This is the third and, in my opinion, best instalment in the Reply series that began with 1994. In Reply 1988 (tvN 2015–2016) comedy and romance are still present, but take a back seat to the character establishment. The period setting is once again excellent.
Some of the Reply set-up remains the same every time. The main character, Sung Duk-seon, is a young woman with four close male friends – one of whom (we learn from flashforwards to the present day) she will end up marrying. Her parents are played by Sung Dong-il and Lee Il-hwa and, like in the previous series, these two characters share the actors’ names. The mother, Il-hwa, always cooks too much food.
Other than that, this series is rather different. The five families all live in one alley in the Seoul neighbourhood Ssangmun-dong. It’s working class, but even this tiny sample has its hierarchy of financial stability. 18-year-old Duk-seon (played by Lee Hye-ri) and her family are the worst off, thanks to her father making a series of poor financial decisions. They live in a half-basement flat (now a familiar term outside Korea thanks to Parasite) underneath the much larger and knick-knack-filled home of her schoolmate Kim Jung-hwan (Ryu Jun-yeol) and his family.