Answer Me 1988 Episode 19 & 20 Recap: Neighborhood of Love
This week was jam-packed with new developments and reveals as we said goodbye to our neighbors in Ssangmun-dong. We witnessed one expected wedding, and one surprise wedding, professions of romantic and family love, and enough sentimental story to leave us all crying. They were a neighborhood-and a family- filled with love. That love was answered with thankfulness by children ready to make thoughtful gestures, recognize their parents’ sacrifices, and even offer a little pick-me up when they were down. And oh yeah, we discovered who the husband was too! Join Wendilynn, Tiara, and me, Kate, as we discuss the emotional conclusion of Answer Me 1988.
Watch the finale:
Wendilynn: Emotional was right. I cried during the last ¼ of the final episode. First though, I want to address Jung Hwan. I really expected him to be the husband. I didn’t realize that with his covered confession that it allowed him to finally let go and move on. And I loved that Taek made sure to clear things with him before he seriously pursued Deok Sun.
Kate: I guessed Taek, but only felt confident enough to do so last week. I was so happy with much of these episodes, that I guess I can get my more critical opinions out of the way first, and Jung Hwan’s storyline is where I was the most disappointed. Yes, he got some lovely moments in episode 19 (more on that later), but other than stepping aside for Taek, he basically had no future. Even Jung Bong got a bride and a career as a chef. How hard would it have been to throw in a line or two, or a scene about his happy career and marriage? How their kids are friends or something?
Tiara: I’m still bitter over the drama’s choice on how he confessed his feelings. There is nothing which can help me get over how the drama treated Jung Hwan towards the end. It’s more than heartbreaking, it angers me with how much attention and focus we gave to him and his one-sided crush from the bus saves to when Deok Sun asked if she should go on a blind date. I’m glad Deok Sun finally understood her heart and mind, but why don’t we know his HEA?
Wendilynn: They didn’t give Dong Ryong’s future either. Although we can guess. I would imagine Jung Hwan was a career flight officer. But I agree, they jipped that gentle heart on a happy ending for himself. Although, I loved it when he came to his mom’s rescue and referred to himself as the “second daughter”. It really showed what a loving, kind person he was.
Kate: While I usually enjoy his mom, I really wanted to shake her a little when she said that she really needed a daughter to help her during menopause. She has these two lovely, sensitive sons who do so much for her. While Jung Bong is a little oblivious about some things, he was taking care of about half the household chores and then calling on Jung Hwan for reinforcements, and Jung Hwan showed so many times he was usually so empathetic and trying to help other people feel better- his mom, his brother, Deok Sun, Taek. What a sweet gesture he pulled off for his mom on her birthday!
Tiara: The best birthday present you could ask for. Jung Hwan is and will always been a romantic. How can you not want this boy to have all his hopes and dreams come true when he cares for his family with this special attention.
Wendilynn: I loved their surprise wedding. I just really loved these couples. Her husband was also kind to his wife’s suffering. When he took her on that walk to help her feel better and release her worries, I just couldn’t help but wish I could find a guy who would be there for me like that. None of these marriages were perfect, but they sure did come close in how much these husbands and wives loved each other even with the daily frustrations they dealt with.
Kate: I think my favorite moment in the whole week was when Deok Sun was taking care of Mom during her tough menopausal period. First she took her out to lunch, then she painted her nails- and then Dad’s, after he complained that no one pampered him like that. I must have laughed for a whole minute. I needed those laughs, though, since I was so busy crying at all the touching moments. I smiled more at the surprise wedding, but when the Sung kids gave Dad the custom plaque, I seriously lost it. Dad really felt a bit undervalued by his forced retirement and his mass retirement party, but like he said to Deok Sun last week, it was really all for his family. And they appreciated him for it, and made him feel better about his new blossoming in life.
Tiara: I love when Deok Sun painted her Dad’s nails. The reason why he will always be the number one dad in dramaland. Between the birthday wedding and the plaque, I couldn’t stop the tears falling. The amount of love these kids have for their parents make me want to be better towards my own.
Wendilynn: Oh my gosh. Between the plaque and the daddy/daughter love letters, I was missing my own father so badly. He’s been gone for ten years now and I found myself bawling like a baby. And you know, we would not have lost it so badly if we didn’t believe that this was a loving family who deeply cared for each other. The love in this show between these characters was so amazing.
