04 December 2022

K Movie Review: 20th Century Girl (2022) 4.4 || 4.25

Oppa loves Kim Yoo Jung. Unfortunately, we've been unable to find a drama of hers that suits our taste. I've seen (and loved) her in Angry Mom but Oppa does not want to watch something I've seen before. So you can say that we have been on a quest for a good Kim Yoo Jung material for quite sometime now. Since this movie came out, Oppa has been bugging me non-stop to watch it. And we finally found the time. While the movie was not as sweet and romantic as I expected it to be, it still brought back good vibes that made it worth watching.


20th Century Girl, set in 1999, tells the story of Na Bo Ra (Kim Yoo Jung), a high school student in a small town. Her closest friend, Kim Yeon Du (Roh Yoon Seo of Our Blues) is in love with a guy whom they thought was named Baek Hyun Jin (Park Jung Woo of D.P., Hospital Playlist, and Hospital Playlist 2). Yeon Du had to go to the US for a heart surgery so Bo Ra was left with the task of stalking Hyun Jin. 

While doing her mission, Bo Ra ends up getting close to both Hyun Jin and his best friend, Poong Woon Ho (Byeon Woo Seok of Record of Youth, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo). Hyun Jin was interested in Bo Ra but she kept rejecting him because she knew her best friend liked him. Bo Ra ended up falling for Woon Ho. And things were going great until Yeon Du came back and they found out that it was actually Woon Ho that she liked. He just happened to wear Hyun Jin's uniform when she met him, thus the confusion. 

Bo Ra holds back her feelings because she didn't want to hurt Yeon Du. But of course, everything's revealed eventually. Yeon Du gives way and tells Woon Ho that Bo Ra really likes him. Bo Ra and Woon Ho didn't have much time left, unfortunately, because he had to go back to New Zealand to be with his mom and brother. 

The long distance relationship worked for a while, until the new millennium to be exact. Then Woon Ho just stops responding to Bo Ra's emails. Her calls were left unanswered too. Bo Ra's heartbroken but she can't do anything about her situation. 

Fast forward to 2022, older Bo Ra (Han Hyo Joo of Happiness and Hometown Flex, and part of Oppa's list) receives a mysterious invitation to an exhibit, which came with a cover of a film she lent Woon Ho in the past. At the exhibit, Bo Ra's met by Woon Ho's younger brother (Ong Seong Wu of More than Friends and At Eighteen). Bo Ra's treated to different photos and videos of things and places that were memorable to her and Woon Ho. There she finds out that Woon Ho actually planned to go back to Korea to be with Bo Ra. But he died. Details about his death are not revealed. Bo Ra goes back home. 

The film ends with Bo Ra watching videos that Woon Ho recorded of her and their friends and his parting message in New Zealand during the new millennium telling her that he wants to see Bo Ra of the 21st century. 

Kim Yoo Jung as Na Bo Ra

No doubt about it, Kim Yoo Jung is still as pretty as ever. She's even getting prettier as she grows older. I loved how this movie highlighted Yoo Jung's strengths. She really shines when she's doing bubbly and crazy characters like Bo Ra. She does boyish roles so well but I love how she matches that with that very subtle hint of femininity. 

Bo Ra's character would probably have been perfect, had it not been for her extreme love for Yeon Du, which pushed her to give up her own happiness for her. But that's acceptable. We all have people we're willing to sacrifice a lot for. 

Byeon Woo Seok as Poong Woon Ho

I have better appreciation for Byeon Woo Seok in this film. Although this was more of a Kim Yoo Jung movie, Byeon Woo Seok also had his moments. And while he has yet to really make a big mark that will officially make him a lead actor candidate, I'd like to think that he's slowly getting there. What I liked most about Woo Seok was how he handled the dramatic scenes better than Yoo Jung. And that's saying a lot for someone who's Yoo Jung's junior. I hope he gets more exposure so we can see more of what he has to offer. 

Hyun Jin and Yeon Du

Although their roles were not as big as the other main leads, I still ended up loving Hyun Jin and Yeon Du. I loved how Hyun Jin was so chill about being rejected by Bo Ra even after he knew that there was something going on between her and his best friend. And I loved how he casually told Yeon Du that Bo Ra and Woon Ho liked each other. No drama at all. 

Yeon Du was great because she gave way to her friend. And I loved the sweet way she talked about Bo Ra when she told Woon Ho that Bo Ra liked him. We'd all want to have a friend who'd talk about us the way Yeon Du did. 


There were many things to love in this film. I loved the realistic depiction of love triangles. How it can threaten to ruin friendships. But how real friendships will survive and prevail in the end. 

Then there's the puppy love angle. The thrill that comes with it. The heartbreaks that feel like it's the end of the world. And long distance relationships too. 

I really enjoyed how the film portrayed high school life. The fun times. The extracurricular activities. And what I loved most was how students here were actually having fun and not dying from excessive studying. How friends did crazy stuff together like sneaking out, drinking, etc. And of course the anxiety caused by the uncertainty that college brings. 

All in all, this film had a lot of things we loved. It was nostalgia overload for us who love the '90s, high school, and the friendships we formed there. But Oppa and I agree that despite all that, the movie didn't really touch us the way it should have. It could definitely have done more. 

Yes, the ending was tragic. But I have no problem with that because life can happen that way. Yes, I have questions about how Bo Ra was kept in the dark from 2001 to the present. But that's still plausible, I guess. I only wish the movie told us how/why Woon Ho died. I'd like to think that we deserve that, having invested 2 hours of our time watching the movie (and waiting with Bo Ra for the past 20+ years). 

But I was happy for Bo Ra because she finally got the closure she needed, no matter how long it took. Sometimes, time won't really matter as long as we get the closure we need to move on. 

Oppa says...4.4

Noona says...4.25 (with additional points for Kim Yoo Jung).