With Sandglass recaps done (*insert happy dance here*), I’m going to take a mini-break before I jump into recapping another full-length Korean drama series.  So this week I’ll be posting on the ridiculously adorable miniseries Twenty Years Old.  I found it so cute I just couldn’t resist. This drama originally aired online, but it was so popular it made its way to the small screen.  After watching it, I can certainly see its appeal.  It’s so charmingly light and sweet that you can’t help but want to pinch its proverbial cheeks.  If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend it as a low-commitment, breezy watch.  After all, there are only four episodes and each one clocks in under 25 minutes!


Title(s): Twenty Years Old, 20 Years Old, 20’s

Starring: Lee Da-in and Lee Ki-kwang

Original air date(s): Jan. 6, 2014 to Jan. 7, 2014

Broadcaster: tvN

Episode(s): 4


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A cell phone alarms wakes up our heroine Kim Hye-rim (Lee Da-in) and she excitedly gets up and starts preparing for a big event taking place later in the day.  She declares she’s going to change herself for the better and kisses a photo (of the guy she likes?) as she double checks the outfit she plans to wear.  Then she starts watching a tutorial on how to apply mascara.  It’s her first time wearing it and she gets it all wrong though.  When she sees herself in the mirror, she starts screaming.  She looks like a panda instead of the Barbie doll she was going for! 

Luckily her roommate is there to help and the next thing we know she’s strutting down the street in a short skirt and high heels. It must be her first time wearing heels too because she can barely walk in them.  She ends up twisting her ankle and almost misses the bus she planned to ride to the event. 

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After an uncomfortable ride in a packed bus, she arrives at a bar and a group of her friends greet her when she enters.  But she’s not there to see them it seems.  As they pour a round of drinks she looks around wondering when “he” will get there. 

One of her friends, Jin-sung (Kim Tae-oh), interrupts her search and insists that she down a glass of somaek with the rest of them.  She glares at him as she grumbles to herself, but she takes the drink to appease him, then she goes back to looking around again.   

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She has to wait quite a while, but when she’s just about ready to give up all hope, “he” finally arrives.  It’s the guy she likes—Kim Tae-woo (Kim Dong-suk).  She perks up when she sees him and smiles brightly as he walks over to their table.  

The scene then cuts to Hye-rim at home—throwing up.  She drank too much the evening before, but her roommate Oh Ga-young (Kim Hye-ji) is there to save the day again.  Ga-young hands her medicine to help settle her stomach and asks why she drank so much.  Hye-rim starts to explain she was star gazing with Tae-woo and drank because he was drinking, but she gets a bout of nausea again and it sends her running back to the bathroom for another round of puking. Yuck.


Apparently, the hangover and resultant fit of vomiting occurred the day before she met Tae-woo and her other friends at the bar.  It’s a flashback! Ga-young told her if she was really interested in Tae-woo, then she needed to make her move before another girl snatched him up.  Hye-rim, having no clue on what to do, looked to Ga-young for advice and Ga-young told her to use her prettiness to spark his interest.  To do that, she needed to change her look (which sent Hye-rim online to find the mascara how-to video that opened the episode).

With the back story more firmly in place, the scene cuts back to Tae-woo’s arrival.  Hye-rim quickly checks herself in the mirror as he approaches and her shoe falls off before he gets there.  She surreptitiously feels around under the table trying to locate it and slides it onto her foot just as Tae-woo sits next to her. 


She beams as she celebrates to herself that he chose to sit next to her.  Then she’s back to glaring at Jin-sung because he announces that Tae-woo has to drink three glasses of beer because he’s late.  Tae-woo begs off.  He’s still getting over his hangover from the night before, he says.  Jin-sung, who is totally wasted already, starts smiling as he recalls their antics the night before.  He’s about to tell an embarrassing story about Tae-woo’s drunk behavior, but Hye-rim doesn’t get to hear what he says.  Because Tae-woo covers her ears! 

She starts blushing because of the contact and Tae-woo tells Jin-sung to be quiet because he’d be too embarrassed if Hye-rim hears what he says.  Tae-woo turns to Hye-rim and asks if she heard anything.  She tells him she didn’t and he’s so relieved that he muses her hair. 

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Hye-rim excuses herself to go to the ladies room so she can spazz out over the skinship with Tae-woo.  She’s excited at the prospect of him finally being  interested in her.  Her excitement is short-lived though.  When she goes back to the table, Tae-woo is happily taking shots with someone else. 

She sits down a bit dejected.  And things only go from bad to worse when Jin-sung falls asleep and his head lands on her shoulder.  Then Tae-woo leaves the table to check his phone. 

She angrily shakes Jin-sung off of her, but his head just lands back on her shoulder again.  Luckily she gets a text message that makes her completely forget that she’s annoyed.  It’s from Tae-woo! He asks if she wants to go out for a bit—just the two of them. She’s so surprised and excited that she jumps up and yells aloud that Yes! Yes she would like it.  She’s so loud that she rouses Jin-sung and everyone else at the table, and Tae-woo smiles to himself from across the bar.

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Finally alone with Tae-woo, Hye-rim sends sweet smiles his way as they walk down the street.  They haven’t been walking long when her high heels trip her up and she almost tumbles to the ground.  Tae-woo catches her before she falls and flashes an adorable smile as he asks if she’s okay.  She’s so mesmerized that she starts fantasizing about the two of them breaking out into a romantic, impromptu waltz in the park. 

