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K-Drama Review: Twenty-Five Twenty-One

What matters most in the world of entertainment is the impact it brings to the audience, and the power it holds to spread that impact.

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Summary

Twenty-Five Twenty-One is a romantic comedy drama, and coming-of-age South Korean television series. It premiered on February 12, 2022 and ended on April 3, 2022 with a total of 16 episodes that were aired every Saturday and Sunday on tvN. It is currently available on Netflix for streaming and has become one of the trending K-Dramas to watch. The series was directed by Jung Ji-hyun and starring Kim Tae-ri, Nam Joo-hyuk, Bona, Choi Hyun-wook, and Lee Joo-myung

Set from 1998 to 2021, the story revolves around five young people: Na Hee-do, a fencing prodigy, Baek Yi-jin, an aspiring reporter, Ko Yu-rim, a fencing gold-medalist, Moon Ji-woong, the most popular boy in school, and Ji Seung-wan, the class president. In the present time, Na Hee-do’s daughter who wants to quit ballet finds a diary and learns about her mom’s dreams and determination to achieve them. She also learns about her first love, her most-cherished friendships, her grandma and mom’s relationship, her happiest and her saddest moments.

Review

I have watched this series along with Business Proposal, Forecasting Love & Weather, and Thirty-Nine, but Twenty-Five Twenty-One hit so differently. Amongst the other amazing K-Dramas that I tuned into, I anticipated every episode of Twenty-Five Twenty-One the most. It’s my most favorite show on Netflix so far this year, not just amongst K-Dramas, but also amongst the currently released shows that I’ve watched. This show really set itself apart from any other K-Dramas because it gave a new meaning to the supposedly heart-fluttering moments. While most romantic K-Dramas always have cliches that I mostly find corny and that I can practically see in every Korean romantic comedy or drama, Twenty-Five Twenty-One made new and original heart-fluttering moments that really captured my heart.

This show is the most realistic series that I have ever watched. It also has the most lessons imparted as it didn’t only focus on romance, but also in achieving one’s dreams, mother-daughter relationship, job hazards/disadvantages, sacrifices, first love, friendship, and family. The things that really matter in life have all been well-depicted in this series and I can’t get enough of it.

There is absolutely nothing in this series that I dislike. Even the ending. There were mixed reviews about the ending because it wasn’t what everyone was expecting, but I think that’s really what makes it so satisfactory. That every time I expected something from this series, it comes out differently and I love it. I think the reason why there are unfavorable viewer responses to how the series ended is because they live in the fantasy world when this series is anything but fantasy. It depicts real life challenges and portrays characters that we see in our every day life. I have never been able to relate with any series as much as I was able to relate with Twenty-Five Twenty-One. Most people don’t end up with their first love. Most people don’t choose love over career. Most people’s expectations aren’t what they get in life because in real life, nothing is predictable and that’s what this show is about. I laughed, fell in love, went crazy, cried over this show, and will be watching it again in the near future.

Here are the main reasons why I got hooked in watching this show:

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(1) Na Hee-do. She’s the perfect manifestation of an impetuous teenager which makes her the most compelling character in the story. She’s scared to fail, but does what she desires anyway. She holds back on things, but easily gets bottled up and ends up embarrassing herself in the most adorable way. She’s not the girly-girl type, but has the heart of a normal teenage girl who experiences first love. She has the courage to stay and the courage to give up.

(2) The friendship. I love how Na Hee-do and Ko Yu-rim were the worst enemies and yet, they developed a bonding that almost had me want to ship the two of them because of their closeness. They were all over each other the minute their constant fighting was over! The sweet things they do for each other just had me thinking, ‘Okay, why am I getting flustered by this? Is there something going on between them?’ (insert laughing emoji here). I could’ve thought they were acting more like loving sisters, rather than friends, but I couldn’t think like that at first because the sudden character development was totally unexpected. And Na Hee-do having that boyish vibe didn’t help me understand what I’m supposed to. Even I’m never that sweet or gentle with any of my friends, even the closest ones! But then of course, as I watched more, the real friendship between them was clearer and nothing but genuine friendship and something I shouldn’t dream of shipping. Other than Na Hee-do and Ko Yu-rim’s friendship, the five main characters have the kind of friendship that I miss during my younger days.

(3) Baek Yi-jin’s facial expressions. This guy’s face says it all. He does this gesture of putting his hand of his mouth whenever he’s surprised, and I can’t get enough of it! If I were to create a compilation that I would watch every time I want to see his adorable face, I would find all the clips of his surprised reactions! But then of course, there’s also his sad and hurt expressions that made me cry a lot in this series. And then, there were those heart-fluttering moments when I wish I were Na Hee-do and his eyes were only for me.

(4) Could they be more than friends? It’s those moments when I don’t know whether Baek Yi-jin likes Na Hee-do more than a friend that made me anticipate this series so much because I’ve been waiting for a development between the two. I think the entire coming-of-age process and realizing that there’s more than meets the eye was an instant pull.

(5) Just EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. I love everything about it. The characters, the storyline, the dialogues, the setting. EVERYTHING.

Hence, it is obvious enough that I’m giving this series 5 out of 5 stars. It’s one of a kind. And I’d give it more if I could. It has the most realistic and satisfactory ending, has almost no cliches, has relatable characters, great character development, provides a deep dive to career in fencing and media, and most importantly, this series put reporters in a new light. I’ve always hated reporters. I feel like most of them are just out there to intrude and ruin people’s lives. But after watching this, I realized how much they struggle mentally and physically to perform their duties and responsibilities, to the point of sacrificing family, friendship, and romance.

© 2022 Shey Saints

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