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The Weekend Binge: "How to Be Thirty"

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

From KakaoTV comes another short but binge-worthy series — just five hours in total — this time focused on the relationships and careers of three 30-year-old women.

The Plot

How do modern career women navigate the complexities of dating as 30-year-olds? This female-centric series takes a stab at that question through three characters.

Seo Ji-won (Jung In-sun) is a famous webtoon writer with relationship baggage. But she’s forced to challenge her fears when she reunites with her first love from high school, Lee Seung-Yoo (CNBLUE’s Kang Min-hyuk), a new editor at the publishing house she writes for. Does she jump into a heady new romance despite her reservations?

Her friend Hong A-young (Cha Min-jee), meanwhile, is trying to run a restaurant on her own while trying to move on from a divorce. And another friend Lee Ran-Ju (Hani), a successful radio announcer, struggles with the idea of dating someone much younger.

The Review

Earlier this year, KakaoTV gave us Lovestruck in the City, a unique take on the nitty-gritty of dating in the real, modern world featuring three couples. Now, with How to Be Thirty (also called Not Yet 30), based on the Korean webcomic "Born in 1985” published by Kakao from 2015 to 2018, they tackle the relationships and careers of three 30-year-old women.

Like its predecessor, this k-drama front-loads the 15-episode series with heart-fluttering, swoon-inducing scenes. It also doesn't make any pretensions about the chastity of today’s millennials, especially for those as ridiculously attractive as Jung In-sun and Kang Min-hyuk.

And it takes the idea of short episodes to a whole new level: Lovestruck in the City’s episodes were around 30 minutes each, but this one is even shorter at just 20 minutes. That can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you're looking for. It's just enough if you want a series to breeze through, and you need a break from complicated backstories and multiple secondary story lines. But it's too short if you want more nuance and character development (or if you just wanted to see more of Kang Min-hyuk).

If you're in the first camp, then you might find this series worth five hours of your weekend time. Among the three female characters, the show is focused primarily on the webtoon writer, Seo Ji-won, and how mature she can and will be when faced with difficult relationship questions that come after the initial falling-in-love phase. Radio announcer Lee Ran-Ju is also given enough space within the limited running time for her story to reach proper closure, if not enough depth.

Despite the relatively straightforward storylines of our three female characters, the show does manage to throw in a surprise or two, reminding you that being 30 perhaps does come with a certain level of maturity that would allow you to make tough choices.

STREAM: If you want a quick binge that will deliver a nice dose of kilig and a few thought-provoking turns, without complex backstories or secondary storylines. Click here to watch on iQIYI.

SKIP: If you need your k-dramas to have sufficient depth and nuance, because 20 minutes per episode is not enough for that.

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