Twenty Five Twenty One (2022)

Profile:
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

Racket Boys (2021)

Profile:
Drama: Racket Boys (라켓소년단)
Network: SBS
Episodes: 16
Release Date: May 31 – July 20, 2021
Runtime: Mon & Tue 22:00

Plot
A story of young badminton players vying for the junior sports competition while learning about friendship, family, teamwork, love and success.

Main Cast
Tang Jung Sang – Yoon Hae Kang
Son Sang Yeon – Bang Yoon Dam
Choi Hyun Wook – Na Woo Chan
Kim Kang Hoon – Lee Young Tae
Kim Sang Kyung – Yoon Hyeon Jong
Oh Nara – Ra Yeong Ja
Lee Jae In – Han Se Yoon
Lee Ji Won – Lee Han Sol

Review
Absolute gem!!

I came for the sports themed drama and stayed for the kids! Haekang, Yoondam, Woochan, Yongtae, Insol, Seyoon and Hansol were perfectly casted! I’ll predict they are the new generation Kdrama prince and princesses in the making!!

I love the kids’ friendship and romance.
Haekang – He’s such a typical confident kid “I’m the one and only Yoon Hae Kang”. He sounds like a jerk but you’ll come to love him, especially when he shows how much he is a softie. I love Haekang’s growth from hating the village life and his team and becoming passionate about the sport. And how he had found his real friends.

Yoondam – he’s so handsome, like a young Hyun Bin. And i love his cute love story with Hansol. He is also a nice captain.

Woochan – except for his hair, he is also cute, like a young Jang Ki Yong! I love his friendship with Youngtae, his struggles as being an “average” player. I think in a team, everyone needs to have their own position. We can’t have two stars or two captains. So i think Woochan’s position in the team is the best defensive player, who will back the star, and that’s equally important. I love that he finally got to play badminton and I love his scene with his military father.

Lee Yong Tae is like a mini Hae Kang, always so confident even at a young age. He’s also a crybaby. I like the story where he finally got past his imitation of his idol, Lee Young Dae and came up with his own playing style.

Insol – a great addition to the team. I would say he’s not only the brains, but he also has equal badminton skills as the others. I mean, he almost won against Haekang (the final scene was controversial, given that he gave way to Haekang). A few more years and he will be part of the national team too. And i love the super strict father who ended up being his best fan.

I also loved the two girls – Seyoon and Hansol. Seyoon’s is such an amazing and dedicated badminton player. No wonder she’s the best junior player in the country. I love her love story with Hae Kang, it was slow burn from the very start and finally culminated when Hae Kang won the NJSP. I’m amazed by how mature the kids are in this drama. Maybe because they are athletes.

I love loved Jiwon as Seyoon’s best friend. That episode 14 where the drama highlighted the girls’ friendship had me in tears.

I also liked the interaction between the other kids. They maybe rivals on-court but off-court they are friends and have respect for one another.

The coaches — esp. Coach Yoon, Coach Ra, Coach Whitewolf .. sometimes as adults we think we know it all, but sometimes it’s good to learn from the kids too. Coach Yoon came off as a slacker coach but when he starting putting his heart in coaching, he really did well. Coach Ra is very strict since she is a perfectionist, but the episode where they revealed her back story was also sad, and made me admire how tough she has been all these years.

I also loved the badminton matches. I read they all trained for 6-9 months and it really shows.

It took me some time to warm up to the villagers but they were good people. And accepted the badminton team as their own. I cried when grandma passed away.

I’d like to have a season 2 because i love the kids, but i’m afraid it won’t be as good so i’ll just rewatch this.

Rating: 9/10