tvN Drama Twenty Five, Twenty One Ends and Lights Up Online Chatter in Search and Commentary and Viewers Have Many Many Thoughts

Okay, this is a spoiler free poster above the cut but below proceed at your own risk. I woke up to tvN drama Twenty Five, Twenty One being a hot trending topic in many places – Korean search portals and Weibo in China – and knew that the ending clearly generated a lot of interest. I banked the drama for a full watch when I have time so I’m only following along from snippets but I don’t mind being spoiled myself. If you don’t mind then go to the various SNS and news portals otherwise stay off the web until you have a chance to watch. For those who caught the ending, was it satisfying?


tvN Drama Twenty Five, Twenty One Ends and Lights Up Online Chatter in Search and Commentary and Viewers Have Many Many Thoughts — 54 Comments

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  2. My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.

    They should’ve named 2521 “Now We Are Breaking Up” instead of the other show. ?

    I now get why people say to not watch kdramas live. I have learned my lesson the hard way.

    • I was expecting this ending based on the first few episodes and the crumbs left by the writer along the way. I think people were not happy with it because it’s not a “normal” happy ending that they are used to with kdramas. Was it poignant and heartbreaking? Absolutely. But I think people speculated too much and was banking on the main leads happy ever after when TOGETHER. Was I satisfied with this ending? YES. But thats because my heart was prepared for it.

      • Eh, it was the unsatisfactory send off for the 1st love story is what drives the other half of the viewer?

        Not just because they don’t end up together but because the drama is actually not that good in terms of writing and execution

  3. Honestly, the ending was bittersweet, but I thought it was good. It’s a realistic ending about life. People love, break-up, move on, but still have those moments of regret thinking the what ifs. It led us through an emotional roller coaster of love, life, hardships, and friendship, but it was an easy watch.

  4. Distant &Career are the reality of breaking up for young first love who is starting off into their own adult path. I’m only dissatisfied that HD never gave him a chance to see if they could work it out because them breaking up at their peak of affection was very disappointing.

  5. Honestly i can understand the disppointment but the drama was realistic . Not every 1st love have an happy ending . In this drama their love for each other helped them to grow through the emotionally hard times they were facing at a young age . It made them becoming stronger and achieve their professional’s goals . And yes , ironically Yoo Rim married her 1st love, but perhaps because she had a hard life , had to made harsh choices . Plus , for her highschool’s boyfriend she was everything as his career was an hobby which turns out well . Wich wasn’t the case of Ye Jin who put his everything to successed to help his family and to not being anymore poor . It was at the debut of the drama his goal as Hee Do fist goal was to become like her idol Yoo Rim . Their love just happened between all that …Sorry for my english . And don’t be too sad ! Their love story may be sad but another dramas are waiting us !

  6. ending made very little sense. what a damn shame that a drama that was gunning for top 3 until last week went up in flames in the last weekend. people are rightfully upset.

    • I expected this ending… for me Hee Do deserve a better life with a loving working husband beside her and her children compare to a lonely life with her mother or a husband whose priority is career with no room for family! GREAT KDRAMA! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

  7. People were not watching a rom com so can’t understand why they expect a HAE for a first love drama.

    Life is the journey and the journey counted for a lot in this drama.

    So honestly, I am devastated they didn’t end up together but they helped each other during the time they needed support. And we need friends and loves like that in our youth.

    So yeah real life and adulthood is harsh. Doesn’t mean I regret my youth. And I am sure somewhere out there another Hee Do and Yi Jin would not regret having someone like that in their life.

    • Agree 100% I just found people trying too hard to make it so Min Chae can be their child. I understand their trajectory. I understand why in ep 14 YJ congratulated her on her marriage and why they had two more episodes to tell the story of their ending. It was sad, it was raw, but it was also honest. The writers from the start didn’t make us believe that they were the endgame. Knowing where they were at in their relationship halfway through the show already pointed to signs that their end is happening at 25 and 21.

      • All the theories trying to make Min-chae Yi-jin’s kid made me roll my eyes. I saw so many people say that the writer clowned us, but the writer was clear from the beginning they didn’t end up together. People clowned themselves.

