Since last week‘s post is about mothers and other halves, this week shall be on fathers and platonic other (many) halves. While the mothers in 1988 have more or less similar parenting style for their kids, the daddies display a myriad of behaviours, from acting as strict disciplinarians, to having to play Mummy.
The most exemplary would be Taek’s father (Papa Ko), with ep7 almost entirely devoted to this silent, reticent ahjusshi, who is so easily forgettable. He isn’t loud and funny like Papa Sung or Papa Kim, and even when the trio meet for drinks, he seldom have much to say. (plus he juz sits in a corner and falls asleep at their neighbourhood committee meetings) However, like the clocks he sell and repair, he is the one who regularly heralds the opening of every 1988‘s ep with his trademark sweeping of the neighbourhood’s streets at dawn.
We finally focus on this “background figure” in ep7 and find out how self-sacrificing he is. He wakes up as early as the housewives to prepare breakfast for his son, and then goes out to sweep the streets before leaving to tend to his shop. Unlike Mama Kim (the other single parent household), he doesn’t have a son who is “handy” around the house. Sun-woo in many ways, has shouldered the burden of being the “father”, giving his mum some breathing space. In contrast, Taec…is so dependent. Other than being a baduk genius, there’s hardly anything he can (or knows) how to do. (he even has trouble buttoning his shirt on right…)
Interestingly, even though he takes on the “traditionally feminine role”, he doesn’t nag like a mom. And what’s more, despite everyone knowing he’s a Super Daddy, Papa Ko still feels inadequate and thinks he isn’t on par with the other mothers. Thankfully, his doubts are put to rest when his juz as reticent son shows him a little bit of appreciation on his birthday.
It’s small little gestures that set 1988 apart from other Reply series. Previously, Reply‘s narratives have dwelt on the ups and downs of the OTP’s relationship(s). In 1988, it’s on how a community come together as friends to help (and back) each other up. The neighbourhood committee meetings are funny (for their triviality) but also very heart warming. Unlike today, where most “committee meetings” are platforms for neighbours to bitch about one another or air their grievances, the committee’s pressing agenda in 1988 is what Christmas presents to give their kids…and how to make a little girl happy with a snow (ice) man.
And it’s not even a passing remark — the adults really deliver on their promise, going as far as carting ice to the street and working late to sculpt that iceman, only to have them rushing out in panic next morning when the sculpture melts overnight. The same behaviour is displayed when Duk-sun gets in trouble with No-eul’s “girlfriend”. Juz a casual remark from Papa Sung to Papa Yoo had the latter rushing down in his capacity as Discipline Master (with a fake prosecutor) to come to Duk-sun’s aid. Never mind that she was the one who started the fight in the first place.
Like our young 5-some who hang out with each other, the adults also have friends too. The ahjummas have the own clique, as do the ahjusshis. And like the youngsters, they also gather to shoot breeze, snack, and cos they are above the age limit, drink. It’s a powerful reminder really, that parents are humans too. And that they have a life beyond that of being a parent.