Reply 1997 - “At 18, Oppa-s are everything in my life” - tells the story of the first generation of crazy fans, and the rise of idol groups in the popular music scene. Sung Shi Won once said (or argued), that, “How can you say fans are shallow, you’re just bias, Bias! Our love for our idols is also a form passion! Passion!”. She spoke up for all the fan girls in the world.

Reply 1994 - “The Youths of the 8 Provinces in Seoul” - tells the story of young people from different provinces coming to Seoul, getting to know one another and understand each other’s dialect, cultures and background. I can never forget the longest ever argument Haitai and Samcheonpo got into, each blabbing in their own respective dialects, when they first met.

Reply 1988 - “My final love is my family” - tells the story of 5 families living on the same alley. It emphasises that family is still the most important no matter what happens, family is where you can call home, where you can fall back to no matter what happens. What’s more touching is, the drama shows that blood relation is not necessary to form a family. The 5 families on the Ssang Mun alley are rather like one big family. 

Reply Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 2016.

Chilbong, verb [past tense, Chilbong-ed], informal dramaland slang
1. [with obj.] Cause the ship (of a person, especially the shipper) to sink in a heartbreaking way.
2. [no obj.] Using unfair and deceitful methods to troll the viewers into believing that one’s ship sails.

Jungpal, verb [past tense Jungpal-ed], informal dramaland slang
1. [with obj] Cause the ship (of a person, especially the shipper) to sink in an especially heartbreaking way more than when one is chilbong-ed.

I always thought loneliness was a a petty feeling for people with nothing else to do. And then one day when I was 20 years old…From the day I began to leave a spot for her in my heart…The emptiness in the spot I’d left for her slowly started to ache. The fact that it was loneliness…and that I was a very lonely person…I didn’t realize it until then. I missed her because I was lonely. And I was even lonelier because I missed her. Nothing is truly over until it’s over. But if it’s an unending game, at some point, you must decide when the end is. If there are things that I should not be heartbroken over for even a millisecond then I must let go of my feelings for that person. I must…begin the journey to the end.
—  Chilbong, Reply 1994

Reply 1994 Episode 01

“Habits that you’re used to, the everyday life you’re used to, and the person you’re accustomed to, at some point becomes unfamiliar, is not only a confusing aspect. Maybe, it’s a secret signal to start a new life and a new relationship.”

The effect of Chilbongie

So whilst almost everyone is losing their crap about crazy shippers, I guess I’ll just add to it ;) haha but seriously, let me please try to enlighten some as to why I (and so many others) are loving this character. Loving him more than any drama character I’ve ever known (and trust me when I say I’ve seen a lot of dramas…a LOT…look at grades from Yr11 Maths as evidence if you want *shudder*).

When viewers watch a drama, there are usually heaps of scenes where they are exposed to bits and pieces the production team want them to realise and which aren’t (frustratingly) apparent to other characters (Na Jung, I’m looking at you). We see what she doesn’t see or what she’s not meant to see. We see the care. Not only the obvious running to the countryside, boarding a long bus ride only to catch a glimpse and then run back to Seoul in the early morning. We see his smile that appears as he makes that decision to do so. We see that the first thing on his mind is the one who he likes, the one who he’s hopelessly fallen for. We see the smile that comes as he realises that he can join his friends, that they are the first people that come to his mind when he’s given time off and we have that part of us that yearns for that attention. To be somebody’s first. To be the reason they call us, to be the reason they surprise us, to be the reason they ride a bus for a total of 12 hours for us. 

