This drama and casting news has been around for awhile but this week is the first official confirmation of the entire project. tvN has confirmed the romance and life empowerment drama Twenty Five Twenty One which is set during the South Korean financial crisis of 1997. It stars Kim Tae Ri as a female fencer who overcomes adversity and becomes a member of the national sabre team and Nam Joo Hyuk as a rich kid turned poor who becomes a sports reporter for a television network. Rounding out the cast is Bona, Choi Hyun Wook, and Lee Joo Myung and directing is the PD of You Are My Spring, The King: Eternal Monarch, Search: WWW, and Mr. Sunshine, and the screenwriter wrote Search: WWW. The drama will be released in early 2022 and I’m sure there will be tons of commentary about whether these particular two leads are suitably cast opposite each other but I’m personally cool with it and curious how these two will deliver onscreen together.
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I’m looking forward to this. Like, so much. It’s a sports themed drama and the last time NJH did something like that, it was worth 30 rom-coms in just how amazing it was. ? for this!
Yh you can’t deny his charm in WFKB. It’s still a cut above most romcoms (which I find too shallow these days) .
I feel for the guy some criticism is fair but it seems like he got unreasonable hate from start up, which is sad that people can’t separate the reason person from a fictional character.
NJH is my problem. He has improved but he just lacks charisma.
I agree. He’s good in role of nerd like in Start-Up or The School Nurse Files but he doesn’t have the charisma for other roles.
NJH is one of Koala’s godawful faves she overhypes on here so of course she’ll be cool with this pairing.
I wish they had cast a better actor opposite KTR.
I don’t know if it’s just a a lack of charisma or acting ability but I’ve noticed NJH is one of those lead actors who is only lead in name but actually always plays second fiddle and is overshadowed by the female lead and, even, the second lead.
It’s a consistent pattern going back to School 2015. The only drama he was the genuine lead was The Bride of Haebak and that was a disaster.
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Can’t they cast someone else, Nam ju hyuk is not that good in acting,to be fair he has improvement but still far from good.
Kim Tae Ri is always great, it’s been five years since The Handmaiden and I’m still amazed how she nails every role she plays. It doesn’t hurt that she is total girl crush material offscreen too. Plus she has her pick of move and drama roles – if she took this, she probably thinks the role is good.
As for Nam Joo Hyuk, let’s be real he is young and good looking and has all the charisma of a wet sock as an actor. But he’s actually bearable when more or less relegated to supporting a female lead in a storyline that’s centred on the female character, especially if the actress opposite him is better than he is – saw this with Lee Sung Kyung, Han Jimin, Jung Yumi, now Kim Tae Ri looks like she’ll fit in that pattern. Like, I doubt he’ll suddenly discover some previously unknown acting talent, but he’s not terrible as long as he doesn’t have to carry the story and just let the FL do her thing (note- these women better be getting paid accordingly).
Agree with the others except lee sung-kyung no doubt she’s good these days as shes improved. But in WFKBJ I found NJH better especially in the emotional scenes, his arc (especially in the second half of the show) was better acted. Lee sung-kyung was kinda cringe in her crying scenes it was all too shouty, that’s my only criticism other than that she was excellent.
@Kailey b – my point is it was still her show to carry and not his, and imo better for that.
He really is a curious case – has everything needed for stardom except, idk, talent? charisma? but still getting leading roles in a very competitive pool of male actors in his age group when ten years ago he would have been relegated back to 2ML (and far more talented actors than him have been – lookism is real but on the male side of the acting pool it used to even out somewhat because those pretty flower boys also had to have at least a baseline level of talent or ability, to survive as leading men. Now with him and Song Kang, it looks like they don’t even need that anymore, just let the FL carry it)
That’s fair, its somewhat similar to Ji chang wook as he also shines with a strong FL (especially Ha ji won) though imo I feel that unlike njh he has charisma and talent in spades but is just crap at picking good roles. Perhaps he should switch to NJH’s agency lol.
Speaking of 10 years ago I just watched an amazing thriller the other day where the cast are all models, interesting that only Kim woo bin is the only one famous. For rookies they had really good acting chops I guess as you say it was competitive then with the likes of Kim soo hyun etc.
@kailey b – Gahhh, JCW has everything needed for superstardom (looks, charisma, talent) except he doesn’t pick the right projects. It’s truly frustrating because he really should be up there in the megastar group with the likes of KSH and SJK. He has it all, but is picking bad scripts or just unlucky.
@Kailey b – ironically, I quite enjoyed JCW’s last project lol. Of course, that one had an interesting and complex female lead too (both character and actress).
And I totally know the thriller you are talking about, White Christmas is one of my favourites too! Astonishing that they pulled it off with a cast of rookies, especially since it was really dark and not exactly the conventional way to introduce a bunch of flower boys. Kim Woo Bin is now the most famous of the guys ofc, but the others weren’t bad, acting-wise, some of them went on to turn in really solid performances in other dramas but never got to top star status (was particularly impressed by Sung Joon in Shut Up Flower Boy Band). I’ve also been really happy to see Esom getting more attention in recent years.
I didn’t mean lovestruck in the city, that drama is already one of my favourites, Kim ji won and
Ji chang wook were both excellent. I loved the mockumentary format and how realistic the characters were. I meant his other projects post Healer.
No surprise Kim woo bin made it big his character was the stand out. Though I loved all of them, they were all so different and at the same time complemented eachother so well. For shallow reasons I would’ve loved Jung Sung to be bigger haha. I didn’t know he was in shut up flower boy band I’ve been meaning to watch that for lee min ki (who’s also one of my fav) , now I’m eager to start watching it.
