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Every weekend seems too far away when you’re waiting for new episodes of “Twenty Five, Twenty One.” The coming-of-age youth drama starring Kim Tae Ri, Nam Joo Hyuk, and WJSN‘s Bona is teaching us countless lessons about sportsmanship, growing up, and chasing your dreams, bringing a smile to our faces with each episode.
But what about the other five days of the week? Fret not, because here are some recommendations to keep you feeling energized and inspired!
While the characters in “Age of Youth” are in university instead of high school, this coming-of-age series tackles topics like friendship and identity and is a joy to watch as each character navigates their early 20s. This series is especially great for those who love watching female-centric friendships since they grow to understand one another and develop an unbreakable bond of sisterhood.
Also starring Nam Joo Hyuk, “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” remains one of the most iconic sports K-dramas to date. Centering around students at a sports university, the series delves into issues unique to different sports, and it does an amazing job at exploring friendship and sportsmanship amid a tense, competitive environment. Each character fights to chase their dreams, finding love and themselves in the process.
Start watching “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”:
Although “School 2017” focuses more on high school students navigating a competitive academic environment, its main character Ra Eun Ho (Kim Sejeong) is an aspiring webtoon artist who hopes to get into an arts university despite her poor grades. The series puts focus on students whose talents lie outside of the academic sphere and shares that it is okay to have unconventional dreams and aspirations in life. “School 2017” is also full of hilarious banter between high schoolers as the characters come together to solve a mystery happening at their school.
Start watching “School 2017”:
Back in 2020, Nam Joo Hyuk took the K-drama world by storm with “Start-Up,” an inspiring story of young hopefuls wishing to launch their successful businesses. The drama also stars Suzy as its female lead Seo Dal Mi, who is every bit as feisty as Na Hee Do from “Twenty Five, Twenty One.” The duo faces countless setbacks in their journey, but they learn to rely on and trust one another as they pursue their dreams.
Just like “Twenty Five, Twenty One,” this inspiring drama also follows an athlete’s journey to greatness. Go Dong Man, played by Park Seo Joon, is a former taekwondo star who quit the sport after a painful incident. In adulthood, Dong Man leads an unfulfilling life, later turning to mixed martial arts as a means of pursuing his dreams.
Start watching “Fight My Way”:
Another blast from the past, “Girls’ Generation 1979” stars none other than WJSN’s Bona in this retro high school drama. The story follows a group of teenagers as they navigate first loves and petty rivalries, ultimately learning the true value of friendship. Its nostalgic late 1970s setting also lends it another layer of warmth and longing for a long-gone era.
Start watching “Girls’ Generation 1979”:
Starring Kim Hye Yoon and SF9’s Rowoon, “Extraordinary You” is a fantasy series where characters within a comic book world become self-aware, and they attempt to rewrite their own destinies. While its story is probably the furthest from “Twenty Five, Twenty One” in this list, there are also lessons to be learned from it about determination, friendship, and finding oneself.
Start watching “Extraordinary You”:
What are some of your favorite inspiring K-dramas? Let us know in the comments below!
Gladys Yeo is a longtime K-entertainment fan and university student majoring in Media and Asian Studies. Outside of school and writing, she can be found listening to K-pop girl groups, attempting cool new pole tricks, watching anime, or trying (and failing) to control her two pet corgis. Feel free to hit her up on Instagram to chat about dramas, music, and life!
Currently Watching: “Through The Darkness,” “Twenty Five, Twenty One,” and “Thirty-Nine”Looking Forward To: “Soundtrack #1,” Red Velvet’s comeback
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