Echoes Of Youth
Does Yi-Jin make it back to Korea?
Episode 16 of Twenty Five Twenty One begins with Yi-Jin receiving some good news; an unlikely gimmer of hope in the wake of a horrific incident. In a cafe, he gets talking to an American firefighter. “Don’t you just want to quit?” Yi-Jin asks, as the fireman points out the duty to their jobs.
This is important for Yi-Jin’s character of course, as he receives word that he’s been accepted for the foreign correspondence position.
Yi-Jin rings Hee-Do and tells her he’ll be back in Korea in a month’s time to wrap things up. Unfortunately this is around the time that she’ll be off on a competition so the pair will miss each other.
Following what happened at New Years, Hee-Do isn’t surprised. She tells him to stop feeling sorry for her and hangs up.
Two Months Later
We then jump forward two months later. Ji-Woong’s fashion site is a success and he’s been doing really well. Yu-Rim shows up to see him though. He’s invited over to join her parents for dinner, where they learn about his past and family.
At the same time, Yi-Jin touches down in Korea but funnily enough, ends up with the wrong bag. That bag actually belongs to Hee-Do. Although the pair do avoid one another, when Yi-Jin drops the bag by her place, he doesn’t wait around. At least until she chases him outside and confronts him.
He knows they’re drifting apart and Hee-Do understands that this is just a natural part of life. These two are in a very different place from where they started. They both mean a lot to one another but ironically they end up breaking up at the exact place where they first met – outside Hee-Do’s house.
When the others find out the pair have broken up, they’re shocked and the mood instantly drops at dinner. Hee-Do tells the others they’re over for good but accidentally drops her phone in her soup.
Do Yi-Jin and Hee-Do break up?
Unfortunately, that phone is on a couple’s plan and because of that, she needs Yi-Jin’s consent to cancel the contract. Yi-Jin shows up in his suit but it’s awkward and eventually they’re forced to sign away their contract. It’s a bittersweet moment, especially as this almost feels like signing a divorce contract.
When they both leave, Yi-Jin questions whether this is the right thing to do. Yi-Jin isn’t so sure but for Hee-Do, she’s had six months to mull this over. It’s here Yi-jin opens up and reveals the hell he went through in the US; all the grief and anguish from people around him didn’t allow Yi-Jin to actually miss her. Yi-Jin even reveals that because of all this, her support was burdensome.
Everything sours, as Hee-Do walks away and leaves Yi-Jin at the tunnel alone. The silence that follows in this moment, as the pair break-up for good, is beautifully done.
Off the back of this, Hee-Do doubles down on her fencing but she overdoes it and ends up in hospital with exhaustion. She regrets what she’s said to Yi-Jin during the break-up, writing down in her diary her thoughts on the matter.
However, this is the diary that Yi-Jin loses, which happens to be left behind on the bus.
Do Hee-Do and Yi-Jin get to say goodbye? Do they get back together again?
Meanwhile, Yi-Jin gears up ready to leave for her next competition. Up on the rooftop he runs into trainee reporter Shin Jun-Hyeok. He’s crying, having made a silly mistake, but it’s something that Yi-Jin can relate to give his past and what happened to him.
Interestingly, Yi-Jin is also hung up over Hee-Do as well, and he ends up dreaming of her running up the beach alongside a red payphone and hugging him. That red payphone of course, is a nod back to the earlier moments in the season where the pair used to ring and listen to the voicemails.
Back home, Yi-Jin receives a parcel; it’s Hee-Do’s final diary, the one she lost on the bus. It’s actually addressed from Kim Eun-Su.
Naturally, Yi-Jin looks through the entries and sees all those moments before he went to New York where their relationship was on the rocks. Just to underline all this, Hee-Do even writes down the “my support isn’t reaching him anymore” line.
It’s only through seeing Hee-Do’s inner-thoughts that he realizes how tough it was for her too. I appreciate it’s not PTSD, boots-on-the-ground bad like Yi-Jin, but Hee-Do has still struggled to keep it together in the face of being alone. She’s struggled to make sense of their relationship.
When Hee-Do learns that Yi-Jin is leaving, and Yi-Jin understands that Hee-Do regrets what she said, the pair race to catch up with one another. When they do, the pair say their goodbyes in a teary exchange as they go their separate ways and continue on with their lives, separately.
7 Years Later
We then cut forward 7 years later. Hee-Do’s mum is on the verge of leaving the station for her retirement. She’s the one who’s to choose her replacement though, and what better guy than Baek Yi-Jin.
According to her, he’s young and would be a perfect choice to replace the current establishment; youth to highlight innovation.
While Yi-Jin is invited in to take over, Hee-Do has grown up and she’s decided to retire from fencing. She’s been in the field for 20 years and knows everyone and their stories. She doesn’t find fun in winning so much anymore. So naturally, Coach Yang supports her decision, leaving it up to her to decide what to do.
