Thirty But Seventeen (or 30 But 17) tells the story of a 17 year old girl (Shin Hye Sun) who gets in an accident, falls into a coma, and wakes up when she is 30 years old.  While trying to rebuild her life, she meets a reclusive man (Yang Se Jong) with a traumatic past, and the two find healing together.

Thirty But Seventeen turned out to be such a funny, endearing, and heartwarming drama! This is the definition of a feel good drama. It’s fairly simple, but it’s a story of healing that delivers so much emotion and heart in the best kind of way.

Shin Hye Sun plays Woo Seo Ri. Waking up from a coma after 13 years completely turns her life upside down. She still feels like a teenager and is unable to locate her family. Though she is dealing with a lot of difficult things, she has a bright and cheerful personality. As she tries to find answers, she begins living in her old house with the current occupants which includes Woo Jin.

Yang Se Jong is Gong Woo Jin. He had a crush on Seo Ri as a teenager, and a series of circumstances lead him to believe he is responsible for her accident. Devastated, he begins living a life of seclusion not wanting to get involved in other people’s lives with the fear that he could cause them harm. He comes off as closed off to most people, but he is a very kind man who is just suffering a lot of guilt and hurt.

Ahn Hyo Seop is Woo Jin’s nephew Yoo Chan. Chan is on the high school rowing team, and he is very outgoing and funny. He and Seo Ri connect right away, and they have a very comfortable and fun relationship. That means we get to witness this sweet boy fall for her and pine away!

Thirty But Seventeen is the kind of drama that pulls you in right from the start. It’s easy to connect with the teenage versions of the characters. The back story is very solid and sets up everything to come quite nicely.

Now this is the kind of drama where the main story is primarily the character journeys. It’s people dealing with the aftermath of a terrible accident and trying to move on with their lives. There is a little mystery concerning Seo Ri’s family, but that mostly just connects to her journey. For me to really love a drama like this, they really have to perfectly execute the characters and their stories to get me fully invested in them. And this drama did just that!

Early on, the drama clearly depicts Seo Ri’s pain. What a shock to age up so fast and miss a huge chunk of your life. Her pain was so difficult. But she makes the best of things and tries to move forward.

The drama nicely shows the different issues she faces from coping with suddenly losing that much time, to having to go through physical therapy, to feeling alone and abandoned as the world had moved on without her, and realizing her dreams may no longer be possible. And then she has to find her own way and try to make something of her life. She faces her new reality head on, and it’s an inspiring journey to see.

Then Woo Jin suffers trauma from the accident he witnessed and feels he was to blame for Seo Ri being there. In an interesting turn of events, when Woo Jin meets Seo Ri again, he is unaware of who she really is since he got her name wrong back then and believed she died. But seeing her in the present reminds him of that awful past, and his traumatic memories and feelings begin to resurface.

And I definitely have a soft spot for stories where the guy has a traumatic past and is in need of healing. Especially when the guy is as nice as Woo Jin. My heart broke watching him suffer through guilt and then experience terrible PTSD symptoms when he recalled the memories. His fear of getting involved with others because of what happened was very understandable.

And that’s what makes it so nice as we get to watch him slowly begin to open up, smile, and experience joy again. I love how the drama grew his character from being unconcerned and closed off to being very warm and happy. The progression felt very natural, and it made me happy to see him heal.

Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun are a very sweet couple. They take a little bit of warming up though. Woo Jin is such a closed off character and just doesn’t let Seo Ri in easily. But the more he’s around her, the more he can’t help but love what he sees. And seeing him start to open to her about his past hurts as well as letting his guard down and interacting with her and others was moving to see.

They care for each other very deeply and there is an innocence to their love since the feelings are genuinely new to both of them. Their relationship is supportive, sweet, and so endearing.

Of course, there’s that “secret” between them of not knowing who each other is. It takes a good while for that to come out, and I must say the pay off episode where everything is revealed is one of the best I have seen.


