Everything And Nothing
Alternate Title: 17 Year Old's Condition
모든것과 아무것도
SBS (Aug. 2019) 2 Hour Long Episodes
Family Melodrama, Mature Themes
Grade: B

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
Some Spoilers

A short but intense family melodrama, touching on themes common to broken families, Everything And Nothing (2019) was worth watching for me because it was pretty darn honest about what happens to children when their parents divorce or separate; the various psychological and emotional traumas and scars can last years, and affect all their relationships with their future significant others, or accumulate to make them not want to risk love relationships at all, feeling that those will fail too.

I definitely would not recommend this drama for anyone under eighteen years of age, unless watched with a parent. Although nothing explicit is shown, only suggested with subtle film techniques, plus solid acting from all the cast, especially the youngsters, and sometimes nebulous dialogue, the subject matter might just be too painful or confusing for younger audiences, especially if they are children of a divorced home. So, you have been warned ahead of time by me. This is a PG-17 rated production on its subject matter.

The Story: We are introduced separately to two high school teenagers, both seventeen years old, who are attending the same school; one a pretty girl named Ahn Seo Yeon (Park Si Eun) who plays the piano very well, though we aren't quite sure she likes it very much, and the second a quiet, sensitive boy named Go Min Jae (Yoon Chan Young) who struggles with math which keeps his GPA too low, leading to poor self-esteem.

Both children live alone with their mothers, and are only children, one Mom who is separated because of the father working in another city (boy Min Jae's Mom, named Jung Kyeong played by actress Seo Jung Yeon), and the other divorced (girl Seo Yeon's Mom, named Lee Hae Young, played by actress Lee Hang Na). Although it's obvious both mothers love their children - when they are around them, that is -- the children themselves feel estranged from their mothers (and certainly from their no-show, absent fathers!).

Seo Yeon's Mom seems more interested in having her daughter play the piano perfectly each time she practices or has a recital, and when the girl gets her period and routinely messes up playing the piano because of her cramps, Mom takes her to a gynecologist and has something injected into her arm to prevent her from getting periods at all. (Golly gee whiz, why not just give the girl a break from practicing when she's sick, "Mom"!). Seo Yeon becomes depressed (perhaps from the hormones in the injection) and even tries to commit suicide before the whole school during a science experiment in her chemistry class, deliberately standing in front of a chemical-filled vat that is about to explode! Her teacher pushes her out of the way just in time, but Seo Yeon does suffer a cut on her face. Then her Mom makes things even worse by putting a new grand piano in her bedroom and TAKING HER BED AWAY! "Oh you can sleep with me," she tells Seo Yeon. My jaw dropped open in shock! Nice, "Mom", nice, sure, give her no privacy at all at home, to sleep in her own bed!

Min Jae's Mom is a rather bored housewife who seems to be secretly away from their apartment for long stretches of time, leading Min Jae to wonder if his Mom is having an affair. Whenever she's in the shower Min Jae spies on her cell phone to see whom she is talking to on social media. His Mom arranges for him to have an expensive math tutor who guarantees impressive results, and when Min Jae starts to go to this fellow his grades do improve in math, but his teacher seems a mite bit sleazy, making him sign an agreement in the beginning that anything that happens in the apartment during tutoring will not be shared with anyone else. Uh oh. Min Jae hesitates but signs anyway. Then he begins to suspect his Mom is having an affair with this math tutor.

During all this time both Min Jae and Seo Yeon seem to be mildly interested in each other from afar. Min Jae stalks Seo Yeon, trying to figure out where she is going after school, and it's sometimes to a bad side of town. When they are near each other on the street Seo Yeon will stare right back at Min Jae in a challenging manner. So these two are quite aware of each other, though they rarely speak to each other at school or out of school. Min Jae sees the obvious attempted suicide of Seo Yeon and grows even more concerned about her.

The Surprise

When Min Jae's latest math results put him in First Place in his class the mysterious tutor says Min Jae will get a "reward". He abruptly leaves Min Jae alone in the apartment and just when Min Jae is wondering what is going on the doorbell rings, he answers it and there is Seo Yeon, obviously there to give the "reward" to him - sexually. Both teens are shocked to see each other, and Min Jae leaves when Seo Yeon says she will take a shower and "get ready"

Despite all the awkwardness between them from that point on they strangely become closer as real friends. They talk about their feelings about their parents and help each other through some future crisis moments. Seo Yeon is challenged to give up being a "call girl" for money, and Min Jae is encouraged to be more honest with his mother and ask her pointed questions about her love life. Seo Yeon is brave enough to go to the wedding of her father to his mistress, whom he had left her mother for, but she gets up and leaves abruptly in anger when her father barely recognizes that she might be hurting. She also discovers the real reason her Mom wanted her to take up the piano: the mistress' daughter, about her same age, was also a good pianist (she was playing the wedding march at the ceremony), and Seo Yeon's jealous Mom didn't want her daughter to be lacking in her ex-husband's eyes. This makes Seo Yeon even more angry and upset, and she runs home crying. Couldn't her father care for her just for the hurting person she was because of HIS sins?


Yes, talk about warped situations in both homes, but sadly that is only too realistic in today's world of too many cheating parents, separations, divorces. I have to give credit to this drama's writer (
Ryu Bo Ri) in her honesty about the scars divorce leaves behind. Many times shows and films gloss over the common hurts in the children of these broken homes because it isn't politically correct to showcase them - children are expected to recover from the divorces of their parents like they'd recover from a skinned knee after a fall. This one didn't hesitate to explore the deep scars in depth.