Twenty Five Twenty One (2022)

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Drama: Twenty Five Twenty One (스물다섯 스물하나)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: February 12 – April 3, 2022
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:10

Plot: A story about five friends and their once youthful lives filled with dreams, passion and love.

Main Cast
Kim Tae Ri – Na Hee Do
Nam Joo Hyuk – Baek Yijin
Bona – Ko Yurim
Choi Hyun Wook – Moon Ji Woong
Lee Joo Myoung – Ji Seung Wan

Review:
The title alone should already warn us of the ending but some didn’t take the hint.

I loved the nostalgia feel of the drama because I grew up in the 90s. Actually I was the same age as Heedo in 1998 that’s why even though I didn’t grow up in Korea and was not an athlete, I could still somehow relate to her. I keep thinking, she is my age. What if I were her friend? How would I support her? It also made me think of my own high school experience and how different I am from when I was 18 years old vs who I am now and how I interact with my friends. I could totally understand them, that even though so many years have passed and we don’t always get to meet often, we will always remain friends and when we get together, it’s as if time has not passed. We also reminisce the good and bad memories and laugh about it.

I really loved the friendship between Heedo and Yurim. They started out as strangers, almost like enemies, fan to idol. They fought, they disagreed, they supported and comforted each other through out their personal and professional lives. I loved and teared up in all their final matches and when Heedo retired and Yurim was there to support her. Boys/men can come and go but friends will always be forever. The writer is the same as Search WWW and it’s no wonder you can also feel some girl-love vibes between Heedo and Yurim (just like Gakyeong and Scarlet in WWW).

I also loved Heedo and Yijin’s relationship. I think the drama spent more time showing how close they were (friendship, brother-sister kind of love) and less than when they were in love. A lot of people hated the ending. They thought they should have ended together. I was fine either way, as long the writer end it well (more on this in the latter paragraphs). I think it was the right love at the wrong time. The love they had was real and it was what they needed during those times. But their circumstances and the events just didn’t make it possible for them to survive.

Maybe if they met in their 30s they could have handled the relationship better. But Heedo was in high school. Sometimes she was brave but often times she was still immature and couldn’t handle a relationship with an older guy. But give her a break, she was young, she still had so many things going on for her and I agree that she deserved to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t make her sad and worry. There are other guys out there and she knows herself and to walk away when she is no longer happy. But at the same time, she also didn’t empathize and understand enough with what Yijin was going through. That’s why they failed.

On the other hand, Yijin tried his best to stay away from Heedo. Not only was she younger than him, he knows he also has a lot of issues to work with himself and his career and his family. Plus the trauma of witnessing the New York attacks took a toll on his mental state. I believe he wasn’t in the right state of mind to maintain a relationship and it was best to let go, no matter painful it was. I was also crying in that scene when they knew it was over and just wanted to take back all the hurtful words they said to each other. Their looks told me they may have broken up but they will always love and support each other. Just like 10 years later when they meet again via Yijin’s show. Although they haven’t kept in touch, you can see they’re still happy for each other and how far they have gone from 10 years ago.

On the other hand, Yurim and Jiwoong’s happy ever after is a contrast to H&Y. Despite the LDR they still made it work. Again, I would say the difference is that they didn’t have a lot of issues to deal with. No mommy issues, no mental health or career issues. That’s why it was easier for them to stay long and strong. I loved the proposal. Very creative Jiwoong and very apt for Yurim.

What I didn’t like in this drama? I think the present timeline wasn’t necessary. Maybe because they used a different actress to play Heedo and she had a very different vibe from the younger Heedo. It makes you think what happened to her all these years and how her youth and passionate love shaped her into who she is now but we didn’t get any of that.

Instead the present timeline served more as a way to introduce the story and was weakly trying to show a parallel between Heedo and her daughter who wanted to quit ballet. Before, Heedo’s mom was against her continuing fencing, but mom Heedo didn’t force Minchae if she didn’t want to do ballet anymore. Minchae, through reading Heedo’s diary also got inspired after reading all the hard work that Heedo went through to reach her success and made her want to take up ballet again.

Those were fine, but it doesn’t really link back to Yijin and Heedo’s story, which was very much the center of the plot. I felt like maybe she wasn’t really over Yijin? It felt like she had so many regrets and that she only had closure when she found her diary. Also, we didn’t see who she married and why they married. Is she happy? If she is happy why is she still not over the diary? Why did she have to go back to the tunnel and look so regretful? If she left Yijin because she wanted to have a relationship with someone who would be there for her, then why is her husband not around? The ending /present timeline really did not close the story well.

We also do not get see what happened to older Yijin aside from being UBS anchor. Did he marry or did he stay single because he couldn’t get over Heedo? He was able to build a home for his family, and we see his younger brother look so grown up. Is he happy? He is the male lead but I felt we didn’t get his own ending.

