The show starts with vivid color and a certain sterility as a teenager waits to perform ballet during the COVID years. The mother, our protagonist waits in the car as restrictions prevent anyone from being in the audience. The girl walks off, throwing away her place in the competition and runs away from home to her grandmother’s home. Rooting around in her mother’s childhood room, she discovers her mom’s diaries and we are transported to a far less vivid world. A world filled with clunky TVs, landlines, rusty gates, newspapers and, far less parental oversight.
As Na Hee Do’s life unfurls on screen, we revisit our teens and young adult lives. A life that seems relatively simpler but was anything but that. We navigate loneliness, broken homes, surprising friendships and a peek into the world of competitive fencing. As Hee Do goes from being the rookie to the eventual world champion, we see the world through her eyes.
We watch her grow. We grow with her. As she cries over rejected overtures of friendship, we sob with her. As she races down the dusty roads for the latest copy of Full House, our hearts race as we remember our jaunts down to the library. As she and Baek Ye Jin nurture an unlikely relationship that skirts the edges of friendzone and romance, we feel the electricity in our rooms.
In a tiny room as the group of five count down to the millienium wondering if the world will end, we are reminded of where we were counting down to the birth of the new millenium. We watch the protagonists go from pagers, to bulky cellphones to sleeker models as the show traverses the years from 1998 through 2008. We get a ringside view to what happens in newsrooms around the world. We watch the growth of our male lead from a carefree, rich, young adult in college to a penniless man-child getting harsh lessons on the weight of responsibility.
Over sixteen episodes, we laugh, cavort at the beach, remember our friends and groups of friends, we pause thinking of the times our hearts skipped a beat, we wonder about what ifs and yearn to know if Na Hee Do and Baek Ye Jin ever will meet again. Most of all, we cry copious tears for what was and why we should live in the moment for tomorrow, the world could change on a dime.
If you have never watched a korean drama and are in your thirties or forties, try this one out. I promise a heady rush of nostalgia.