Reply 1988: Review, Cast and About The Reply Series

I’ve been wanting to write about this K-Drama series. Probably one of the most successful Korean TV series to air in recent times. However this is the last series to be aired. So make sure to read my other articles about the other 2 related series which are: Reply 1994 and Reply 1997.

About the Reply Concept

Although these 3 series have had a great success, the underlying concept is very simple.

It is likely that the simplicity of the concept is part of the secret to the series’ success. All three series (Reply 1988, Reply 1994 and Reply 1997) appeal to the nostalgia of the 80′ and 90′.

Reply 1988 Duk-seon and her friends

So of course if you grew up in those years, just as I did it will be very easy for you to relate to the topics and what you see. For instance I don’t know how many people who were born after year 2000 will understand the struggle of surfing the internet on a 56k (or even worse a 28.8K) dial up connection.

Also calling someone’s home phone number and having to ask their parents to put them on the phone. Sounds like something from the stoneage, but it was just 2 decades ago. Something else that comes across from this drama is how South Korea underwent an incredibly rapid development to reach its levels of technology of our days.

How The Reply Series Story Work

All three series revolve around the story of one or more main characters. The story of the 3 series have a similar structure. They all start in present day (more precisely in the year the series was published: 2012, 2013, 2015) with a little mistery to be solved.

The male charaters of Reply 1988
The male charaters of Reply 1988

As the viewer we don’t know who maried whom and that’s when we dive back into the past when everything started in : 1988, 1994 and 1997. That’s when we get into the details of the life of the main characters and the story starts to unroll.

Be prepared for numerous flash forwards and flash backs. I have to admit that the clarity of these falshes gets better in the latter episodes of the series, such as Reply 1994 and 1988. However the quality of the content and the story is top notch in all three Reply series.

Reply 1988 Main Characters
Reply 1988 Main Characters

My Advice On How To Watch The Reply Series

I have two pieces of advice on how to watch this K-Drama, which I am sure will get you hooked very easily.

  1. Start by watching Reply 1997, which is the earliest released episode. The reason behind this is that there are references to the previous episodes in the 1994 and 1988 episodes. So to follow the natural flow of the story following the order 1997, 1994, 1988 is the best thins do to.
  2. Second piece of advice is to watch it with a Korean, if possible. This will help understand the many events that happen in the story. I am married to a Korean, which greatly helped to understand the context. If you don’t have a Korean friend or relative, look up the key events to better understand.
Reply 1988 Poster
Reply 1988 Poster

Where to Watch the Reply Series

As for many K-Dramas and Korean movies, if you live outside of Korea, Netflix is the place to go. The online platform increased significantly the number of Korean movies and dramas available. And, at least in Italy where I live, all 3 episodes are available on Netflix.

Let’s Dive Into Reply 1988

As mentioned earlier the story starts in 2015, when Duk-seon and her husband (who’s name we don’t know) who are giving an interview explaining how they met, dated and finally got married. And from there we travel back in time to the past. Back to 1988 in an everchanging South Korea and Seoul. In a calm street of the South Korean Ssangmun-dong district north of the capital. Where she lives with her family and her neighbour’s and friends.

Among the group of her highschool friends there is her mistery husband. And if you are anything like I am you will soon after finding yourself supporting one of the characters. As all K-Dramas, the series is very entertaining, light to watch and mixing funny moments with more emotinal ones.

Also Reply 1988 brings you back to the feelings you might have felt in your late teens and twenties. Bringing you back to that sense of nostalgia of when you start moving out of your parent’s home and all your friends start moving away. Summing it up it is a series well worth watching, I highly encourage you to give it try. Even if it happens to be your first time to watch a Korean TV series.

The Reply 1988 Cast, The Charaters & Where You Might have Seen Them

Let’s start from Duk-seon’s who was played by Lee Hye-ri group of highschool friends.

  • Choi Taek played by Park Bo-gum the youngest of the group and a genius Go (a Korean traditional board game), who lives alone with his dad. He’s also the quietest of the group and appears to be clumsy in day to day activities.
  • Sung Sun-woo played by Go Kyung-pyo. Another important character of the series. Lives with his mom and little sister in the same neighbourhood as Duk-seon. If you watch the series you’ll find out why he’s important. I’m not going to spoiler anything.
  • Kim Jung-hwan played by Ryu Jun-yeol. He lives in the same building as Duk-seon. He’s parent’s struck gold winning the lottery with a ticket bought by his brother. They suddenly became rich and were able to afford a new home. They then rented the basement to Duk-seon and her family, which were facing some financial hardship.
  • Ryu Dong-ryong played by Lee Dong-hwi. He’s the funny guy of the group. Also he’s the son of the highschool dean.

Old dial phone from the 1900s

Duk-seon’s Family

  • Sung Dong-il as himself playing Duk-seon’s dad. He’s probably the funniest charcater in the series. Also you’ll find him in all the Reply TV series which means also in Reply 1994 and Reply 1988.
  • Lee Il-hwa as herself covering the role of Duk-seon’s mother. Just as Sung Dong-il you will find her in all the 3 Reply series. Interesting fact: in all three series she’s married to Sung Dong-il.
  • Sung Bo-ra played by Ryu Hye-young. She’s Duk-seon’s sister, which appear to be often grumpy in the first episodes. However her character evolves greatly during as the story unfolds.
  • Sung No-eul played by Choi Sung-won. He is Duk-seoun’s younger brother. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and more of a side character in the drama.

The Kim Family

  • Kim Sung-kyun as himself (Jung-hwan’s father). This is another actor which is in Reply 1988 and 1994 series. The interesting fact about this actor is that he plays very different roles between the the series that he’s been in.
  • Ra Mi-ran as herself (Jung-hwan’s mother).
  • Kim Jung-bong played by Ahn Jae-hong. He’s Jung-hwan’s brother also not the sharpest tool in the shed. However he is the reason the Kim family became rich. Thanks to him buying a winning lottery ticket. Which means that the entire family somehow feels in debt towards him throughout the story.

The Sun-woo Family

  • Kim Sun-young as Kim Sun-young (Sun-woo’s mother). You’ll definitely definitely recognize her from other famous K-Dramas such as: When The Camelia Blooms, Crash Landing on You, Romance is Bonus Book and Rugal.
  • Kim Seol as Sung Jin-joo (Sun-woo’s little sister).

Other Important Side Characters

  • Choi Moo-sung as Choi Moo-sung (Taek’s father).
  • Yoo Jae-myung as Ryu Jae-myung (Dong-ryong’s father). He doesn’t appear all that much in Reply 1988 but he is one of the most recognizable faces. He most notably appeared as the bad guy in Itaewon Class. Make sure to check that out too.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.