Twenty Five Twenty One (스물다섯 스물하나) is about a group of friends who go through the best moments of their youth together while learning about the beauty and pain of growing up. It is the story of how chasing your dreams can be a privilege and a burden—how it can fuel you forward and also break you in the process. Through these five different individuals, it shows the true essence of winning and losing and how we grow and outgrow.
Na Heedo (Kim Taeri 김태리) is a fencing prodigy who went through a slump since her father passed away. When she transferred to another school to continue her fencing journey, she met her idol, Ko Yurim, and got to train alongside her. There, rivalry was built between them but also a lifelong friendship.
Baek Yijin (Nam Joo Hyuk 남주혁) has dreamed of working in NASA until his family went bankrupt. He had to leave school and worked hard to bring his family back together. He met Na Heedo when he started doing part-time jobs. There, they became each other’s best support system.
Ko Yurim (Bona 김지연) won a gold medal and became the rising-star of fencing in Korea. Her family is not rich but her sports is expensive, so she is sponsored by a rich family (Baek Yijin’s) before they went bankrupt. There, she had to depend her life decisions to her family’s needs more than her own wants and desires.
Moon Jiwoong (Choi Hyun Wook 최현욱) attends the same school with Ko Yurin, whom he had a huge crush on. He eventually pursued her and became one of her best support throughout her fencing career. Jiwoong always gets in trouble in school and is known as the “pretty boy from class seven”.
Ji Seungwan (Lee Joo Myoung 이주명) is the class president and best friend of Jiwoong. She is in the same class with him along with Yurim and Heedo. She finds life really boring but had a meaningful time spent with her friends. She is the character that will show you that sometimes it is okay to break than to bend.
My Thoughts in General
💭 I am a sucker for slice of life dramas; something that will make me question what I’m doing with my own life 😆 Twenty Five Twenty One is exactly that. I was happy watching them give everything they have for their dreams. I celebrated with them in every win. I laughed with them in all the fun times and cried with them during the hardest ones. I cried when they had to give up something they have known all their life, something they still love, because it is not working for them anymore. It is very real.
💭 Such a beautiful story about youth. Just two episodes in and we already have this line and it just hits home:
Do you want to turn back the time?
What do you miss the most?
I miss the things I used to worry about. It was about having too much homework, scary seniors at the broadcasting club, in case I make a mistake on stage during the festival, or what if the girl I liked didn’t like me back. Worries like that.
These kinds of worries we had when we were still young seem so insignificant now. What felt like the end of the world is actually just the tip of the iceberg. As we grow older, just when you think you already hit rock bottom, it just got a little deeper everytime.
💭 We often talk about the cinematography of a film but it will be the transitions for me here. The way the scenes are transitioned from past to present was such an experience.
💭 Twenty Five Twenty One’s story started in 1998 and I realized that while there are many things have changed, there are still things that stay quite the same. These highschoolers get excited every time a new volume of Full House gets out and here we are now getting excited over our favorite Netflix shows, too.
💭 Heedo and Yurim dynamics. One has the financial ability to chase her dreams but without much support from her mother. The other is struggling financially but full of love and support from her parents. You really can’t have it all.
💭 Heedo and Yurim’s friendship is something you could only wish for yourself. During their last match, they both cried so hard and I couldn’t help but cry with them too. When Heedo said: “Only we know how hard it was for us. No one else does,” I really lost it. They went through so much! It is beautiful to see how much they have grown as athletes and their own persons.
💭 I love how it did not go the route of a very messy love story. At first, I thought there might be a love triangle among Heedo, Yurim, and Yijin. Or that Seungwan is secretly in love with Jiwoong while Jiwoong likes Yurim. You know, all those cliched falling in love with your best friend in a one-sided love. I’m really glad it’s not that! It is so refreshing to see that they also seem to have a very sibling-like relationship.
💭 Aside from the contrast between Heedo and Yurim, we got Seungwan and Jiwoong. One is the top of the class while the other always end up in trouble. One thinks life is boring while the other always finds the fun in it.