The effort. The effort he puts in. Things don’t come easily to him and it’s the hard work that wins. We find out from his catcher-friend-wife after he sustains an injury that baseball didn’t come easily to him. That he only got to the level he is at through sheer hard work and perseverance. Some may have god-given natural talent and whilst that is easy to be in awe of; hard work and pure sweat and tears, that’s the stuff that gets you. It’s the effort. The work. In basically everything he does. Na Jung and baseball; his two loves, the success of the latter came from hard work and we are yet to see what happens of the former (let’s be honest, you know what I want to happen). Regardless of what does happen though, we are so exposed to his effort, particularly with his feelings for Na Jung. We see the following of a cute little puppy, hanging on to the every word of our heroine, we see the smiles and the laughter of being around her and we see the intense scenes with Trash Oppa and most of all, we see his relentless assurances of not giving up. Things don’t come easily to Chilbongie, he works for it and we know from baseball, that if he can work hard enough at it, he’ll get it. He came late into the game but that doesn’t rule him out as a winning player, does it? (that was a rhetorical question, please don’t answer it in the negative or my mind may possibly explode). 

His family. Although he’s started to open up to his mother at that pay-phone (which by the way was one of the cutest moments I’ve ever seen before the dad starting peeing near the telephone booth), he’s found a real and tangible family in the boarding house. He’s found a mother who cooks and cooks and cooks for him and everyone else and probably entire continents at a time. He’s found a father who watches every match and gloats about him and his interviews. He’s found siblings in his friends who he can joke around with and make fun of (Samchunpo) and others who’ll curse at him (Yoon Jin). He’s found a girl who can see past his celebrity baseball-er status and who’s not afraid to swear and yell and laugh and kill every little cell in his body. His distant familial background is a part that so many viewers can relate to and understand. In becoming a part of that house and that family, he can feel love and give back love as well as mending his own. 

His love. It’s one-sided. That wretched jjak-sarang (짝사랑). He knows he has a one-sided love. Na Jung knows that. As Binggeure reminds Chilbongie, the entire boarding house knows that. We know that. Yet he doesn’t pressure her. He gives her time. He doesn’t push himself on to her. Whoever said that people don’t fall for nice guys totally didn’t meet Chilbongie, clearly. It’s that bravery in being able to confess your feelings whilst not force them on to the other. It’s the bravery that’s absent in so many other dramas. He’s not watching her from the shadows, he’s a part of her life, a friend now, maybe something more later. He likes her and he actually does something about it. What’s the best though, is the the respect he has for her own feelings, he knows he’s going through all this but he knows not to expect her to feel the same way. He knows she likes Trash Oppa and he knows that Trash Oppa likes Na Jung too, but he’ll wait and see what comes of it. He likes her too much to give up on her just yet, but at the same time is caring enough to allow her to work out her feelings for him.  

If I were to actually list out all the reasons I absolutely adore this character, this post would continue on and on and on and I’d probably not ever leave my laptop okay fine, I never do leave my laptop. The fact that he wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s brave and not afraid of telling Na Jung how he feels but at the same time he’s vulnerable. Each time she looks at Trash Oppa and each time he pulls himself up and walks away. It’s that subtle rejection that he knows he should be used to but still gets to him each time. His pettiness and hilarious ignorance are executed in such a way that you feel you could never hate him and just add that comedic touch to his character which is highly necessary after the countless frustrating and tear-jerking moments

His smile and cuteness are just massive added bonuses. Props to Yoo Yeon Seok on his face and body (I’ll stop there with that point before I turn into a massive pervert what do I mean turn into). 

Although some people think that there’s not much to his character other than baseball and Na Jung, if you’ve read all that (which is only scraping the surface), there is so much more. It is for that and so much more that you can’t help but fall in love with Chilbongie and the character he portrays.

(I’m gonna stop now before you all realise that I have nothing better to do than crazily analyse this beautiful man and write a crapload of incoherent mess). Once again, slow claps to anyone who reads this. Seriously, very slow claps. *clap….clap….clap*

*Here’s a bonus laughing Chilbongie if you happened to read all of that, if you didn’t, enjoy the cutie Chilbongie nonetheless because we all deserve someone who cares about us, who puts us first and who smiles and looks like a freaking God to us ^.^