“I Love You, Mum”
Episode 11 of Twenty Five Twenty One starts with Hee-Do and Yi-Jin down on the beach, messing about. It’s the final day before Yi-Jin heads back home with the others.
Yi-Jin symbolically leaves coins on the payphone though, something that Ji-Woong notices as he takes the coins and puts them in his pocket. The group take some really nice photos, which Hee-Do admires when they get back.
With the suspension on Hee-Do and Yu-Rim lifting, Coach Yang starts to get back into the swing of things. Training has returned, although it comes right as Ji-Woong invites Yu-Rim to his concert. Yu-Rim doesn’t waste any time letting him know, although Ji-Woong’s plan here was to ask her out on stage.
Funnily enough, Yu-Rim actually knew Hee-Do from before all of this happened. Not from the tournament but from school. Yu-Rim ended up getting upset, seeing Hee-Do doing poorly. She wanted her to do well, and after winning all those gold medals, Yu-Rim admits she’s still scared of Hee-Do, given her fiery tenacity and talent.
That night, Hee-Do and Yi-Jin head out for dinner together, celebrating Yi-Jin becoming a reporter. The pair discuss memories, with Yi-Jin teasing her about her scruffy appearance and not looking at his business card properly.
Yi-Jin’s promotion comes with its own perks, including the other reporters being nice to him and, of course, letting him have the responsibility of sorting out the documentary.
When Yi-Jin arrives at the restaurant that night for the team dinner, Hee-Do’s mother is there, trying to sober up outside. Yi-Jin hands over a drink to Jae-Kyung, intending to try and help her out.
The pair talk about dreams, with Yi0Jin admitting that becoming a sports reporter isn’t his dream but he just wants to do a good job
Jae-Kyung wants to call it a night, admitting she has a date with her daughter…but there’s a problem. Breaking news across Korea needs to be reported and that comes from Jae-Kyung.
She delivers the news about an escaped convict, Chang-Won. She does so with confidence and restraint, being able to keep a clear head despite being drunk. Yi-Jin is impressed.
Unfortunately this has a knock-on effect of affecting her relationship with Hee-Do. Her mother has always chosen work over her, and the start of this rift came all the way back in 1993 when Jae-Kyung made a bold decision and decided to broadcast a news flash over attending her husband’s funeral.
Jae-Kyung wasn’t forced to do this though, she offered to do it herself, wanting to prove herself and, I guess, not allow herself to be consumed by her depressive thoughts. Jae-Kyung has been full of resentment since then, but continues to choose her career over her family.
That night, Yi-Jin manages to bring Hee-Do and Yu-Rim along to Ji-Woong’s concert. Yi-Jin shows up backstage and begins questioning their playing but somehow manages to bag himself a spot on stage playing an encore with them. And the song? One of the absolute bangers from the soundtrack, Starlight.
While Yi-Jin is on stage playing, he locks eyes with Hee-Do, who looks at him in a different light. She sees the boy whose tapes she listened to the whole time she was training and heads backstage, beaming from ear to ear. She actually convinces him to do a broadcast for the radio too, just like old times.
Back on stage, Ji-Woong makes his big speech and looks directly at Yu-Rim. He mouths the words “Yu-Rim, I like you. Will you go out with me?” to which she nods. When Hee-Do finds out, she’s pretty shocked but also delighted, as the group head up to the rooftop and watch the fireworks.
One of the ongoing issues this episode has come from Hee-Do’s father’s chairs. This is something we saw earlier on in the episode and they ended up getting broken when Hee-Do moved them in the middle of the storm.
Although Hee-Do believed Jae-Kyung threw them out, in reality she actually took them to get fixed up. When Hee-Do finds out, she looks at her mother in a different light.
That much is especially apparent when they visit his gravestone at the end, with Jae-Kyung breaking down into tears. As she admits how much she misses her father, Hee-Do starts crying too.
This is a really beautiful moment and the montage that ensues after shows just what a rift there’s been between the two characters all season long.
With Jae-Kyung finally opening up, and Hee-Do starting to warm to her too, we cut forward to our present day timeline where Jae-Kyung regrets leaving her daughter alone so much in the past. As they hold hands, with Min-Chae watching on, “I love you Mum” fade us to black.
The Episode Review
Twenty Five Twenty One delivers a really good episode here, one that starts to lean into the mother/daughter relationship that Hee-Do and Jae-Kyung share. It’s beautifully written and incredibly accurate for anyone who has had an estranged relationship with their parents.
The way Jae-Kyung broke down and started crying at the end is a really poignant moment, while the drunken encounter with Yi-Jin outside the restaurant goes some way to show where her values lie.
Ji-Woong and Yu-Rim finally getting together is certainly a welcome moment too, managing to show that teenage romance angle and doing it in a sweet and tender way.
The whole show has been really well written and Twenty Five Twenty One has certainly grown into its storyline, delivering a solid storyline. Is this one of the best k-dramas of 2022?