Girls’ Generation 1979 – Drama – Review

Girls' Generation 1979 - Poster

Meet the Lingerie generation of Korea

Synopsis

The story is set in Daegu, South Korea during the 1970’s. Lee Jung-Hee is in the 2nd grade of high school. She has a bright personality and is the second daughter of a family who runs an underwear factory. She and her friends go through adolescence.

Native and/or alternative titles: 란제리 소녀시대, Lingerie Girls’ Generation
Year: 2017
Countries: South Korea
Languages: Korean
Genre: Coming-of-age, Teen, Mystery, School, Romance
Director:  Hong Seok-Ku
Writer: Kim Yong-Hee (novel), Yoon Kyung-Ah
Cast: Bona, Chae Seo-jin, Seo Young-Joo, Lee Jong Hyun, Yeo Heo-Hyun, Dohee

Review

This is a short drama which has a very ‘Reply series’ feel to it but the main leads are all women. Seeing the how female-centric content is increasingly becoming common and trendy, I feel that a new wave of women empowerment is also silently gaining pace.

This drama is rather sweet and mellow. The actors were really great and the story was heart-warming. The drama focuses on a gang of girls and their adventures in a small town in South Korea. It shows romances and heartbreaks, the struggles of life, school and friendship, and most importantly the slowing changing face of Korea and the voracious youth who are in the centre of this change.

Girls' Generation 1979
The girls grooving to the latest beats (of their times)

I think the reason I liked this drama, even more, is because it had a balance to it. It wasn’t overly dramatic or too unrealistic. Along with the sweet and happy aspects of the time, this drama also showed the dark side of Korean society during those times as it was under military government and there was almost no political freedom and curfews everywhere.

The story begins with Lee Jung-hee and her gang of friends rocking along with one of the popular songs from those times. She is one of the prettiest girls in the neighbourhood but can’t bother with studies. All she cares about is going on blind group dates and having fun. Life was going great for her until Park Hye-Joo came into the picture. She is a very pretty girl from school who is an over-achiever and good in almost everything and also has a good heart and personality. She immediately becomes the teacher’s favourite until she started speaking up against the inappropriate punishments which were lashed out by the teachers on a regular basis in schools in those days. This made her a hero amongst her peers but not Jung-Hee, she felt threatened by Hye-Joo because the guy that Jung-Hee had a crush on seemed to be falling head-over-heels for Hye-Joo instead. So needless to say that Jung-Hee and Hye-Joo’s friendship had a rocky start. But, Hye-Joo had started falling over another neighbourhood ‘oppa’ (older male).

Girls' Generation 1979
Jung-Hee feeling insecure about her crush (guy giving her a piggy-back ride) falling for Hye-Joo

What I really adored Jung-Hee and Hye-Joo’s friendship is that they had a rocky start but soon because of Hye-Joo’s efforts and various circumstances they became very close but the close friendships were highlighted by the same clichéd actions like talking every day about everything or doing everything together, for them friendship was simply about being there for each other, no questions asked, and knowing that they can share or talk about anything if either one of them wants to. What I am trying to say by this is that friendships can come in many shapes and forms and do not have to follow the same type of pattern every time. I feel that today, because of the clichéd friendships that are so popularly shown, young people are compelled to be and immolate those same actions which they see on screen and then get blindsided to anything different from this set standard. So seeing Jung-Hye and Hye-Joo’s friendship was quite refreshing indeed.  I may be wrong, but this simply my take on their friendship.

Girls' Generation 1979
Hye-Joo and Jung-Hee bonding over together with a cheesy song and dance

Another interesting and touching plot was about how Jung-Hee overcame her highly conservative father who only treasured and looked after Jung-Hee’s brother and believed that women had no need to get educated but Jung-Hee changed him and his attitude a little-by-little with her diligence and hard-work. This drama really shows a lot of women empowerment and how women’s life in Korea was changing for the better in those times.

Girls' Generation 1979
The passionate lovers – Hye-Joo and Young-Choon

A third interesting depiction was the political fight going on at those times on the basis of ideology under an authoritarian military government. Especially Hye-Joo was the main protagonist aspect of the plot. Hye-Joo’s father is a famous professor at Seoul University but became the centre of a political hunt down because of his more leftist views and supporting of the leftist political leaders. Hye-Joo also had a more liberal mindset because of her father’s influence which got her embroiled in a scandalous situation as well. But she never backed down from speaking up against what was unfair. A person who helped her during her hard times was her neighbourhood ‘oppa’ – Joo Young-Choon. Her love story was briefly shown but was really sweet and touching.

Even Jung-Hee’s love triangle was quite interesting and thankfully not very dramatically shown or over-the-top. Many of the scenes were relatable and realistic. I loved her nerdy admirer Bae Dong-Moon who seemed very stalker-like at first but soon turned out to be an amazing and really cute and caring guy.

Girls' Generation 1979
Bae Dong-Moon tutoring Jung-Hee for free jus to spend more time with her

The drama is just 8 episodes and the time management is really good. The story is also amazing and covers a lot of different side-stories as well so there is never really a boring moment. All the actors are incredible for sure. Even the music is very nostalgic for people who grew up in this era or listened to music from this era in their childhood, a lot of English songs also play so even non-Korean audiences can enjoy the music and even certain references made during the drama.

This is a really exciting and refreshing drama to watch and can be enjoyed by anyone. Plus it being short is a bonus (or a con for people who yearn for more).

Girls' Generation 1979
Jung Hee’s aunt, who I feel was the most adorable and kind-hearted character in the drama
Ratings
  • Story
  • Acting/Cast
  • Music
4

Summary

This is a really exciting and refreshing drama to watch and can be enjoyed by anyone. Plus it being short is a bonus (or a con for people who yearn for more).

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Have you seen ‘Girls’ Generation 1979′? If yes, what do you think about this show? If not, does it sound interesting to you? Comment below!

About Poornima

A Korea-phile by nature~ Love everything Asian and originally from India. Fluent in Korean language and knows Chinese language as well. Has Masters in East Asian Studies (with special interest in Korean culture and politics)

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