  8. I like the concept of the ending but the execution is just bad.

    Like we get it, they were sweet and this is the reality but it doesn’t mean that we can end it with several years into the future and with a montage.

    I don’t even need to see the dad. Just you know, a proper send off for the story.

    • This ?. I’m okay with the concept of the ending, but the execution greatly peeves me. Felt like the writing went downhill for last few episodes and the finale was really crammed. The writer did not stick the landing.

      The show could’ve done without the present day timeline and the 2521 title.

      • 100% this.

        I don’t mind a bittersweet ending, and expected it here, but the weird tunnel dialog(?) at almost the end was just bad. I loved this drama most of the way through, and until tonight, thought it just might be better if a few episodes fewer.

        I’m trying not to let the awful execution of the very end steal what I appreciated.

      • This drama was played well by the leads. Feels it and touch by it. Love always hurt no matter what. I look forward to see them both in more dramas to come.

  9. the finale was just relentlessly sad…in fact ep14 onwards they completely switched gears from the goofy yet uplifting sports show theme to…just pain and more pain. what message, what hope does it deliver at the end? i know they’d made it clear enough at the start that the two weren’t together in the future but then they should’ve shown the cracks in the relationship much before than literally the penultimate ep. the whole 9/11-yijin gets ptsd-starts acting ooc—leads to breakup thing was SO contrived. sad ending just for the sake of it. it really seemed like the intention was just to hurt viewers, especially with that post credits scene. honestly baffling and infuriating. even the ost is ruined for me now

    • Totally agree. I still cannot understand the behaviour switched off Yi-Jin. The reason for the break up. Note, he decided to apply the NY post without discussing it with Hee-do. And it is not realistic that he didn’t even get to fly back, even in real life, you get to come back to see your family. Whatever happened to all his promises to himself, lots of empty words from him, no wonder Hee-do gave up. Unlike him, she is very decisive. Remember what he said to ‘cutie pie’ boyfriend? That he knows what he’s doing and that’s enough. Also, what he said to his sunbae, I am strong. What nonsense is that? Mentally he’s very weak that’s why he needed Hee-Do. He just let himself be swept away by life instead of taking control of his life. Very disappointing.

  10. The ending is very sad a lot question who is father of Kim mencie who is the husband of Na heedo.why the ending become like I really confused ??a lot of people also they same what try to tvn please try answer my question

  11. Awwww, Kdramas are growing up. The ending was perfect, much better than I expected.
    This was always a slice-of-life drama and sometimes life is hard. With dear friends and supportive families (which we had in 25 – 21) life can be lived with dignity and fond memories can be cherished.

  12. I guess the real OTP of this drama is Heedo and Yurim. The way HD looks at YR, love and respects her is just so sweet

  13. I am sad but I could understand the break up to be honest and not all first loves end with happy ending, atleast this is realistic but I do think some things were left untreated to be sincere.

    All in all it was a great drama that left a deep impression and I’m glad I watched this. Kudos to the cast, Nam Joo Hyuk was amazing, he’s grown into such a wonderful actor I hope he keeps this up. Kim Tae Ri keeps impressing with every project of hers and she’s so good at picking up good projects.

    I’ll recommend this to anyone but don’t watch for the romance only but also for the relationships between the group of friends so as not to get too disappointed.

  14. The ending made sense to me. Baek Yi Jin and Na Hee Do loved each other, were sincere but they never had time on their side. Love is a lot about timing. Its reality. It was a part of Na Hee Do’s life, part of her growing up, journey to adulthood….we meet people, we make memories, sometimes those people stay in our lives, sometimes we drift apart but its still a bright spot in our lives. We all have regrets, we all have what if I did this at that time and what if I didn’t. Its a part of Na Hee Do’s life. But that’s not all. She met Min Chae’s father, she had Min Chae and is now raising her as a single parent. So this was a small window into her life that only gave us partial view. I know we don’t get a neat end but life isn’t neat ending. In my thirties, it makes perfect sense to me. A+ from me.

    • In my thirties as well and agree with everything you wrote.

      I think people’s reaction to the finale might strongly correlate with their age.