Kate: I was a touch disappointed we didn’t get to see Deok Sun’s wedding too at first, but really, that wedding wasn’t necessary. Bo Ra and Dad needed the wedding to open up to one another more fully. Deok Seon and Dad already had a pretty communicative, appreciative relationship.
Tiara: I was pretty happy to see Bo Ra and Dad be able to share their love for each other. It was a touching and sweet moment. I was never impressed with Bo Ra at the beginning of the drama and became a character I grew to enjoy. She reminds me like an onion. You have to peel back the layers to really get to know her.
Wendilynn: I also agree that Deok Sun’s wedding was unnecessary. We started this drama not really liking Bo Ra at all, and she totally turned around. I LOVED her dress. I don’t know if they went for a period dress or not, but that dress would work today. That dress was gorgeous and she was lovely in it. So often these K-brides are not in dresses that fit their bodies well, but whoever picked this dress out totally nailed it. (15 yrs in the wedding business talking here)
Kate: I agree completely, that dress was completely gorgeous, and so was her hair. I was surprised dad didn’t cry at the wedding! Maybe I can count my prediction right on a technicality. He cried afterwards. There were so many emotional moments just at the wedding. When Bo Ra noticed the tissues in Dad’s too big shoes she burst into tears, and it reminded me of her buying him the too-small dress shirt with her first paycheck. Those moments often reinforced how the two of them were just a little out of step with one another. It was funny that 2015 Bo Ra wanted to buy him shoes for his birthday. I hope she now has the right size down now!
Tiara: I loved Deok Sun making sure both Bo Ra and Dad were taken care of before they walked down the aisle. I’m glad to see the sisters holding hands during the picture scene. These sisters have been through a lot over the years.
Wendilynn: Were you surprised by the last name issue? I knew they frowned on double weddings between a family, but I had no idea that they had a legal ban against marrying someone with the same last name.
Kate: I knew you couldn’t marry in your clan, but didn’t realize that the last name would be the big barrier of the romance. Lucky for them, the government grants amnesty about once a decade and Bo Ra and Sun Woo only had to wait a year to get that amnesty. I looked up some information on it, and I found that about 55% percent of South Koreans have one of the same six last names, though as our characters said, Sung is a little less common and not one of those six. Most everyone seemed all right about it fairly quickly despite it. I was surprised at how hard mom took it at first. I was less surprised though, and pretty amused, that the whole neighborhood didn’t believe Taek’s scandal. Not one of the parents believed they were dating.
Tiara: One of the things I love about K-Dramas is going down rabbit holes. I probably spent and hour looking at the Article 809 of the Korean Civil Code. It was interesting to find out why the moms were so against the relationship. I just don’t understand how none of the parents could believe Taek and Deok Sun dating. I thought everyone knew Taek liked her. I mean his Dad wanted Deok Sun to take Taek to China for his match because he knew how his son felt. The double in-laws may seem a little weird, but Sun Woo and Taek aren’t related by blood. The only relation they have is their parents remarrying.
Wendilynn: Not when they used to take baths together as kids. lol I laughed at that comment. I was sort of impressed that Taek was willing to wait to tell everyone. I was sure he was going to refuse. HOWEVER… I loved loved loved that hotel kiss. I was not expecting it. Since I was still on team Jung Hwan, I thought that was the moment they were going to part, and then bam, Taek moves to claim her…. that kiss was amazing.
Kate: I kept thinking- is it going to happen? First they got their dinner alone hijacked, then he proposed to sleep on the couch, then he was hurt by her telling him they really did kiss in ‘89 because she had denied it earlier, then she seemed to be so strongly sticking to how they needed to stay friends. I thought it might never happen, and was wondering when Jung Hwan was going to run into them in Beijing so he could kiss her, I was that ready to give up. Thank goodness there was a happy ending! They’ve been so in tune with one another in so many ways throughout the series, I didn’t even feel cheated we saw so little of them dating and romancing post-kiss.
Tiara: I admit I was kinda pulled out of the last two episodes after seeing Jung Hwan step back with his missed chances. I almost went looking to drink away my sorrows before finishing the episode. I wonder if she was rejecting Taek not just because of the friendship, but I was secretly hoping she was waiting for Jung Hwan. Of course, this wasn’t the case. Despite my hurt feelings, I can’t blame Taek for going after love and calling BS on Deok Sun. Those two have always been adorable and in a romantic relationship are still one.
