Still 17 (Hangul: 서른이지만 열일곱입니다; RR: Seoreunijiman Yeolilgobibmida; lit. Thirty But Seventeen) is a South Korean television series starring Shin Hye-sun, Yang Se-jong and Ahn Hyo-seop. It aired on SBS’s Mondays and Tuesdays at 22:00 (KST) time slot from July 23 to September 18, 2018 for 32 episodes.
I was actually recommended this drama, if not I probably wouldn’t have known about it. I did like the actor line-up here: Yang Se-jong was great in Temperature Of Love (I just didn’t like the draggy plot much), and I do recall watching Shin Hye-Sun’s other shows before.
The premise seemed quite promising, but also prone to using common K-drama tropes:
Gong Woo-jin (Yang Se-jong) is a 30-year-old single man who works as a set designer. Due to a trauma he experienced 13 years ago, he does not want to have a relationship with others. When Woo Seo-ri (Shin Hye-sun) was 17, she fell into a coma. Thirteen years later, she wakes up from her coma. Her mental age is still that of a 17-year-old, but she is now 30-years-old. Gong Woo-jin and Woo Seo-ri get involved with each other and fall in love.
Cast – I don’t know if it’s just me, but the K-dramas I’ve watched these days are all on a roll when it comes to casting. They’re not skipping out on talented actors, and they know exactly where these talents belong in the drama.
Shin Hye-sun (SHS)’s role was possibly my favourite character in the drama. She definitely did look the part of a 30-year-old, but what made her truly outstanding was her performance as a 17 y/o at heart. She doesn’t stoop to being ‘childish’ in order to show that she can’t identify with being an adult; instead, she skilfully shows how her character is stuck in her past memory, still believes in the good of other people, and grows to become the adult she is forced to be. I really liked her acting: very natural, very emotional, and very moving.
Yang Se-jong (YSJ) was another gem in this drama. Granted, his role was the typical ‘tsundere’ that took time to warm up to other people, but he showed a solid performance through his character’s evolution. I quite dislike how some actors try too hard to put up a cold front for roles like this, but YSJ does it beautifully. He doesn’t even look like he’s acting tbh, like he’s always guarded and couldn’t care less about what you think about him.
Just look at that getup LOL
Other actors also deserve special applause for bringing life to this drama, in particular Ye Ji-won (who acted as Jennifer). I’m sure many of us shed a tear while watching her emotional performance in the last few episodes, a drastic change from her usual robotic front.
Ahn Hyo-seop (AHS) had such an adorable role that no one could really pick on, and I’m glad that the team gave his role much more substance than just ‘the happy-go-lucky 2nd male lead’. Although we do feel bad that his first love wasn’t reciprocated, we feel better knowing that he will do fine because, well, his mantra is “Don’t think, feel!”.
Plot – It took so many episodes before our main characters finally accepted each other that I could probably fall asleep, but it’s not a bad thing!
Despite the fact that they knew each other from years back, the drama chooses to focus on how they have to grow and learn as individuals, from each other, from the people around them, before they can accept each other. It is really beautiful to watch, and when it finally happens, you know they truly deserve all that happiness.
Someone pointed out that even though YSJ’s character was 30, he was always stuck in the past because of his guilt, and never learned to move on from there. That technically makes him the same as SHS’s character. The difference is that SHS’s character was thrown into the deep end when she woke up and found herself in a world so, so foreign, that she had to learn to grow up quicker than YSJ, who was sheltered by his family. It’s a very interesting concept that you should look back on, and also one that is not very common in dramas with similar plots.
The typical K-drama stuff: Knew each other from childhood? Check. Having certain problems resolve too easily? Check.
It seems like even some of the best, most well-written K-dramas can’t escape from using plot shortcuts in order to make the story flow, and get things going faster. It’s a bit of a pity, but I wouldn’t say that it made for a very terrible watching experience.
I would classify this as a feel-good show, but it’s clearly a lot deeper than that.
I’ll leave a quote from YJW’s character that sums up my feelings about this wonderful production:
“Even if you want to slow it down, even if you want to make it go faster, time simply goes by at its pace. Those painful times that make you feel like you just want to die will all pass one day. One day you’ll never remember the painful memories that seemed like they would never go away. Time will pass on its own. If you avoid it even before it does. the really important things will get swept away with time. By the time you regret it, it would’ve been too late.”