Overall, I loved this drama. It made me cry buckets of tears every single episode and made me feel so much emotions. I just wish the ending was stronger and made more impact considering the rest of the 15 episodes were almost perfect.

Rating: 9/10

Love Alarm S2 (2021)

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Drama: Love Alarm Season 2 (좋아하면 울리는 시즌 2)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 6
Release Date: March 12, 2021

Plot:

Main Cast:
Kim So Hyun – Kim Jojo
Song Kang – Hwang Sun-oh
Jung Garam – Lee Hyeyoung
Go Minsi – Park Gulmi
Kim Si Eun – Yukjo
Ki Do Hoon – Brian Chon

Review:
Link to my Season 1 review: http://kdramadreaming.com/2019/12/21/love-alarm-s1-2019/


I really wanted Jojo to be with Sunoh in S1 but after watching S2 eps 1-4, I actually felt relieved that Jojo chose Hyeyoung and Sunoh had the closure he wanted (and free from toxic Jojo!! Yehey!!).

There are Different Kinds of Love
I think Jojo made the right choice to choose Hyeyoung. They are both boring and simple (which is not bad) and they worked well as a couple. I felt like that Sunoh was made to look pathetic, stalking Jojo like Hyeyoung did in S1 so I really felt bad for Sunoh and thought he deserved so much better than that. And I felt it was unfair that Jojo never gave him the same chance she gave Hyeyoung.

That shield. It was because of me. To hide your feelings for me. You installed in as you pleased, and hid it as you pleased. You didn’t even give me time to prepare. Look into your heart properly now. I won’t let you go now without understanding why.”

episode 4, Sunoh confronting Jojo

Love is Timing
The story didn’t start from the end of S1 where they all met at the conference, so it felt like a huge chunk of time went by and we didn’t know what happened in between. Suddenly Jojo and Hyeyoung were a couple (bf/gf) and not just “dating”. I mean, Sunoh didn’t have a fighting chance since Hyeyoung has been there for Jojo for so many years and at Jojo’s point where she was ready to let go of the past and move forward. Sunoh’s time has passed.

Did you ever regret installing the shield?

I regretted it every second. But still I think I’d install it again. I learned a lot through that choice. So even if I were to go back in time, I’d install the shield again, regret it again and be hurt again. I’m sorry.

episode 6, Jojo finally apologizing to Sunoh and getting closure

Passionate Love vs Steady Love
From Ep 1-4, it felt like Jojo was forcing herself to love Hyeyoung out of pity. And everyone was so obsessed with ringing each other’s alarm. Jojo eventually fell in love with a nice guy like Hyeyoung. It may not have been the passionate love at first sight kind of love that she experienced with Sunoh, but it’s also a valid and very real kind of love.

When you came to my school, all I could think about was Hyeyoung. Even when that video went viral, the old me would have only thought of running away. But back then, I could only think about how hurt Hyeyoung must be and I knew I had to go to him. That was all I could think about.

episode 4, Jojo finally showing her true feelings

You Can’t Force a Person to Fall In Love With You
On the other hand, I felt bad for Yukjo. Unlike Hyeyoung, she didn’t “get” the guy she wanted. This drama showed that Jojo slowly fell in love with Hyeyoung through his consistent efforts but it may not always work for everyone. Yukjo is such a nice girl and girlfriend, yet despite her efforts, Sunoh still didn’t love her. I did like the open ending where Sunoh told Yukjo that he will make effort too until he rings her bell. Again, it goes back to having the free will and decision to love a person and not putting so much attention on an app.

I actually liked Gulmi here. She probably had the most character growth (although she didn’t really change that much). Lol I didn’t make sense.

The morale of the story didnt really had an impact to me because even though they talked about timing and volition, their actions didnt match the lesson.

Rating: 6/10

The Tale of Nokdu (2019)

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Drama: The Tale of Nokdu (조선로코 녹두전)
Network: KBS2
Episodes: 32
Release Date: September 30 – November 25, 2019
Runtime: Mon & Tue 22:00

Plot
Nokdu disguises as a woman and hides in a widow’s village, trying to find who and why they are trying to kill his family. Inside the village, he meets a Dong Ju, who is a gisaeng-in-training, but hides a secret of her own.

Main Cast
Jang Dong Yoon – Jeon Nokdu
Kim So Hyun – Dong Dong Ju
Kang Tae Oh – Cha Yul Moo
Jung Jun Ho – King Gwanghae

Review:
I heard so many good things about this show and maybe that’s why i had high expectations, but i didnt like it as much as i thought i would.

The first half was funny but then it got boring because there was not a lot of action happening and the leads just keep talking in every scene. I fast forwarded some scenes 🤫 unfortunately. I also didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between the two actors. I also didn’t find Nokdu handsome or manly, maybe because he was supposed to act like a lady so they found an actor who has a smaller frame and looked more feminine. He looked tiny in those scenes where he is standing across from Yulmoo, who looked so handsome and imposing with his sturdy built. Unfortunately, Yul Moo is a crazy psycho prince so I’m all for Nokdu!