Episode 14 (or short eps 27 & 28) is the one I am talking about. We start off with Seo Ri finding out her friend died and then Woo Jin realizing that Seo Ri is the girl he liked and that she didn’t die. At first, relief sweeps over him, and he is so grateful. But then he realizes that he is still responsible for “ruining” her life. All of his progress is thrown out the window as the guilt overcomes him again. And that means he’s going back into hiding.


And let me tell you, that note Woo Jin left Seo Ri absolutely turned me into a puddle of mush! He was crying, she was crying, I was crying. It was a lot to take in. That letter just summed up everything so well, and my heart was just aching for them because of it.

And then Woo Jin’s return and confession to Seo Ri was something. He was desperate for her because of his love and that was enough to make him stay and face the truth. Then we get the reveal that it wasn’t his fault followed by lots of relief and a passionate kiss. Whew, my heart! The feels were through the roof, and I was left completely happy with how that all played out.


I should briefly highlight some of the other characters. You might experience a little second lead syndrome just because Ahn Hyo Seop as Chan is about as adorable as can be! He’s a ball of sunshine who cares for Seo Ri in such an innocent and passionate way. The way his face lights up when he sees her just brought a smile to my face. He’s such a sweetie, and I really enjoyed their playful relationship with each other.

Chan and Woo Jin also have a really interesting relationship. As uncle and nephew, the two were very close when they were young, but after the accident, Woo Jin closed himself off. That left a big impact on Chan who witnessed his once happy uncle change into a much sadder version of himself. The two care for each other immensely, and I really liked seeing them interact and deal with some of the issues that affected their relationship.

This is also one of those dramas with such a fun supporting cast. All of the characters are likable with their own quirky charms. From the mysterious housekeeper Jennifer (Ye Ji Won) to Chan’s rowing buddies, it’s a great set up to just leave you smiling and feeling good in most of the scenes.

And I think most people will be able to relate to the characters. Almost everyone has experienced the regret of their dreams not working out or bad things happening in life that result in that feeling of “what if?”. It helps to connect us with the characters and empathize with what they are going through. There is sorrow in that, but we can also easily root for them and share in their successes as they work to overcome these issues.

In conclusion, Thirty But Seventeen is a wonderful mixture of good story, humor, and heartfelt moments. It’s pretty much what I want from a romantic comedy. My heart was warmed, lots of smiles graced my lips, and I was given an inspiring story of people dealing with life after tragedy and overcoming it in such beautiful ways. What a fantastic and beautiful drama!

My Rating: 9/10

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35 responses to “Thirty But Seventeen Korean Drama Review”

  1. D Avatar

    As always fantastic review. I also gave it a 9. Episode 14 was my favourite episode of the whole series. It was done extremely well. 🙂

    1. Kay Avatar

      Thanks so much 🙂 Episode 14 was also my favorite episode of the show. Seriously one of the best payoff episodes I have seen. I went through so many emotions right along with the characters, lol. Truly a fantastic drama! 🙂

  2. raistlin0903 Avatar

    Whoa: 9 out of 10 huh? That is a really high score indeed. And you are so right there have been numerous times in my life where I have thought: What if? I love feel good movies/tv shows, so as usual this has become an instant must watch for me 😊😊 As always this was a wonderful review that I highly enjoyed reading 😊

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yes, a 9/10! Always wonderful to fall in love with a drama 🙂 I really did love the issues explored in this show. They were simple, but very relatable. A little heads up if you’re thinking about watching it though, it is definitely a romantic comedy in every sense. So maybe not what you would usually go for. But it is extremely feel good with some amazing character journeys to explore. You’ll probably want to be in the right mood for something like it though. And thank you for the kind words! 🙂

      1. raistlin0903 Avatar

        Well, I am one of those people that always likes to try out things…even things that are not my usual cup of tea, and I have a soft spot for feel good dramas, so I might definitely give this one a go 😊 The themes sound very relatable to me, so that is another big reason to check it out as well 😊😊

        1. Kay Avatar

          And that’s one of the things I like about you! And yes, it is so feel good and has themes that are so relatable. It really is a perfect drama when you need a break from all of the serious and heavy stuff 🙂