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Her daydream has her totally distracted, but Tae-woo brings her back to reality when he asks if she wants to stop and rest her aching feet . . . in a love motel.  She finally takes a look around and realizes that Tae-woo has led her to a motel district.  She wonders what the heck is going on, but she follows him into the lobby anyway . . . only to come to her senses once she gets there.  Unwilling to go to a motel room with him alone, she tells Tae-woo she’s going to go and he puts his arm around her shoulder and lecherously asks why she’s leaving when they just got there.  She pushes him off and runs away. 

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It’s raining outside by then and she sadly limps down the sidewalk as she flashes back to the time she spent liking Tae-woo.  She ends up sitting on the side of the road holding her broken high heel and sobbing uncontrollably as she realizes at twenty years old, her romance is over just like that. 

Hye-rim handles the end of her (non)relationship in typical fashion. She watches copious amounts of tv and stuffs her face with endless amounts of junk food.  Ga-young walks in one day and finds her laughing hysterically at a tv program.  She tsks because Hye-rim has been  crying for three days and now she’s laughing like a crazy person. 

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Ga-young decides she needs to get out so she drags Hye-rim to a BEAST concert.  Hye-rim is not that thrilled to be there, but Ga-young is a total BEAST fanatic.  She thinks the group, especially her favorite member (Lee Ki-kwang), will help Hye-rim heal, but Hye-rim thinks it will just stress her out more being around all the rabid high school fangirls.  Ga-young tells her she’s lucky—she got to go to middle school with Ki-kwang—it’s just too bad she didn’t get to know him well then. 

After the concert, Ga-young stands around with the other fans waiting for the band to leave the venue.  When they catch sight of the group, the crowd rushes toward their van and Hye-rim, who gets bumped, loses her shoe in the midst of the crush of people.  She gets on her knees and tries to grab it, but every time she’s on the verge of getting it back, another person kicks it deeper into the crowd.  It finally lands in front of someone and the person picks it up. 

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Hye-rim calls out to the person that that’s her shoe.  Her eyes pan up to see who has it and it’s Ki-kwang (Lee Ki-kwang) of course.  She’s shocked and mortified and sinks back to the ground as Ki-kwang looks at the shoe curiously then looks at her.  Hye-rim laments meeting him under such embarrassing circumstances.  In voice-over, she says, “The one Ga-young will die for, he is BEAST’s star, Ki-kwang. He’s a guy I met in middle school, Ki-kwang.” She waves and asks if he remembers her. 

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Flashback.  Hye-rim and Ki-kwang are sitting on the back of a bus after school.  They’re sharing earphones as they listen to music together and their eyes meet. Ki-kwang leans over and softly kisses her.  It’s her first kiss. 

Back in the present, Hye-rim starts daydreaming about how the scene should have played out when she lost her shoe.  In her daydream, she’s standing in the middle of a garden with Ki-kwang.  After she asks if he remembers her, he says of course he does.  “How could I ever forget you?” he asks. Then he says her name aloud and reaches down to help her put on a nice sparkly strappy sandal (instead of the old ratty Adidas sandal she was wearing).

Too bad in real life Ki-kwang just stands there staring at her until his manager calls out to him to hurry him along.  He walks away and she’s left to get up by herself and put her sandal on alone.


On the bus ride home, she looks down at the Adidas slides she’s wearing and berates herself for imagining that her shabby “Samdidas” (haha! It’s a word mash of Sandals and Adidas) turned into a pair of glass slippers.  She realizes it’s started again—a one-sided crush on a guy who doesn’t know she exists.  She puts her head against the bus window and reminds herself that Ki-kwang didn’t even recognize her and tells herself to pull herself together.

At a hotel far away, someone sits in a chair holding a cell phone.  Whoever it is, presses send and the cell phone lights up.  A ball of light flows from the phone and travels through the Seoul streets to the bus where Hye-rim is fast asleep.  The ball of light lands on her cell phone and the text message alert sounds.  

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The scene then cuts to Ki-kwang.  He’s in his van again and looks disappointed as he stares at his phone.  He calls his manager hyung and asks him if he knows the thing he hates most in the world? It’s the number one, he says.  He goes back to staring at his phone and gets a bit animated when he sees that the text he sent went through.


It’s a text to Hye-rim! She’s gotten off the bus and stands at the bus stop staring at her phone as she reads the message Ki-kwang sent earlier in the evening.  It says, “It’s been a while, Kim Hye-rim.”


Cute, right!? And that cuteness is definitely its charm.  Because really this drama is not doing anything new, but it’s so light and airy you can’t help but like it.  When I read that one of its writers also co-wrote Queen In-hyun’s Man and Nine (two of my absolute favs), I could understand too how the show managed its niche with such aplomb.  

As much as I loved it, I must admit it made me feel old. I don’t follow K-pop much (if at all) and I had no idea who Lee Ki-kwang was (or BEAST for that matter).  So when he popped up on my computer screen, I could not see past his cuteness.  He (and the rest of the cast) look sooooo young to me that all I wanted to do was give them hugs and feed them.  Then it hit me, I’m turning into an ajumma.  ACK!

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Hope for Dating: Episode 2 (Final) Recap

2 thoughts on “Twenty Years Old: Episode 1 Recap

    • Ooh, another award! Yay! I like awards. I’ll check out your post to read up on the award. Thanks for thinking of me for the honors.

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