Written By: Jung Jee-hyun & Kwon Do-eun
Twenty Five Twenty One is a Korean TV Series released in 2022 on Netflix. The first K Drama I watched was Business Proposal – which is a romantic comedy, light and bubbly. My expectations of Korean shows only went so far, thinking that they are all light and frothy. You need to watch Twenty Five Twenty One to see a totally different aspect of Korean entertainment.
Spoiler Alert! I have tried to keep the conclusion vague, but you may guess the ending!
The Storyline of Twenty Five Twenty One:
The story is about a microcosm of people affected by the financial crisis in Korea in 1997-98 – the IMF crisis. South Korea needed to do some strong reforms and consequently many, many people suffered. This is just one of their stories.
The series opens post-pandemic with Na Hee Do’s daughter Kim Min-chae (Choi Myung-bin) refusing to continue her ballet classes though she has a lot of talent. The girl finds her mother Na Hee Do’s diary in her grandmother’s home and discovers that her mother was a fencing champion in her school days. We are transported to Korea in the 90s and Hee Do as a teenager. Fencing is Na Hee Do’s favourite sport and she is very good at it. But due to the IMF Financial crisis, her school’s sports aid has been reduced.
Spoiler Alert! Though I am trying not to, you may come to know what happens on this show, so stop reading now if you are one of those people who don’t want to know!
My Take-away on #Netflix K Drama Twenty Five Twenty One:
This series is a refreshing change from the usual froth and feel-good movies and shows you may be used to in Korean Dramas. They have taken great care to show Korea in the nineties. The series takes off with some cute meetings between Hee Do and Yi Jin. He throws a newspaper into her house garden and breaks an important part(!) of an old statue in Hee Do’s garden. Hot-tempered Hee Do runs out and screams at him for the offence. Despite the surprise, Back Yi Jin calmly goes about his business. Such incidents abound as the two grow closer together.
The romance between them is very pleasant and sweet. We are happy to see this great love grow between ambitious Hee Do and hardworking Yi Jin. But unlike other K Dramas, here circumstances pull the protagonists apart in the last few parts of the series. It is painful to see them struggling to grow in their chosen paths and grow apart. Will they stay together?
Twenty Five Twenty One shows that life isn’t always smooth and perfect. Sometimes true love cannot be together. The TV series captures all these nuances and more. The happy adventures of childhood seem to end when adulthood begins. Success comes, but at what cost? It is a touching and bittersweet series that you cannot stop watching. A summer love that may not continue into adulthood…
I love the presntation. I found the ending painful to watch but it seems very real too. You will enjoy the refreshingly different ending. The settings are all quite authentic, showing us what life may have been like in the Nineties. There are basic mobile phones, computers are rare, and transport is primitive. If you are nostalgic for book libraries and rentals, it’s all here in this series. Are you old enough to remember befriending the book or video rental person in order to be the first to get a book or video?! – If so, you will enjoy this series a lot. I remembered those times and laughed to myself at it! Was it really only 20 years ago!? If you are curious about what life was like back then, you should see this series.
Hee Do’s daughter has learned some valuable lessons on her own from reading her mother’s diaries. She decides to renew her efforts in ballet.
There are some inconsistencies in the end, like who is Kim Min-chae’s father? After going into so much detail in the first three-fourths of the show, the writers seem to be in a hurry to finish the story in the last few episodes. When and how does Hee-do marry? Also, the divide between Hee-do and Yi-jin is not very convincing to us. Does such a sincere love break, especially since Ko Yu-rim is able to have a long-distance relationship?
The series ends with the hint of season 2. Present-day Back Yi Jin is trying to log in to a computer from the ‘90s…