    • I’m heedo age now and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said
      love is always about timing
      Their love was there but the timing was not for both of them.
      Regrets are common
      The harsh words at the break up, those are real not out of character.
      Their incompatibility is obvious
      The last person that will make Heedo happy is someone exactly like her mom.
      For all her immaturity, she knows that for sure.
      And anyone who can see it first that Yee Jin is on that path, it’s her.
      It’s not his fault
      Neither it is hers
      Some things are not meant to be
      Their tears at the bus stop was not that they didn’t want to break up. It was tears for a love they could no longer bring forward.

  15. Having a sad ending is fine but what’s upsetting is the execution. We really didn’t need the present timeline because it served no purpose other than to tease. Yes, even though it showed in the beginning that maybe HD didn’t marry YJ what with a daughter surnamed Kim but that present timeline was clearly designed to keep most viewers tuned in hoping for a twist.

    And that teasing didn’t let up even in the last episode. Like, do we have to see them break up and crying 3 or was it 4 times? The first time, we thought ok, maybe there’s a twist still, then a 2nd time at the tunnel with a big fight, then a 3rd time at the bus stop crying and hugging and THEN at the end when with them narrating? Don’t tell me this is for the storyline. This is just to make the viewers hope and then hurt them again and again. It’s needlessly cruel.

    All I’m saying is, if it’s to end sadly for the main leads, then give HD and YJ (and viewers rooting for this couple) the proper respect and closure. This 4 times crying and breaking up is just BS. Also, it doesn’t suit HD’s character at all to give up when she’s always been a fighter but let’s not even go there anymore. What’s done, done.

    • PERFECT. I can totally agree with you, hadnt thought about the number of break ups thing before, but indeed it served no purpose to the story other than to make viewers cry again and again, when the times I cried the most was in the happy triumph moments.
      Also you are totally right about HD being a fighter, she was the one who made the love story act begin, she went for it. If they still loved each other like it seemed, they would have totally reconciled after him coming back to Korea and her retirement.
      And honestly, it makes little sense to me that they seem so in love many many years later but she married someone else? Even being still very young? Yurim hadn’t marry yet despite of being with jiwoong for 10 years, not to mention they survived many years of what seemed a doable long distant relationship.

      I just can’t fit a marriage and a child with someone else in the story of HD as it was presented. She was married but nobody mentioned the husband of their best friend, he was nowhere to be seen?
      And honestly, so many crazy unrealistic situations in the show, this “it was a realistic ending” is not it.

  16. ok with the breakup and ending as it’s realistic and very well acted.
    Never expected YJ to be anyway when it’s clear from ep 1 that Minchae’s surname is not Baek and in the early eps, conversation between HD and her mom in present timeline already already shows that the 2 did not end up together. The ending may not be what most viewers would wamt but it is logical and consistent right from the start. Having them end up together and put in a improbable twist to justify Minchae’s surname would be ridiculous.

    I have to agree with some viewers that it would have been better not to have the drama interspersed with the present timeline. perhaps at most have it only at the beginning havinginchae start reading the diaries and just at the end as a bookend.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this drama, well acted, cinematography and direction is top notch. The writer tied all the various details and plotlines together well.

  17. I watched the first few eps then was planning to binge-watch this as I had a feeling it’s not the rom-com I wanted to see, so I kinda dodged the ep16 sad-ending bullet too. Still, I’m
    a little bit sad/affected just from reading all the tweets about ep16 lol. *sigh* I suppose they had a great first love but they weren’t meant to be together ey. Relationships are complex, specially if set in a complex world such as theirs.. I’d take a simple rom-com anytime, in this time of pandemic and wars *sigh*. Still, 2521 will be one of greats dramas about youth. Happy for the cast that they have this in their resume.

  18. Wasted 8 weeks for this disaster ending. Hee Do breaking up with Yijin because she doesn’t want to liver her life waiting for someone who can’t be there always, yet marrying a guy who is always Overseas with no contact to his daughter whatsoever! LOGIC PLEASE! #NeverAgainTVN

    It’s a Bad Ending. No resolution, another ending to add to the list of Game of Thrones disaster. We watch KDramas to escape the already harsh reality. From Coming of Age to Melodrama — people switching personalities.
    #TwentyFiveTwentyOne #NeverAgainTVN #TwentyFiveTwentyOneEp16

  19. Spoilers ahead…

    To me, the story started well. I also love the part where crisis hit Yurim and she chose the difficult path to help her parents but sacrifice her joy.

    But somehow towards the end, especially between Yi Jin & Hee Do, it’s getting a bit disappointing. They grew apart because Yi Jin left for New York and Hee Do gradually realize she can’t accept that Yi Jin is going to be constantly absent from her life due to work. I can understand from Hee Do point of view. But somehow I can’t understand Yi Jin point of view. If he really loves her as he proclaimed, why he applied for a post in New York without even discussing with Hee Do?

    And if they really love each other so much and been through so much together in their youth, how come they couldn’t overcome this obstacle between them. Yi Jin can choose not to go New York but stay around in Korea to further his career. But he didn’t.

    And also the disappointing part is that the 5 friends don’t seem to stay in touch that often anymore after they attended Seung Wan’s father’s funeral. This is the nail in the coffin which makes me disappointed with this promising series.

  20. This carries on the grand TVN tradition of wrecking great talents with wickedly bad storylines. Last year DAYS gave me nightmares of hurling flower pots at the useless child goddess and writer nim high on weeds torturing with aimeless plots. This year 2521 ending was WTF???!!!!

  21. Glad I opted out from this drama. I’m already living a realistic full of worries that keeps me awake at nights life. My only outlet for joy and laughter is through comedy, romance, action & investigation tv shows. I don’t need heartache and regrets pouring out off my screen and wreck my emotion.

  22. Loved the show till the end. To those who feel that NHD was out of character to not try further, I would say that the fact that she already knew what the life with a top journalist would be like. She had lived her first half of life with a mom that was mostly absent. That left her alone and lonely. I think that allowed her to see her future with BYJ. And they both loved each other enough to do what was best for the other. For me, that’s the ultimate love. To wish the other the best i life even if that is one without you in it.

  23. I think the unhappiness is due to the fact that it was marketed with a breezy happy rom-com feel, but in the end we got melodrama. That’s why there is product dissatisfaction.

  24. Oh it was a heartbreaker
    The scenes will break you heart and give you pain physically.
    And I think that’s because it’s real
    I accept the ending – I think if you have lived life long enough, you can understand what is going on.
    There’s no right or wrong in relationships
    But it was not the best decision for them
    But I felt it would have ended the same way even if they desperately sought alternatives
    There is a a narrative of love conquers all that we like to believe but unfortunately in life, sometimes it takes more than love .
    Your values, your timing, your priorities matter
    Only when they concide with love, the stars aligned
    For them, it was not the case
    Maybe they didn’t fight for it but let’s be honest, both did not want to. This was no kdrama fairy tale but life ain’t one.

  25. I am nearing 50 right now and had enjoyed watching this drama. All the episodes brought back memories of my own youth.We lthe castoved, fought and lived as hard as we could. The characters in TOTF were brought to life in the most remarkable way. Viewers could feel every joy, every pain, every glory and every fail they wnet through. That is where the problem arises.
    Every episode was a burst of colors and flavor…we cried and we laughed..we blush and we got flusterd along with the characters….but in the end…the story line simply erases the vivocity of life from them.
    Its true that not all first love has a happy ending but after making these characters so full of life..the end was too bland…too empty…feels like Heedo is simply putting her unnresolved ferlings and romance as a burden onto her daughter.
    I think the writers took human feelings and conviction too lightly..its almost like looking down on youth. While I think every youth out there fights fiercely for love and what they believe in. Whule Heedo and Yijin …simply gave up.

  26. It’s the end I expected, but really bad executed. Also I expect a max of 12% rating in the last episode since there was another controversy with the drama yesterday about 911.

  27. Why make excuses for poor writing? Last few ep wA so draggy. All was fine until hee do feels he’s never there when she wanted him etc and that was like last 2 ep. So I suppose she married a bum whom she later divorced. I was ok with the 911 plot but then I saw how it was used to show how sad hee do was since yijin was too busy for her and that’s just shallow. No one is debating the ending, known since early ep. But the reason for it is just poor writing. If time and distance is the reason, then yes, their love wasn’t even memorable. I mean hee do doesn’t remember the beach trip. Shows you how much love she felt then. The writing just doesn’t make sense.

  28. I totally agree with everyone comment!! Unfortunately I did not watch last episode!! So so disappointed with sad ending. Could have been better

  29. Okay, let me chime in a bit. Honestly I love (or loved) this drama so much until maybe eps 13? But the last few episodes is dragging that I checked my watch several times while watching it because it feels so long *sigh. I thought at first that the writer is great because they could make even side characters shine, but epi 15 and 16 change my mind. What was with this realistic ending? I don’t view 2521 as a slice of life so idk why it suddenly choose the realistic part. And so many questions unanswered: who is minchae’s dad? Heedo’s bruises? She doesn’t remember the beach trip? She was literally being hospitalized with her mother. Why choose 911 out of anything when they could’ve made up something? It’s insensitive. Seungwan suddenly has a father too. Plus the title is 25-21 but almost the whole drama isn’t happening on 25-21 sigh. I suddenly find so many flaws in this drama when I keep praising it before. Correct me if I’m wrong, maybe it’s me who don’t pay enough attention 🙁

  30. I love this drama, very interesting and awesome..the casts are amazing..their acting is so cool and cute..but i feel so bad at the end..i thought they were meant for each hu hu..anyway, great work and congratulations, one of the best drama..hope to see again..thank you and God bless

  31. I have tried to comment before, but it’s not posted ? for me, the most annoying part is the unanswered questions: who is minchae’s dad? Did na hee do has a disease? The bruises? The lost memory of beach trip? Or does she actually remember it? But she clearly was hospitalized with her mom! What’s her sickness? Why the realistic ending? I never see 2521 as a slice of life drama so why make it realistic? And seungwan suddenly has a father. Plus why they use 911 instead of makinh something up? It’s insensitive. And the title is 2521 but most of their time was not spent in 2521. Also the minor-adult relationship. I’m one of those who isn’t comfortable with it but keep watching because I still find this drama interesting. I suddenly find so many flaws in this drama when before I keep praising it. Correct me if I’m wrong or if those questions are already answered, maybe it’s me who don’t pay enough attention 🙁

  32. Best comment I’ve seen so far about ep16: “What’s the point of watching fiction with an ending that rips your heart open when we already experience that in real life?” I mean, couldn’t disagree with that lol. I’d like to see NJH and KTR in their next drama with a happy ending please haha

  33. De acuerdo con muchas de los comentarios, la decepción no es por que no terminaran juntos es por la trampa de jugar hasta el final, con las posibilidades falsas.

  34. I’d second the point. I’m a 90’s child and in my thirties. I understand and accept that first loves don’t always work out. However, the show took audiences on a merry ride of happiness, overcoming adversities, meeting soulmates and then giving a hard dose of reality and responsibilities and needs of an adult. The break up scenes were milked 3 times and I agree that in hindsight, they kept playing them to keep viewers hope. Even till the end credits, it seemed liked a happy ending may be alluded to.

    If the characters had been shown to be living fulfilling lives, perhaps it would have been easier for an audience rooting for the youths. But no. The reality of daily grind is served again. Dramas are escapisms from daily lives of reality. If this was the case, it should have been made clearer at the start. Why was so much time spent in crafting a soul touching romance and then saying, ah, youth and happiness is fleeting, so enjoy it while you can before you become a husk of your former selves and barely hold any memories of the good times. And Why on earth would you want to teach this to a 13 year old child.

  35. The story didn’t make sense towards the end..if the both main lead had so much understanding and supportive of each suddenly they lost all understanding.. without even giving it a try ,gave up on their love .heedo is so much passionate person,how can she marry another person whom she doesn’t the discussion after the funeral she talks about marriage as something not easy to get out of ..means she is not happy in her marriage..why would she marry without love..why did she marry before her retirement,there was no necessity to marry .. after her retirement she could have gone to New York to stay with him .
    They could have waited and married once they establish themselves in their means they never really loved each other..they were always selfish and used each other for uplifting their spirit s

  36. That is the thing though. The ending would have made sense if they both had fulfilling lives later. But does NHD have a fulfilling life, a good marriage? She retired, apparently out of touch with her friends and in a not-so-amazing marriage because it is heavily implied that her husband is mostly absent. She’s not even close to her daughter. Where is Yi Jin now? Them not ending up together would have made perfect sense if it was in sync with the story. But they acted out of character which makes it look like a forced ending. NHD is the same girl who stood outside BYJ’s house for hours despite him pushing her away because she wanted to make it work. She is the same person who believed in YuRim even when she stopped reading her emails and then was misquoted. She couldn’t have done the same for Yi Jin, who she’d always supported? She is the same person who believed in him when he left without a warning. She always understood why he closed off. She is not someone who would say ‘do you even love me?’ when he is standing there telling her about his depression and circumstances. Similarly, he is not someone who would just let her walk away without trying to make it work. He always came back to her, he is the same person who continued to reach out even when he was away, who confronted her when she avoided him. There is no closure, no answers and you can argue that it is real life, but that’s not how a story works. After 15 amazing episodes, the finale seemed rushed and botched up and the audience that invested their heart in the show even though all clues pointed towards them falling out, did not deserve such a hasty conclusion. It is unsatisfying because it leaves you with the message that youthful optimism is not worth anything and memories are not worth keeping.

    • Yes, this is why the ending is not realistic to me. Yes, it’s true that in real life, most first loves don’t work out. That’s not what makes this an unrealistic ending. It’s that they set up very clear characters who had a relationship that went far beyond your usual high school crushes (which are usually based on appearances and are very shallow). And then they drove these characters completely against their existing personalities at warp speed at the end. How can youth be a precious memory (at least we own the summer!) if you can’t even remember it (I don’t remember that trip at all). Young Hee Do wanted life, she lived to the fullest. Adult Hee Do merely…exists. It’s not that people want a nonsensical happy ending. It’s that within the story itself, this ending just does not fit with what these characters as shown in ep 1-13 would logically do.

  37. Not happy with the ending…i dont need a realistic ending..i am watching a drama..if i would have wanted a realistic one…then i guess id be watching a documentary or reality show…but again this is drama…everyone is rooting for them…of all the kdramas that i have watched, theirs is the most pure, sincere and most beautiful love relationship that i have ever seen…i felt what they have felt for each other….thats how relatable they are to me…im not gunning for a happy ending for them just for the sake of a happy ending…im gunning for it because they both deserve to be happy..TOGETHER…hee do and yijins character would have seemed to endure everything for their relationship if the writer just gave them what….2nd or 3rd chance…i mean the writer just made these 2 characters easily give up their love for each other…this drama for me has the best storyline, characters, the interaction of the characters, the actors, the emotional rolllercoaster ride that i have experienced…EXCEPT for the ending…everything was beautiful, it was so solid…so why ruin it at the end?…i can take sad endings and i have watched alot…and its just okay for me…BUT THIS ONE…ITS NOT..i have never felt so heart broken and disappointed at the same time just because of a drama!!! THATS HOW SUPERB THIS DRAMA IS!!!…but i will never rewatch it again..

  38. This drama had so much potential, but fell apart because of more issues then just a sad ending, and here are just some of them.
    1. Hee-do’s husband.
    Hee-do grew up lonely because of her mother and she after dating also became lonely and distant because of Yi-jin. So why would she go on to marry another guy who is work oriented and
    is never there for her and her daughter too. Doesn’t make sense.
    2. The missing dairy.
    Yi-jin finding Hee-do’s diary and takes it to the bookstore owner instead of just taking it to her house or mailing it back to her. Only for the bookstore owner to find it 21 years later on his last day before closing to store is too unrealistic and/or just bad writing.
    3. Speaking of the diary.
    Making present day Hee-do going back to the tunnel after reading Yi-jin’s comments in her diary. Is out of character for Hee-do who was portrayed as a strong willed decisive girl who never looks back on what she does with regrets and serve no purpose other than to give the audience some closure. For which they failed to do.

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