K-Drama Review: “Thirty But Seventeen” Discovers Happiness Through Acceptance Of Love & Change

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Reminding us to appreciate the simple joys that money can’t buy, Thirty But Seventeen cruises to a brightly sketched story of friendship, family and love.

Taking in Chan’s mantra to not think and feel had helped a lot in focusing on the merits of Thirty But Seventeen. The story of a woman, who wakes up from a 13-year coma and is left to figure out how to survive in her 30-year old self, has designed woman-empowering lessons about chasing dreams and living in the moment.

Thirty But Seventeen

Title: Thirty But Seventeen/Still 17
Channel: SBS
Theme: Romance, Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Length: 32 Episodes Back-to-Back
Broadcast Date: 23 July 2018 – 18 Sept 2018
Main Leads: Seo Hyun Jin, Yang Se Jong, Ahn Hyo Seop
Highlights: Engaging Cast, Feel-good plot mood
Oh No Moment: Languid Pacing
Overall Rating: 
Rewatch Value: 
Related Dramas: Twenty Again, Baby-faced Beauty, Beloved Eun Dong

Thirty But Seventeen

Thirty But Seventeen tells the story of an unfortunate accident, which caused a 17-year-old violin prodigy to be unconscious for 13 years. When she wakes up, her uncle and aunt are nowhere to be found, and the house which her parents built was sold to new owners. Adjusting to what she missed in the last 17 years, she is helped by the family who owns the new house as she gropes her way to accustom herself of being a 30-year-old woman.

READ: K-Drama Mid Series Check: “Thirty But Seventeen” Speeds Up Character Connections Yet Slows Down On Plot Trajectory

Thirty But Seventeen



Vigorous Main Cast

The lively lead cast, even the supporting ones, somehow saved the narrative – especially on those moments when it was playing safe. When Seo Ri seeks shelter and comfort to initially adamant Woo Jin, she jumps to a leap of faith moment that everything will be okay. Those instances make you appreciate the intangible messages pictured in the story, such as overcoming pain, letting go of trust issues and nurturing relationships.

Special mention to Jennifer (Ye Ji Won) for making her housekeeping scenes a delightful watch. Chan and his rowing buddies, along with Woo Jin’s work friends, also chipped in some comic punches which made the character connections in the story endearing.

Thirty But Seventeen

Lessons from Seo Ri, Woo Jin & Chan

Given the fictional scenario sketched for the heroine who missed 13 years of her life, her journey to create new memories while chasing her ultimate dream indeed sent an uplifting message to not stop dreaming when you have one regardless of your age.

On the other hand, Woo Jin represented how breaking free from woes stems from one’s own effort when he was saddled with the trauma of his first love. The love that was bound to happen between them was at some point hindered by the hero’s hesitation to commit, when he dwelled on blaming himself for the accident that caused her unconsciousness. But he confronted it with courage to vow being by her side every step of the way.

As the focal character, Shin Hye Sun did a great job keeping the consistency of her character by displaying youthful attitude that befitted a 30-year old woman whose last memories were that of her 17 year old self. Shin’s stunning grasp of her character’s unstable thoughts and emotional breakdowns have drawn how a woman’s vulnerability leads to mustering the tenacity she needed to overcome her afflictions.

Thirty But Seventeen

Leading to fulfill their disrupted romance, the love couple imparted the importance of supporting each other for personal endeavors. They also reminded us not to look far and beyond the things that give us solace. Because more often, the things and people that make us happy are within our reach.

Chan (Ahn Hyo Seob) endearingly gifted viewers with a second male lead who suited up to his vibrantly sketched character well. He reminded us that accepting why your first love may not work comes from the understanding that loving requires mutual feeling to be exchanged to one another. He instead focused on other things he liked to do and found comfort in the happiness he created on his own.

Thirty But Seventeen


Languid Pacing

Frosting the romance heat in the closing episodes, Thirty But Seventeen explained how young Seo Ri’s first love was also Woo Jin, and how she purposely asked him for the direction of the music hall when she knew exactly where it was just so she could spend a fleeting moment with her boy crush. With that elaboration, the hero’s personal struggle of causing his first love’s accident was somehow cushioned. To be honest, it also made the writing obviously wanting a spic and span explanation of the love pairing’s deep and fated connection which the viewers already perceived that made the narrative stream less exciting.

Thirty But Seventeen, though, never made the viewers feel problematic on the course it was taking, therefore leaving scenarios bland because of the lengthened storytelling. That was the slight issue I had for the series. It failed to have more memorable moments that would define the romance and made your heart beat fast because of the weak conflicts sketched in the waning part of the story. While there were notable poignant scenes and a detailed ever-after closure for all the characters, it kind of disappointed because it did not play with your emotions and went to a strong-steady-dozing-steady-again-okay plot flow.

Thirty But Seventeen


Live in the moment while appreciating life changes is the lingering nudge I received from Thirty But Seventeen. Albeit some supine plot movements, it is a safe watch, but don’t expect too much.

When compared to a musical piece, it lacks the crescendo to make the rhythm push the audience upwards for some lingering thoughts about it, yet you appreciate while watching it, no doubt.

Fans can watch Thirty But Seventeen on VIU.

All photos retrieved from SBS

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About the writer

abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting watching K-Dramas as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.

Favorite Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and City Hunter