I watched Ji-hoon, born in 82 (82년생 지훈이) on KBS Drama Special. The translated title would be 30-year-old Ji-hoon. Those born in the year 1982 are thirty this year by the Korean age. The two ordinary numbers demand special attention when they combine forces. They sometimes prove to be a wrenching reality, as in the case of Ji-hoon and many others who struggle in the face of job instability and familial and societal expectations.

Although Ji-hoon is your typical college grad with an ordinary dream, his life at 30 involves more mess than he deserves or can handle. Watching Ji-hoon trying to get by, exhausting himself, sometimes hurting his loved one, regretting, and then waking up for another day of hard work, another day with good friends and family, I learn that life does not stop at 30 even though it will continue to bring obstacles.

Apart from providing a window to a woeful reality and a character to empathize with, the show features three superb songs by three superb artists.

  1. 나의 노래 (My Song) by 달빛요정역전만루홈런 (Moonlight fairy grand slam full base home run)
  2. 서른 즈음에 (Around Thirty) by Kim Kwang-seok
  3. 가시나무 (Thorny Tree) by 시인과 촌장 (Poet and Village chief)

“Around Thirty” is specifically about coming to the age of 30, written by the musical director of KBS Stetchbook and sung by the beloved Kim Kwang-sok. I had heard this on another series 2 Outs in the 9th Inning (9회말 2아웃) that also considers the theme of being 30. “My Song” is full of energy and makes us miss the late Lee Jin-won even more. “Thorny Tree” is sung by the famous duo and is a beautifully written, sorrowful confession that we all can relate to at some point.

On a different note, I had a feeling that the actor who played Ji-hoon looked familiar. He was from this old band Moon Child whose members have become M.C. the Max. It’s been more than ten years since I first saw him on a music program, but it didn’t look like he’s aged much.