The latest Kdrama on Netflix, “Twenty Five Twenty One,” begins with a tragedy that is the financial crisis of 90s South Korea that disrupted the lives of many Koreans. Our lead characters, Hee Do and Yi Jin, who are still too young to understand or get involved, are also affected by it. Thus, “Twenty Five Twenty One” becomes the story of two youngsters trying to fight the difficult times and keep their dreams alive. It features Kim Tae Ri as Na Hee Do and Nam Joo Hyuk as Baek Yi Jin in the lead roles.
‘Twenty Five Twenty One’ Characters Introduction
Na Hee Do is the mother of Kim Min Chae, who is a young ballerina. She is watching her daughter’s ballet competition through the mobile screen due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Min Chae backs out of the competition because she is scared that she won’t win the competition. Hee Do tries to convince her that winning is not everything, but to no avail. Min Chae runs away from her mom to her grandmother’s place, only to end up in her mother’s old room, where she finds her diary from her high school days.
It’s the year 1998. Na Hee Do is a fencing player who is in a slump right now. She was known as a fencing prodigy since she was younger, but no more. She lives with her mom alone, who is a news anchor. She is not close to her mother because Hee Do thinks that she does not understand her. Outside the home, Hee Do is a lively girl who loves to fence and read manhwa (Korean comic books). She is a go-getter and has an optimistic outlook on life.
A new guy, 22 years old, named Baek Yi Jin, has moved into Hee Do’s neighborhood. He has started a part-time job even before he has finished moving into his new rental place. Earning money is his first priority. He delivers newspapers in the morning and works at the rental book store later in the day. He lives alone but has a family who all live apart, not by choice but because of the circumstances. His father’s business has gone bankrupt, and Yi Jin is now on his own.
What Is Hee-Do’s Big Dream?
Hee Do hardly attends her classes because she is on the fencing team and has to practice all the time. Her team has not won many matches, but they are hopeful. Hee Do is a fan of gold medalist fencer Ko Yu Rim, who is the same age as her. Her dream is to become Yu Rim’s rival in fencing. She sneaks into Yu Rim’s high school to secretly watch her practice every Saturday. That’s how much she admires her. However, Hee Do’s dream is crushed when her school abolishes the fencing team due to a lack of funding. The country is going through an economic crisis, and its effects are seen in every sector.
When all the doors close on Hee Do, the only ray of hope for her is to transfer to Taeyang High School, where Ko Yu Rim is enrolled. When she asks her mom to do that, she tells her to quit fencing as she is not good at it anymore. Hee Do’s mother has never helped her anyway, and this time as well, Hee Do has to help herself. She meets Yu Rim’s coach and begs her to get her on their team, but the coach refuses. Hee Do has still not given up. If all the right ways to get her in are not available, she is going to make her own way by doing the wrong things. She plans to get herself into trouble, which will force her to transfer to another school. She tries to physically assault a student, but as she has no idea about how to do it, it fails. She calls the police on a gang war, but instead of getting arrested as one of them, she becomes their victim. Hee Do is persistent, and she is not going to stop until she makes her big dream come true.
Why does Yi-Jin vows Never To Live Happily?
Yi Jin is doing two part-time jobs and is still looking for more. He doesn’t get a job as a floor cleaner because he is overqualified. Yi Jin is a second-year engineering dropout from Yonsei University. He was a top student in high school and also a chaebol (heir of a conglomerate). Everything was going well in his life until his father’s company went bankrupt due to the economic crisis. His father had to divorce his mom to keep them away from the debts. His parents have gone into hiding separately, and his younger brother lives with their aunt. He plans to take him to live with him when he has a stable job.
Hee Do is sitting with his friends at a nightclub when Yi Jin comes into their private room. She is a minor and has sneaked into the club to purposefully get caught so she can transfer to another school. His friends try to make Hee Do drink alcohol, but Yi Jin stops them. His friends call him a buzzkill and tell him to focus on his financial condition. Yi Jin and Hee Do have known each other due to the newspaper and comic book store, so Yi Jin leaves the club with her. He advises her to talk to her mom because it is a privilege that she has because of her age. She can ask her parents now what she wants from them.
Hee Do goes to the bookstore to meet Yi Jin, but he has already ended his shift. She gets his address from the shop owner, but when she reaches his place, she sees two men threatening Yi Jin. They are asking for his father’s address because they need money. He can feel their pain as he is going through the same. He cannot offer them money or consolation, but he promises them that he will never live happily after his family has caused sorrow to many families. However, he is already living a life of despair.
Fighting The Difficult Times in “Twenty Five Twenty One”
Hee Do’s mom finds out the clothes that Hee Do wore at the nightclub, hence exposing her. Hee Do tells her the truth and of her desperation to get into Taeyang High School. Her mom leaves but has understood her daughter’s wish. She transfers her to Taeyang High School without her knowing. Yi Jin’s advice to talk to her mother worked for Hee Do, and she is more than happy, though she had to win a few more challenges to win over the coach. This is just one step for her, and she still has a mountain to cross.
Yi Jin is surprised to see Hee Do at his door when he is in his most vulnerable state. Hee Do does not see him sad like that and takes him to her old school. She does her favorite activity of twisting the faucet upside down and turning it on, making it look like a fountain. Yi Jin finds it childish but soon joins her by turning on all of the faucets. They have to run away before the night guard catches them. They are laughing and enjoying themselves. Hee Do tells him that even though he has promised those people, he would never be happy, he can be happy around her, and she will keep it as their secret.
Hee Do is a teenager, and Yi Jin is a young adult. Even though they are only four years apart in age, their thoughts are on completely different levels. Hee Do is very lively, optimistic, and courageous. She doesn’t think much before doing anything. She is not aware of the consequences, nor does she think about them. Yi Jin has lived his best life and now is living his worst life. He has seen the riches, and now he is seeing the rags. All of it happened before he could understand it. He was supposed to enjoy his youth in college, graduate, and then pursue his dreams, but all of that disappeared in a single blow. Now every single day is about surviving.
When Hee Do asks her ex-coach why her dreams should suffer because of him, he replies that it isn’t him but the times that are making them suffer. Hee Do had almost lost her dream, but she grabbed it again with her perseverance and her mother’s support. Time has also taken away everything from Yi Jin. He couldn’t protect his dream either. When you are young, with your parents’ support, no real responsibility, and oblivious to the real adult world out there, you are more courageous and enthusiastic like Hee Do. Once you grow up and suddenly have to become a responsible person with no actual support from your parents, the courage and the enthusiasm start to become less and less. Many dreams die when reality takes over, like what happened with Yi Jin.
However, no battle is an easy one for the one fighting it. Hee Do and Yi Jin are both fighting “the times” in their own way. Both are lonely in their own way. They had found a friend in each other when they needed it the most. The future is uncertain. Both of them don’t know how their lives are going to turn out or where they will be. They have each other right now, and in upcoming episodes of “Twenty Five Twenty One,” we can expect to see them help and uplift each other to live a better life today.
“Twenty Five Twenty One” is a 2022 romance drama series currently streaming on Netflix.