Korea seems to have caught the “Re-4 disease” as cable channel tvN’s Friday-Saturday drama “Reply 1994” recorded its highest rating of 7.3% since it started airing four weeks ago.
The seventh episode, “That Summer,” was aired on November 7 and was warmly received, earning itself a 6.2% rating. The peak viewership reached 7.3% and was number one in cable, satellite and IPTV viewership during the same period.
The show seems to be bent on breaking its own records, with the sixth episode garnering an average rating of 5.8% (peak 6.9%). It is predicted that “Reply 1994” will break its predecessor “Reply 1997”’s record average viewership of 7.6% and peak viewership of 9.5%. Viewership is evenly spread amongst all genders and age groups, ranging from 10s-50s. Combined with its number one ranking in its time slot, it just might qualify as the next “national drama.” Females in their 30s recorded the highest rating spike of 8.8%. (Episode 8 attained an average rating of 7.1% and peak viewership of 8.6%.)
Amongst viewers in their 20s-50s, tvN’s main target audience, “Reply 1994” was first in its time slot across all platforms (average 4.3%, peak 5.2%), showing that it had content strong enough to compete with terrestrial broadcasters. The drama’s popularity put the eight episode (November 8) in third place in daily ratings amongst females and males in their 10s-20s, beating out MBC and KBS1.
The seventh episode, “That Summer,” depicted how the youths in the drama spent the hot summer of July, 1994. This episode focused on our main triangle: Chil Bong (Yoo Yeon Suk) revealed his feelings for Na Jung (Go Ara) bit by bit, while Na Jung began to look at Chil Bong in a new light and Garbage (Jung Woo) started to show how he felt for Na Jung. Chil Bong managed to hit a can off the top of a distant fire hydrant, winning a bet which ended in Na Jung attending the university’s baseball finals to support him. Their baseball date was sweet and romantic, even without a single word being exchanged between the two.
Garbage and Na Jung played matchmakers, setting up a group date between Garbage’s army buddies, on leave from the army, and Na Jung’s friends. After the awkward group date between three pretty Seoul girls and three rich Masan boys ended, the girls and one of the boys expressed their interests in the matchmakers. Na Jung told her friends, “He has a girlfriend. They’re living together,” while Garbage gave an evasive answer to the senior who pestered him for Na Jung’s pager number, “She has a boyfriend,” giving a hint that he felt something more than sibling love for Na Jung.
This episode provided a new hint to the identity of Na Jung’s husband (Kim Jae Joon), a mystery which will probably span the course of the whole drama. Binggrae is a “Kim,” and so is his cousin Chil Bong. Of course, Chil Bong turned out to be “Kim ___ Joon,” his name inscribed on the back of his baseball uniform.
We also saw cameos from Nine Muses’ Kyung Ri, Min Ha and Euaerin playing the chic Seoulites at the group date, and actress Lee Mi So as Chil Bong’s team manager.
“Reply 1994” sees the “Reply 1997” production team collaborating once again, and depicts the eventful lives of the university students, most of whom have come from other provinces, boarding at Sinchon Guesthouse in Seoul. Focusing mainly on the campus lives of the freshmen of 1994, basketball fever, Seo Taiji and the Boys, the drama makes use of social issues, props, fashion and music of the times to stimulate memories of the culture back then. With the question of Na Jung’s husband as an ongoing mystery, the drama will see more character development and explore the interesting relationships that people share. If it keeps being interesting and well-received by people of all ages, it just might be able to seal the title of being a “national drama.”