'Twenty Five Twenty One' uses 9/11 attack as backdrop for romance, outrages some viewers - The Korea Times
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'Twenty Five Twenty One' uses 9/11 attack as backdrop for romance, outrages some viewers

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A scene from Saturday's episode of the series,
A scene from Saturday's episode of the series, "Twenty Five Twenty One," showing Back Yi-jin (Nam Joo-hyuk) reporting from New York about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. / Screenshot from Naver TV

By Lee Gyu-lee

TvN's popular romance series, "Twenty Five Twenty One," has stirred up controversy after its episode inappropriately featured the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed thousands in New York City in 2001.

The romance series follows a love story between a high school girl, Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri), who grows up to become a fencing medalist, and a college dropout, Back Yi-jin (Nam Joo-hyuk), who later becomes a news reporter.

Saturday's episode showed the pair's dating life while both trying to juggle their lives: Hee-do as a national fencing team member traveling abroad for international games, and Yi-jin as a newly-transferred reporter to a local news team.

Toward the end of the episode, Yi-jin is sent to New York to cover the Sept. 11 attack as a correspondent, and the pair's relationship starts to face difficulties as they struggle to manage their long-distance relationship while balancing their professional lives.

However, after the episode aired, many viewers complained that it was inappropriate to use the tragic attack as the backdrop for a love story. The parts they pointed out were scenes like where Hee-do would laugh after seeing Yi-jin through TV reporting about the attack, and where Yi-jin called Hee-do from New York to tell her that he dressed up for his reporting to look nice for her.

The viewers criticized the writer and the production team for being inconsiderate not only by bringing up the deadly terrorist attack, which might still be a horrible trauma for the victims and their families, but also by using it to portray the struggling relationship of the characters.

"Twenty Five Twenty One" follows a romance between a fencing medalist and a news reporter. Courtesy of tvN

"9/11 was such a globally shocking incident. How could they use it like that? ... It is such a horrifying attack that cost the lives of those on the plane, in the building," a user wrote on the internet. "Even though it is another country's tragedy, it should still not be taken lightly and be used to make heart-fluttering scenes. It was a very inconsiderate move, especially as the series is being streamed globally through Netflix."

Another user wrote: "I don't understand why it had to be the 9/11 attack. The point is that (Yi-jin) had to go away as a foreign correspondent. So they could have just made up a fictional incident. It was very uncomfortable to watch that."

The 16-part series, which started with a 6.4-percent viewership rating on Feb. 12, garnered popularity with its coming-of-age, cute love story of the two leads through the late 1990s when the country was hit by a major financial crisis. The rating continued to grow, almost doubling at its final episode on Sunday, at 11.5 percent.

However, the show also raised concern from some viewers for putting too much emphasis on a romantic relationship between a minor and an adult, until the story progressed toward the end of the series.
Lee Gyu-lee gyulee@koreatimes.co.kr


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