The fact is that Korean cinema rarely disappoints. They may not always produce groundbreaking content, but at least they ensure they won't let down those who have put their trust in them. This is the "Girl of the 20th Century". It's a story about first love and what that means for the rest of your life. It follows Bo Ra as she balances her feelings for Woon Ho and her friendship with Yeon Doo, while maintaining a bright spirit that adults find difficult to emulate. We have to admit that the characters were a little generic, but let's forgive that considering the story it worked out well. Let's see how the story unfolded in 1999.
Bo Ra and Woon Ho's love story
It's 1999 and Bo Ra's best friend Yeon Doo is heading to America for heart surgery. She tells Bo Ra that she has fallen in love with Hyun Jin, a boy who attends her school. She doesn't want to go anymore because she wants to stay back and be with him. Bo Ra tells her that she is stupid (we agree) and that she will help her find out more about him. Yeon Doo leaves and Bo Ra leaves to gather all the information about him. She follows him around and discovers his height, his favorite drink, and even his shoe size and regularly emails these details to her best friend. He is usually accompanied by her best friend, Poong Woon Ho. One day, to find his phone number, she goes through an entire list in the phone book before striking gold. On the last coin, she hits his number, but he discovers that she has been calling him. The next day, she finds out that she was chasing Woon Ho the whole time and not Hyun Jin. He tells her that if she gets the things he wants, he will get information about her boyfriend. He demands that she bring an NSFW film from her store. She does, but is caught by the professor. These little encounters keep happening until one day she injures her leg trying to save Hyun Jin from some local thugs. Hyun Jin shows up the next day and questions Bo Ra, but she refuses and runs out of the restaurant. Woon ho follows her and helps her secure the bandage on her leg. He gently asks if she likes Hyun Jin. Bo Ra sees Woon Ho in a new light as he tends to her leg, and looks great doing it. She tells him that she is interested but doesn't like him. Any normal teenager would have done a little more research to know the exact meaning behind such a vague statement. But Woon Ho is the mysterious hero of k-drama land, and he takes what she says.
The next scene shows them all going on a school field trip where Hyun Jin tries again to flirt with Bo Ra, but she rejects him again. Seeing these interactions, Woon Ho gains confidence that he has a chance after all. That night, Bo Ra gets drunk with her classmates and meets Woon Ho. She says he has pretty eyes and that she likes him. From there is the beginning of their story. He tells her that he misses his brother in New Zealand and wants to see her again. She asks him for a movie and he agrees. But there is a snag in his plans. Yeon Doo returns and it turns out that the person she had a crush on was Woon Ho and not Hyun Jin. Unable to confess to her that they started seeing each other, Bo Ra decides to withdraw on her own. She sends Yeon Doo in her place for the movie. That night, she calls Woon Ho from the phone booth. He asks her to count to 10. When she's finished, he stands in front of her. K-Dramas know how to deliver butterflies.
But it's far from ideal when Bo Ra tells him she has no feelings for him and breaks up with him. Returning home that night, he remembered falling in love with her when he returned to Korea. He fell in love with her first and wanted to tell her that before he went back to New Zealand. A certain awkwardness reigns between them for the next few days, which Yeon Doo notices. Things come to a head when, on a double date at the amusement park, Woon Ho lets loose and Bo Ra confesses her feelings. He tells her that he is leaving, but Bo Ra doesn't respond and hides feelings from her. Hyun Jin tells Yeon Doo that they saw each other. On the way home, the two best friends get into a fight, with Yeon Doo saying that she should have been honest with her.
Late 20th Century Girl Explained: Why Does Woon Ho Stop Contacting Bo Ra?
She later tells Woon Ho herself about the reality of Bo Ra's feelings and encourages him not to give up on her just yet. That night he goes to meet her, but she is in the hospital with her brother Ba Da. The next day, Yeon Doo tells her that Woon Ho is leaving and that she should meet him. She arrives at the train station just in time and the two confess their feelings before parting ways. That was the last time she saw him. They stayed in touch for a while while he planned to study at a university in Korea, but one day he stopped responding to her emails. She hears nothing more from him. Confused and angry, she tries to forget about him until one day she has a blind date with someone also named Woon Ho. She breaks down in tears and calls him one last time at a payphone, where she tearfully tells him that she will never think of him again.
Time flies and he is a distant memory in the back of your mind. One day she receives an invitation to an art exhibition from someone named Joseph. She understands that this has something to do with Woon Ho and accepts it. In the exhibit, she sees memories of their time together before being approached by Joseph. He is Woon Ho's younger brother and he tells her that he died so many years ago. But in his short life he truly loved Bo Ra and cared for her deeply.
20th Century Girl ends with Bo Ra watching a video Woon Ho put together about their time together, reliving their memories and feelings from the last year of the 20th century when their love blossomed.
Final Thoughts: What Works for the "20th Century Girl"?
It's not a complicated story. The film makes it clear that it is a story of love and nostalgia, and it delivers on that. Aside from the characters, which felt a bit clichéd, there was an overall cute vibe. The scenes are beautiful and the actors are in good shape. There's no real villain here, just complicated emotions and a bit of miscommunication, which isn't exactly helped by the lack of cell phones. This movie is a great way to spend two hours on a weekday and we wouldn't mind recommending it to our friends. K-Drama can always be counted on to deliver a good love story, and it's one of the saving graces of a hanging genre.
20th Century Girl is a 2022 romance drama series directed by Woo-ri Bang.
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