“Twenty Five Twenty One,” a story of five youngsters and their shift from youth to adult life, is a 2022 Korean drama on Netflix. The main characters, Baek Yi Jin and Na Hee Do, meet by chance and get involved in a relationship that changes their outlook on life. However, what started as a beautiful friendship ends up as a sad love story. The drama follows a decade-long tale of friendship, love, and career changes. From clueless teenagers to responsible adults, it captures the joy and pain of growing up.
Baek Yi Jin
Baek Yi Jin was the eldest son of a big conglomerate. He was also smart and had entered a top university to study engineering. However, after the financial crisis, his family went bankrupt, and his once rich son had to separate from his family and deliver newspapers door-to-door. Yi Jin had to stop his education to support his family financially. He was young and carefree, but suddenly he had to mature. He had been trying his best to get a good job while doing multiple part-time jobs. After failing at it continuously, he got a job as a journalist, something he never thought he would become.
He met Hee Do when he was at his lowest point in life. She became a ray of hope in his life just by existing. Her words comforted him, and hanging out with her made him forget about his worries. He felt like he could achieve anything if he was with her. He loved Hee Do, but he never felt like they should date. He loved it when she was around, and he cared for her, but he never thought that their dating could ever be a thing. Later, they started dating, but his profession became a hindrance in their relationship. As the physical distance between them grew, they also grew apart at heart. Yi Jin was going through a tough phase, and he couldn’t open up to Hee Do as he did before.
Yi Jin believed that Hee Do always led him to a better place, and that’s why he always worked hard to prove it. Eventually, his career took priority in his life. He needed to bring his separated family back. He went from riches to rags, and his work was the only way he could live a normal life again. He achieved great heights in his career at a young age and brought his family back together. He loved Hee Do until the end and was always against the idea of breaking up. He didn’t keep in touch with Hee Do afterwards, but he always rooted for her best.
Na Hee Do
Hee Do started fencing in France as a hobby when she was a kid. After coming back to Korea, she started playing in competitions and became known as a fencing prodigy at a young age. However, she started slacking off in fencing after her father passed away when she was thirteen. Her mother started working day and night to raise her daughter, but Hee Do became lonely because of it. She wrote in her diary what she couldn’t tell anyone. She was advised to leave fencing because everyone had given up on her, but she believed in herself.
She used to look up to Ko Yu Rim and later became her top competitor with hard work and perseverance. She became best friends with Yi Jin, but she was not in love with him in the first place. Hee Do was innocent and naive and didn’t know any better. She broke up with her ex-boyfriend after a week because she kept talking about Yi Jin with him. Even after Yi Jin confessed his love, he was okay with a platonic relationship, but later, Hee Do insisted they should date. Yi Jin was older than her, and his life was changing at a faster pace than hers. The comfort she used to find in Yi Jin started to slowly fade away. Yi Jin was there for her when she was lonely and sad and hid it behind her laughter.
Hee Do broke up with Yi Jin because they were not on the same page anymore. The support, the comfort, was gone from their relationship. However, it was the most memorable part of her life. She made lifelong friends; her rival, Yu Rim, became her best friend, and she experienced true love for the first time. Hee Do got married and retired from fencing after winning the world championship three times in a row. Yi Jin was not in her life anymore, but she still kept the diary, which was written all about him.
Ko Yu Rim
Ko Yu Rim won the fencing championship at the age of 17 and became a star in Korea. Her family did not have good financial conditions, but Yi Jin’s father’s company had sponsored her. After they went bankrupt, Yu Rim and her family also had to suffer financially. They couldn’t afford to provide for their daughter’s expensive sport. Fencing wasn’t just a sport for Yu Rim anymore; it was a means of survival. She hadn’t done anything but fence all her life, and she had to do her best to survive with it.
After Hee Do’s arrival, Yu Rim gained a competitor who not only came in the way of her fencing star title but also her survival. Yu Rim had to be the only star to get endorsements and support. However, she became friends with Hee Do when she found out that they both struggled in life in different ways. Yu Rim had to change her nationality because her family was in loads of debt and was desperately in need of money. She returned to Korea after fulfilling her responsibilities as a daughter. She retired from fencing and started her own fencing club.
Yu Rim’s life was full of struggle, and she had to face challenges at every step, but she tackled all the challenges with courage. Just like Hee Do, she made lifelong friends and found the love of her life in her youth itself. She fell in love with Moon Ji Woong, and he supported her in good and bad times. He refused to break up with Yu Rim when she decided to go to Russia. They stayed in a long-distance relationship and would visit each other often. After being together for ten years, they got married when Yu Rim returned to Korea. After struggling for many years, Yu Rim finally got the happy ending she deserved.
Moon Ji Woong
Moon Ji Woong was the most popular guy in school. He had an interest in fashion and didn’t pay much attention to his studies. He often got in trouble with professors in school because of his erratic behavior. He was childhood friends with Ji Seung Wan and hung out at her home more often than he stayed at his. Even his mom found him disappointing and was always worried about his future.
However, Ji Woong still got into a good college. While his girlfriend, Yu Rim, was in Russia, he followed his passion in Korea. He was always updated with the latest fashion trends and, hence, started a blog to post about his likings. His blog became popular, and he started to gain followers. Ji Woong thought outside the box and was always ahead of his time. With his blog as a Kickstarter, he turned it into a successful clothing business. He proved that one’s academic record doesn’t define a person’s success. He was never afraid to hide his flaws and was a loyal friend. He is an inspirational character to those whom society looks down upon because of their bold perspective on life.
Ji Seung Wan
JI Seung Wan was a top student in school. She was also the class monitor and the head of the broadcasting club. Even though she was smart and was in favor of professors, she was good to everyone in the class. It made her a popular class monitor, and everyone liked her and relied on her. Though she always studied, she also ran a private radio channel called Wanseung. In her broadcasts, she talked about social issues and problems faced by young people. It was no guess that she would live a highly successful life in the future.
Seung Wan’s life took a turn in the final year of high school. She stood up against injustice in school and was threatened with getting rusticated if she didn’t apologize. She chose to quit school instead of giving in to the unjust officials, and her mom supported her decision. She completed her high school education externally and got into a good college too. Instead of becoming a doctor or a lawyer, as everyone expected a smart student like her to be, she worked at a broadcasting station producing variety shows. For an extraordinary student like her, leading an average life is seen as a failure by society, but Seung Wan followed her heart and lived her life how she wanted.
In “Twenty Five Twenty One,” we watched how life unfolds in unpredictable ways. There is no rule to how a life should be lived; one just experiences life and learns slowly. However, bitter experiences show us how strong we are, and sweet experiences make us want to live more diligently. The stories of Yi Jin and Hee Do showed us that everything happens for a reason, though the end might not be favorable.