If I write an alternative ending for Answer Me 1994, I still won’t make Chilbong go to Najung. I am still mad at the ending, yes. Because I still feel cheated and used. (Come on, that whole ‘who’s-the-husband-game’ was played out too long!)
But I have accepted that this is how it’s supposed to be. Najung doesn’t deserve Chilbong. I am not mad at Najung. But, like a noona to the lonely Chilbong, I want my dongsaeng/dongap to love somebody else.
The thing with first loves, or even with love and coming of age in general, is that the majority of us end up with someone else. So, with this kind of AM1994 ending, perfect person Chilbong may seem to be, he ended up like the majority of us. And, selfishly & honestly, I like that. He was the only character I could relate to. After careful thinking, I am now glad that I can still relate to him. My oppas can relate to him. My guy dongsaengs can relate to him.
With the turn of events in the finale, Chilbong became someone who has loved greatly and strongly, almost to the point of no surrender. And even in and with that love, he still wasn’t enough. His AM1994 ending (in 2002) wasn’t exactly happy, but it doesn’t mean that beyond the page, beyond the screen, a character like him would not have a happy ending. I trust his character’s unyielding spirit. His character’s belief in second chances secures for him a happy future. Whether it be with the lady he met by the stairs or with someone else. Perhaps in that 2nd chance with someone else, Chilbong has learned from his first and maybe ‘greatest’ love, maybe then he will leave some to himself, or maybe he will still love wholeheartedly. I will never know. But, I do know that the character I was able to relate to and the character I have grown to love will be okay, after all.
What will it be like if Oppa was the one Najung let go? Given my understanding of his character, he may not do as well as Chilbong.
So, maybe now I made peace with the ending. Maybe, now I can celebrate that Chilbong will get his second chance, and whoever that will be, her significance is valued more than his first love in his 20s, because Miss Second Love will show him that love is real — in the right time, and the right place, and the right person.
In the end, Chilbong, beautiful character that he was, was made to be like you and me. Fate is not entirely cruel.