This drama series saved me from my drama slump – I had a long period where I watched a lot of different things that I just quickly stopped after a few episodes and I haven’t been so excited to watch a drama in a long long time, and it’s all thanks to Twenty Five Twenty One. Also the OSTs are on point, especially Starlight by TAEIL
Genre: Romance, Coming-of-age, Youth
Written by: Kwon Do-eun
Directed by: Jung Ji-hyun
Cast: Kim Tae-ri, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Ji-yeon (WJSN’s Bona), Choi Hyun-wook & Lee Joo-myung
Synopsis: The story takes place mainly in 1998-. Na Hee-do, our main character, is on her school fencing team, but due to financial problems the school has decided to disband the team. Hee-do is determined to become a great fencer and ultimately her idol’s rival transfers to Taeyang High School. Here she meets her rival Koo Yu-rim, Moon Ji-woong & Ji Seung-wan. Back Yi-jin, Hee-do’s love-interest, is an young-adult who is separated from his family, and works hard to make money to support his family because of the family’s financial problems that happened during the Korean financial crisis.
Short review [No spoilers]
Twenty Five Twenty One is a lighthearted coming-of-age drama which has so many great moments. My favorite parts are the slice-of-life, fun and happy moments. The overall story is ok and does fall short a few times.The characters and the actors are the ones that really make this story come to life. There are so many moments in this drama that I absolutely love, and I will share them with you longer down in the post. The ending does leave a quite unsatisfying feeling, but the rest of the drama is really really good and I definitely recommend watching the drama before making your own conclusion about the ending.
Full Review [Spoilers]
Table of Contents
The characters/actors are the ones that are carrying this drama and I personally think this show would not even be near as good without this cast (I’m talking mostly about Kim Tae-ri and Nam Joo-hyuk who plays Hee-do and Yi-jin). The overall story is kinda stupid, but the screenplay is top-tier. The pacing of each scene was perfect, I never wanted a scene to end sooner. Every scene was made to make the viewer feel certain emotions, and they did a fantastic job doing it.
I freaking love everything about Hee-do – such a bright and reckless character which is played by an absolutely amazing actress. Kim Tae-ri perfectly embodies the character Heedo. Nam Joo-hyuk does a splendid job performing as Yi-jin and makes the character really come to life.
My absolute favorite moments has to be when Yi-jin’s little brother Yi-hyun confesses to Seung-wan that he is the user Baekho, and Seung-wan says “How old are you?”, “So four more years to go. I can wait for you”. I was shocked, but at the same time it’s so her character. Seung-wan is bored by life and accepts the opportunity to do something that might be fun.
Every scene when Hee-do and Yu-rim were friends – I had so much fun and it brought me a lot of joy to see them together. Other amazing scenes: when Yu-rim’s mother hugs Hee-do after her first gold medal, the strangers in the restaurant cheering up Hee-do & etc.
The characters are really great and easy to like, but they are lacking so much depth. I still don’t understand why Yi-jin became a journalist; does he like it? Is it for the money? and why does he so much desire his career over his love life? If it was explained then I must have totally missed it. I had big hopes for Seung-wan to become or do something huge. I thought with her strong sense of justice (with the school abuse thing) that she would grow up to become a politician or something to change society. There are scenes where they compare Hee-do’s fancy shoes and backpack to Yu-rim’s overused shoes and backpack to emphasize that Yu-rim don’t like Hee-do, but we never get a single line where that is explicitly said. Yu-rim never says to Hee-do or anyone that she hates Hee-do for being over average rich and that she is poor.
The Break Up
We knew almost from the very beginning that Hee-do and Yu-jin were not going to end up together. Kim Min-chae, Hee-do’s daughter, clearly expressed that she did not know who Baek Yi-jin was, and Hee-do’s daughter’s surname is Kim and not Baek.
I think the break up makes a lot of sense. When they meet each other in the tunnel after the news about Yu-rim and they start to remove the “Ko Yu-rim is a traitor” graffiti, Hee-do clearly states that from now on they will share everything; sadness, happiness, and despair, and things works fine until Yi-jin is too afraid to be a disappointment to Hee-do by sharing his burden and sadness with Hee-do and instead to keep it to himself. Hee-do feels lonely when Yi-jin doesn’t tell Hee-do, as she wants Yi-jin to share whatever is going through.
In the end Hee-do doesn’t want to date someone like his mother who prioritizes her job before the family, but that is not everything. Hee-do doesn’t want to be together with someone that prioritizes the job before her and keeps all the burden by themself. Hee-do doesn’t like the fact that Yi-jin reminds her of how her mother was in the past. Hee-do’s mother starts to open up more when they visit Hee-do’s father’s grave and their relationship grows.
They still cherish their bond, and they want to give their unwavering support for each other even if they are not together. It’s totally fine not to be in a romantic relationship for wanting to see someone succeed and to feed themself with happiness with someone else’s success.
The ending is bad… At first I didn’t understand the whole Hee-do going back to the tunnel thing – I thought that she regretted not being with Yi-jin, but then I realized that scene is how she wanted the break up to be.
My problem with the ending is that it does not satisfy me as a viewer. We don’t know who Hee-do’s husband is; is totally different from Yi-jin or is he the same as Yi-jin but doesn’t have the same flaw – we don’t know!! Isn’t the whole drama about her life lesson from her first love. What’s the point of showing the whole diary plot if we don’t learn about the end result, who is grown up Hee-do? Does she still meet up with Yu-rim, Seung-wan & Jiwoong? If not, why did they lose contact?
There are so many questions about what happened between 2001 and 2021. They made us super invested in these characters, to just leave us in the dark… Disgusting-
Other things that I didn’t like
- Yu-rim being over the top rude towards Hee-do
- How did no one know that Hee-do’s mother was Jae-kyung the news anchor?
- The diary thing felt like it was added to the plot purely because they needed something to make the story take place in 1998- and it did not serve any other purpose than that.
What are your thoughts on Twenty Five Twenty One, did you like it?