💭 Heedo’s mother and Yijin as reporters really showed us how painful it is to sometimes choose your career over your loved ones. “They are just doing their job,” never hurt this much before. While their passion for what they do is admirable, I wouldn’t want to choose like that. We have to give it to Yijin, though, for trying to change the way things have been in the news industry. When Yijin’s senior (선배님) said “Grow numb to their situations and focus on the incident,” I think Yijin’s answer is so good to hear.
💭 We have witnessed this too many times already, but Twenty Five Twenty One had to remind us once again how pain changes people and how much someone can change through the years. A lot can happen in a day, a month, so what more can a few more years can do? It can completely change mostly everything you know about a person or yourself.
[If you have not watched this drama yet, that’s it for you!
You can stop reading now because from this point on,
I will be discussing things that might be a spoiler.
So watch it first then come back here later xDD]
💭 It’s been bugging me for a while now… Yijin’s mother is so childish? Or that’s just me? I don’t know. I feel like he can’t even depend on her emotionally and mentally. You can really see the contrast among the mothers here.
💭 The way TVN made us think that Yijin was Injeolmi in the first few episodes. 😂
💭 I almost forgot! At some point, I wondered if this is going to be taken negatively because of the age gap. The topic of grooming has been loud in social media these days and we often see people calling out college students/young adults who are going out with high schoolers. You know how they say “there is a reason why 22 years old don’t go out with people the same age as them” or something like that. So I think it’s really nice that we saw how Heedo and Yijin developed feelings for each other as they grow older and didn’t just dive into a romantic relationship right away. It was a genuine experience of falling in love as a teen.
“High schoolers should date other high schoolers. Grown-ups should date other grown-ups.”
💭 Episode 12!!! When Seungwan had to drop out of school and Yeji to quit fencing. Again, I couldn’t stop crying here. Side story: when I found out about Sunghoon’s (Enhypen) story and how he gave up being a figure skater to become an idol, I really admired him for it. To quit something you are familiar with, something you have been doing all your life must be so hard. And in Twenty Five Twenty One, we had Yeji who really wanted to quit fencing because she thinks it is not really for her. Even though her coach thinks it’s just a slump, she knows in her heart that it is more than that. When she made it to the quarterfinals, I really thought she is going to continue with fencing but she really made up her mind already. And then we had Seungwan who had to threw away all her hardwork and quit school because she doesn’t want to apologize to an abusive teacher. It must be hard to stand her ground like that so I’m glad she got her mother’s support on this. A wise man in the name of Min Yoongi once said: “I hope you don’t forget that giving up decisively also counts as courage.”
💭 Now the breakup! I have so many things to say and I can’t make it coherent. I just can’t so I’m sorry if this will be a little bit messy. Well, welcome to my train of thoughts… 🤣
I watched this with a friend and I think it was already 6 or 8 episodes in before we started watching, so there was already this talk that they won’t end up together.
That time where Heedo told Yijin that he can be happy with her in secret; that they can be happy every time they are together, my friend said: “he can be a kid with her” and of course, my realist self just had to say it:
And that really ended up happening! They grew up and suddenly they can no longer turn their “tragedy into a comedy.”
“I heard that every tragedy in life is a comedy if you see it from afar.”
I think what makes Twenty Five Twenty One too painful is the fact that we know where it is going, but we can’t do anything to stop it. HAHAHAHAHA PAIN. When Heedo said that “we are already in the middle of it,” I know we all felt it too. It is too familiar. Some of us went through the same thing. The middle of a breakup. You start questioning where it all started to change, where it all went wrong. You think you have figured it out and now that you know the problem, you think you can still do something about it, but then you also find out that even if you do, it’s just not the same anymore. Even if you want to go back, it’s just really not the same now. But you know it’s there, it’s happening.
Where do you even start again???
