Reply 1997 vs Reply 1994 vs Reply 1988: Which Reply Series is the Best?

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The hit Reply series should be on every K-drama fan favorite list. But which one out of the (currently) three is the best? Despite all three of them mainly focusing on the infamous “future husband guessing” theme and having both Sung Dong Il and Lee Il Hwa as the female lead’s Father and Mother respectively, each have its own style and issues that makes them unique. Let us compare each one of them for you.

Reply 1997 (2012)

Cast: Jung Eun Ji (Apink), Seo In Guk, Eun Ji Won, Hoya

Plot:

Tell the story of six friends in Busan, as the timeline moves back and forth between their past as 18-year-old high schoolers in 1997 and their present as 33-year-olds at their high school reunion dinner in 2012, where Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji), who used to be the ultimate fangirl of H.O.T will announce that she is getting married with one of her friend.

Plus:

  • As the first installment of Reply series (and if you decided to watch this first), it makes the viewer get all the excitement and refreshment from new type of drama.
  • Almost every actors/actresses delivered great acting skills
  • The plot is good
  • Since it took the time of 1997, which is closer to our current time compared to the other 2 series, we can relate more about being in a fandom, the songs, the events, etc.

Minus:

  • The Story is relatively light and really focusing on the “husband hunting” game.
  • Before getting to the end, viewers can easily point out the future husband correctly

Reply 1994 (2013)

Cast: Go Ara, Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon Seok, Min Do Hee

Plot:

Set in 1994, six university students from various provincial areas of South Korea live together at a boarding house in Sinchon, Seoul, which is run by a couple with a daughter named Sung Na Jung (Go Ara). And among the male students, one will become Na Jung’s husband in 2013.

Plus:

  • The story gets deeper as it follows the dynamic life of the six students
  • Put the game into the next level by giving nicknames to the male characters only to reveal them at the end (to avoid spoiler)

Minus:

  • Go Ara failed to appeal the 1994 look
  • Due to the intention of using the same actors/actress for both 1994 (college year) and 2013 (adulthood), the 1994 era looks a little bit older than it should have been.
  • Lack of chemistry. Compared to the other 2 series, characters in 1994 arguably have the least strong of chemistry.

Reply 1988 (2015)

Cast: Park Bo Gum, Lee Hyeri (Girls Day), Ryu Jun Yeol, Go Kyung Pyo

Plot: 

Set in 1988, the story revolves around 5 families that live as close neighbors in Ssangmundong area and their same age children became best (childhood) friends with Sung Duk Seon (Lee Hyeri) be the only girl in the gang. Struggling between study, dream, family, friendship and love, Duk Seon finally get to marry one of her best friends. The only question is who.

Plus:

  • The visual of the gang members. With Lee Hyeri nailing the late 80s look and not to mention the boys.
  • The story of childhood friends/neighbors gang is captivating.
  • The story is considered the deepest among the 3 Reply series since it was not really focusing on Duk Seon’s love line, but also brought up tear-jerking issues such as student life, youth turning to adult period, friendship (the gang and also the parents), parent-child relationship, husband and wife relationship, etc. And the best part is, you will get every part of the story is balanced. For example you don’t get too much romance, yet not less than needed and still get your heart flutters.
  • Relatable. Despite using the year of 1988, the scenes were shockingly relatable to viewers.
  • Awesome acting skills and portrayals from each actor/actress.
  • Awesome chemistry between characters (even between Duk Seon and one of her friend’s parent!)
  • Every male member of the gang actually has every potential of becoming Duk Seon’s husband and thus confusing viewers until the very last episode. Talking about analyzing!
  • Awesome OSTs. Our favorite here are “Don’t Worry Dear!” and “A Little Girl”

Minus:

  • For some hardcore supporters of one particular husband candidates, the finale might be too hard to accept (there was such an uproar on forums for this). The silver lining: just how great the actors/actresses are to make the viewers engrossed like that!
  • For those who love and seek for romance (just like the other 2 series), Reply 1988 might make you longing for more. Please give us more dates, a grand wedding, story after, and so on.

So basically for us here at CJ, we love Reply 1988 the most. Mainly for its wholesome, it is even suitable for viewer in any age. Which of the Reply series is your favorite?

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