For a nostalgic, well-written and engaging coming of age slice of life story, look no further than Girls’ Generation 1979 (란제리 소녀시대/Lingerie Girls’ Generation). Based on a novel by Kim Yong Hee, the eight episode 2017 KBS series chronicles the moment between adolescence and adulthood of a group of high school teens living in 1979 Daegu. With Korea’s growing tense political situation as its backdrop, Girls’ Generation 1979 is able to balance sincere heart with innocent romance as well as heavy dramatic themes.
Among the characters we meet are smart and kindhearted transfer student Park Hye Joo (Chae Seo Jin), loveable nerd Bae Dong Moon (Seo Young Joo), the hardworking former gang member Joo Young Choon (Lee Jong Hyun), the popular it guy Son Jin (Yeo Hoe Hyun), rebellious bully Shim Ae Sook (Dohee) and at the center of it all, bright go-getter Lee Jung Hee (WSJN’s Bona).
Jung Hee lives with her strict parents, twin brother and aunt as they run a small, local lingerie factory. Having to deal with her tense homelife, developing her first crush and dealing with someone having a crush on her for the first time, Jung Hee must navigate the increasingly whirlwind life of a teen.
Girls’ Generation 1979 touches upon familiar and relatable youth themes such as young love, friendship and school violence. Alongside that, a look at different types of family bonds and connections and how all of this comes together to help shape the lives of young people at an important time of their lives.
The series does an excellent job at quickly introducing our main characters and setting up the various unique dynamics each has with each other. As a slice of life, the series features a couple of almost-vignettes while maintaining a brisk pace for series-long arcs.
Characters are well-developed and the growth we see over eight episodes for each character and each relationship all lead to satisfying conclusions. (And of varied emotion as well.)
One of the series’ best qualities is its perfect nostalgic flair. And its incredible soundtrack goes a long way to making that happen. You feel as if you are truly in 1979 Daegu, South Korea. (Accents and all!) The visuals and vibe absolutely enhance the familiar and relatable stories even more.
The talented cast at first may seem like they are tasked with simple, straightforward material. But the tight writing quickly gives numerous opportunities to shine, and they do. In her first lead role, Bona carries much of the show very well and shows she can absolutely handle a lead role. Tthe talented Seo Young Joo is full of charm in a role that is the opposite of many of his well-known, darker roles. (Proving that he is well worthy of more lead roles too.)
The young cast is supported by recognizable and dependable veterans who offer that extra bit of needed foundation that helps give the series a welcome gravitas. Especially in the series’ heavier moments, both the young and veteran cast deliver.
At just eight episodes, the series is an easy and quick watch. But the emotions and depth are there as well. The way the series is able to effectively maintain a perfect balance in tone is key to making each character and story development feel warranted and satisfying.
It’s not hard for Girls’ Generation 1979 to endear itself to the audience. A complete, all-around production that features excellent performances, a well-written story with engaging characters, one of the best soundtracks and creative direction. Girls’ Generation 1979 is a sweet, nostalgic treat.