K-Drama Review: ‘Twenty-Five Twenty-One’ A Series That Sparkles With Youthful Romance

twenty five twenty one review
Credit: tvN

Edited by Kim Won Hee
Translated by Eun Gee Joh

twenty five twenty one review
Credit: tvN

One of the hottest shows that everyone is talking about nowadays is tvN’s weekend drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One. Set in 1998, it beautifully captures the sparkly summer days of five young people, Na Hee Do (Kim Tae Ri), Baek Yi Jin (Nam Joo Hyuk), Go Yu Rim (Bona), Moon Ji Woong (Choi Hyun Wook), and Ji Seung Wan (Lee Joo Myung). It had a promising start, scoring a nationwide viewership rating of 6.37 percent with its premiere episode and it is continuing its hot streak with a 10 percent range in ratings. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how the show captivated the audience.

The show is incredibly authentic to the time period of 1998 in which the series is set. It follows the female lead Hee Do as she looks into her journals and travels back in her memories to revisit herself in the 90s, giving a nostalgic feeling to all of us who are watching the show. It features many items that bring back all the memories for us as characters receive an alarm on a pager, run to a phone booth to listen to it, trade comic books with their friends, and communicate with their online friends using the long gone dial-up internet. The use of the old television and its bright screen at the intro and outro of each episode also adds to the drama’s feel. The 90s font on a blurry and gray screen evokes pleasant nostalgia from the beginning to the end.

The beautiful cinematography and soundtrack play a big part in highlighting the show’s charm. The show is filled with a mesmerizing blue filter ranging from its beautiful scenery to its actors’ costumes and various props, down to the tone of each and every scene. It’s almost as if it sucked out the moisture from the summer of that year, like a young tree that absorbs a gallon of water to grow towards the clear sky. The drama also does a great job in capturing the most beautiful moments in life on the screen, and the soundtrack play a catalytic role in shifting the show into a completely different territory. Every time the music plays, the show either veers into a youthful romance or into an inspirational sports drama that allows us to see the change or growth in the main characters. For instance, when Jaurim’s “Twenty-five Twenty-one” plays during the scene in which Hee Do and Yi Jin have a water fight near the fountain, many viewers madly fell in love with the show and the brand of its romance.

twenty five twenty one review
Credit: tvN

With this impressively constructed setting, the relationship and narrative between the characters we see in the series play a big part in attracting the audience. Na Hee Do’s unique relationship with Beak Yi Jin and Go Yoo Rim forms an important framework for the entire story, with the first two sharing a special bond that goes back to high school. The two grew closer to each other during the IMF crisis that financially destroyed Yi Jin’s family and that almost crushed Hee Do’s dream as a national fencer. When she felt that there is no one around her to talk to, he was always there by her side and rooted for her dreams. Hee Do also reached out a hand for him when he was in agony due to his father’s crime. Therefore, tt is hard to define the two’s relationship in words. Yi Jin gives Hee Do her strength to move forward in life and Hee Do is always there for Yi Jin when life hits hard. The unique relationship between the two is drawn beautifully with the wonderful cinematography and left a lingering impression on many of its viewers.

Na Hee Do and Go Yoo Rim are in a complex relationship with its constantly changing dynamics. The drama portrays Hee Do as a huge fan of the gold medalist Yoo Rim while Yoo Rim grows into a young adult carrying the trauma of losing her game against Hee Do as a young child. Upon their meeting, Yurim acts incredibly hostile to Hee Do who remembers nothing. The two’s relationship sours as Yoo Rim appeals against the judge at the Asian Games after losing her game to Hee Do. However, they manage to mend their friendship after realizing that they were each other’s online friends who had always supported each other during tough times. As the relationship between the two changes greatly, viewers can have a look at the various dynamics between the two as fierce sports rivals and true best friends.

Twenty-Five Twenty-One �is now entering its third chapter beyond the halfway point. One thing that bothered me was Yi Jin’s response to Hee Do’s love confession. He gave this lukewarm reply by saying, “I’m in love with you. But there’s nothing more that I want from you than for you to be happy.” One side of me tells me that it would have been a much better choice to show their romance after they both become adults. Now that the third chapter features Hee Do as a fully grown woman, I can’t wait to see how the show will play out until the very end of its run. (7/10)


Edited by Kim Won Hee: I am a person who needs more than 24 hours in a day because there are so many things I love. I am amassing various genres in the jewelry box in my heart.


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