Chilbong [Reply 1994]: An overview and personal opinion on the character

I finally finished watching Reply 1994. I might be biased in this discussion because to be honest there are so many memories are awaken while watching this drama. Basically this drama mainly tells the story of Sung Najung, Kim Jaejoon (Trash) and Seonjoon (Chilbong). Sinchon boarding house is the place where all main characters are living. From the very first episode, even the epilogue, always uses nicknames for the student characters. Sung Najung and her parents just a few months  ago moved out from Masan, their hometown and they buy a house at Sinchon area in Seoul city, a famous area near Yonsei University in which there are lots of  boarding house, restaurants, cafes and clubs, to be used as hasook jib (boarding house) for students who come from outside Seoul. In the house, all the people are Yonsei University students, except Najung’s parents (father: Seoul Twins coach; mother: housewife). This is the background of this story.

Now I will talk about my favorite character, Chilbong (Seonjoon). This character is definitely flat character, no complication or negative values in him at all. He is totally a man of honour, a very kind hearted person, soft, gentleman, strong-willed, stubborn, focused, silly sometimes, hardworker, over all, a man with good personality and good appearance. He is introduced as a front liner of Yonsei University baseball team, a right handed pitcher who can throw ball 160km/hr speed, he was graduated from a very famous physical science high school in Seoul and he has been famous player since his early career as a baseball player.

Above all his plus points, he actually has a large hole in his heart for he was born in a rich family but his parents got divorced and remarry. His relation with his mother is not really good because his mother is pictured as a cold-hearted mother who hardly gives attention or support for her own son due to her tight schedule as a university professor. I failed to grab the picture of his father, but he seems to be a simple man who prefers to go back to his hometown doing farming at his retirement. Chilbong hardly contacts both parents because he thinks they have no attention in whatsoever on his life. Isn’t it a miracle that he made a great “decision” to be a baseball player and get success in that field while his family is torn apart.

As a normal human being who experience ignorance from parents up to their selfish decision to separated, there should be some flicks of negative emotions coming out from Chilbong despite his spotless image as a heaven sent Prince with dazzling smile, perfect body, topped with wonderful friends surround him. Picture perfect is the right term to describe Chilbong. Things could be more interesting if he could be a little bit notorious or rascally sarcastic because where on earth we can find perfect person? If Chilbong really has to be that perfect, he should be made to be an angel instead of an ordinary person who is impossible to be spotless like him. This flaw somehow fails to portray reality and that disturbs me.

Now I will write what I like on this character. Before I go further I must say that I am an avid, passionate fan of baseball, so you might find some fangirl writing written all over the place. Despite the flaw this drama makes that has the potential to turn people off, I want to say something completely opposite to that. I am in love with this drama since Chilbong came into sight. Why? Because he is a baseball player and I must say he is perfectly portrayed as a pro player, except the fact that camera doesn’t show his full figure when he pitches because Yoo Yeonseok might not be able to do the ball-throwing-activity as a pro player do. If you want to see how pro player pitches, you can refer to the picture below. That throwing position is certainly hard to do since it requires years of exercise which of course Yoo Yeonseok never did. Picture posted below is a picture of a closer pitcher of Samsung Lions, Oh Seung Hwan (now moves to a Japanese pro-baseball league) that can be used as a reference on how to pitch like a pro. 

Or there's also this detail picture of a closer pitcher from Doosan Bears named Lim Taehoon. As you can see the final movement he threw his feet up high to gain balance for his throw. This is not an easy thing to do for a non-pro baseball player.

Furthermore, body-wise Yoo Yeonseok is perfectly fit the image of a pitcher. He has the proper height and weight, in short, perfection. The thing that probably need a bit of correction is that Yoo Yeonseok’s skin is appeared to be milky white on the screen while normal baseball player will never be that white and smooth. A little bit of skin-darkening would fit more to the image. Tanning-room or tanning cream could probably do the job well. Because of his incredibly milky white skin, people will think that Korean baseball pitchers are mostly looking like movie stars. That can be true, Korean baseball players can be more handsome than movie stars but their skin will always look darker compared to Chilbong. The reason is simply because each game may start at 2PM up to 8-9PM which requires a lot of standing under the sun that simply explains why their skin turns darker, beside their regular exercise in the morning before each games. Indeed some players also  go to skin doctor to get some ultraviolet treatment but Chilbong is way too fair for people who stand under the scorching sun for more than 5 hours a day (pre-game exercise included).

I honestly think either the writer or the director themselves are a fanatic baseball fans, but if they don't portray the real image of a pro baseball player, that can turn into a misleading that baseball players are looking like a flower boy, exactly what Chilbong portrayed at the drama. An insignificant misleading indeed, but if they can make it perfect, the drama will be more worth watching. Besides, I adore the scene where Chilbong teaches Trash to pitch, he teaches on how to throw slider and curved balls. I honestly never even think of learning how to throw balls, but now I know how to throw curved balls which also explain why pitcher mostly hurt their middle fingers because it supports the ball so that it can spin in the air. See? Pitching looks easy peasy but in reality that ain't gonna happen. This scene grows out my respect for pitchers. No wonder they are treated really special, because pitchers are special people.

I might sound harsh and full of shitty comments but those are my wishes on how to make this drama more real and worth the wait. I intentionally wait until the drama is finished, so that I can watch it without being interrupted. Too bad my friend shoved spoiler to me, so I watch it with a knowledge that Chilbong won’t be the one who is married to Najung. Totally ruined my mood but it was all paid off by all the beautiful songs that makes me feel extremely nostalgic and the act of the actors that are upper the average and also the baseball scenes scattered around the drama makes me really happy and excited. I end this note with a little suggestion that if everything is already prepared to be as close as 1994 circumstances, other missing details above should have been overcome to make this drama looks real. 

I am more than happy that Chilbong's character is played by Yoon Yeonseok. I always pay attention to his facial expression and I must say he is a great actor. The way he looks at Najung, he really seems to think that no other girl can make him feel what he feels for Najung, while his stare to Trash hyung is deep and conveys deep frustration. Trash is the man who would always be a wide river between him and Najung. I am tempted to think what will happen if Trash is a non-existance? Will we see a bright sparkle from Chilbong's eyes when Najung accepts his heart and feeling? His shy smiles when Najung teases him, his stuttering when he is caught in the act doing some silly things. Despite his flaw on being too white on baseball field, Yoo Yeonseok portrays a very pure hearted man successfully. I really hope he will get more challenging characters to be be played in the future. I am honestly being way too swayed by his character in Reply 1994. Good luck, Yeonseok-ssi!! Wishing you can accept more love and supports in the future. 


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