In the K-drama world, rom-coms are a dime a dozen, and while we all eat them up, they have the tendency of becoming repetitive. That’s not to say that writers aren’t still trying to keep things interesting, such as by shattering stereotypes and putting a spin on common tropes. Another way to liven things up on your typical straight man and silly girl romance is by mixing in other genres like action, paranormal, and thriller. In the case of 30 but 17, we’re treated to a rom-com that is incredibly mysterious.
The drama is about two people who are trying to navigate through their lives in their 30s while still suffering from a trauma that happened 13 years ago. The show is focused mostly on romance, but it also has some cryptic elements that leave us with many unanswered questions. There are several characters with unknown origins who are somehow tied into this story, as well as other characters who have disappeared without a trace. As we watch each episode, we wait for the any clues that will hopefully reveal who these people are and what exactly happened 13 years ago.
At the age of 17, Woo Seo-ri (Shin Hye-sun) fell unconscious after a bus accident, and then woke up at the age of 30. Her story has a time-traveler feel since she missed out on 13 years of news, advancing technology, and the lives of friends and family. Oftentimes, this is the root of the comedy, as Seo-ri is utterly confused, like when she asks to use the internet but is handed a smartphone. However, this isn’t a fun trip for her since she has no education or work experience, and her family seemingly abandoned her after her accident. Additionally, to strangers, she appears lazy and unintelligent for not knowing what she should know at her age. Oddly enough, she refuses to speak about her accident, which could offer clarification to others as to why she’s in her current position.
While she’s pitiful, she still embodies the liveliness and innocence of a 17-year-old which explains why our young second-lead, Yoo Chan (Ahn Hyo-seop), begins to fall for her. His character is sweet and innocent, and it’s sometimes difficult to watch him develop his feelings further when we all know what’s in store for a second-lead character. Regardless, he’s still an endearing and charming character to watch as he’s the first person to empathize with Seo-ri’s circumstances.
Our leading man, Gong Woo-Jin (Yang Se-jong,) doesn’t know his story ties in with Seo-ri yet. Due to witnessing the accident Seo-ri was in, Woo-Jin closed himself off and avoids social interactions. Additionally, he has some unusual quirks like having the urge to measure everything even if someone is in his way, and putting on broken earphones to pretend he can’t hear people’s voices. However, the drama fails to explain why he works fine with his coworkers, boss, and has a good relationship with his family. On top of this, he’s seen several times working professionally with his clients. He’s definitely not completely socially inept, although that’s used as the excuse for his resistance to open up to Seo-ri’s character.
30 but 17 has plenty of your run-of-the-mill rom-com elements, but it also contains enigmatic components that leaves the viewer curious for answers. Part of that mystery is somehow tied to the robotic and often comical maid named Jennifer (Ye Ji-won.) Originally, I thought she was just a comedic tool to parallel with the common theme about not fitting in with society. With so many K-dramas about robots, I half-expected that’s what she’d be revealed to be. Jennifer has a monotonous voice, and randomly rattles off definitions of words like she’s some sort of personified Alexa. However, she still manages to show her humanity with her compassion for Seo-ri, whom she takes under her wing.
The most revealing information about Jennifer is a flashback suggesting she also endured a trauma which, much like the protagonists, affected her personality. Additionally, she is somehow linked with the unknown woman who is often seen in front of Woo-jin’s house. So far, all of these vague characters are working in well to build up the anticipation and keep us waiting for more.
With so many confusing events and unknown characters, it’s sometimes frustrating waiting on each episode to find out little by little exactly what happened in everyone’s past, and how they’re tied together. However, what is clear is Seo-ri’s and Woo-jin’s relationship, which has been developing as they both rely on each other to become functioning adults in society. Thus far, the drama is managing to keep things fresh while still serving up a typical rom-com.
I’m eager to see what the incoming episodes will reveal, and if Seo-ri and Woo-jin will both finally figure out how they knew each other 13 years ago.
(Images via SBS)