  3. Kate Avatar

    I loved this series as well! Engaging from start to finish, so well done on all fronts. It was adorable watching the disparate characters become a family. I especially loved the backstory of the seemingly emotionless housekeeper Jennifer who turned out to have such a tragic connection to Seo Ri and to see her “wake up” by the end as well. A well deserved 9/10 🙂

    1. Kay Avatar

      I’m glad you loved it too! It was such a beautiful series, and I agree, completely well done in every way 🙂 And I loved Jennifer’s story too. I didn’t talk about it in my review since it was already getting pretty lengthy, but her story was also wonderful, touching, and tied in well. There were so many other things I could have talked about since the show had so much to love! 🙂

  4. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

    So I was only waiting for your review on this one for me to start watching this drama. I already had copies on the eleven episodes. So in no time I’ll start watching this wonderful 30 But Seventeen. Thank you for that incredible review!

    1. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

      But may I ask? What happened to your watching on Life on Mars? I believe I’ve seen it on your currently watching dramas.

      1. Kay Avatar

        Yeah, I just moved it off the list on the site a couple days ago. I am still watching it, but I’m going so slow with it that I thought I should go ahead and remove it or else it will be sitting there for a couple more months taking up space. I’m not really feeling it so I’m only watching an episode every couple weeks. So it will probably take a while for me to finish it 😛

    2. Kay Avatar

      Thank you 🙂 That’s great! I’m glad you already have some of the episodes ready to go so you can dive in. I really hope you enjoy it! 🙂

      1. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

        Welcome! 🙂
        I’m currently watching: Misty (9/10), Return (8/10), Ghost Detective (9.5/10), Fox Bride Star, and Beauty Inside. So many good dramas, very very less time. Just wished I have at least 30 hours a day in my life. XD

        1. Kay Avatar

          I could really use 30 hours in a day myself! If only we could make that happen, hehe. You’ve got a good list of dramas going there. And you’re watching Return! That’s one of my favorite dramas this year. Just how I like my crime thrillers 🙂

          1. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

            Hi! So I am done with 30 But Seventeen (10/10). I really love it. I like Mr. Gong and Woo Seo Ri’s love story so much. It’s a well-written and well-acted drama with lots of things to really enjoy. 🙂 It’s one of the best dramas this 2018. And Ye Ji Won, gosh! She’s always incredible. Loved her also in Another Oh Hae Young (10+/10). 🙂
            Yang Se Jong. <3
            Hahaha. It took me 6-7 episodes to finally like him. 🙂

          2. Kay Avatar

            Yay! You loved it too 🙂 It really was such a beautiful drama! Such a nice love story that was written perfectly with such wonderful characters. Haha, Yang Se Jong was an interesting one in this. I liked him a lot from his other drama Duel, so I went in and liked him quickly in this. This was such a feel good drama, and I agree, definitely one of the best of 2018! 🙂

  5. Fred Avatar

    Trusting your 9 was the best decision I made. I did not really expect much from this drama. I simply ran out of options and watched your latest review since it was a 9 romcom. But, wow! It turns out to be a drama you don’t really expect much from but then end up being a diamond in the rough.

    Everything was so basic. The setting, cinematography, ost, and even the actors. Nothing special at the onset. The cast were all relatively unknown. In fact, I have only seen Shin Hye Sun in three other dramas I all dropped LOL. For some reason, I did not like all the dramas she was in. And in those three dramas, she was either the one you were supposed to hate or she was irrelevant to the story. So it took me a few episodes to get used to her being the lead. But when I did get used to her, I found her to be lovely.

    I felt like this drama was so undervalued, underrated, and under-appreciated at the onset. It felt like they (including the creators) did not really expect much from this. Maybe they expected this to just be another “filler” drama and focused more on obvious hits like Mr. Sunshine and Lawless Lawyer. That’s how I felt. Like I said, everything was so basic. It could have been a solid 10. But maybe my observation is wrong. Maybe it being “basic” was what made it so special.

    I never got bored. In fact, I finished around 75% of the drama in two days. I only got a bit frustrated at around episode 12 since I kept waiting and waiting for the ‘BIG REVEAL’ which was supposed to happen earlier, per my expectations HAHA. But I understood why they delayed it for the latter part. The BIG REVEAL was executed perfectly at the right time! When all the puzzle pieces were shown, WOW it was so wonderful to watch. I can’t even put to words how I felt. Happiness. Fulfillment. Just pure joy.

