“Twenty- Five, Twenty-One” Stirs Underage Dating Controversy

South Korean retro drama Twenty-Five Twenty-One has consistently topped 10 percent in national ratings. In episode 10 which aired on Sunday, Nam Joo Hyuk’s character confesses his love to Kim Tae Ri. Many Korean netizens expressed their discomfort at watching a 23-year-old adult man confessing his love to a 19-year-old student.

The drama has been building a slow-burn romance, with Nam Joo Hyuk’s character finally proclaiming to Kim Tae Ri’s character, “It’s love. I love you! I don’t need rainbows. It doesn’t matter what you think of me. No matter what you do or how you look, I will still love the original you. If my confession can make you a little happier, then I have nothing else to ask for.”

In the scene, their character age difference is further emphasized by the visuals of Nam Joo Hyuk in his suit and Kim Tae Ri wearing her school fencing uniform.  Many are worried that the drama would have a negative influence on society, which may encourage underage dating as persons under the age of 19 are regarded as minors in South Korea.

Viewers are Uneasy with Female Lead’s Young Age

On Theqoo, over 1,000 comments discussed the love confession scene, and a majority were opposed to it due to the student-adult romance. One netizen wrote, “Imagine if this happened in real life: an adult man wearing a suit appeared at a school and dragged a female student in uniform out by hand? Or if a high school student dragged out your male colleague claiming that they were in love. This would be sensational news.” Another wrote, “There is an inherent issue with adults falling in love with minors.”

Some viewers put the scriptwriters at fault for the sensitive scene, “The title is Twenty-Five Twenty-One. It’s already episode 10–why is the female lead not an adult yet? Why couldn’t they just have let her character graduate” before he confesses her feelings? “When she turns 21 then they can start dating.”

However, there are also netizens that felt that there was no need to take the issue so seriously, as it is just a television drama. “Why do we need to be so clear on the age difference? In the past, 16 year olds were seen as adults and could get married” and “I guess the television standard is that you have to become an adult before dating.”

Source: Korea Star Daily

This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.

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  1. 23yr old male with 19yr old female is considered inappropriate in SK? Really? Is the dating culture still so conservative? I am just asking aloud. No offense intended, just surprised. Under 19yrs old kids are not allowed to date?

  2. I don’t see a problem… she’s 19 and he’s 23. The age gap isn’t that big. They’re adults. SK acts like high school students don’t date older men and are innocent. It s not like she’s 16 and he’s in his 30s….

  3. Bruh… when I read “underage” I thought she was like 15-16. Is her being 21 in Korean years though? Because in Korea, they count the moment you’re born as being 1, and I think past New Years you gain an additional 1 year. So sometimes, Korean age is 2 years ahead of western years. In that case, she’ll be 17 if we’re using western age. Then she’ll be underaged. If she’s not, then they’re making a fuss out of nothing lol. Plus, the guy’s 23, not like he’s 30-40.

  4. Usually, I am not at a loss for words, but this asinine nonsense has left me tongue-tied.

  5. 19 and no longer a minor. So what’s the issue again? And the network are fine with underage poo stars shaking their booties on stage?

  6. If they’re uncomfortable watching that, then they would be appalled watching Euphoria…now that’s a show I feel is a bit inappropriate for what it’s representing per say…

  7. i would only feel uncomfortable if the leads’ age gap is greater than 15 years. honestly, 4 years, no big deal.

  8. I am OK with the age gap, but concerned about his identity. If he was a teacher and she is his student, then even if they are one year apart, I don’t agree unless they first end their teacher/student relationship. But if he is not her teacher and not attached, then OK lah.

    I watched some modern Korean shows before the leads were actually cousins who cant resist each other despite being married to other people which I find more disturbing.

    1. He’s definitely not her teacher. They’re friends. I’ve only watched the first episode but his family lost all their money in the financial crisis. He started working odd jobs, such as delivering newspapers in her neighborhood and that’s how they met. I’m not really understanding what the big deal is either. You’re right, there are much more disturbing Korean shows that an arm grab and love confession between two people that are 4 years apart.

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