Park Bo-gum in Reply 1988
While Park Bo-gum's fans had that euphoric feeling of watching him as a Crown Prince, I was curious about his pass projects. I wanted to know which previous drama, landed him to be the perfect fit for his first lead role in the acclaimed Korean drama, Love in the Moonlight. Upon watching him as Lee Yeong, I discovered that he has the most amazing emphasis on emotions with his eye, head and mouth movements and I've never seen this kind of emphasis on acting before. How do you convey emotions through gestures without uttering a single word? That is how amazingly flabbergasted I was with Park Bo-gum. It is no surprise at all that he won Asia Star & Best Star at the Asia Artist Awards in 2016 for his role in Love in the Moonlight. He also received recognition for the same drama, alongside Kim Yoo-jung as Best Couple and Best Kiss during the 30th KBS Drama Awards of the same year.
I looked into a search engine as a simple act of research and mostly got sidetracked on one Korean Drama he starred in, called Reply 1988. This was his project before Love in the Moonlight, clearly proving that it was the biggest factor for getting his first lead role. He gained a lot of recognition on the said drama. He won Best Rising Star & Best Kiss during the 4th Annual DramaFever Awards. He was also named as Best New Actor at the 5th APAN Star Awards. Lastly, he won Asia Star at the tvN Awards. All of these achievements happened in a span of one year. Thus, he has been named as the youngest artist to win Actor of the Year by Gallup in 2016 and became the first actor topping the Korea Power Celebrity list by Forbes Magazine.
I watched all 20 episodes of Reply 1988 in 3 days. It was simply addictive because it was like the innocent and drama version of Friends, an American television sitcom. From the title itself, it was all about the year 1988. The story revolves around five friends who live in one neighborhood. This drama was such a good example of the importance of close-family ties where despite the love interests and romantic moments, it always involves the family and how important it is to every teenager's life. Each family is connected through common struggles in life but at the same time, the story also shows the different problems they have and their approach to the issues that they encounter. It is very realistic and a lot of people can relate to the different family and situations that all 5 lead characters have: Sung Duk-seon (Lee Hye-ri) has a very playful and strong personality. She is a middle child who doesn't like to study and hates being compared to his older sister; Go Kyung-pyo plays as Sung Sun-woo. He is caring and the most responsible son to his mother and little sister; Ryu Jun-yeol plays as Kim Jung-hwan, the sarcastic and whiny but loving friend who later on develops a feeling towards Duk-seon; Lee Dong-hwi is Ryu Dong-ryong's character. He is the funniest of the group and he loves singing and dancing.
Park Bo-gum plays Choi Taek, who has the logic of a complete genius and is very passionate & competitive about Baduk. What's interesting about his character is how everyone thinks of him as a God, always winning in Baduk competitions. The media's eyes are on him and he's very famous that he gets a lot of respect and recognition from inside and outside his country though in the real world, he's a slow, kind-hearted, innocent neighbor to his 4 childhood friends. While he is such a genius in playing Baduk or any game that needs logic, he cannot perform simple tasks like tying his shoe-laces properly, buttoning his shirt or opening the lid of a yogurt. Anyone who loves Park Bo-gum would die to see the irony of his character in Reply 1988 and of course, his love tandem with Lee Hye-ri who plays Sung Duk-seon and the only girl among 5 good friends.
From episode to episode, Bo-gum's exposure to the story increases. He is hardly seen during the first 2 or 3 episodes but as he grows fond of his friend Duk-seon and a love triangle is developed between Choi Taek, Duk-seon and Jung-hwan, the story gets suddenly more centered on Bo-gum's character as Choi Taek ----- his Baduk (Go) international competitions, his lack of awareness on the real life, his relationship with his father and his hidden love for Duk-seon whom at first, only sees him as someone that the group should always protect due to his being such a naive young lad. His character escalates as Duk-seon notices Choi Taek's unlikely ability to carry her and run when they were caught trespassing a big field. For someone known his entire life as a weakling, Duk-seon gets completely astonished resulting to a certain attraction that she has never felt for Choi Taek before.
While the story is about five friends, it was Park Bo-gum and Lee Hye-ri's characters that gave much anticipation to watch all episodes until the end. Overall, Reply 1988 was a stepping stone to Park Bo-gum's lead role in Love in the Moonlight because of his unlikely character as a silent genius. His acting was perfectly stunning and I was very much in awe during the last 3 episodes. All 5 main characters including the rest of the cast gave this Korean drama such a funny story with light drama and overflowing with knowledge about life, its hardship and how to learn from it.
Reply 1988 (Korean Drama by PMP Entertainment, English Sub)
Reply 1988 is the third installment on the South Korean anthology series. This Korean Drama stars Lee Hye-ri, Park Bo-gum, Go Kyung-pyo, Ryu Jun-yeol and Lee Dong-hwi. The story revolves around five good friends and their families living in the same neighborhood.