Reminder: pls make sure you stash up enough kmovies/kdramas for coming weekend + holidays, cos 1988 will only return next week. (sobz)
Our love triangle (? – if there was even one) buzzes up a wee bit in eps15/16, as both boys realise that they like the same girl. More can be said about the girl in question though — she doesn’t really seem to like any one of them enough. However, there’s another pair of rivals at play here, both of them have been fighting since ep1. In ep15 though, we see that the perceived stronger one isn’t really blind to her flaw.
1. Sibling rivalry
Yes, I’m referring to Duk-sun and Bo-ra. Unless you are blind or deaf, you probably can’t miss the 2 sisters and their perpetual squabbling and hair pulling. No-eul, being a boy and therefore not likely to require the exact same resources from their parents, is probably spared Bo-ra’s wrath most time. In addition, as the youngest, he’s the “baby” of the family, which automatically places him as the one whom everyone adores.
So it’s not surprising that Bo-ra and Duk-sun, being the same sex siblings in the family, will end up as unconscious competitors. We have thus far seen Bo-ra victorious in all the disputes — be they physical, or resource-based (more money, better clothes, better food). In addition, she is intelligent and independent, so her parents naturally lean on her as the “third adult” in the family and give her more space.
However, in ep15, we learn from Bo-ra that while she may appreciate having these perks from her parents, she is envious of Duk-sun’s ability to “make her parents happy”. Imo, that’s the paradox of being a firstborn. While you know your parents bestow special privileges on you — maybe as simple as allowing you to stay out later than your younger sibs — you can’t help but feel a little jealous when they nag your younger sibs more about staying out late, seemingly to “care” more about their wellbeing than yours. (of cos this is nonsense, but as a firstborn myself, i can vouch that it does happen…emotions and logic don’t necessarily walk together most times)
Probably that’s the case with Bo-ra. While she may have no issues getting her own way at home, she also admires how Duk-sun can easily wheedle her way into her parents’ hearts and make them chuckle. In contrast, because her parents see Bo-ra almost like an equal (aka an adult) in the household, they don’t joke around with her or baby her. Instead, they offload on her. She ends up having to help shoulder all the adults’ problems — like when Papa Sung tells her how scared he is over their mum’s health checkup. And sometimes, it’s quite sad. Cos Bo-ra isn’t really that MUCH older than Duk-sun. That’s why she abruptly stands up and leaves when Papa Sung seems ready to let her shoulder more “adult worries” in ep14 after revealing about Mama Lee’s cancer scare.
2. Bromance vs. Romance
I’d say the love triangle is dancing a cha cha. It’s 2 steps forward, and 1 step back…(haiz) Juz as we are expecting Taek to confess and make his first move, he decides to shrink back…and…what? give Jung-hwan a running chance? It’s true that the situation (to a young adult) is sticky. Should they all remain friends, and ignore the possible romantic relationship, or put their friendship to the test and go ahead to win the girl?
Imo, Duk-sun isn’t really ready for a romantic relationship. While she may be attuned to the needs of people around her (like how she immediately jumps to help her Class President), she is very, very unaware of what she really wants. Even something as simple as an ambition has her stumped. Ironically, madcapper Dong-ryong has more insights to Duk-sun than the girl herself. If you ask me, I am ALL for not having Duk-sun + (whoever he may be) romance happening in 1988‘s current timeline. For all of 16eps, I juz can’t see her getting ready to love either Jung-hwan/ Taek.
But it’s high time both boys figure out who competition is. Cos it makes for good dramatic tension when brotherhood and romance face off. Taek has already displayed an out-of-character move — instead of pushing in for the kill, given his competitive nature (as described by Dong-ryong and exemplified by his dad), he chooses to retreat. The move places him back on to the same square as Jung-hwan, who has been actively inactive ever since he finds out Taek likes Duk-sun.
Given the boys’ long friendship, and Taek’s sensitive nature, he likely guesses that Jung-hwan hasn’t been making any moves for fear of jeopardising the brotherhood. And now, Taek is caught in the same quandary. So…