The Life List: Five things to know about K-drama Twenty Five Twenty One

Kim Tae-ri (left) and Nam Joo-hyuk in Twenty Five, Twenty One. PHOTO: NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - Romantic drama Twenty Five Twenty One, partially set in 1998 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, harks back to a slower era of life.

It is a coming-of-age story about carving out a new path after broken dreams, told through two people who fall for each other when one is 25 and the other 21.

Here are five things to know about the K-drama, which is available on Netflix.

A touch of nostalgia

With the series set in the late 1990s, shooting locations were specially chosen to transport audiences to that time period.

Nam Joo-hyuk (Start-Up, 2020) plays a student whose father becomes bankrupt during the financial crisis.

Nam, 27, says in a group interview with local media: "These days, there are skyscrapers everywhere you go. It's not easy to find locations that have smaller buildings and a touch of nostalgia. But the crew did and that left an impression on me. I found it healing to film in those places."

Fencing prodigy

Starring alongside Nam is actress Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden, 2016), who plays Na Hee-do, a fencing athlete whose team is broken up after the crisis.

The 31-year-old says: "To prepare for my role, I took fencing lessons for about five to six months. When I had time, I would practise for two hours a day. I started from the basic steps and trained up my stamina - it's what every aspiring fencing athlete would have to go through."

The production's recreation of a fencing arena also left a deep impression on Kim. "The set was so well-made and sophisticated, with small references to the 1990s as well," she says.

Cheeky male lead

Nam Joo-hyuk plays a student whose father becomes bankrupt during the financial crisis in Twenty Five, Twenty One. PHOTO: NETFLIX

When asked if there was anything about 1998 that interests him, Nam, who was born in 1994, showed his prankster side.\

He says: "I don't remember much about that era. But since there weren't smartphones then, you had to go through a completely different process when you're arranging a meet-up with someone. It's not very easy.

"If I could experience that time, I'd like to try arranging a meet-up with a friend and just not showing up."

Relatable heroine

Kim Tae-ri plays Na Hee-do, a fencing athlete whose team is broken up after the crisis. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Kim saw herself in the character of Hee-do because of their similar personalities and life trajectories.

"Hee-do's the kind of person who had to learn how to be independent at an early age. I've also lived a very independent life where I'm the one making decisions for myself so I could relate to her.

"But Hee-do also meets a lot of people and her world is much expanded by the end of the series and that's also similar to me. I thought I would live a life that is very independent, but I've actually met so many wonderful people over the years who gave me a lot of love and support."

Summer fashion in winter times

While much of the story is set during summer, with the cast in warm-weather fashion, Nam reveals that the series was actually shot during winter, when temperatures could go below 0 deg C.

"I was like: 'Why don't we have scenes set in winter?' We put in a lot of effort into pretending like we were in the summer and warm," he says.

Kim adds that the series has many scenes of the cast playing with water - splashing it on one another, running in the rain - which only made them colder.

She says: "I'll come in and realise: 'Oh, we're going to have to shoot a scene with water again.' We had a few shoots like that and we actors will complain and bicker among ourselves."

Twenty Five Twenty One is available on Netflix.

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