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

The Great Battle (2018)

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Movie: The Great Battle (안시성)
Release Date: September 19, 2018
Runtime: 135 min.
Distributor: Next Entertainment World
Country: South Korea

Cast
Jo In Sung – Yang Manchu
Nam Joo Hyuk – Samul
Park Sung Woong – Taizhong
Bae Sung Woo – Choo Soo Ji
Um Tae Goo – Paso
Seol Hyun – Bekha
Park Byung Eun – Poong
Oh Dae Hwan – Hwalbo
Jung Eun Chae – Shi Mi
Sung Dong Il – Woo Dae

Review
As the movie name suggests, this 2 hour movie is about the 2 month battle between the 5,000 army of Commander Yang in Ansi vs the 200,000 army of Chinese emperor Taizhong.

Not sure how accurate the war strategy depicted in the movie, but while watching with my friend, we were thinking, if we were Yang, how can we defeat a strong army with few troops and limited resources? The answer is a lot of strategy, courage, and faith. We did think they could have done more to defeat the Chinese army, like using fire and pushing the ladder much earlier but i guess they delayed these for a more epic scenes.

This movie boasts of an ensemble cast so they tried to have some story for each one, like Samul’s trust in Yang, the rivalry between the Hwalbo and Poong, the tragic love story between Paso and Bekha, and love between Woo Dae and his mom. Jumong’s bow added a mythical touch to the story (like King Arthur and his sword or Thor and his hammer).

Rating: 8.5/10

Unexpected Business (2021)

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Variety Show: Unexpected Business (어쩌다 사장)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 11
Air Dates: February 25 to May 6, 2021
Location: Woncheon-ri, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Plot:
Cha Tae Hyun and Jo In Sung takes over a convenience store/bar for 10 days while the owner is away. Every day, their celebrity friends come over to help them run the store.

Main Cast:
Cha Tae Hyun – manager
Jo In Sung – chef

Part-timers:
Park Bo Young, Yoon Kyung Ho, Kim Jae Hwa, Park Kyung Hye, Shin Seung Hwan, Nam Joo Hyuk, Park Byung Eun, Park Inbee, Nam Gi Hyeob, Park Inah, Yoon Si Yoon, Dong Hyun Bae, Jo Bo Ah, Hong Kyung Min

Review:
Just loved Cha Tae Hyun and Jo In Sung even more after watching the show! Totally unexpected indeed, esp seeing Insung in a variety show as the main cast, and I think he did well.

Park Bo Young was the perfect guest to start the show. She is so cute and smart!

My favorite episodes were when Yoon Kyung Ho, Kim Jae Hwa and Park Kyung Hye came over. Their dinner scene was so much fun!! Really felt like the were really close. Teasing each other, singing together as we do with our long time buddies.

Shin Seung Hwan has a huge appetite! I think some people might find him annoying, because he kept eating, but Tae Hyun is so nice, he just laughed and laughed at him. At first I thought he was being rude for eating food that is not his, but then I thought Tae Hyun and Insung has so much food it would be a waste if they don’t finish them all. I also liked how good he was at thinking of food pairings because I do that too!

I also loved the fishing trip and playing in the snow – it made me miss going out so much!

Inbee and Gi Hyeob is couple goals!! They looked so sweet and romantic! And I loved the Thai food they cooked!

I wish the episode with Yoon Si Yoon and Dong Hyun Bae were longer. Maybe they were too busy that day, but I felt like they didn’t have much time to bond.

I didn’t really like Jo Bo Ah in Tale of Nine Tailed, but seeing her here made me see her in a new light. She is sweet and charming! I hope also tries romcom so we can see her funny side!

Rating: 9/10

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2017)

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Drama: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo (역도요정 김복주)
Network: MBC
Episodes: 16
Release Date: November 16, 2016 – January 11, 2017
Runtime: Wednesdays & Thursdays 22:00

Plot
This is a story of Kim Bok Joo’s journey as a weightlifting medallist/student in Haneul Sport University. Her family runs a chicken restaurant and she has 2 good friends. One day she meets with her old schoolmate, Junhyung, who is in the swimming team. Her roommate is Si-ho, who is a rhythmic gymnast and ex-girlfriend of Jun Hyung. What follows is a nice youth romance drama.

Main Cast
Lee Sung Kyung – Kim Bok Joo
Nam Joo Hyuk – Jung Jun Hyung
Lee Jae Yoon – Jung Jae Yi
Kyung Soo Jin – Song Si Ho
Cho Hye Jung – Jung Nan Hee
Lee Joo Young – Lee Seon Ok

Review
Finally took time to watch this show. they all said this was such a great drama. To be honest, i wasn’t impressed in the first couple of episodes. I liked the characters but not enough to invest in them. but i had a lot of free time and i ended up watching one episode after another until i didn’t realize how much i was so into the show, the characters and finished watching within a week.

Favorite character – Kim Bok Joo. She is positive and cheerful, she’s a great athlete, friend, daughter, girlfriend. I love how she is so cute and charming, no wonder Jun Hyung loved her despite being so simple.

Favorite couple – Kim Bok Joo and Jun Hyung. i love friends-turned-lovers story. At first i thought Jun Hyung was a cute but annoying energizer bunny but he shines whenever he stops being annoying and is always there for Bok Joo, supporting her, knowing how to handle her and what to do even without her saying. Likewise, Bok Joo looked “stronger”than him and she always tries to “beat”him or shout at him, i don’t think it’s abuse, i find it so endearing and it’s her way of showing her love for him.
Note: my 2nd favorite couple is Jae Yi and A-yeong. Sure, Jae Yi is a little bit boring and slow but they are also a friends-turned-lovers and they just matched well.

Favorite bromance – Bok Joo’s dad and uncle. Why is Kang Ki Young in every single show I’ve watched in? He’s like everywhere. He is starting to grow on me and i get excited everytime i see him in the drama. I know he will just be funny. Note: the cameo is Kim Seul Gi is hilarious! She seems to always play a sassy girl.

Favorite episode(s) – Episode 7 and 13. Broke my heart seeing Bok Joo’s heart broken from her first love. Likewise, when JunHyung met his mom. I can feel that both actors were not acting. They became Bok Joo and JunHyung.
Character I most loved to hate – Si Ho. I hated her character. Just because nothing’s going well with her life doesn’t give her an excuse to be mean to people. or force people to like her back. But she had a lot of issues to go through. the only time i liked her was during her final competition when she just let everything go and accepted herself.

I haven’t watched youth romance/drama in a long time, mostly because I think i have outgrown them. I can no longer relate to high school/college problems and issues. But this show was so good i didn’t mind watching and reliving all my college worries. I wish i can go to their university as a nuna and tell them about life after college. It was also interesting to see a show about athletes. I’ve never been one and I’ve also been fascinated by athlete’s dedication and passion to their sport. I realized they do have a lot of struggles, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Like, how would i feel if i never win a medal at a sport that i really love and one that i have practiced for so long? What happens after you retire? Where do you go?
A season 2 will be fun to watch – not exactly the same characters – it can be a totally new character from the gymnastics team, a totally new team, or maybe one of Bok Joo’s friends.