KDrama: Life Lessons from Reply 1994

There will come a time in our life when we have to go out of our comfort zone, to adjust to life, as life adjusts with you, to learn how to course through life’s unfamiliars and to try to hold on to someone’s hand, even if we are uneasy. That’s just how life it. This usually happens when we go to college. College, they say, is an almost life-like the real world, one that we have to endure with open arms.
In a certain boarding house in Sinchon, Seoul back in 1994, a couple of country bumpkins came to live together and start a new life as university students. Though they were unfamiliar with each other, though they seem to hate each other, though they have more differences than their similarities, these country bumpkins were each other’s shoulder to lean on as time went by.
Reply1994-1Reply 1994 follows the lives of the 7 university students – the boarding house owner’s daughter, Sung Na-Jung, Trash, Haitai, Samcheonpo, Yoon-jin, Binggeure and Chilbong. Hailing from different parts of Korea, they go from being complete strangers to a big happy family. It’s a trip down memory late to 1994 Korea through their lives in their 20’s. It shifts between a mini reunion of their friendship in 2013 and goes way back to their life in 1994. In between, the series makes the viewers guest whom among the boys will be Na-jung’s husband. Reply1994-3
Reply 1994 gives us an imperfectly perfect family through the Sungs. They always fight with each other. They had misunderstandings. But in the end, they understood one another and was there for each other. No matter what. It also gives us the reality in life, when we get to have the family we choose. You also get to experience the same love and respect for each other, aside from the differences that they have. Mr. and Mrs. Sung became the country bumpkins’ Mom and Dad in Seoul and they couldn’t be more thankful to them all their life. Not to mention the food that Seoul Mom prepares for them. Ahh.
We would learn how we should not take for granted the people that surrounds us. As Na-jung once said, “We all get used to relationships, and eventually, we take them for granted.” Before that relationship wither, try with all your might to save it, especially when it is one that you can’t live without. Be sensitive to what other people may feel, even if you think differently from them. Our feelings are not the same. We just have to accept that. We just have to be there for them, no matter what.
There are things that is really hard to talk about, and may at times, be very hard to accept. As Trash once said, “It is even better than long conversations or any painful words. The look saying “I love you” is more than enough.” Some words are better left unsaid, some we have to bear the pain that it would give us. Know that I love you is always enough. PS. Life is short, look at your loved ones in the eyes and tell them that you love them.
Life is all about making choices. Even if there is not much to choose from, we still need to make a choice. You should choose when to keep going or when to stop. After all, what ever happen to our life is a result of all the choices that we made. There is no such thing as a choice without regrets, and there is no right answer in life. It’s okay to feel bad for the choices that you didn’t choose. Sometimes, it is okay to regret. But as Samcheonpo once said, “You just need to believe that the path you chose is the right answer and make it that way. Living your life with no regrets from the choice you’ve made, that’s what you need to do for your own happiness.”
Love can change you. For someone like Yoon Jin who grew up alone and independent, it must be hard for her to adjust to having someone by her side, who is someone very persistent. As Yoon Jin said, “Love sparks when there is war“, and it took someone like Samcheonpo, whom she always fight with, to make her realize how it is okay to lean on to someone, and that you don’t have to live life alone forever and that you can always have someone out there for you. You just have to let them in.
We don’t just become rich, famous or powerful. Most of the time, we make a lot of effort to reach where we are today. Well, some are lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon. But to many, it was hard work that  brought them to their success – not because they were naturally gifted nor they were lucky. Everything doesn’t happen overnight. We may fail over and over again, but as Chilbong once quoted Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” We work hard, even if we always fail. But when you know it is over. Know how to accept defeat.Reply1994-8
Unrequited love. A lot of us experienced this. Love that is unspoken would definitely hurt us deeply. It is so deep that we are afraid to try again, to trust again, to love again. But as Binggeure once said, “Love grows by eating up fear. But the way to overcome the fear in love is ultimately, love again.Don’t be afraid to love again, even if you know that you might get hurt. What if you don’t?Reply1994-10
There are things that we don’t want to do, but we had to. There are things that we don’t know how to do, but we need to do. Haitai realized when he was in the camp, that “There are things that you will not learn until you try them. There are things you don’t see until you get there.” And once you open your heart and give them a try, you’ll then realize why it will always worth a try. Reply1994-11
Growing up together. Falling in love with each other. Falling apart. Distance makes the heart grow fonder as they say. Again, if you take things for granted, being out of sight, puts them out of your heart. But it doesn’t need to be that way. You just have to be open with how you are feeling. As Nah-jung once said, “We should have just said that we were having a hard time when we were having a hard time. We should have just said we were hurt when we were hurt .” Maybe, just maybe, they didn’t had to hurt each other.Reply1994-12
Trash may have thought how fate is strong, damned and cruel. But for Nah-jung miracles need to exist, so that there will be some glimmer of hope for people to hold on to and that is how hope exists.