Remember when Heedo ran for 2 hours finding Yijin’s dad and her slippers gave out and they did this foolish thing of tying their feet together and Heedo was shouting and Yijin was like “Are you getting upset? Didn’t we agree to be happy when we’re together?” So that’s really what happened. He didn’t share his burdens to her until it become the catalyst to them growing apart.
And can we really blame Yijin for that? He was alone in the US and his job was breaking him. Oh God, he was really broken!
And we, humans, have this tendency to carry it all alone because we thought that sharing these burdens will just make it worse. And you don’t want to add worries to your loved ones because we all have our own baggage to carry and who wants to add up to that? So yea, I’m not sure if people will understand completely how much pain can make you lose yourself.
He used to saw himself in Heedo, the youth, the dream, the passion, the desire. He admired all that. But now that he is in the middle of a war, too many deaths going on around him, it became harder to see that hope he once saw; he once had. Yijin always tells Heedo to trust him or have faith in him, but it got to the point where he could no longer trust himself too. He could no longer trust himself that he could make it out there; if he still wanted his job after all that has happened. But Heedo believed in him so he wanted to do well despite that. And that’s how a support becomes a burden. I thought before that Yijin’s support would be a burden to Heedo at some point, I didn’t see it coming that it would be the other way around.
When Heedo asked Yijin why does he root for her, he said “because you give me hope. and I want more for you.” and look how that changed in the end. She could no longer give him hope because it got harder for him to see that after all the has happened and he could no longer give her more because he’s already losing himself.
“My support is not reaching him anymore”
Is this the point where they already outgrown each other? Or at least the times they had together?
And you can’t really blame Heedo too for being emotionally exhausted with that setup. She also has a career that makes her physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. Asking her to give more than what she already gave would be selfish. If only she didn’t give up and wait for Yijin to somehow get through those tough times. There are lots of what ifs and should haves there, just like in every life decision we make. But it’s unfair for her too to keep on waiting, to keep being disappointed, when all her life she kept going through that with her mother. Is it too much to ask to have something better than that for her?
Remember when Yijin left for the first time, Heedo collapsed during training and the doctor said she is coming down with a cold? And then when they broke up, she collapsed again and that’s where her mother asked if she can do it because no matter how hard she trained, she never collapsed like that but the breakup did that to her. Her body couldn’t handle it. She’s already spreading herself thin.
But they tried, didn’t they?
When Heedo bought another movie ticket for another timeslot because she knew Yijin would be late again. When Yijin asked to be transferred to the Newsroom instead of Sports because he didn’t want to “exploit Heedo’s misfortunes” and look what happened since then. It just really felt like their breakup is bound to happen. HAHAHAHAHA PAIN. And remember when Heedo wanted to have that call coupon or something for couples so they can talk for unlimited time as if they are really going to be apart that they have to call each other non-stop. We really saw it coming and that’s what made it even more painful, really.
But from the very start, Heedo and Yijin accepted the fact that their “kind of love” is different, right? They wanted to name it differently, claiming that the word for it wasn’t invented yet. And until the end, it’s their own kind of love. It doesn’t have to make sense to other people. Even if they broke up, the support that they give to each other is still there; the love they have for each other is still there. It just turned into another kind of love, but it’s still blooming like the cherry blossoms around them. It is a beautiful kind love and it’s special because it’s theirs.
It’s been more than a year since I wrote a kdrama review and it really feels nice to have all my thoughts and feelings written down again 😭 I think I can finally move on now. Heh.
Good bye, Heedo. Good bye, Yijin. Good bye, Yurim, Jiwoong, and Seungwan. Thank you for the wonderful story.
|Thank you for reading! 🤎
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7 thoughts on “KDrama Review | Twenty Five Twenty One (2022)”
Wow, this made me miss watching korean drama especially those wholesome ones. Such brilliant writing. This kinda gives me reply 1988 vibes haha
complete na ba ang series? ive been waiting for it na ma complete before I start to watch it!!! super looking forward to it!! mala reply 1988 ba?
i haven’t watched it but i could just imagine how they show the difference in lifestyle and the support from their moms they get. indeed, you can’t have it all.