The ending of Twenty Five Twenty One, explained

Hee-Do as Kim Tae-ri

Twenty-Five Twenty-One is a typical coming of age kdrama that talks about love, friendship, death, and the ageing of time. In 16 creatively mastered episodes, the viewer follows the diary of Hee-Do, a girl dreaming to be a professional fencer. She relates the story of her friend circle – Yu-Rim, Sang-Woo, Seung-Wan and her love interest Yi-Jin. After many twists and turns, the series ends in a bittersweet moment by giving a glimmer of hope to the viewers.

Warning – Major spoilers ahead!

  • The Hee-Do and Yu-Rim relationship represent the fragility and depth of school friendships; though they were rivals at school, they turn out to be the best of friends afterwards.
  • Yi-Jin and Hee-Do show how love can come across one’s career and become a daunting task if care is not given.
  • Sang-Woo shows how determined one should be to be successful in the world.
  • The drama as a whole is a warm reminder of school life and friends in simpler times.

Hee-Do and Yu-Rims rivalry and friendship

The story of their relationship begins when Hee-Do’s daughter, Kim Min-Chae (Choi Myung-bin), discovers her mother’s old diary and begins to piece her mom’s love life together. The first half of the season follows the bitter rivalry between Hee-Do (Kim Tae-Ri) and Yu-Rim (Bona). When the characters were introduced, Yu-Rim was already a fencing champion which made Hee-Do muse over Yu-Rim.

The rivalry intensifies when Hee-Do gets into the same school as Yu-Rim after she convinced the coach by showing her commitment. A bitter rivalry erupts with both winning and losing some matches and tournaments.

The peak of this rivalry comes at the fencing finals of the Asian Games. Hee-Do wins the match by one point. But close inspections reveal that Yu-Rim’s swish was a bit faster and the game ends in controversy. Yu-Rim uses this controversy to say that she was robbed of the match which also impacted Hee-Do’s claim of victory. However, they both patch up after Hee-Do learns about Yu-Rim’s financial difficulties and how her mother’s store was robbed.

Yu-Rim later moves to Russia and changes her citizenship when her father got caught in an accident and they didn’t have any money to pay off the victim’s medical expenses. They face each other again for one last time in the international limelight as friends. Hee-Do wins the match and they both share a bittersweet moment.

Why does Yi-Jin move to New York?

The latter half of the season focuses on the Hee-Do and Yi-Jin (Nam Joo-hyuk) love affair with the stories of their friend circle. Although the two protagonists know each other for a long time, the two constantly fail to find time to be with each other because of their busy schedules and conflicts in their professions. Hee-Do’s a national fencing icon now who is travelling to international events while Yi-Jin is a reporter at UBS covering news. Yi-Jin had to make a derogatory news piece labelling Yu-Rim as a traitor when she decided to move to Russia which upset Hee-Do. Although they both manage to let this situation pass, Yi–Jin was sent to New York to cover the 9/11 attacks.  

Back in New York, Yi Jin starts to experience stress and PTSD after constantly being on ground zero and speaking to survivors and the families of the dead. These few months harmed the relationship where both were hiding their feelings to protect the other. Commended for his hard work, Yi-Jin gets a promotion as a New York correspondent, making him shift to the US.

Before Yi-Jin moves to New York permanently, he comes back to Korea and the two lovers have a tense breakup. Hee-Do accidentally drops her diary on the bus and it gets delivered to Yi-Jin. He realises the struggles Hee-Do had gone through after his absence.

Did Hee-Do and Yi-Jin get back together?

After 7 years passed, Yi-Jin gets another promotion to the role of news anchor at UBS, making him move back to Korea. Meanwhile, Sang-Woo and Yu Rim get engaged and Hee-Do decides to retire from fencing. The friend circle all gets a chance to meet up at Seung-Wan’s father’s funeral. Yi-Jin comes late and misses them.

After Hee-Do’s retirement, the scene fast forwards to the present day where a package gets delivered to Min-Chae, the daughter of Hee-Do. Yi-Jin had given the package to the comic bookstore owner before moving to New York to be delivered to Hee-Do. The owner had forgotten all about it and he delivers the package after 7 years. The package reveals the old diary of Hee-Do with a note by Yi-Jin at the end, revealing how he was constantly strengthened through Hee-Do’s character.

The season ends in the same place the couple fought about their breakup. Although they don’t meet again, they thank each other for their support, ending the season with a montage of the good times all the friends had. 

Who is Min-Chae’s father?

The short answer is it was never revealed. It might be Yi-Jin, it might not, but the post-credit ending reveals a glimmer of hope.

During the scene, Yi-jin starts using the Barro website Hee-Do used to chat with her friends but cannot remember his login details. Clicking the forgot password button, he enters the name of his first love; “Hee-Do”.

The season never reveals Min-Chae’s father which could mean there could be a continuation of this story. We’ll have to wait patiently and see!

Netflix still hasn’t confirmed a season 2 although the drama was trending among the non-English speakers. Renewal should be a possibility given the vague ending and star-studded cast. The season has also obtained many positive reviews among viewers and critics. Although the run time for each episode is over 70 minutes, the stellar acting coupled with some creative direction had made this drama a definite must-watch for a kdrama enthusiast.