To be honest, I can hardly consider Duk-sun my favourite character in 1988. Then again, as I’ve repeated many times, 1988 doesn’t juz focus on the kids, so there’s many other characters who are vying for my attention.
And unlike 1994/ 1997, the “heroine” isn’t a single child. Already she has to share her spotlight with 2 siblings. Which makes for an interesting character study. Unlike the more well-liked Na-jung/ Shi-won, some viewers (and frankly, myself included) find that Duk-sun can be rather “whiny, loud, and bratty”. If you take into context that she, as a middle child, has to share — her parents, familial resources — with 2 other kids in the house, maybe we can cut her some slack on the whinings and screamings. Unlike Na-jung/Shi-won, they don’t have siblings who have 200% right to every possession in the house. Family friends and housemates don’t even come close.
So that is why there’s no tantrum-filled scenes where Na-jung/Shi-won has to hollar at an elder/younger sib for “stealing” their possessions or shirking their household duties. We get a lot of that in 1988 though. And it’s rather close to life — for those who have annoying siblings, you will get what I mean. So yes, I close my eyes to Duk-sun and her constant whinings, because where the elder sib is usually bossy (and sometimes, aggressively so) and the younger sib is usually the pampered one (more so if he’s a boy)…the middle child really loses out. That’s why child psychologists claim that kids born in the mid of the birth order are born negotiators. They have to navigate between their siblings’ whims and at the same time, fight for their parents attention. And it is also usually true that parents tend to overlook the middle child — cos s/he is usually more accommodating.
To say Duk-sun is “bratty” though, is too harsh on that girl. And in ep9, she proves herself to be anything BUT bratty. She kinda proves the middle-child syndrome right, by revealing that beneath that oftimes airhead nature, she is very sensitive and thoughtful. She upturns our (and her family/ friends’) expectations when the heavy luggage she brings along to China contains mainly Taek’s co-ordinated clothes. And while we see her stuffing her face silly with food (a duck head?), she also queues for hot meals takeaways for Taek. Plus, she risks coming back facing Bo-ra’s wrath by stealing her electric blanket. 😛
So it’s not unsurprising that despite her many “flaws”, 2 very good looking and eligible guys fall head over heels in love with her. Below that tomboy appearance, Duk-sun definitely has those feminine qualities that make her attractive.