tvN drama Reply 1988 made a record breaking feat when it achieved the highest viewership rating in Korean cable TV history. Its final episode, which aired on this day last year, recorded a very impressive 18.8 % based on nationwide viewership data from Nielsen Korea, surpassing the highest record previously held by Reply 1994 prior to its run. When it comes to Korean cable TV, dramas attaining 5 % in ratings are considered successful already, so Reply 1988 achieving a record nearly close to 20 % is not just successful. It is phenomenal.
It’s been exactly one year already since the drama ended. For the inaugural post of OTDLY, let us examine some major happenings that happened in the last 365 days concerning the drama and the five actors who portrayed the five-member gang of Ssangmun-dong.
March 2016 – Park Bo-gum, Le Hye-ri, Ryu Jun-yeol, and Lee Dong-hwi move on with new dramas
In the drama, Park Bo-gum portrayed Choi Taek, a genius Go player who is quiet most of the time and is a candidate for the female protagonist’s future husband (no spoiler here for the sake of those who have not watched it yet). He appeared in other dramas before, but Reply 1988 was the one that boosted his popularity. He’s been flooded with offers since the drama ended and eventually chosen Moonlight Drawn By Clouds as his post-Reply drama that was released in August. Moonlight turned out to be a hit for KBS and gave him the superstar status he enjoys today. In fact, he topped the recent list of 10 Most Favorite Drama Actors in 2016 conducted by Gallup Korea and forced Song Joong-ki to occupy the second place. 2016 is really a lucky year for him as it started with success (Reply), continued with more success (Moonlight), and ended with even bigger success. That’s after he won Best Actor in KBS Drama Awards on December 31, 2016.
Just a few weeks after Park Bo-gum accepted his role for Moonlight, Le Hye-ri also confirmed her next drama project Entertainer that started barely a month later on SBS. She acted as Duk-seon in Reply, the only girl in a group of five neighborhood friends who ranks dead last in her class but has a lovely personality. Her performance earned her a Best New Actress nomination for Paeksang, so it’s not surprising that like Park Bo-gum, she was offered a leading role for a project. Actually, Bo-gum also received an offer for a role in Entertainer but declined it.
As if Park Bo-gum and Lee Hye-ri are not enough, another member of the group landed a major role in a drama in March. Ryu Jun-yeol confirmed on the last week of the month his lead role for Lucky Romance, an MBC drama that premiered two months later. In Reply, he played the character of Kim Jung-hwan, the stoic, on-top-of-his-class student who is Choi Taek’s rival for Duk-seon’s heart. It’s interesting to note that he and Hye-ri got to headline their own dramas along with established actors (Ji Sung for Entertainer & Hwang Jung-eum for Lucky Romance) and it happened that their shows had to compete with each other during a four-week airing overlap. And the winner? It’s Lucky Romance based on the ratings.
Lee Dong-hwi played Ryo Dong-ryong’s character, the boy in the group who enthusiastically loves dancing but not studying. He was also offered a role for a drama in March and accepted it. It was tvN’s remake of HBO series Entourage with the same title. The drama premiered on November with much anticipation but ended on December as a flop (at least when the judgement is based on viewer ratings). Nevertheless, the actor played his character well and is very likely to come back this year with a new project, either in small or big screen. He was nominated by the way for Best New Actor in Paeksang but lost the award to Ryu Jun-yeol. He won Best Actor for Short Drama though in 2016 KBS Drama Awards for his performance in Red Teacher, a drama special that aired on September last year.
June 2016 – Reply 1988 wins at Paeksang Arts Awards; Go Kyung-pyo joins Jealousy Incarnate
The drama and its actors received 14 nominations (Best Drama, Director, Scriptwriter, Actress, New Actor, New Actress, and Most Popular Actor and Actress) for the 52nd Paeksang Arts Awards, the most prestigious awards ceremony in Korea that recognizes outstanding achievements in film and television. This event, which was held on June 3, has been dominated for years by shows from the three big networks (KBS, MBC and SBS) and cable dramas do not get recognition unless they are good enough to deserve some awards. 14 nominations is more than enough to prove that Reply 1988 is indeed a drama that deserves recognition. And winning only two of these does not diminish its status as one of the best dramas in 2015. Shin Won-ho won as the Best Director while Ryu Jun-yeol bagged the Best New Actor award.
About two months after Bo-gum, Hye-ri, Jun-yeol and Dong-hwi got their new projects, Go Kyung-pyo joined the cast of SBS drama Jealousy Incarnate as the second male lead. His role in Reply is a caring brother named Sung Sun-woo, a dependable son to his family and a top student like Jung-hwan. He didn’t get to play a leading role in Jealousy, but it’s still a good post-Reply drama for him considering that the lead actors are well-known and experienced. Jealousy Incarnate achieved considerably high ratings and promoted him as an actor that could well deserve a leading role in the future. Probably next year!
October 2016 – The drama wins big at tvN10 Awards; Reply’s 4th installment announced
tvN turned 10 years on October 9, 2016 and celebrated the event with awards ceremony honoring some of the dramas and variety shows it produced over the past decade. It is no surprise to many that Reply 1988 emerged as the biggest winner of the event in the drama categories, winning eight (8) out of the 18 awards for which it was nominated. The drama received the Grand Prize and the Best Content Award, while its actors won Special Acting Award (Sung Dong-il), Asia Star Award (Park Bo-gum), Rising Star Award (Ryu Jun-yeol and Lee Hye-ri), and Scene-Stealer Award (Kim Sung-kyun and Ra Mi-ran).
Avid Reply 1988 and Reply series fans were happy knowing that the drama received such accolades from tvN, but one thing that had really made them glad during that day could be the announcement by Shin Won-ho that he was getting ready for the fourth installment. That means fans can expect another Reply drama in late 2017 or early 2018.
Reply 1988 is unarguably one of the best dramas tvN has produced and one of the best among those that aired in 2015. A year after its season finale, it still holds the record as the most watched kdrama in Korean cable television. This feat, in result, would surely give rise to high expectation for the upcoming installment of the series. Will the new Reply season beat the Ssangmun-dong neighborhood that made Reply 1988 the nostalgic and beautiful drama that it has become? Let’s wait and find out.