Wendilynn: Not with all the deliciousness we were getting out of the adult couples and then Sun Woo and Bo Ra. Their kiss was pretty good too. I was even moved by Jung Bong and Mi Ok. I laughed when they finally showed her dad. I love that actor and I get a kick when he shows up. Jung Bong was so great when he was finally introduced to him.
Kate: It was a nice touch that Sun Woo brought his umbrella of romance back to shield Bo Ra again, now that they were happily back together. It also was a nice touch that in an episode when the kids were acknowledging their parents and what they did for them, Mi Ok finally, proudly, introduced Jung Bong to her self-made dad. Of course Jung Bong wasn’t disappointed that dad wasn’t old money or aristocratic, and they both had the same taste in snacks, too.
Tiara: Mi Ok’s dad was refreshing. No dramaland trope for dear old dad. In ways, I wish to see more with Mi Ok and her dad. There was something charming about her teddy bear of a dad.
Wendilynn: Well, remember, we all thought he was a gangster. lol
Kate: Nope, totally a teddy bear. But he was probably pretty strict about dating, seeing that she waited until she was about 24 and was still lying about being on a date before asking permission to go on dates. I know some of this is Korean culture, where it isn’t all that acceptable to date in high school (and was much less so in the 80s), but Mi Ok must have really taken it to heart.
Wendilynn: I have to say that I know there’s been some discussion about whether Taek was always meant to be the husband from the beginning. I just want to put it out there that he was always meant to be the husband. He was the only character we ever saw smoking, for one. But after watching episode 20 and seeing that bit about the torn diary page and comparing that to the interview section at the end of Ep. 2, I’m convinced he was always going to be the husband. The adult actor even had the same irritated jealous look on his face that Park Bo Gum did when he hit Sun Woo in the back for once being Deok Sun’s crush. lol
Tiara: I’m just going to say Jung Hwan was a bait-n-switch.
Kate: I have to ask, what did the both of you think about the very end of the ending? I’m a little torn about that. I liked so many parts of these two episodes, I even thought that the show could have ended with episode 19 there were so many good final moments in that one. I felt the very end had some good moments individually, but layered on top of one another it was just a little bit too much for me. The moving away of each family. Pictures of Deok Sun and Taek as small children. The empty houses. Taek’s room magically filled with the kids again from 1988. One or two of these choices could have worked, but I felt it was just a little too much.
Wendilynn: I’m the same age as these characters and that ending hit the right note for me. As we age and our kids grow up, we do look back on our childhood. Do we want to go back? Relive special memories or will seeing the reality of those special places now ruin it? I admit to bursting into tears when she walked into Taek’s old room and saw those four boys as she remembered them. The nostalgia was so strong for me and I identified with the feelings she was expressing there at the end. So it was just right for me.
Tiara: Answer Me 1988 was great at telling the story of love between family, neighbors, and friends. The drama spent so much time keeping the mystery, it missed out on much of the character’s inner turmoil. I was with Jung Hwan during his journey of youth. I laugh, cried, and I was evening angry on his behalf. Yet, he wasn’t Deok Sun describing her trip down memory lane. She was the character in present day and yet we spend very little inside her head or felt the joys of youth through her. Unlike the other Answer Me’s, we got a nice spin off to the characters. The group of friends are still together sharing the good and the bad times. 1988 showed the neighborhood being a thing of the past. Does moving away mean friendship is lost? Is the time these friends shared a thing of their youth? The theme of the Answer Me series was friendship is forever, but it seems not to be look this way in 1988. Sadly, the drama failed to deliver the closure I was anticipating. I still enjoyed the adventure and the heartbreak, but it’s a journey I won’t be returning to anytime soon.
Kate: I think one of the strangest parts of getting older has been to see parents get older too. I remember a couple years ago realizing suddenly that my dad’s hair was all grey (it was salt and pepper for a long time). Looking through old photos at a family funeral a couple of weeks ago, Deok Sun’s statement about her parents’ lost youth really resonated with me. My parents had been so young in those photos. I connected with the sentiment present-day Deok Sun expressed about the only thing she missed about her youth being the youth of her parente. She missed that in 1988 when her parents were young and like mountains. I think a lot of us see our parents that way, and seeing that disappearing can be sadder and more surprising than growing older yourself.
What did you think of the ending? Grumbling because you're team Jung Hwan? Happy because you're team Taek? What was your favorite part this week? Let us know in the comments.