The Memories ‘Reply 1997’ Bring Back
TvN’s Reply 1997 gathered a great amount of support after airing its first episode for perfectly portraying how the year of 1997 was for Korean teenagers.
On July 24, Reply 1997 started off in the Busan of 1997. A few high school friends got together 10 years later and set the plot in motion when they reminisced over the past.
Reply 1997 didn’t go back to the far 70s or 80s, but to the relatively close-by 90s to relate to an audience in its 20s and 30s. A few points, other than the familiar white H.O.T. raincoats and DDR games, especially delighted the audience and brought back memories.
Posters showing stars posing in awkward positions were popular among teenagers in those days. They were said to be the best present you could give a fan.
Si Won (Jung Eun Ji) is a big fan of H.O.T.’s Tony An, and so, of course, her room is plastered with posters of Tony and H.O.T. She even has a framed photo of Tony on her door.
Because teenagers didn’t have much money to spend as students, they found other means among themselves to collect fan items. They traded pictures like trading cards, and this also proved to be a great way to become friends with new girls.
Some, however, broke off friendships because of stars. Si Won and Yoo Jung (Shin So Yul) were best friends, but after Yoo Jung, who was a fan of H.O.T.’s Kangta, became a fan of Sechs Kies’ Eun Ji Won, the two became enemies for about a month and pretended not to know each other.
In the 1990s, there was no such thing as online video services, so it was important to record programs on video tape to watch later.
After hearing that H.O.T. would be appearing at a public radio performance in Daegu, Si Won got on a bus headed to Daegu, skipping the mandatory night study session in school and even the last episode of the popular MBC drama Star in My Heart. Star in My Heart was the most popular drama of the time, starring Ahn Jae Wook, Choi Jin Sil and Cha In Pyo.
Si Won instead asked Yoon Je (Seo In Guk) to record the drama for her on tape. Yoon Je, however, recorded the drama over a video tape that originally held an episode of H.O.T.’s Star Documentary without knowing how important the tape was to Si Won.
When Si Won learned of what had happened to her beloved tape, she had to give up on ever watching Star Documentary again in tears. Now, no fan has to go through this thanks to the internet and easy-to-use VOD services.
Another kind of item that brought back memories in the drama was cassette tapes. Present day internet users can download songs online in MP3 form, listen to songs on cell phones or buy CDs, but back then everyone used Walkmans. Listening to tapes too much even damaged them, prompting fans to buy more than one.
Fake designer brands
The 90s saw a flourish of designer brand imitations. Reply 1997 didn’t let this pass, showing some well-known imitations of Guess, Adidas, Jansport and Eastpak.
For his birthday, Yoon Je got an imitation item of Adidas, which read ‘Adidos’, a ‘Westpak’ instead of an Eastpak and a t-shirt with a Guess logo that had an exclamation mark instead of the usual question mark. Their names and logos showed they were definitely imitation products instead of the real thing.
These days, imitations are so elaborate that they’re hard to separate from the real things. The bold, openly fake imitations were something that could only be found in the 90s.
Photo credit: tvN