    I agree with your 9. This is just my type of drama. It ranks high in my favorites. It beat a number of dramas I consider perfect 10s. Weird. It is now my 5th favorite after Gumiho, Kill Me Heal Me, Fated To Love You, and Moon Lovers. I also realized that in order for a drama to be a favorite of mine, it needs to have a female lead with the kindest heart. There’s Miho (Gumiho), Mi Young (FTLY), Ha-jin (Moon Lovers), and Woo Seo Ri. Kill Me, Heal Me seems to be the exception. The female lead was a funny character.

    I still have a lot on my mind but I will stop here. My comment is getting too long. I loved this drama, Kaye. The next time I see a 9 romcom in your reviews, I’ll definitely watch it. HAHA.

    1. Kay Avatar

      Woohoo! I’m so thrilled you fell in love with this drama too! It really was surprising just how much I loved it. I don’t hand out a lot of 9’s, so it has to really move me to get one.

      I had only seen Shin Hye Sun in a couple minor roles prior to this and hadn’t really thought much of her. But she was wonderful in this drama. Now I had only seen Yang Se Jong in the drama Duel, but he thoroughly impressed me in that drama like no other new actor has before. He was just brilliant. So I was excited to see him in a rom-com, and he just cemented my love for him as an actor 🙂

      I know what you mean about the drama seeming very basic. But I personally agree more with your maybe statement in that its simplicity is what makes it so special. Everything around the characters was kept simple and then they were highlighted perfectly to give us all of the emotions, feels, and completely root for them. They stand out and make it special even though everything really is very basic. Which is quite beautiful. But they may not have expected it to be such a hit. This drama did very well in Korea and consistently won its time slot with really good ratings. That’s pretty unusual for a rom-com to do in this day and age 🙂

      Sounds like you did really plow through this drama! And yes, that big reveal! It’s seriously one of the best I have seen in a drama. It was just magic and full of feels. I’m glad you ranked it so high on your favorites list because it really deserves so much love. It’s got some good company there with many of my all time favorite dramas 🙂 We definitely got lucky with this beautiful drama!

      1. Fred Avatar

        It’s good to know that it did well on Korean ratings. 🙂
        I usually read your posts about how well certain dramas are doing. But not this drama! I expected this to be cliche and capable of boring me to death. Luckily, I run out of options. HAHA.

        1. Kay Avatar

          I was really glad it did so well too! And yes, how amazing is it when you’re desperate for a good drama and a drama like this pops up when you’re in need 🙂

  6. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

    Yes! We agreed on this one. But why haven’t you talk about the character of Kim Hyung Tae? Hahaha, was I the only one who liked him in here? I am having a slight third-male lead syndrome. 😀 And it broke my heart a little because of his character. 🙁 It really is true that love is all about timing. Hope to see him more, as major roles next time.

    1. Kay Avatar

      Oh, poor Kim Hyung Tae! He broke by heart too. I felt so bad for him and that his timing was just so off 🙁 I should have talked about him and more about Jennifer, but the review was getting pretty long so I ended up leaving him out and only briefly mentioning her. There was so much more I could have wrote about with this one though. It was just amazing!

  7. Eva Avatar

    I stumbled onto your blog just recently and I really like your approach to dramas most especially when it comes to reviews.

    In my opinion this has to be one of the best dramas of the year. I just randomly watched this because I didn’t have anything decent to watch and then bam… totally got me hooked. The story was quite simple which I loved, nothing too melodramatic. It was light and such a feel good drama to come home to after a long tiring day. This drama too led me to become one of yang se jong’s fans. You should watch duel. He was amazing there 😊

    1. Kay Avatar

      Aww, thank you! I’m glad you stumbled your way here 🙂

      I know what you mean about this drama, I think it hooked us all! For being such a simple story, it sure packed an emotional punch plus it was such a feel good show!

