[DISCLAIMER] If you have not watched the series and have avoided all news about the ending thus far and would like to keep it that way, don’t read any further!
Many people are familiar with the netizen outcry after the end of TVN’s third installment of the Reply series, Reply 1988. In this series, you follow the lives of the residents of a small neighborhood while also trying to figure out who ends up being the husband of Sung Duk Seon, played by Girls Day’s Hyeri. If you haven’t watched the show or haven’t kept up with the big news in the South Korean entertainment world, then here’s the quickest recap you’ll find online: Most Reply 1988 fans were rooting for the Duk Seon and Jung Hwan, played by Ryu Jun Yeol, couple but were ultimately given another couple. Netizens raged. The end.
But is the couple we were given that far fetched? I don’t think so.
Jung Hwan was the fan favorite, and it’s easy to see why. He’s always seen doing small, nice things for Duk Seon, he’s handsome, and he’s given a hefty amount of screen time. In fact, one of the major plot lines in the show is the development of his feelings for her and how he deals with it personally (and silently). I’d say that this may have been the focus of the entire series, and not the OTP we were given at the end of the show- that of Duk Seon and Taek, played by Park Bo Gum.
While Taek’s story was minor for the majority of the show, we learn early on that he harbored feelings for Duk Seon. If there were any reason for the writers to give us this piece of information, it’s to keep our minds open to the thought of him becoming a threat to the biggest contender, Jung Hwan. And why wouldn’t he be a threat? Taek is arguably the character that is the most in tune with his feelings. In addition to that, he’s kind, smart, rich (not that this particularly matters), and gentle. He does have his flaws, such as smoking and abusing medication, but those flaws add to the realness of the character. Although he does spend his own time hesitating to commit to the chase like Jung Hwan, he does so only for the sake of friendship.
Jung Hwan’s biggest mistake and the overwhelming lesson that’s taught to the viewers is that you can’t hesitate when it comes to love, which he did for the whole series. There were plenty of times when he could have confessed to Duk Seon or shown his interest, but he spent most of his time being hot-and-cold, or tsundere, if you will. This is confusing for a person as simple as Duk Seon. Things need to be spelled out for her, so the small, yet charming, gestures flew right over her head. This caused her romantic interest in him to diminish almost as quickly as it manifested. His window of opportunity was small, really, because she starts dating after graduation. She simply moves on like the positive person she is shown to be. Also, another quick thought: That scene where he confesses his feelings and gives her his graduation ring, only to pretend that it’s a joke after the confession was the worst move that he could have made.
And as this is a television show, you have to think of the off-screen happenings in the time between Duk Seon and everyone else in this show’s alternate universe. What kind of dating experiences did she have? Who did she keep in contact with the most after graduation? Did Taek and Duk Seon spend any significant time conversing in the time between graduation and 1994, when the two begin their romance? Those are the things that we have to piece together ourselves, but you don’t have to spend too much time imagining when you have a grasp on the type of person that our female lead is- an energetic and sweet girl that has a soft spot for those in need. Throughout Reply 1988, Duk Seon does things for others and cares for those around her selflessly. She seems to enjoy having this role, and that’s seen the most when she’s caring for Taek. The two have personalities that really compliment each other, as he is in need of that pillar of support and she needs someone that is simple- someone that needs her and shows it.
After it’s all said and done, I personally found the ending to be rather realistic. I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in timing. Taek just had the right timing, and Jung Hwan kept himself on the sidelines for too long due to fear. Does that mean that Taek and Duk Seon are the ultimate couple that could have come from the show? No, I think that Jung Hwan and Duk Seon could have been a remarkable couple, but that isn’t the point. In the real world, storybook romances are few and far between. Taek and Duk Seon was the practical romance, and I’m happy for those fictional characters.
The best comment so far. I wanted Jung Hwan to confess his feelings…why isn’t he confessing??? Even after Sun Woo as a threat was removed?!…but he said it himself. Taek wanted her more than he (JH) did…Taek had never hesitated when it came to Duk-Seon. He hesitated once, and that was because of Jung Hwan. And still, Jung Hwan like a fool left her for 5 years. I was so mad. Jung Hwan and Taek both loved Duk-Seon (my choice was Jung Hwan) but Taek deserved her.
this is so true!!!
i fully agree with this. i’m deeply rooted for Junghwan and yes i feel that he keep his feeling for way too long. not to mention that he’s given so many chances to confess but he still doing nothing. and that’s way this is sooooo realistic. i felt heartbroken in the episode which Junghwan admit (to the viewers) that his choices and moves towards Duksoen is a misstep and give us a lesson that we shouldn’t be hesitated when it comes to love.
I totally agree. At first I was rooting for Jung Hwan, but as time goes by, I felt he was pathetic. He had so many opportunities to confess but continuously disregards it. If he had the courage to confess earlier, he might have had her. I think though Taek and Dukseon are best suited. From the first part of the show, we can see that Dukseon shoes special care for Taek than the rest of the gang. With her small gestures (like giving him food, assisting him) You can see that she care for him but she did not realize it until later.
Hope they would have another Reply series. And I hope it would be like this one, unpredictable ending.
I am like Jung Hwan in real life. Someone I loved slipped away because I hesitated too much. Due to my hesitations, our friends cannot understand why I act distant towards my love. They just know now why I distanced myself when it was already too late because the person I love is dating someone else now. I hesitated too much, I stayed as a friend fearing my feelings will not be reciprocated if I show it and it will be awkward between us.
I really like what Jung Hwan said about fate, timing, and hesitations when it comes to love.
Im heartbroken in first interview how husband taek know that sun woo rejected daek sun i thought he was jung hwan
I hope you overcame this now and spend happy life now with your partner. I’ve just finished this drama and reading reviews of others. So outdated.
The ending was okay. I mean we just all have to accept it that way. And I agree that Jung Hwan had so many chance to confess to Duk Seon. But if the ending would have been the other way around (like what I have read to other post that Jung Hwan died) it would have been very tragic. That would crash our hearts to pieces. Also, when Taek visited Jung Hwan at Sacheon, I think that was a way of letting go of Dukseon from Jung Hwan which gave Taek to pursue Dukseon already. Thank you Reply 1988.
I agree with the analysis for the ending. Real life happens like this and I appreciate that this series portrays that. Happily ever after does not always mean just one choice although plot twists gives more emotional response and comments.
Well! I wanted Jung Hwan for Dukseon untill I read your article. It completely changed my mind and I agree to it. Endings should be more realistic so that people do not live in their fantasies.
Love from Pakistan <3
I really love their squad goals and i really can’t move on until now,, this show is really execellent and it make me feel so happy to have good memories with my friends
Love from U.S.A:]>