Twenty Five, Twenty One Continues with High Ratings Over 10% But K-netizens are Increasingly Critical of the Budding OTP Love Line Between a High School Student and a College Student

I feel like this is a controversy from another era, or that it really just doesn’t apply here when a viewer actually sees the specifics of the story. Nevertheless this weekend’s airing of Twenty Five, Twenty One is getting a lot more online K-netizen complaints compared to praise as the story really takes the shy crush of the high school female lead to the reticent college age male lead and moves it to the next step. Namely she’s 18 years old and he’s 22 years old, or 19 and 23 in Korean age, and the four year difference is a big deal to Koreans because she’s “underage” in their culture. So they may be okay with crushes and hints of romance but actually doing skinskip is a big no no at least until she’s graduated high school. I think it’s much ado about nothing and the high ratings of this drama indicates the majority of viewers are fine with it, so perhaps it’s a vocal minority that’s making it seem like a bigger deal.


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Twenty Five, Twenty One Continues with High Ratings Over 10% But K-netizens are Increasingly Critical of the Budding OTP Love Line Between a High School Student and a College Student — 52 Comments

  1. Like some k-netizens got nothing better to do so basically nitpicking on the age difference. Some act perfect & criticizes anything & everything. ?

    • you are right..like they have have nothing to do other than nitpicking every little thing they’ve heard or watch…?this drama is such a wonderful masterpieces..yet what they do is only judging..they don’t try to understand what the story about to convey to the viewers..

      • She is almost 20 in Korean age but technically 17 in western age so she would still technically be a minor. That said I do absolutely adore this show and count down the days till the next episode.

      • Exactly. I’m still wondering if that’s the reality in SK…that hurt me a lot n couldn’t enjoy the episode!

  2. I mean her mom in the show approves and know him. It all depends on context and I agree that this is making a big deal out of nothing. The relationship is very slow burn and they have known each other for about a year now. I don’t see any power dynamics that makes it feel gross or anything.

    I’m so curious on why they ended up breaking up. I think it had to do with him being a sports reporter and and her being an athlete like many people around them have been discouraging.

    I feel like I should stop watching now for my poor heart. But I’m so curious about the other characters. The girl that dropped out is my hero and her mom too.

    • Seung wan stole the show in episode 12, she’s such an hero and expecting so much from her. I can’t wait to see what she’s doing presently

  3. They can be critical all they want, who cares? They should have better things to do. It’s a really great show that’s been superbly written and well thought out too and am glad it is getting the recognition it deserves.

    Crush happens, it’s nothing new and they didn’t really cross the line until episode 12 where she’s basically 20 so I don’t have an issue with it. K netizens need to take a chilled water and enjoy the show.

  4. Ireally love the I always wait for other episode 2521 it’s looking back my high school days both character is very good I really courios what happened why they separated I to know also who’s father is her child I’m weekend feel excited ireally like Kim taeri hope and end happy ending

  5. the irony of people calling what is arguably the most wholesome and healthiest kdrama relationship inappropriate would be funny if it wasn’t also infuriating. anyone who is criticizing this relationship has clearly not watched the show. 2521 is doing something different, and deservedly getting praise for it, so the naysayers are coming out of the woodwork. the show will keep doing what it does best and hopefully end on a high note. they can stay mad!

  6. Aren’t these the same people who love dramas where adult women creep on underage or much younger men? What’s with the weird double standard here?

    What’s even more hilarious is that the scenario in 25 21 actually happens in real life unlike the vast vast majority of the desperate noona romances they come out with.

    • Some of these knetz are Such hypocrites. The holier than thou, goody two shoe kind. They act as if their life is perfect so they can scrutinize everything. It’s a nicely written drama worthy of praise.

    • I think any possibly romantic kdrama pairing where one of the parties – male or female- is underage goes under scrutiny and criticism by k-viewers. Culturally, in korea, you’re not an adult until 20. Melancholia (underage male student with older female teacher) was also criticized for it even though the romance didn’t start until the guy was out of high school for a few years.

      Of course, the backlash from the minority seems louder here because the drama is popular. And there are some people who view the special Yi-jin and Hee-do relationship from a purely romantic angle rather than what the drama is trying to portray. I guess some viewers only watch for a romance instead of for the characters and good storylines.

