In Korean movies and dramas, romance is usually rather extravagant and avant-garde, and 20th Century girls may just be the cutesy and rather down to Earth romantic drama there is. Being a fan of coming to age and romantic dramas, this was on the radar for a lot of people when it came out. Even with its twists and turns, its ups and downs, it doesn’t fail to entertain and give you a feeling of satisfaction.
2oth Century Girl is a Korean romantic drama movie directed and written by Bang Woo-Ri. It was released on 21st October 2022 on Netflix, where it can be streamed. Bang Woo-Ri had previously been given the audience award at the 17th Seoul International Women’s film festival for her movie Mrs. Young. Also, spoilers alert. If you haven’t seen the series, you can watch it on Netflix and come back to this article.
20th Century Girl Synopsis:
20th Century Girl follows the story of Na Bo-Ra, a seventeen-year-old high school girl, and her best friend, Yeon-Du, in 1999. Yeon-Du needs to go to the United States of America for critical heart surgery, and before leaving, he falls head over heels for a guy named Baek Hyun-jin. As she leaves, Na Bo-Ra promises to keep tabs on Baek for Yeon-Du.
The day after, she bumps into Baek Hyun-jin on the bus and decides to stalk him, for lack of a better word, and she keeps telling Yeon-Du about him every day in her emails. After a while, she befriends his friend, Poong Woon-Ho, Baek Hyun-jin’s friend, who she uses to gather more information about Baek for Yeon.
She asks Woon-Ho for Baek’s pager’s number and fails to get it from him but somehow, through some other means, she is able to find the number, and she contacts him, but instead of Baek picking up the call, Woon-Ho pretends to be him. When they meet tomorrow, Poong confronts Bo-ra about the call to Baek, and she tries to ask for his help Poong says that he’ll help her only if she’s able to get him a blue film.
She gets it the next day at school, and she gets caught with it by the teacher, and she punishes her for the same, which Poong finds hilarious. As she keeps working with him to get more information about Baek Hyun-jin, Poong Woon-ho starts falling in love with her. Woon-ho finds himself in a brawl through which Bo-ra helps him out of it and gets her leg hurt in the process.
The only time we see Na Bo-ra show any romantic interest in Poong Woon-ho is during the time when he offers to pick her up and take her out to dinner as a way to thank her for saving him from the fight he had. During this conversation, she gets super awkward and flustered as she is only trying to do all of that so that she can get more information about Baek Hyun-jin.
As she runs away from the restaurant in a mixture of embarrassment and guilt, she gets hurt, and the wound in her leg opens up. As Poong Woon-ho is cleaning it and re-bandaging it, she sees his sensitive side and is immediately interested in him. She tries her best to get his interest off her using various antics during their games practice.
After the scene, she gets drunk at her hostel, and Poong Woon-ho saves her from the warden before she gets caught, and as she looks into her eyes, she realizes she’s in love with him. Their love blooms after that as Poong Woon-ho and Na Bo-ra go on various dates, and he plucks plums off trees and hands them to her. He talks about her life story to her, which was about his parents being divorced and him having to move with his dad to South Korea.
Yeon-Du comes back from the States, and she starts to talk about the fact that she had fallen in love with Woon-ho and not Hyun-jin. Bo-ra doesn’t want to tell her friend that she had fallen in love with Woon-ho because it would affect their friendship and make her even worse physically, as she had just had serious heart surgery. She avoids Woon-ho, which breaks his heart.
On one very rainy night, Bo-ra calls Woon-ho on a payphone so that Yeon-Du doesn’t find out. She talks about how their relationship was a mistake, and Woon-ho shares with her a letter that he had written about her before they had even met, professing his love to her. When they go to an amusement park, Woon-ho always goes towards the rides that Na Bo-ra goes.
Hyun-jin tells Yeon-Du that Bo-ra and Woon-ho are in love with each other. Bo-ra later talks to Yeon-Du about it, and she says that she shouldn’t have sacrificed her happiness for her, but even with that said, they both drift away from one another after that fact.
What happened To Poong Woon-Ho?
Poong Woon-ho later leaves for New Zealand to move in with his mother, and Yeon-Du helps them get together at the train station one last time to have a final, heartfelt goodbye. They both promise to stay in touch with each other through emails. On New Year’s Eve of 2000, Bo-ra loses contact with Poong Woon-ho. In the end, she finds out through his brother that he has died.
After suddenly not being able to talk to Woon-ho, she was left depressed for the coming years, never knowing why Woon-ho stopped talking to her. One day, she gets a letter with a package from a person named Joseph, asking her to come to his art gallery. When he meets her, he tells her that he is Poong Woon-ho’s brother, which she is shocked to know.
She plays the VHS tape, and it’s a message by Poong Woon-ho. He keeps talking about his love for Na Bo-ra and how he’s going to be coming to Korea to meet her. It is never stated how he died, but seeing as how he was coming to meet her in Korea, it is reasonable to assume that he would have gotten into a fatal accident on the way.
The end was bitter-sweet, with her keeping Woon-ho alive in her memories, and all of her doubts about his love were dispelled, and Woon-ho’s death greatly impacted Bo-ra as she considers him her eternal person. Even with this end, it is still a good movie with its own unique style and delivery.