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20th Century Girl ending explained – how is true love portrayed in this movie?

October 23, 2022

We are discussing the ending of the South Korean Netflix movie 20th Century Girl, so be warned, it will contain spoilers!

20th century girl, directed and written by Bang Woo-ri, has a light and spirited first half, with the second being incredibly painful, filled with little twists that pack a punch. It really is a really sad love story.

We start the movie with a mysterious letter being delivered, which has a DVD and right away the dad accuses his daughter of dating a mysterious stranger or watching p**n, because he doesn’t understand what the movie is that was delivered.

Bo-Ra, in a recording studio, is now transported back to her childhood, to the colorful and quirky 1990s, where her best friend kisses her finger and is helped by the love of her life, like a fairy tale modern. When her best friend has to travel to New York for heart surgery, Bo-ra sets up her email and sets out to stalk Prince Charming, clearly hoping to play matchmaker.

Pretty stalker-ish, she follows his route, follows him on the bus, tries to guess his phone number, his pager number, and sets out on a quest. This leads him to talk to Woon-ho and he says he’ll get Hyun-jin’s pager number if Bo-ra offers him a movie he wants to see.

Schools are pretty violent in this film, searching backpacks, manipulating students, and publicly humiliating them by holding items above their heads that they shouldn’t have in school hallways.

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As the film develops, we see Bo-ra and Woon-ho grow closer and build a sweet, sweet friendship that blossoms into romance. Next, Hyun-Jin wants to date Bo-ra – and it gets a bit confusing who is dating whom, for us and for the characters. They are all friends and they all love each other? A dangerous love triangle is forming and her friend is still not out of surgery.

Things change and Yeon-doo is back from her surgery and points out that the person she loved the whole time was not Hyun-Jin but Woon-ho. What a horrible turn for Bo-Ra.

Uh-ho and Bo-ra should have gone on a date and Yeon-doo goes instead of Bo-ra. As Yeon-doo lives and loves, Bo-ra is clearly upset and calls Woon-ho from a phone booth to talk to him and tell him that she no longer has feelings for him.

We go through Woon-ho’s life as he writes a letter to Bo-ra. He has only recently moved to Korea and talks about how Bo-ra made him feel alive and safe, how much he loves her and that he now has to return to New Zealand soon, but the letter ends up on the ground in the rain. .

The four of them go on a school trip to Seoul, where Yeon-doo plans to ask Woon-ho out. As they challenge each other to do big rides, Hyun-jin hints to Yeon-doo that Bo-ra and Woon-ho like each other.

While Yeon-doo is heartbroken, she tells Woon-ho the truth, as she also cares about her friend and her feelings.

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20th Century Girl Netflix Movie Ending Explained

In the final scenes, our sweet Bo-ra is finally left alone in the world, after Woon-ho returns to New Zealand and the dramatic event is that Bo-ra’s younger brother is in an accident and transported to the hospital. So while Woon-ho runs to Bo-ra’s house to express his feelings, Bo-ra and his family are in the hospital, so they miss each other.

At school the next day, Yeon-doo pretends to pass out so he can drag Bo-ra out of the classroom to hunt Woon-ho before he leaves. Running on the back of Hyun-jin’s bike, they arrive at the station just in time. Bo-ra cries and confesses her true feelings for him. They hug and he gets on the train and leaves. A heartbreaking goodbye.

We move on to the school film festival, where Yeon-doo and Hyun-jin are flirting and clearly have chemistry. Bo-ra and Woon-ho email throughout the millennium and continue to talk over the years, until one day there was never a response from Woon-ho again.

Until we move on to Bo-ra who is now older and back at her parents’ rental store, where she finds the movie post and a postcard with a location. This place is an art exhibit (probably the best part of the movie).

As Bo-ra looks around, there’s a section that says “in memory of Woon-ho” who passed away, which is why he wasn’t returning calls or emails. His brother set up this exhibition for him. Bo-ra then watches many videos of her time in high school and reminisces about that time with a tearful smile and laughter. The film ends with a video of Woon-ho on New Year’s Day 2001 saying that the 21st century will be amazing.

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This film shows audiences how friendship and love aren’t that different after all. High school is tough for everyone, and love and friendships can be tough for everyone. Here, all the characters seem to have each other’s best interests at heart, which makes it even sadder, because there’s no one to hate or blame. It’s a movie where sometimes things can be good, people can be in love but things just don’t work out. The people grow, they move on and change, and sometimes the most horrible thing happens and people die.

The sad, dark ending to this movie really tells us to live life to the fullest, speak your truth, and be yourself. Any youthful mistakes we make in love and friendship are okay, and we can look back on those times with full hearts.

What did you think of the ending of the South Korean Netflix 20th Century Girl? Comment below because we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Additional Reading for the 20th Century Girl

  • Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas

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