      And I have seen Duel. It was my first Yang Se Yong drama, and it made me an instant fan because he was absolutely phenomenal in that drama. I heaped all kinds of praise on him in my review for Duel. So talented! 🙂

      1. Eva Avatar

        Ohhh I think I have to scroll down further to see your review for duel. He’s such a versatile actor, it was so amazing that he portrayed two- wait three different characters at once. I’m gonna check that blog out.

        I just finished return yesterday. I actually read your review as well and it was spot on. I actually agree with you. Park Jin Hee was better at portraying the broken hearted mother seeking out for revenge. The ending was sad but yeah I guess she was happy in her own way.

        1. Kay Avatar

          Yes, I would love for you to check it out 🙂 He really is so versatile. He blew me away in Duel because of how amazing he was at playing multiple characters. He’s so convincing as each. It’s one of my favorite performances from an actor it was so good!

          Oh I loved Return! Such a twisty and thrilling drama! Yeah, I thought both actresses were fine, but I just really thought Park Jin Hee did it better, especially with the direction they went with her character in the second half. And yes, it was a very bittersweet type ending where she was happy in her way, but it was still sad. Such an great drama though!

          1. Eva Avatar

            I just checked it out 😊

            I really like the way you dissect dramas. It’s like watching it all over again from a different perspective? Or maybe it’s just me gushing about a really good drama with someone who enjoyed it as well.

          2. Kay Avatar

            Thank you for checking out the review and for saying that 🙂 I put a lot into the reviews both trying to capture what the drama was like as well as help others decide if they want to watch it. But when it comes down to it, nothing beats gushing over a drama with another fan 🙂

  8. Cristina Avatar

    I will also give it a 9. I’m not an expert reviewer like you but this drama is warm and engaging. It’s a simple story yet complicated. haha! Shin Hye Sun is very convincing to be a 17-year old girl. It’s been a while since I started a kdrama that makes me want to finish all episodes in a day ( I did it in 2 days though♥).
    Let’s look forward to more 9s and 10s. Thank you for your detailed review as always. My guiding star in choosing which ones to watch (first).

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yay! You gave it a 9 too 🙂 It really is amazing how simple yet complex it is. The story was fairly simple and straight forward, but the character journeys were complicated. And they were told so beautifully. I completely agree about Shin Hye Sun. She was so convincing as a teenager and so charming.

      Wow! You finished in 2 days! That’s when you know you loved it 🙂 I’m hoping for some more 9s and 10s soon too. We need those amazing dramas. And thank you so much for the kind words. I’m so happy you find the reviews useful, and I really appreciate you reading them 🙂

  9. […] Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun are such a sweet couple that cares for each other very deeply. Their relationship is supportive, endearing, and so sweet. And the supporting cast is filled with fun and quirky characters. Thirty But Seventeen is a wonderful mixture of good story, humor, and heartfelt moments. It’s pretty much what I want from a romantic comedy. What a fantastic and beautiful drama! (Thirty But Seventeen Review) […]

  10. […] Thirty But Seventeen was endearing, funny, and heartwarming to make for the perfect romantic comedy. Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun were such a sweet couple with moving character journeys. It’s such a feel good drama that gives us a beautiful story of healing that delivers so much emotion and heart in the best kind of way. […]

  11. sovietredstar Avatar

    Wow! What a great show! Shin Hye-Sun was perfect for the role. My first time seeing her. Very good ending. No open ending. The story is wrapped up nicely. Jennifer was a little bit hard to accept. The final scene was cute where Woo Seo-Ri and Gong Woo-Jin, who are in a ceiling window, wave directly to the audience.

    Rating 9.5/10

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yes, truly an amazing show! What a nice first drama to see Shin Hye Sun in. She’s such a delight here. And yes, nice story with a great ending of the non open kind 🙂 I loved this drama so much!

  12. […] Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun are such a sweet couple that cares for each other very deeply. Their relationship is supportive, endearing, and so sweet. And the supporting cast is filled with fun and quirky characters. Thirty But Seventeen is a wonderful mixture of good story, humor, and heartfelt moments. It’s pretty much what I want from a romantic comedy. What a fantastic and beautiful drama! My Rating: 9/10 (Thirty But Seventeen Review) […]

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