      I like my share of noona romances as much as I like oppa romances. 🙂

      • “I guess some viewers only watch for a romance instead of for the characters and good storylines.”

        ^^This 100%, and not just k-viewers. I can think of dramas where there is barely a kissing scene at all, but once there is, 99% of the posts on social media forever after are about the kiss and the love line, with starry-eyed viewers saying they must be “real” and wanting them to date and get married in real life. Er…once in a while, leads do get together in real life, but most of the time it’s just a job, acting out a fictional storyline (which is about characters and usually much more than *just* the romance).

        Don’t get me wrong, I like true love and a happy ending and an emotionally convincing drama as much as the next person. But I am more interested in what the drama as a whole is trying to say than in cherry picking one part entirely out of proportion. I think in the case of 2521, yes, there is a romantic part of the love, but there is also just…love. Those people who are in your life at the right moment, where even if you part ways at some point and never see them again, you still love them. Knowing them changed you, and they are forever a part of you. (It doesn’t stop me from hoping for a happy ending for Yi Jin and Hee Do, but there is more than one thing going on in this drama.)

      • I wasn’t online at the time but did netizens criticize the Go Kyung-pyo/Ryu Hye-young relationship in Reply 1988? They were full on dating and making out while he was a high school student and she was a college student. Or was there a double standard because the girl was older?

      • @Mimi there was no criticism for bora and sunwoo’s relationship. this feels like people trying to fault something for the sake of it.

  7. Nos tempos de hoje, esta diferença de idade não é nada fora do que acontece na vida real, independente da cultura! O importante é como um amos tão verdadeiro e fruto de uma amizade tão verdadeira,floresce e comove . Vivemos tempos tão difíceis que ver este drama é um oásis!Aguardo cada episódio com grande espectativa e até agora só tenho me emocionado!

  8. Actually, I could understand why. The drama is wholesome true. But the young people among the audience who are tuning in might think it’s romantic to fall for older guys. End result broken hearts and worse, teenage pregnancy. These are just many of the concerns of parents who have teenagers.

    But the current audience also knows this obviously since the ratings are unaffected.

    Just like in My Ahjussi the drama cast even did a conference when the drama is getting recognition and praise because they have to state that there would be no love line between ahjussi and IU’s characters.

    I can’t remember other popular dramas who also got complaints midway and had to apologize. The most recent in my memory is My Ahjussi and both are from TVN.

    Mr Q got complaints early but did not address it. Though due to JE the lead actress got roped in due to what she said in an interview. It’s also from TVN.

    At least it’s just complaints unlike that of JTBC with Snowdrop and even Thirty Nine got complaints about the cheating part.

    I guess the more complaints the more people tune in higher ratings.

  9. She’s over 18 and the age difference is only 4 years. Never thought it’d be icky in reel or real life, so I don’t really get why some k-netizens are complaining. In some countries, she’d be in college and he would have just started working, or still looking or a job.

    • It’s not about the age difference, it’s about her being a minor (stated many times in the show) and him being a working adult. And to point out the obvious, they are Koreans complaining about a Korean drama in a Korean society. It doesn’t matter what is considered normal in other counties. Personally I don’t see a problem with it, but I can see why it upsets some people.

  10. Small minds are best ignored. This show has one of the best dialogues ever heard on kdramas. The bridge confession was lovely. (some paraphrasing)- “it is love.” “it does not need a response from you.” “gee, i don’t think that what i feel is big in such a way.” Then the first of this week-end’s episode. “wow, what is a harsh moment for me is a time for you to find a dream.” Then something about professional moms’ sacrifices. Seung-wan is love!

  11. It’s sad how there’s controversy surrounding the romance because otherwise this drama is really one of the best and so well written. It’s conflicting because in the drama, it’s clear that BYJ is not going to take advantage NHD. However, it’s different in real life and concerns about a romance between a minor and adult are valid. It’s true the writer should have been a bit more careful with this topic.

