heart and humor that translated so well on screen, and there was obviously great chemistry between the characters/actors. The reboot didn’t impress me much, so instead I will probably end up watching this again haha. Great post.

    Would you be interested in sharing your work on Moviepilot/Creators? I’d love to hear from you so I can expand on that, so feel free to shoot me an e-mail. My contact details are on my blog.

  3. I’m a bit late to the party, as I finished the drama two days ago. Before saying anything else, I should probably mention that I started watching it because of some clips of Taek and Deok Sun. I’m rather picky when it comes to male/female leads in terms of personality, and these two gave off a good vibe. I apologize in advance for my lengthy comment.

    I might be the only one who does not feel sorry for Jung Hwan. That is not to say that I don’t wish him happiness, and I don’t consider him a bad guy. (I’m always afraid people will take it the wrong way.) Far from it, actually. He’s a good friend, a good person, etc. However, when it comes to his love for Deok Sun, I just don’t quite understand why I should feel sorry for him. The situation in which he ended up was his doing. No one but Jung Hwan himself prevented him from loving her, pursuing her, getting his message across. I would have felt bad if, let’s say, his parents had been against his relationship; if his love interest had been married; if he had done everything in his power, yet it still didn’t work out. I didn’t notice any of that in the drama. It all came down to his personality. Moreover, I believe that “Reply 1988” spells it out for the viewers in case some missed the point. That long quote of Jung Hwan about timing and fate ends with him saying that the traffic lights and whatever else weren’t the reason for his failure. It was his hesitation, his inability to make decisions, act upon them, and “he [Taek] wanted her more” (c)

    Just to name a few:
    – she gave him a gift, he could have worn it;
    – he found out she had been stood up, he could have rushed to her right away without sitting through half of the movie;
    – he saw her crying that one night, he could have gone straight to her without hesitating whether to do that or go home;

    Even his brother was way more proactive! Sure, some might say, “Well, that’s who Jung Hwan is. He’s like that.” True, and the result corresponds to who he is. That being said, I wish they showed his future, his grown-up self and all.

    As to Taek and Deok Sun, I absolutely love their relationship. While Jung Hwan is written as a typical kdrama male (without being a complete jerk, thank God!), which is something I don’t quite like, Taek is the type of a guy that I would choose. Guessing at someone’s feelings is very exhausting. At least, it doesn’t work out for me in real life. Asking for affection is exhausting. There’s none of that with Taek. I appreciate how certain he is of his love; I like the fact that it’s so simple for him. He doesn’t doubt, he’s not scared by his friends’ laugh, and he talks about it quite freely. I like that he makes sure her pride is intact when giving her his jacket (it’s he who is too warm to wear it), and that’s just scratching the surface. Deok Sun, too, displays so much care for him, and one can see how easy and comfortable it is for her to be with him. What I love even more is that she chose him. She didn’t get an idea from someone else. She didn’t get an idea of his feelings from someone else. She didn’t need interpretation of his actions for her to fall in love with him. It just happened, and we would get lost while trying to find the exact point when it started. It’s so refreshing to see a relationship like theirs in a kdrama.

    And frankly, I was down in the dumps because of personal matters, and their relationship raised me up. Taek, as a person, did too.

    The wedding made me cry, too. The scene where Taek’s father tried to reach him (that contrast).

    • Agree. Taek’s perception is not appreciated. How he broached the question of his father’s relationship with his father and Sun Woo. How he handled the interview that went off the track. Knowing Mir-ran would be worried aout her son’s minor surgery. Throughout the show it has been shown and told that he is mature and dependable. Feeling secure, loved, having an open conversation, goofing are more important that cooking, tieing laces. And that makes him a good campanion for DS.

      • Sorry, I just saw your comment. [shaking your hand] Amen to this! I always think of that “father, mother, Sun Woo” thing, too. Yup.

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