From Russia With Love
Episode 14 of Twenty Five Twenty One starts with Min-Chae desperate to find her mother’s next diary. Realizing that the age of the internet is just starting to drop upon us, Min-Chae heads online and finds a news article from 2009.
Yi-Jin is reporting, where he communicates with Hee-Do after wining her third gold medal in a row. They keep things professional, with Yi-Jin addressing the audience and pointing out he’s covered Hee-Do’s development for large stretches of her career. She reflects back on the hardest match she’s had, coming from the final in Madrid 2001, against none other than Yu-Rim.
So how did Yu-Rim get to play for the Russian team? Well, to find out we jump to February 2000. Yi-Jin and Hee-Do head inside holding hands, admitting they’re official now to Ji-Woong and the gang. Ji-Woong points out how beautiful Yi-Jin is, while Seung-Wan laments that she’s now the third wheel in this group dynamic.
However, that’s soon thwarted when the gang all start playing drinking games. It’s pretty funny, especially as it’s Yi-Jin who loses every single one. Heading back home, the gang are all drunk, and Yi-Jin ends up with pen scribbles all over his face.
Ji-Woong and Yu-Rim leave together, but when they pass in the bus the dreaded white truck crosses parallel to them and crashes off-screen. And who should be driving? Yep, it’s Yu-Rim’s father.
When Yu-Rim finds out, she races to the hospital. Her dad is okay though, save for a broken arm. Unfortunately, the car he’s hit happens to sport a boy inside who is currently in the operating theatre. Yu-Rim’s Dad has enough financial woes and he’s unable to compensate for the victim’s medical bills. If he doesn’t settle though, he could end up in jail. So the only solution the family can think of is selling the shop.
This is the beginning of Yu-Rim’s move, exacerbated as a result of the accident. She’s going to change her nationality to Russia, earning the gold medal and the money to release the burden hanging over her family. She knows how much they’ve sacrificed to let her succeed and now she’s going to do the same thing. “I want to put an end to this misery,” She reassures them.
It’s a really heart breaking turn of events, especially as her parents begin crying, while Ji-Woong is later tasked with hosting a farewell party for her. Yi-Jin realizes what this entails, given his job, and knows that he’s going to have to betray his friends.
When Yi-Jin heads home, the laughter from Yu-Rim’s farewell party floats lazily out the window. That laughter soon dissipates when they turn on the news and see the report from Yi-Jin break. Just like what Jae-Kyung did with Coach Yang, Yi-Jin has betrayed his friends for his career.
Hee-Do is understandably angry when she finds out. Yi-Jin is conflicted, torn between his job as a reporter and his loyalty to friends, and he seems to know it was always going to end up this way.
With Yu-Rim heading to Russia, she breaks the news to Ji-Woong that they’re going to have to break up. She doesn’t want to make promises that they may not be able to keep.
Yu-Rim wants him to live for himself, not for her, and that means making the really tough decision to break up. Unfortunately, while she’s packing her things up the next day, she reflects back on how she’s feeling and finds the place swarming with reporters. Out of all the people to ring, Yi-Jin turns to Hee-Do for help.
Hee-Do tricks all the reporters with Yu-Rim’s help, dressing up a mannequin facing away from the press. As the vultures swarm inside (can you guess I really hate journos?) Hee-Do and Yu-Rim race off together and manage to escape. Their moments of happiness and laughter are bittersweet, as these enemies turned friends turned besties are now on the verge of leaving each other forever.
This isn’t something Yu-Rim wants to do but she feels compelled to do right by her family. “Every moment that we spent together, made me happy.” Hee-Do eventually says, as the pair hug it out and say their goodbyes. Unfortunately, Ji-Woong isn’t there but he drives up to the airport in his aunt’s car, getting over the fear he had last episode, now that it’s something as important seeing Yu-Rim off.
When Ji-Woong arrives at the airport, he promises to be loyal to Yu-Rim, doing everything he can to endure and stay together no matter what. Even if all she can give him is misery, he’s going to endure that as he wants them to be together. He’s even taught her the Russian for “I have a boyfriend called Ji-Woong.” As she says the words, Ji-Woong kisses her.
Thanks to Yi-Jin’s report, Yu-Rim is labelled as a traitor and she’s rejected by the public, who rip up her posters – there’s even graffiti on the walls in a tunnel reading “Ko Yu-Rim is a traitor.” As Yi-Jin breaks down into tears, Hee-Do happens to be in front of him watching.
As we cut back to the awkward interview, Hee-Do promises to support Yi-Jin in his current journey. As they stare at one another in unwavering silence, he eventually tells Hee-Do “congratulations on your wedding.”
The Episode Review
Wait, who has Hee-Do married? What’s happened in this time? I would imagine that Hee-Do and Yi-Jin are actually the ones getting together, but with the whole thing hidden from the public; Yi-Jin has now grown to be able to hide his true feelings for the sake of his career.
While episode 13 was much more light hearted in tone, this one completely switches things up, delivering a really poignant and heart-breaking chapter. The whole drama involving Yu-Rim was so well paced and it’s matched by details that help this one stand out.
The little touches are ultimately what make this so enthralling. A good example is Ji-Woong driving his aunt’s car fast down the road. Ordinarily it would be a standard scene in a k-drama but we know that Ji-Woong is a nervous driver. That was established last episode. But yet, he swallows his pride, faces his fear and races up to the airport to see his lover off.
Quite how Twenty Five Twenty One is going to wrap everything up in two weeks is anyone’s guess, but it would seem that we’re certainly not done with the drama just yet. Now comes the agonizing wait for next week!