It’s 100% understandable why everyone loves this K-Drama, and it’s already being referred to as one of the best. It’s practically perfect as it includes everything that qualifies a drama to be great. It has visually-stunning cinematography, a touching and timeless yet timely storyline, many priceless comedic moments, and an all-star cast including Kim Tae Ri, Nam Joo Hyuk, Cosmic Girls‘ Bona, and Lee Joo Myung.
If by chance, you haven’t seen the drama yet or are not caught up on it, 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.
Since Episode 1, the K-Drama has not shied away from heavy content. It touches on profound themes. Still, for the most part, it remained lighthearted enough to stay classified as “Coming Of Age” and “Romantic-Comedy” genres. It even contained many hilarious moments that earned the “Comedy” in rom-com.
— daisy han ²⁵²¹ (@kdramadaisy) March 19, 2022
"gosh, how can i help her break this bad habit?" *proceed devouring the meals
— daisy han ²⁵²¹ (@kdramadaisy) March 13, 2022
So, fans of Twenty Five Twenty One were shocked when the drama’s genre changed officially.
— yuri (@kdeurama_) March 19, 2022
Previously, eagle-eyed fans noticed a small detail in online listings for Twenty Five Twenty One. When you now search for Twenty Five Twenty One, it’s categorized as “Melodrama,” although it had been “Rom-Com.”
Naturally, fans were concerned about the direction the drama would take, considering the genre change. Of course, romantic comedies are not free from delving into serious topics, but they consistently have happy endings. Melodramas, on the other hand, are darker.
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.
Now, after the release of Episode 14 of Twenty Five Twenty One, all of these concerns have been proven valid.
While Saturday’s release of Episode 13 remained consistent with the rest of the drama series, Episode 14 came as a shock. The latest episode even began with a different opening title sequence than what we’ve become accustomed to.
Previous episodes began with happy shots of the cast, particularly from the characters’ beach trip. The K-Drama’s theme song was also the upbeat OST “Go!” by SEVENTEEN‘s DK (also known as Dokyeom).
While some earlier episodes contained an alternative theme, the most frequently used was the cheerful “Go!” An often forgotten opening sequence uses BIBI‘s “Very, Slowly,” giving a more sentimental vibe. This version was used for Episode 14.
This certainly gave viewers an idea as to what was to come in Episode 14. Despite the seemingly happy beginnings of our main couple finally getting together and the friend group going out for drinks, things took a turn for the worst.
*heedo and yijin started dating*
heedo: please say something
yurim: heedo deserves better
jiwoong: yijin hyung deserves better
seungwan: I deserve better
— 태리파이어²⁵²¹ (@taerifier) March 26, 2022
Ko Yu Rim’s father ends up in a terrible car wreck, resulting in injuries for both himself and the other driver. While he thankfully survived, the other driver is in the worse condition, and the victim’s family blames Mr. Ko.
Already in debt, Mr. Ko and his family struggle to find a solution to the problem as they hope to gather enough money to settle with the victim’s family. So, Yu Rim, heartbroken to see her family continue to suffer, makes a sacrifice and accepts the best offer there is for her as a fencing athlete.
restaurant owner: sorry but i don't sell food for someone who sells their country for money
yurim: i never sold my country to earn money. i sold myself for money. i'm here as a customer, so give me my jjajangmyeon
— 태리파이어²⁵²¹ (@taerifier) March 27, 2022
Russia offers the most money for her to compete on behalf of the country. Unfortunately, she has to change her citizenship.
— 제로 (@imzeroclock) March 27, 2022
The majority of the episode focuses on the struggles she and her family face due to these struggles. For example, the public paints Ko Yu Rim as a “traitor” to her country,” and Baek Yi Jin, a family friend, has to report on the news despite his connection to her.
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
That’s not all, though. Although our main couple, Baek Yi Jin and Na Hee Do, recently made their relationship official, the ending of Episode 14 shocked viewers, implying that perhaps they moved on from each other in the future.
At the beginning of Episode 14, Na Hee Do’s daughter, Kim Min Chae, struggles to find the next journal of her mom’s to find out if she and Baek Yi Jin dated. Unable to find anything, she goes online to see if they ended up in a dating scandal, knowing they were both famous.
Instead, she finds an old news interview clip from 2009 in which Baek Yi Jin interviewed Na He Doo after a win in San Franciso. Despite a professional setting, the two caught up as they hadn’t spoken recently, causing viewers to fear they had grown apart.
Yet, the drama went back to the past of 2000 to unfold the events as mentioned before relating to Ko Yu Rim and their friends.
The K-Drama writers circled back in the last couple of minutes of the episode. Much to viewers’ surprise, Baek Yi Jin belatedly congratulates Na Hee Do on “her wedding” in the interview.
throwing such emotional remarks on national tv such as personally rooting for eo that's not even in behalf of the nation and an athlete publicly showing her unwavering support to an anchor she's supposed to have no business with .. are normalized ??? sus#TwentyFiveTwentyOneEP14 pic.twitter.com/geHiOaEPhQ
— 2521 ᵇᵘᵇ (@jjwohyuk) March 27, 2022
Twenty Five Twenty One fans are absolutely stunned by Episode 14.
"congratulations on your wedding, na hee do." – baek yijin
— 🍑🐰 (@hiiieva_) March 27, 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
WE WERE SO HAPPY LAST NIGHT..
The way they gave us hope in episode 13 and immediately crushed it at episode 14…like bro couldn’t u have waited at least one more episode⁉️⁉️#TwentyFiveTwentyOne #TwentyFiveTwentyOneEp14 pic.twitter.com/prAgDm8dK7
— Yijin’s soulmate #2521 • LET’S BE MOOTS (@NJHforever__) March 27, 2022
Literally, in just one episode, the genre shifted so fast.
does it ever just how
drive you fast the night
crazy changes pic.twitter.com/0kOAbzRRSI
— Steph²⁵²¹ (@kdramasluvbot) March 27, 2022
— 제로 (@imzeroclock) March 27, 2022
Still, there are two more episodes, so let’s hope that everything is not as it seems.