Seung-Wan is now in charge of making reality shows on TV but she’s called away by her mum to a funeral. Naturally, Hee-Do, Ji-Woong and Yu-Rim all show up. Yi-Jin does also appear later on, signing his name in the registry.
There, he learns that Ji-Woong has his own clothing brand now and he’s been doing really well. Yu-Rim meanwhile has opened her own fencing school after retiring and is now earning a good deal of money.
As for Seung-Wan, she soon meets up with Yi-Hyun again and immediately asks for his number. Meanwhile, Ji-Woong shows up to see Yu-Rim, surprising her by dressing as a fencer. He approaches and eventually proposes to her.
Why does Hee-Do decide to give up fencing?
Meanwhile, we manage to make it all the way to the 2009 interview between Yi-Jin and Hee-Do. These two have been through a lot, as the montage that ensues proves, but they stay professional and get through it.
Straight after, Hee-Do retires from fencing. Yu-Rim is there for her good friend, and Hee-Do admits that the best part of fencing was being Yu-Rim’s rival. And she thinks the exact same thing.
After her retirement, we fast forward to the present as Min-Chae arrives at the comic store. The business is shutting down and the owner begins packing everything away.
Interestingly, there’s a package there for Hee-Do in a brown envelope. This is actually something Yi-Jin left behind all those years ago, asking him to drop it off to Hee-Do when she shows up.
Despite all this time passing, he gives it to Min-Chae, asking to drop it back to Hee-Do. It’s the diary!
Does Hee-Do get her diary back?
Min-Chae decides, off the back of this, that she’s going to do ballet and write an even better story than her mother.
In Min-Chae’s absence, Hee-Do looks in the diary and notices an entry from Yi-Jin, regretting what happened between them and apologizing.
How does Twenty Five Twenty One end?
It’s here we jump back and get an alternate scene instead of the break-up at the tunnel we received.
Hee-Do thanks Yi-Jin for standing by her side as she grew up alone. Yi-Jin, in reply, thanks her for supporting him through the tough times, even if things didn’t end up the way they wanted.
Thanks to Yi-Jin, Hee-Do understands what first love and a break-up actually is. Remember, this is a throwback to her earlier break-up at the hands of “cutie pie”, where the pair discussed what a break-up was like. In fact, Hee-Do actually foreshadowed this by claiming that she “wanted to experience a break-up”. Unfortunately, now she has.
The pair thank each other before saying goodbye and leaving.
Is there a post-credit scene?
Yes! Don’t go anywhere because right at the end of the show there’s a post-credit sequence involving Yi-Jin. He starts using the Barro website but can’t remember his log in details. Clicking the forgot password button, he enters who his first love is and types “Hee-Do”
For enthusiastic K-drama fans, Barro is actually the website that shows up in Search: WWW, which happens to be the writer’s previous drama. It would appear that they’re in a shared universe of sorts, so could we see a cross-over in the future? We shall see!
The Episode Review
After yesterday’s incredible episode, Twenty Five Twenty One bows out with a rather subjective and pretty rushed ending by all accounts.
Those who still held out hope that Hee-Do and Yi-Jin would get together are likely to be bitterly disappointed, especially with the way their endings were handled.
To be fair, the whole part of Min-Chae’s potential father was a definite driving point for some of this but I also think the pair weren’t meant to be together either.
Twenty Five Twenty One has been a show about fleeting love during your youth and those moments of regret and how you yearn to go back and do things differently.
At the same time, the conclusion feels sloppy, especially the weird moments in the tunnel. I’m not sure why we didn’t get more scenes during the present, allowing us to tie up loose ends.
It would have been more fitting, I think, if one of the group died and everyone attended the funeral. That way, Yi-Jin and Hee-Do could meet back up again, this time with their respective partners and families, really hammering home how much these characters have changed and grown over the years.
Instead, we’re left with Hee-Do and Yi-Jin both still leaning toward their first love but not really resolving anything. It’s not even like this is an open ending, it’s just sorta…over.
I get that a lot of people are going to go into this finale, finish the abrupt conclusion and immediately slam this as the worst drama of the year.
However, abrupt endings aside, these two were already on a path away from one another several episodes back. Episode 15 only exacerbated that and then finally we get the ending where Hee-Do and Yi-Jin sever ties and leave.
This chapter definitely needed another 15 minutes or so to really flesh everything out and expand on Hee-Do and Yi-Jin’s lives in the present day timeline.
Maybe I’m in the minority but I didn’t dislike this finale, per-se. It definitely could have been better but there’s enough to reinforce the heartache of youth.
What about you guys? Did you enjoy the ending? Hate it outright? Let us know in the comments below!