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.
SPOILERS NEXT 3 PARAGRAPHS
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.
END OF SPOILERS
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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