I liked the sword fight scenes especially when the Muwol Corps are fighting. I also loved the supporting characters like the Queen, Yunjo and Heo who tried their best to persuade the King to not kill the child, and the old master who was always by Nokdu’s side (i was scared that he will die in the last scene). I didn’t like the little girl, though, i thought she was annoying and not cute.

The second half of the story was a little better, starting from when Yulmo revealed his identity and the plans for revolt starting happening. I was more interested in the political part rather than the widow village and romantic scenes.

The King was awful and Prince Neungyang too but we know he will end up with the throne. So half of the time I’m asking, why waste 16 episodes just to find out the bad guy wins? What was this show supposed to tell the viewers? Then I realized the title is called The Tale of Nokdu so it’s not about the throne but about Nokdu’s growth. and I loved the happy-ever-after! 🥰 They are just so happy to live in their tiny island away from all the political strife. And the Queen gets to live with the couple too!! I didn’t even care what happens to the King or the Prince! They can take the throne and fight one another or die!

Rating: 7.5/10

Love Alarm Season 1 (2019)

Love_Alarm-Netflix-P1

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Drama: Love Alarm (좋아하면 울리는)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 8
Release Date: August 22, 2019
Plot
A new cellphone app is causing a frenzy among the people. If someone likes you and they are within 10 meters of you, the Joalarm for the app rings. The app also shows how many people like you, but the app doesn’t reveal specific details on who likes you. Kim JoJo is a pretty, smart but poor high school student who tries to leave a simple life just working hard to earn a living for herself. On the other hand, Hwang Sun-O is a popular handsome student at the same high school where Kim Jo-Jo attends. He is the son of a wealthy family, but he is not loved by his parents. His best friend Lee Hye-Young also attends the same high school. Hwang Sun-O notices that his best friend Lee Hye-Young likes Kim Jo-Jo. Hwang Sun-O wants to know if his friend really likes her, so he kisses her.
Main Cast
Kim So-hyun – Kim Jojo
Song Kang – Hwang Sun-O
Jung Ga-ram – Lee Hye-young
Review
I watched this way back in August when this first came out in Netflix and i was as addicted and hooked as everyone else! I haven’t watched a kdrama about high schoolers for so long cause I find them juvenile now, but this was just so much fun and angsty to watch? You dont need to ask me if I’m Team Sun Oh or Team Hye Young! Of course I’m Team Sun Oh! I know some are saying he was such a jerk for “stealing” Jo Jo away from Hye Young when he knows how much his best friend likes her, but (i’m not defending him) he asked Hye Young several times if he liked her and he always said no, and i thought it was love at first sight, not just for him but for JoJo as well. They obviously like each other so why can’t they be together? Jojo never liked Hye Young (mostly dont even know him) so no one was stealing anyone. All’s fair in love and war right? And Hye Young is a creepy stalker!! Followed her around without her knowing and was too shy and coward to talk to her and tell her how he feels. Sun Oh made his intentions known and wasn’t afraid to go all out for her.But what about the boyfriend? it was quite obvious that Jojo and the boyfriend was so over and it didn’t take long for them to break up. I didn’t like Jojo’s best friend- trying to be all nice but was actually backstabbing Jojo because she liked Jojo’s boyfriend! I’m glad the boyfriend turned her down- serves her right for being an awful friend.I could understand why Jojo broke up with Sun Oh after the accident – she must really feel terrible that she seems to be putting Sun Oh in danger and getting him in all sorts of trouble. and Jojo is sensible enough to break up before her feelings gets even deeper. They’re in high school – they will get over this and move on. Right?

But poor Sun Oh. he never got over her. and i think it’s mostly because he never got closure. Years later, they finally meet again but Sun Oh is icy cold and angry.. but still ringing Jojo’s love alarm (what a sad puppy). I’m sure Jojo is really resisting to fall in love with him again. Now Hye Young is back too and this time is older and has finally found the courage to go after Jojo. Who will Jojo choose? Her first love that made her feel alive or this nice comfortable guy who has been there for her all this time?

Aside from the love triangle, the drama also explores the impact of the Joalarm to the society. How sad and lonely people feel when no one rings their alarm and they resort to suicide. It’s scary to think how much people feels pressure to be liked and loved. Why can’t we go back to the old time when life was simple? Do we really have to complicate things and set this standards that are so high and is becoming toxic?

I can’t wait for season 2! I know Jojo ended up with Hye Young in the comic book but with the way the first season was written, there was no indication that Jojo ever liked Hye Young so i hope she either ends up with Sun Oh or the writer better give us the reason why she should be with Hye Young. (Sun Oh is hard to beat though – he is rich, handsome and actually a nice guy).