First love. As how Nah-jung described it – It was untainted and tacky. But it is heart throbbing and deeply in grained in one’s memory, especially that of in your youth.

Some ended with their first love.
Some were heart broken with their first love.
Some were just clinging to their first love as there first love, love someone else.
Some realize how their first love is not really love at all.
Some first loves could cross their paths again.
Na jung said, “We did things that we never would have thought to do if not for love. What changes the world is love.” First love. Second. Last love. No matter what, we will always choose love. Always take a chance. What’s meant for you will always find its way to you. Reply1994-5
Reply 1994 is not only about the lessons learned, but it is about how it made me feel. First love. Friendship. Family. Nostalgia. While I was just a mere 8-year old little girl at this period, I have also sensed the nostalgic feels. As what Samcheonpo said in his last few lines, “In the history of mankind, we were the only blessed generation that experienced both analog and digital cultures.” They – the Generation X was the first ones who tried the technology and the internet. While I am not part of the Generation X, I can also attest to how the world changed. I was also the kid who used a walk man with a couple of cassette tapes, a discman with tons of CDs, some of it I burned my own as I downloaded my MP3s, and then there was the Ipod. I was also the kid who used encyclopedias, to Microsoft encyclopedias and then the Internet, who saved files in diskettes, CD-roams, USBs and then the Google Drive. I was also the kids who experienced owning a landline, a pager, an analog cellphone, Nokia’s first few mobiles, to phone cams to smart phones that is is today. I was also the kid who was able to own betamax and VHS tapes to VCD and DVDS to downloading it online to watching streams. And I was also the kid who loves taking and being in pictures using my trusty film camera and video cassette recorders, getting my first digital camera and digital video camcorder, my first dSLR camera to hybrid cameras that can actually record videos. I grew up in this same moment, even if I was 12 years younger than them. I grew up in the modern era too.
Time goes on, but memories will never fade. Make every moment count. Remember the good ones for reminiscing and remember the bad when you feel like the world is on your shoulder. Why? It will make you realize how you manage to stood up from your fall, probably you were able to because someone held on your hand and helped you through it all. Time will fly by so fast, make sure you have seize every moment with the people that you love.
Sinchon Boarding House has closed, as it has already served its purpose and they all lived their separate lives and moved forward to the life that they have today. In a world were everything changes, there is one thing that we have to do – learn to adapt to that kind of world. As Mr. Sung may have said “People learn to adjust as they live their life.” And as what Nah-jung said, when everything seems unfamiliar and the world feels uncomfortable, “the only place that that made us feel safe was this place, my home” and the family that they made. Right?

PS. All photos taken from various websites as searched in Google. Thank you so much to the owners of these photos.

Read Reply 1988 here.



  1. My sisters love this show, and I really want to watch this. They also say there’s a lot of life lessons to be learned in the show. Can’t wait to start!


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