This drama really knows how to tug and pull at your heartstrings at the smallest and plainest of moments. Passing moments of mundane life, moments that you don’t pay attention to and are oblivious to, moments that you take for granted. I’m such a crybaby I know it, came after watching Ep 11/12 and my shirt’s wet from wiping off tears and snot. Everything that happened, so real and reminiscent to what most of us must have had been thru in younger years. The dread and sadness of parting, the pain of relationships. Nothing terribly dramatic or intense, but they just reach deep down inside of you, and make you feel a gamut of emotions. Just because we’ve been through the exact same experiences in life, not just because it’s drama dramatized to make you cry or laugh.
Everyone in 1997 is real, everyone has been a “someone” in 1997. Though I have never been much of a SW or YJ myself (apart from the obsessing over idols part, if I were a Korean, I’d probably a crazy fanatic myself), I find myself relating to a lot of their experiences in the drama, from minute details of mundane daily routines, to the most delicate of relationships with family and friends. Love that the drama never heightens dramatics or histrionics, and it never goes overboard. It takes us through things that we know, understand and care about in life and gets us into nostalgic reminiscing mode. Times likes those may have passed and are long gone, but they never fade, least in our memories.
I love all the characters in 1997, I have no favourite favourite. They are never boring, never listless, never still in spite of familiarity. You can say drama’s ultimately about SW and YJ, but to me, it’s about every single one of them, lively characters who come together to make this drama. Their presence, be it YJ/SW’s friends, TW or even SW’s parents, are always felt and connected with each other. It’s like you feel empty if one of them aren’t around for long. I love that no character’s importance is undermined in spite of short screen time, I adore the intricate touches and details the writers/directors are putting into each and every single one of them. SW’s especially, her growing up and finding out about things along the way, her youth and innocence, her approaching her feelings regarding TW and YJ. They’re all very subtle and understated, never overdrawn or over-wrought. She learns to deal with things and she matures, but she’s her, always the bubbly and ever-endearing, you don’t really feel a sense of change in her but yet she’s growing as drama progresses.
Her relationship with TW puzzles me sometimes, in that she acts like a matter-of-fact GF to him but never appears IN LOVE. IMO as a girl who has never experienced love before and who walks around being known as the aggressive fangirl (she can be crazy sometimes), TW’s affection may have been something fresh and romantic to her. With or without YJ, I think it would have been the same. For someone she admires as a senior or brother to shower her with affection all of a sudden, if I were here, I would probably have reacted the same way. Sometimes you just have no idea when it hits.
The friendship-love element in dramas has always been a favourite of mine, it never gets old and I never get bored watching dramas deal with complications like that. 1997 never reaches too far or delves too deep into this aspect, and I love the drama more purely because of this reason. Crushing or first loves may be painful but it is not everything about life. Other things happen, you still hang out with your friends, you still go to school, you still do other stuff. YJ is a great example of a drama character done right and real in this aspect. We all know he pines and pains for SW inside, but he still is YJ, who loves his brother, who hangs out with his friends, who teases Jun Hee whenever he can. I love that he doesn’t glum over his unrequited love 24/7 like most drama characters like that do. For once, it’s not just about the girl and gloom or doom because she doesn’t like you back. The same applies to Jun Hee, whom I believe we all feel so deeply for, a character who deserves a bunch of huggies and tears. It’s a very delicate relationship to show on TV, but yet the drama never tries to elaborate too much. Reason because we viewers understand and feel from such subtle nuanced actions and gestures of affection and understanding. Again it’s painful, but the pain never lingers too long for us to have a bitter taste over it.
Hak Chan and Yoo Jung, I love them for who they are. They’re not perfect, and they cannot be more different when put together as an OTP. But I love that their bond is felt right from the get go, their bickering and lovey dovey moments always the source of my entertainment in the drama. Every single time YJ breaks down like an immature child, throws a tantrum unreasonably whenever HC doesn’t do the right thing or what not, I never feel irritated (when in RL I’d kick YJ in her butt for being such a demanding GF), instead I feel myself on the verge of tears, at most times. I dunno why but I feel that in spite of the brief screen time given to HC and YJ, the bond they share is deep, and the chemistry they have, it grows the more I see of them. Maybe it’s because I find the notion of love based on someone trying to reach out to you even knowing beforehand how mad/erratic you can be, sweet and romantic?
Oh yessss, friendship and bromance done right make me a happy girl, I love it when drama approaches relationships in such endearing ways. It’s not always a bed of roses, there are conflicts and clashes, but as ideal as you may call it, 1997 never dwells on the bad or down side of things too long. No conflict or disparity is dragged on until forever. Although some problems do remain, underneath the surface of all, but I like that the drama doesn’t sit on the complex issues for too long, an argument scene may be followed by a cute and laugh-inducing scene, a moving scene or even an embarrassing moment. You never feel over-burdened by any.
It’s also one of the reasons why adore scenes involving SW’s parents. Not only are they acted by spot on actors who give wonders and depth to their characters, they make us believe that they ARE our parents. Their scenes are scarce compared to the kids, but their influence is heavily felt thruout. Love every single parent scene, adore every single parent-kid scene. They are noisy in ways that may irrate, but you feel the heart in the words they say, the gestures shown. If you’ve been young, you’d most probably have been there, and if you’ve been there, you’d know, and would have probably shed a tear or 2. I certainly did.
There is a fine line between love and friendship, but like how SW termed it in Ep 12, it can be muddled and blurred by emotions and gestures that surprise you out of no where. I’m honestly not too bothered by the mystery of SW’s hubby, I think it’s an interesting and original approach to K-dramas which are mostly bogged down by cliches and norm nowadays. The cross-interjection of the past and present may not offer much in terms growth and change (15 years is a lot), but I love that every single character maintains a partial essence of their youth.
12 eps and I’m almost certain and sure who the OTP are, but I’m waiting to surprised because drama has been fairly good in that department so far. Drama has surprised me in ways that I’d never imagine, and I think I’m gonna miss it very very much when it concludes for good. I’m not looking for the ideal perfect conclusion, as long as the heart remains, I’ll be more than satisfied. 🙂
Awwwwwwwwwwww, love the cute and fun between Seo In Guk and Jung Eun Ji. Great singers on their own, but a combination of beautiful when they come together <33333
Last but not least, a list of songs which have appeared in 1997, Ep 1-8, credits to Korean and Chinese fans (so amazed with their dedication and effort!):
If anyone happens to have a DL link, please do share! ^__^
credits: tumblr / photos as tagged / krdrama.com / HDSubs1 @ youtube