Viewers of tvN‘s K-Drama Twenty Five Twenty One have absolutely loved the drama. Yet, they have been confused about its genre, resulting in anxiety over the potential ending.
Twenty Five Twenty One alternates between the present day and the past as it parallels the struggles of youth during both the COVID-19 pandemic and the IMF (the International Monetary Fund) crisis. However, it also focuses on the romantic lives of five characters in the ’90s, with the main focus being on female lead Na Hee Do, played by Kim Tae Ri, and male lead Baek Yi Jin (sometimes romanized as Back Yi Jin), played by Nam Joo Hyuk.
In a time when dreams seem out of reach, a teen fencer pursues big ambitions and meets a hardworking young man who seeks to rebuild his life.
The drama has a lot of heart and consistently touches on serious themes. Yet, it has remained lighthearted, including many funny moments.
"gosh, how can i help her break this bad habit?" *proceed devouring the meals
— daisy han (@kdramadaisy) March 13, 2022
— daisy han (@kdramadaisy) March 19, 2022
Not only that but at its core are evolving love stories of five characters. So, it has been classified as “Romantic-Comedy” in the genre.
i can't believe that this hilarious scene was filled with adlibs!!! the leads were the ones who made it legendary when they decided to shove that bun into their mouths lol
— shanie🍥 ²⁵²¹ (@jjwogio) March 30, 2022
So, it came as a shock to many when the genre for Twenty Five Twenty One was changed recently. Eagle-eyed fans noticed that it’s categorized as “Melodrama,” although it had been “Rom-Com” on online listings.
— yuri (@kdeurama_) March 19, 2022
This concerned fans that it could result in a tragic ending despite being a heartwarming drama for so many episodes. Romantic-Comedies, too, can delve into serious content but what consistently sets them apart from Melodramas is one has happy endings, and the other doesn’t.
In contrast to Western Melodrama, the concept of suffering is a fundamental component. It is partly captured in the word han, which is a deep-seated feeling of sorrow, bitterness, or despair that originates in oppression or injustice which accumulates over time and remains unexpressed in the heart. It is believed by some to be a distinguishing characteristic of the Korean culture. Another distinguishing characteristic of Korean melodrama is the emphasis on family. While Western Melodrama tends to focus on the individual, the portrayal of the self in relation to the family in Korean Melodrama is significant. Early melodramatic texts typically dramatize the moral superiority of old values.
In American melodramas, restages of social and cultural values are also pivotal. However, there is more of a tendency to evaluate the rapid transformation of social relations by looking back and consulting the old order of things. In typical endings, characters whose world has collapsed around them usually find another form of personal satisfaction and re-invest their faith in the typical American dream: a classic Hollywood happy ending. Contrast this to Korean melodramas, where the main characters don’t recover. When Korean melodrama characters realize they’ve lost it all, the film usually takes them back to a fleeting memory of past happiness and then ends, eschewing resolution.
It seemed like all fans’ concerns were becoming a reality in Episode 14. The episode contained major plot twists and heartbreaking moments. Just a few examples are the implications that Baek Yi Jin and Na Hee Do aren’t endgame, Yi Jin struggling with personal life and job responsibilities, and Ko Yu Rim choosing to accept Russia’s offer to fence on behalf of the country rather than her own after her dad suffers a vehicle collision, etc.
yijin and yurim's characters represent how life doesn't always leave us with options. you don't get the privilege to pick and choose. sometimes you just have to let go of your dreams to survive#TwentyFiveTwentyOne#TwentyFiveTwentyOneEp14 pic.twitter.com/WoIKTDbLS8
— ᵉʳⁱ (@into_suzy) March 28, 2022
the truth is, while people are rooting for Hee Do's Fencing Journey, 2521 is also about Yi-Jin who's suffering alone.
— 𝚏𝚘𝚕𝚔𝚕𝚘𝚛𝚎𝚒𝚜𝚝 (@erkstx) March 27, 2022
Still, fans are holding out hope for a happy ending. Many have created unique theories that make it possible for all the characters to live happily ever after…
— 백이진²⁵²¹ (@njh_supremacy) March 28, 2022
IT'S NOT THAT HEEDO IS WITH ANOTHER MAN NOW THEY'RE JUST BEING LOWKEY ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE OF PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES
— ria ²⁵²¹ (@vincensus) March 27, 2022
So, fans have been using humor as a coping mechanism. Some have even attempted to change the genre themselves on Wikipedia.
Now, it appears that once and for all Twenty Five Twenty One‘s genre has changed, but this time for the better. Google now categorizes it as a “Coming-of-age story.” Out of all three different genres, “Rom-com,” “Melodrama,” and “Coming-of-age story,” the final seems the most appropriate to define this K-Drama.
We’ve seen three different genres for Twenty Five Twenty One in just one month. Perhaps the reason why it was so hard to select just one is that the drama is undeniable. It’s truly one-of-a-kind.
Twenty Five Twenty One is concluding this weekend with its final two episodes. International viewers can watch it on Netflix.
Read more about Twenty Five Twenty One below: