High Five: Essential Life Lessons Twenty-Five Twenty-One Has Taught Us

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Queenie Resmundo


In this High Five article, SEA Wave lists down the five essential life lessons that the Korean show “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” has taught us.

I’ve heard and seen this K-drama all over my feed when it was showing on Netflix early this year. However, I was in a slump at that time and I didn’t have the energy to watch on-going series. Not until Youtube shorts introduced me to funny “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” clips and I thought it was a fun drama to see, or so I thought.

Spanning from the late 90s to the present, the story revolves around Na Hee-do, a high school student and fencing athlete, and Baek Yi-Jin, a once-wealthy son who strived to get part-time jobs until he became a sports journalist. This seemingly simple love and friendship story portrayed a lot of sad realities anyone could experience once in their lives.

And while the main leads were in senior high school (except Baek Yi-Jin who was already 22 when he met Na Hee-do, 18), Twenty-Five Twenty-One served many lessons that hit home, especially for adults.

Growing old doesn’t mean hiding your worries

Because sharing your pain isn’t always a sign of weakness.

SEA Wave - Twenty-Five Twenty-One

Photo from tvN

Struggling with his personal and family issues, Baek Yi-Jin is a character that often goes MIA whenever he has a problem. Simply because he felt like involving other people in his own misery would cause more harm to others than good.

After a tearjerking moment in Episode 15, Na Hee-Do reminded Baek Yi-Jin that aside from being there for each other in times of happiness, he must also share everything, including sadness and despair. Which can be really difficult to do as an adult who likes to do things on your own. However, while sharing your worries with someone may not solve the problem overnight, it can provide invaluable relief that only other people can give.

Follow your passion

When Na Hee-Do’s former school abolished their fencing team due to the International Monetary Fund Crisis or what they call in Korea the “IMF Crisis,” this situation didn’t stop her from doing what she loves. Instead, she did every crazy way possible to enter another school and get accepted into the fencing team.

Even when her mom, whom she had grown apart with, did not trust her capabilities, Na Hee-Do proved that she can be an award-winning fencer. She focused on the few people who trusted and supported her, which made her win her matches. Likewise, Baek Yi-Jin grew from a reporter trainee to becoming a broadcaster despite him not finishing his bachelor’s degree.

This show exists to prove to us that following your passion may seem like a wrong decision at some point, but with perseverance and determination, you’ll realize you’re halfway there.

Priorities may change over time, and it’s okay

SEA Wave - Twenty-Five Twenty-One

Photo from tvN

I guess what I love about the series is it allows you to witness the growth of the characters – how they were reckless in high school, how they blossomed on their own, and how they eventually grew apart.

As we grow old, our priorities presently may not be the same priorities we had when we were young. And it’s okay. Whether that’s friendship, relationship, career, or family, priorities may change under any circumstances and there will come a point where we have to choose because, sometimes, we can only take a little. There were many scenes that Twenty-Five Twenty-One had taught this, and it’s for you to find out how Na Hee-do, Baek Yi-Jin, and the rest of the cast managed through their priorities in life. Just be ready your tissues.

Don’t dwell on the past

“I always think only about what I’ve lost. But you think about what you can gain.” – Baek Yi-jin

Baek Yi-Jin told this to Na Hee-do when they were “strangers-that-met-a-couple-of-times” while he was still struggling in his life caused by his family’s financial trouble. Both of them were at their desparate times but they faced them quite differently. While Na Hee-do was doing all she could do to pursue fencing despite the challenges, Baek Yi-Jin realized he had been dwelling on what he had no control over – the past.

As we navigate our adulting journey, we could lose popularity, money, or even people along the way, and it’s okay to feel distressed about it. It’s fine to feel things. But we need not dwell on what we have lost or past for that matter, but rather move forward to gain something even more valuable in the long run.

Love isn’t supposed to be pretty

SEA Wave - Twenty-Five Twenty-One

Photo from tvN

“We’re lovers only during the good times, and a burden to each other in the bad times.” – Na Hee-do

Semi-spoiler, this was Na Hee-do’s line in a heated argument with Baek Yi-Jin. Their slow-burn romance showcased all the good sides of a relationship, like everything anyone could ask for. However, what they were not prepared for is the bad side of it. I wasn’t even prepared for the heartbreak this drama had caused me.

At some point in your life, love could break you and be cruel to you, but it shouldn’t always be ugly. It’s about seeing their person at their darkest and worst moment and choosing to stay. But at the end of the day, the choice is yours to let go and find the love you think you really deserve.

These are just some of the lessons on adulting I picked from watching Twenty-Five Twenty-One, and I’m pretty sure there are still other things you can discover from this much-loved series.

Catch Twenty-Five Twenty-One on Netflix.

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