Everything and Nothing (17세의 조건 /17 Year Old’s Condition) is an incredibly fascinating experience. It may seem like a typical angsty teen coming of age story. But coming into what is essentially a four-part, two-hour TV movie, be forewarned that it’s best to expect the unexpected. And even then, you might not see what’s coming as you watch this award-winning 2019 SBS production.
Everything and Nothing begins as we meet timid high schooler Ko Min Jae (Yoon Chang Young). Though a very good student, he has recently become suspicious of his mother’s secretive outings as his father lives and works a two-hour train ride away. Meanwhile, An Seo Yeon (Park Si Eun) has to deal with the constant pressure from her mother to excel at something she isn’t too interested in herself two years after her parents divorced.
This Seoul International Drama Award-winning TV movie takes quite a significant turn and it soon becomes clear that our two teenage protagonists must confront emotions and situations that not many teens their age will go through.
But their stories are nonetheless relatable as the two 17-year-olds face a critical moment in their lives. The movie tackles the pressures and struggles of young people who find themselves in between youth and adulthood. They may be too old to still live the carefree lives of a teen, but too young to bear the responsibilities and emotions of an adult.
This awkward and tense moment on the eve of adulthood is difficult enough as it is. But both Min Jae and Seo Yeon encounter situations that are both at their own hands and also out of their control.
This is a fascinating take on the coming-of-age genre on Korean television. There have been and continue to be plenty of youth-oriented dramas. Some more creatively successful than others. It is a challenge to find new and refreshing ways to tackle what are familiar themes after a decade of countless similar series.
But Everything and Nothing definitely does that and then some.
Coming into this movie, I definitely expected a quick two-hour watch. It seemed interesting enough at first even if the premise as described online didn’t seem all that special.
Instead, the movie is a perfect television example of the saying “that escalated quickly.” The story takes a slightly heavy turn early on before swerving completely down a dark, melancholic and thought-provoking road.
Though classmates, it isn’t until their respective situations take a turn that Min Jae and Seo Yeon begin to connect and unwittingly help each other through what becomes a difficult time for each of them. They don’t necessarily find all the answers by the end, but there is a sense of hope that perfectly conveys the unpredictable future we all have. Especially for 17-year-old youths.
Young actors Yoon Chan Young and Park Si Eun deliver emotionally affecting performances. It is a difficult task to forge a connection with the audience in such a short amount of time. But they do so quite skillfully. There’s certainly material here for a longer format. But these two young actors make the most of the time and help to effectively bring the difficult material to life.
Overall, Everything and Nothing is a fascinating and dark story. A truly thought-provoking character piece that looks at two young people at a critical, though tumultuous time in their lives.