  12. This is really not problematic in my eyes and age-gap romances are usually a no-no for me. As long as everyone is or over 18 and the gap doesn’t extend past 3-5 years at most, it’s cool in my books. And unless the same people were raging about Goblin and that weird babysitter-dad romance family drama the same way, I really don’t want to hear it.

    • Exactly. I can never bring myself to watch more than 1 episode of Goblin because of that, and yet, it’s a huge hit in SKorea (or so I heard) and globally. Same with the babysitter-dad family drama.

      • ??? I’m not the relationship police lol I’m just stating what conditions make age-gap romances not skeevy for me. And the 3-5 year gap is in reference to couples where one person is 18 and the moral guidelines get a bit wonky for some people. So take a chill pill weirdo.

  13. I don’t understand the age problem. In Australia at 18 they would be voting, drinking alcohol and attending University.

  14. I’m not watching but she’s STILL in high school? ngl I thought this drama would have 3-4 episodes of her in high school at most and then time jump to them at 21 and 25

  15. I sort of get it since how they feel about someone being under 20 is like how we, in the US and some other countries, feel about someone being under 18. There is a line that we don’t cross, even though it feels strange to be like if you’re 17 years and 11 months old, you’re too young, but if you’re 18, you’re in the clear.

    While these two love each other, they aren’t in the romantic or sexual attraction phase yet (And not all kdramas portray romances with sexual attraction). If they’ve watch the drama, these two have a love that is more akin to being friends and family, but stronger because they were there for each other at their lowest points and weren’t built and supported by the proximity you get from school or being in the same family. It’s an unusual and beautiful bond. And they don’t expect to get into a relationship.

    I think this makes sense taking place 20 years ago because with the proliferation of information in the last 2 decades, many are more aware of power imbalances in certain relationships and how certain situations can be perceived by society. If they met in 2020, I don’t think they would have gotten as close because they would be more aware and hyperaware of what it all looks like.

    Yes, Baek Yi-jin is swoonworthy, but the drama is really about a group of young people coming of age. There aren’t that many Yi-jin and Hee-do together scenes, though the scenes that they do have together are wonderful.

  16. I didn’t start watching it yet because I like binging but why is the drama called 2521 if most episodes are when she is a high schooler?…I’m a bit disappointed about that misleading title…

  17. he shows is a big success the critics always find faults’ this is k drama is already a classic’ memoirs of high school life’ and trials and triumph is real’ for younger generations’ it’s about their journey to adulthood their ‘dreams and goals and falling for love’ all the cast justified this reality’ this episode 11 is great’’ it teaches us bullying is not to be tolerated at all student fighting for their rights to be heard and be respected as human being ‘ !the message on this episode is inspiring’ !congratulations to all cast and crew and the writers and director that involved in the is KDrama’ norah

  18. I don’t understand why this drama receives so much love. It has some great scenes and the atmosphere is good but many times I feel the scenes are a bit contrived and I find it hard to connect with the characters. I find Baek Yijin really weird, an adult hanging out with a bunch of highschoolers all the time? Doesn’t he have any friends & colleagues to hang out with? 4 years is not such a big age different but they are in very different stages in life and have completely different concerns, so to me it’s so weird.

    And SW who is a top students in 3 years just dropped out of school like that without a fight? Uhm. Doesn’t make any sense to me. The teacher told her to apologize but didn’t said if she didn’t, she would be kicked out. Why did she not stay and fight. He’s just a teacher, not the principal and he doesn’t represent the whole school. If she had stayed and tried other things to make that teacher stop, like tried talking to the principal or other teachers about it or make petition or ask Yijin to report about it or just something, even if in the end she still have to drop out, it would make a lot more sense. It’s like giving up without a fight and is something I don’t think would happen in real life and also should not be applauded.

    • *spoilers ahead*

      Yi Jin lost all his friends when his family became bankrupt. The first episode showed it when he met with them in a bar. He only got to see their true colors when he lost everything.

      As for Seung Wan, there are some social structures you can’t beat. She tried by calling the police and discovered how powerless she actually was. I feel like the story wanted to show the angle where she didn’t lose sight of her values and what she believed in. Even her mom said it that she can’t always be so inflexible in the future. It was one of the best moments because Seung Wan understood she kept her values here but the future can be difficult. There will be a time it won’t be as easy to fight for what she believes in. It wasn’t about beating the system but rather staying true to who she is.