It’s surprising that it’s filmed in 2011 aswell it seems more polished than the pre 2015 drama’s I’ve watched that looked outdated.
@Kailey b – yeah I see what you mean. His post-Header projects weren’t very interesting to me either, it was like he was acting from a template. Lovestruck was actually the drama that made me realise he’s still got some juice in the acting department, maybe it was the format or the handling but it really worked.
White Christmas was one of my early kdramas that really made them an obsession for me,these special short dramas have a lot more interesting things going on than regular 16-ep ones. Years ago I read that the drama’s casting director deliberately chose to cast tall actors as the students so they’d complement each other visually, and didn’t really bother about whether they were trained in acting, which explains why so many of them were tall ex-models lol (several were under Sidus at the time). But maybe she was joking cause even in the acting department, they weren’t bad considering the kind of characters they were playing (the school bully, a drug user, and mad Mireu are definitely unusual characters to play for young flower boy actors making their debut). Astonishing how well it’s held up though, like you said there’s plenty of hit dramas from those years that feel so dated now, visually and storywise.
PS – do try Shut Up Flower Boy Band! It’s one of tvn’s very early dramas from pre Reply 1997 days, but I was really impressed by Sung Joon in it and hoped he would go on to bigger things…it’s one of those dramas that not everyone knows now but it’s my favourite of the Flower Boy tv franchise. It’s got a great soundtrack too (appropriate for a drama about a band).
I really can’t make up my feelings for NJH. When people praise his acting I laugh but when people say his acting is terrible I also get mad lol. Yes his acting is lacking but deep down I can see he’s really doing his best. Supporting him from afar I guess. Anyway KTR my girl crush <3 I’ll probably check out the first episode when it airs.
Lol I love this comment. It is exactly 100% what I feel about NJH. This could’ve been me.
I agree. He clearly has done his best. And he went for roles that other actors, with popularity like him, would probably rejected. So i wish people can be nicer and kinder in their criticisms towards him.
I so totally agree w ur comment. Although he lacks the charisma & always gets overshadowed by the FL & 2MLs in his dramas, he tries to improve which I can clearly see in his latest dramas. I really like his determination to constantly find ways to improve on his craft. Unlike idol turned actors like Cha Eun woo, who even after working on so many dramas still can’t even act.
Despite the lacking in acting department, i cant help but feel the need to highlight the acting choices of Nam Joo Hyuk and Song Kang which I believe deserve recognition and praises.
With their good looks and popularity, they would benefit more by getting likable rich hottie main lead heroes in typical romcoms.
I started to know Nam Joo Hyuk from Weightlifting Fairy. That is one drama that I have rewatched for a few times already when I am not the type to do so for any other shows. I believe if he chooses similar projects he can garner more fans.
Instead, more often than not, he prefers flawed characters which have higher tendency to bring him hates and criticisms, than likes.
I honestly have no problem in his acting, and enjoy most of his shows. I find him charming and likable enough even in unlikable roles, so I think thats a good acting there. There are probably other actors who are more charismatic and even better in acting, but everyone is special and unique. As long as they realize their strength & weakness & strive to improve, positive criticisms are fine but pure hates are honestly undeserving.
Hopefully, there is no love triangles, and mean criticisms directed at him for this drama. I dont really follow him, but I feel bad for him when he receives so much hates. The good projects offered to him are probably due to his popularity and willingess to act in unlikeable or unimportant characters, plus other possible reasons. I wish the best for this drama & NJH.
Let’s be real NJH/SK don’t do that out of choice or because they’re magnanimous male feminists who want to star in female-centric dramas, they do it because they simply can’t carry a drama centred on their character (acting is just not up to the mark), dramas bomb every time they do that and it hurts their future prospects/$$.
I credit them for having some self awareness of their poor skills and curbing the greed for lead roles but they are both still a classic case of looks over substance, it takes a lot of work from drama writers to make them watchable and frankly it’s a valid question whether either of them are worth that effort. Like, the late 80s/early 90s born model-actor crowd weren’t flawless either but those guys could at least act and carry a drama if needed, delivered actual hits etc.
Imagine if they were to carry a role like Vincenzo where they have to carry it all by themselves. It will ne a total bomb!
There are actors such as idol actors who are not that good in acting, but keep headlining romcoms. Eventhough they were lacking, they were not overshadowed because the second leads were not any better either in acting department or in looks or charisma. NJH and SK can choose that path if they want, but I dont know if you are aware of all of their projects, many of them especially for NJH, are not the conventional romcom type.
“it takes a lot of work from drama writers to make them watchable”
May i know how do you come to this conclusion? Are there examples or maybe proofs for this?
There are actually many scenes of NJH that move my heart and make me shed tears which i believe his acting is one of the contributing factors.
His acting may not be top-notched, but for me, he can act. And has improved a lot.
Sometimes, i found the remarks directed towards him & other lacking actors are just pure hate.
i like both song kang and nam joo hyuk, but i think njh is definitely a cut above song kang talent-wise. for one, he has more experience and diversity in the roles he has played. two, his growth from school 2015 to start-up has been phenomenal. he is not the most naturally charismatic actor, i agree, but what he lacks in easy charm, he makes up in earnestness. he did very well in the light in your eyes and start-up imo, especially the former.
I’m so happy for this pairing! I like KTR on Mr. Sunshine and NJH in Start -Up. I’m one of those who actually thinks he’s better, acted the way his character should, on Start -Up and didn’t really get the hype on the 2nd ML. So, yah, looking forward to this pairing.
Not the ordinary ones..that translates to poor ratings and hates domestically.
the casting is fine. njh is actually perfect for dramas that is female centric. judging by the synopsis and billing order this drama is primarily about na hee do, Kim Taeri’s character