The piece has moved to a new volume as the series shifts into the beginning of the final movement. We’re learning more substantial information about Seo Ri’s past, and discovering that the family bonds that our characters have built are strong enough to help them weather the storms that have started to erupt. Join Cici, DeShonda, and me, Kate, as we discuss this week’s episodes of Thirty But Seventeen.

Cici: It was so hard watching Woo Jin assume all the responsibility for Seo Ri’s lost time. I understand that he might feel guilty, but the final decision to stay on the bus or get off was hers. I was so afraid that he would feel the guilt so keenly that he would break off contact with her and run away again. I know it’s a cultural trait, but I really hate “noble idiocy”.

Kate: Noble idiocy is a tv trope that gets leaned on a little too much in American television, too. But in this specific case, even though it is a little annoying, I’m glad that it’s not a symptom that Woo Jin ignores who Seo Ri is as a person, but it’s more about how it is wrapped up with the traumatic experience he had witnessing the accident as a teen and thinking that his first love was on board. I’m glad his runaway attempt got nipped in the bud by the end of the week’s episodes, though. Woo Jin has learned and grown. Sure, he may cry and need to deal with his feelings, but he’s opened up too much to solve his problems by skipping town now. He promised Seo Ri!!! Now, the tv trope I was unhappy with in this episode was the backstory that was added for Seo Ri that showed her as having a crush on young Woo Jin as well. I wouldn’t mind that as much if it didn’t feel like a retcon. They needed to seed it more in the flashbacks.

DeShonda: I agree with you Kate. I absolutely love how Woo Jin has grown and developed throughout this series. He has come a long way since the first episode and I am very proud of his development. I was also worried that he was going to run away again, and he almost did. But I am very happy that he did not. I was also wondering about the flashback with Seo Ri and Woo Jin when they were younger as well. I was not sure if it was needed or not.

Cici: Woo Jin’s confession to Seo Ri on top of the bridge was perhaps one of the most passionate speeches I’ve ever seen in a Kdrama. He had come to realize that he would rather face his feelings of guilt and stay by Seo Ri’s side than try to live without her. He promised to make amends for his past by always being there to protect her. That was very emotional, but even better was when Seo Ri had the strength to tell him that he didn’t know the complete story. By letting him know that his crush had not been one-sided, she helped shift some of the blame for the accident away from him and onto herself. She listened to him because she liked him so much.

Kate: I was also glad to find out that Woo Jin hadn’t realized that Seo Ri was his Seo Mi until this week. I had thought that his breakthrough a couple of weeks ago when he froze across the street from Seo Ri wasn’t him figuring out who she was, but being close and then deciding he could allow himself to find love with this woman. His realization made it clear that he hadn’t known they were one and the same until he took her to the real Seo Mi’s urn. Woo Jin has been truthful with Seo Ri from the start--that is, when he was talking to her-- and keeping his revelation about knowing her in the past would have felt deceptive and almost a betrayal for all those episodes in between. Oh, and the other K-drama coincidence of the week was that Jennifer’s husband died in that same car crash. Jennifer’s mysterious past is all finally revealed. What did you think of that?

DeShonda: I was not expecting Jennifer to be involved in the accident. I was shocked that it was her husband that had passed away. I noticed she was with child as well and at first I thought it was her that was in the accident and had lost her baby due to it. I was very sad seeing her have to relive those painful memories. But now everything comes together like a puzzle. I knew all of them were connected somehow. I am glad we got some clarity but it was very sad to watch.

Cici: Poor Jennifer. I was surprised by the coincidence that the very people she had gone to work for were the ones so terribly affected by the accident that her husband caused. I really hope that she does not carry the second-hand guilt that is often assumed by family members. Heaven knows she paid dearly for that accident when the stress caused her to lose her baby. Such a tragedy. But there is one slightly more positive effect of all this coming to light. Now that Chan has discovered the source of Woo Jin’s depression and escape thirteen years before, he can appreciate how close Woo Jin and Seo Ri would become. Kind of that first love trope coming to fruition. That may help him accept their relationship a little easier.

Kate: I was hoping that Chan’s empathy and the realization of how closely Woo Jin and Seo Ri’s individual happiness has come from their bond would allow Chan to recover more quickly from his crush. Poor guy. I wish at least he could have gone out on that dinner with Seo Jin before she had to let him down gently. That whole evening did not go to plan at all. A flat tire and getting lost with the navigator. How embarrassingly unlucky.

DeShonda: Oh I felt so bad for Chan. I was happy he won his race, even though he was injured very badly and all. I was worried that his championship would be taken away from him because he did take some painkillers before the race and he would be accused of doping. But luckily it was not. However, I wonder what that banner said that his “girlfriend” took down. I thought it was cute of him to defend Seo Ri when the doctor came in and was talking to her. Chan had his boxing gloves on ready to punch the guy. I also felt bad for him when his date with Seo Ri did not go as planned. As he was driving around in circles I was thinking, he is just like a lost kid himself. Don’t grow up so fast Chan, keep your youth as long as you can dear boy.

Cici: While I suffered a lot of second-hand embarrassment when Chan and Seo Ri were on their date, I was actually relieved that it ended before he could confess to Seo Ri. When I try to imagine how they both would have reacted, I think it would have made her feel guilty for hurting him, caused him even more embarrassment when she had to gently reject him, and probably put a damper on their relationship for some time. Poor sweet Seo Ri would probably feel like she had to be very careful to avoid leading him on. As it is now, I don’t think he ever will confess to her, and she can continue her enthusiastic support of his achievements without worry.

Kate: Of course we also have to talk about the bombshells (little bomblets?) we got this week with the people in Seo Ri’s past. Why does Aunt look so guilty and why is she avoiding Seo Ri? What does Dr. Hyun Tae know that he still isn’t telling Seo Ri? Was it just Seo Mi’s death, or does he know something about Aunt and Uncle too? I didn’t know too much about my close friends’ parents outside of curfews they set and the which pizza place they were likely to order from when we were over (and who had the good soda), so I would be surprised if there was much else that Hyun Tae knew about what happened with Aunt and Uncle eleven years ago than we’ve seen. Then again, K-dramaland is a small world. His parents may have been friends with Aunt and Uncle and he could know practically every detail.

DeShonda: I was wondering what Seo Ri’s Aunt was hiding as well. There is definitely more to what she knows. Hopefully we will find out in these next few episodes. We did see the person who has been paying Seo Ri’s medical bills all this time. I wonder who this person is thought. I don’t think it is Seo Ri’s uncle, but he is someone who knows her. My first thought was the bus driver of the accident. But I could be wrong. That accident was very bad and it seems like there were very few who survived.

Cici: I wondered the same thing, DeShonda. It would be strange to introduce a completely new character this late in the series, so he must be someone related to the accident. Since the driver of the car died in the accident, the bus driver is the logical conclusion. I still have other questions, though. We know that Aunt and Uncle’s company went bankrupt, and we also know that Aunt seems to be living as a single mom in the same area as Seo Ri. So what happened to Uncle? Seo Ri has mentioned twice that she remembers seeing him on the day of the accident, when he was supposed to be in Japan. Was he really having an affair and just pretending to travel abroad to cover his tracks? Did Aunt catch on and divorce him? Or was he secretly incurring debt in some shady dealings in Korea when he said he was abroad on business? And if they split, who was the father of that little boy that Chan saved? So many tangled relationships that need to be unraveled by next week!

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Thirty But Seventeen

Starring Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun

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