    • She realized that the entire system was against her. The police came and both the principal and police sided with the teacher. The corporal punishment ban that she thought was an enforceable was actually written vaguely with loopholes; teachers, parents, the police, and basically the society of adults were in favor of corporal punishment. They believe that banned it diminished a teacher’s authority and prevented them from correcting bad behavior in students. This teacher has been hitting kids for years and no one had spoke up. Few like Seungwan recognized it as illogical and unnecessary. Seungwan left because she knew she had no power to change things and she was not flexible enough to compromise or play any sort of long game. It was better for her mental health to leave because we’ve seen how witnessing the injustices had been eating at her.

    • you are completely missing the point about seungwan’s stance to quit school. she hates that place, and i suspect that was the case even before everything blew up. when the abusive teacher got away without any consequences, it just gave her the push she needed to do something. she realized the system is failing the students that they promised to protect. she wants no part of a system like that. staying and apologizing or fighting to stay would mean she was implicitly admitting she was wrong. her quitting as the top student makes this development even more powerful bc she had everything to lose and yet she didn’t hesitate to throw it all away for what she believed was right. this is a young girl who is incredibly smart as well as brave as hell. it makes complete sense for her to have reacted in this way.

      • calling the police once and mentioning it on her radio show is not a lot of fighting to me. And even though she hates the teacher, she loves her friends and classmates so why didn’t she stay and find other ways to protect her friends? Still feel very half-baked ìdea of the writer but perhaps that’s just me.

      • @Abc on, If i may add, she did try. Countless time. Probably during almost 3 years of her school life. Scenes of her trying to protect her friends from the teacher have been shown several times. This time she tried to call the police and it’s in vain. Even the press want her testimony to stir the story into the direction that only support the corporal punishment. Seung wan’s story is one of the best part of the drama. It is just not explained in details because she’s not the main lead. But the writer has built solid foundation that leads to that decision and for me it stays true to her character.

  19. It’s so rare for such a compelling drama like this to tackle so many issues. I love it.

    The age issue thing should not be an issues here. Society set a standard to protect minor for those god awful people that we can’t tell. In this story we see straight up the innocences of their friendship from the beginning to now. So when netizen start throwing what the law use as a guideline to degrade such a great love between these two human being, it’s really telling of how people take thing literally. Don’t be a foul and watch the drama for what it is and be proud that we got 2 of the best OTP in recent years. We can look at it and appreciate such wonderful characters. If our future generations have kids like this, the world is moving towards a great direction.

  20. can this even be called a controversy? the people complaining are in the minority who have not watched the show. but the ones who are watching have nothing but good things to say about it.

  21. Moral concern about female sexuality from a country that just voted in an anti-Feminist president. You can’t make this shit up.

  22. I don’t get it, how is this a controversy? It’s not like she is 13 and he is 50. Even my parents have a 4 yeat age gap. I’ve seen weirder things that happen in real life. People these days are so triggered its not even funny no more. SMH so silly. It’s a great drama just enjoy what’s left of it.

  23. Knetz pls get a life. You arr never satisfied. Blow hot blow cold. You can always switch the tv off, tune to another channel or better yet write and produce your own drama to your liking.

  24. Knetz pls get a life. You arr never satisfied. Blow hot blow cold. You can always switch the tv off, tune to another channel or better yet write and produce your own drama to your liking.

  25. I do not understand all this fuss about the romance. I’m from California. I’m much more concerned about a teacher who roams the hallways with a 3 foot stick, beating the crap out of any student who has eye contact with him……. With complete support from the school administration. But you’re concerned about an innocent kiss???

  26. This is so ridiculous…much more worse things hv happened in real life. I hv heard stories of teenage high schoolers dating their teachers in secret. One even got pregnant and broke up a friend’s marriage.

  27. The main two leads are not the only reason why people watch 2521 despite the two main lead’s uncomfortable romance. Like me, I stayed for the plot of reaching dreams and about relatable and different situation for every families. Don’t forget each characters like yurim, seungwan and jiwoong – has their own backstory.

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