At first glance, Korean romance film 20th Century Girl seems like any other Hallyu romance movie that can give you butterflies in your stomach and make you smile from ear to ear. And in a way, it is. Set in 1999, the film follows teenage Na Bo-ra, who has been tasked by her lovestruck best friend to keep an eye on a boy. All seems well and good until Bo-ra finds herself experiencing her own first love.
If you’re still not over the ending of 20th Century Girl, you’re probably on the hunt for a similar watch. So in case you’re still hung up on that bittersweet 90s vibe, we compiled a list of Korean films and dramas with a ~similar~ vibe to 20th Century Girl.
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: coming of age, nostalgic 90s feel, bittersweet ending, slice of life
Before we even watched 20th Century Girl, we already had our hearts broken by Twenty-Five Twenty-One earlier this year. Set in the 1990s, this drama follows fencing prodigy Na Hee-do, who does her best to reach her dreams of competing in the Olympics, and hardworking young man Baek Yi-jin, whose life abruptly changes following the country’s financial crisis. The two become each other’s first loves, but the question is: will they be their last, too?
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: coming of age, love triangle, nostalgic retro vibe, slice of life, romance, and some comedy
A well-loved anthology series from director Shin Won-ho and writer Lee Woo-jung (the same brains behind Hospital Playlist), the Reply series explores family, friendship, relationships, and love in all forms set against a nostalgic backdrop of the 1980s to 1990s. We have a close-knit group of childhood friends in 1988, a dorm house full of struggling college students in 1994, and a fangirl and her high school barkada in 1997, each of which has a unique background and storyline that would give you that ~nostalgic~ vibe.
Our Beloved Summer
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, romantic comedy
If you found yourself heartbroken over the ending of 20th Century Girl, you might want to heal your heart with Our Beloved Summer. Here, we see a former couple, who met up as teens, broke up after years together, and eventually led separate lives. When their high school documentary becomes a trending topic, they’re forced into each other’s lives once again and find themselves rekindling their romance after a bittersweet separation. The couple here gets that much-desired reunion that the main couple in 20th Century Girl never got!
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, school setting, slice of life
Instead of a high school setting like 20th Century Girl, this one is all about college in present Seoul. The story follows a group of athletes as they go through their daily lives: weightlifting prodigy Kim Bok-joo meets swimming athlete Jung Joon-young, and sparks fly.
My First First Love
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, love triangle, friendships tested
Living together in one house with your friends sounds like a dream, but it isn’t easy — especially when one (or many) of you carries a torch for another friend. Such is the case here in My First First Love, where Yun Tae-oh realizes he has feelings for his childhood best friend Song-yi after another friend Do-hyun makes a move on her. Oof.
My Sassy Girl
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, friendship, bickering
Despite being set in a different decade, My Sassy Girl might remind you of all the feelings you felt while watching 20th Century Girl. This classic Korean rom-com film sees a college student meet a girl several times over the course of many years. They meet, but often miss the timing for a relationship, until one day, they finally get it right. My Sassy Girl is also one of the highest-grossing films in South Korea, proving it’s really popular and well-loved.
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, love triangle
If you’re a fan of love triangles, you’ll love this film because it brings you not just one, but two of those! College student Ji-hye finds herself in the middle of a love triangle with her friend and the guy they both have a crush on. While struggling to stay true to her friend and avoid their crush, she finds her mom’s diary, telling the story of a love triangle involving her mother, her future father, and his best friend. Love triangles abound in both past and present!
Similarities with 20th Century Girl: first love, school setting, reunion
Architecture 101 may break your heart just as much as 20th Century Girl. If the latter didn’t give us that present-day closure we wanted, the former is able to show us that, but that doesn’t mean a happy ending. After architecture student Seung-min falls in love with music student Seo-yeon, he is unable to confess his feelings even until they go their separate ways. Over a decade later, Seung-min meets Seo-yeon again when she asks him to design her house, but they’re both in different places in life.