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The interlocking vignettes in 10, 20, and 30 focus on three women: sixteen-year-old Rok Na Lee, her 26-year-old cousin Belle Woo, and Rok's 36-year-old mother Krumb. Krumb, widowed at 32, works full-time as a clothing designer for a large retailer.
The stress of reporting to a shrill, mean-spirited superior has reduced Krumb to a permanent state of absent-mindedness, forcing Rok to become the de facto parent in the household.
Temperamentally, too, the two women are utterly different. Rok is fierce and judgmental, quick to lash out at family members and hapless male admirers who, in her estimation, are weak.
Krumb, on the other hand, is timid, avoiding confrontations with her ball-busting boss and frequently bursting into tears when criticized. (She's also a spectacular klutz.)
Belle, Rok's cousin, falls somewhere in the middle: she's feisty and assertive, but mindful of the fact that her more traditional parents are eager to find her a husband.
While assuring her parents that she's a respectable, marriage-minded girl, Belle has been dating a reporter on the down-low.
As one might guess from the set-up, the story lines in 10, 20, and 30 explore some oft-traveled terrain as Rok, Krumb, and Belle fumble their way toward self-knowledge and—naturally—Mr. Right.
There's a dash of Much Ado About Nothing in Rok's uneasy friendship with her neighbor (and ardent admirer) Dawoon, a hint of Sex in the City in Belle's sexcapades, and a bit of Stella Dallas in Krumb's budding romance with her company's president.
What distinguishes 10, 20 and 30 from, say, Sex in the City, however, is that the series' humor remains firmly rooted in the everyday.
Mundane moments are never the jumping off point for outrageous plotlines, implausible mix-ups, or over-the-top slapstick. (Well, I should qualify that remark by noting that there is a rather crude running gag involving Belle. I won't spoil the joke, but suffice to say that Belle could solve the problem by (a) locking her door (b) limiting the number of keys she distributes to family members or (c) moving to a doorman building.)
Instead, these scenes liberally mix humor with darker emotions. That's not to say that 10, 20, and 30 doesn't have its share of goofy moments, just that there's often an undercurrent of melancholy or loneliness in stories that, on the surface, have their share of pratfalls and punchlines. For many readers, the primary obstacle to enjoying 10, 20 and 30 will be the artwork: you'll either find it charming—as I did—or crude. The layout and character designs reminded me more of a comic strip than the kind of manga/manwha that's been licensed for the American market.
Yet I found the boldness and simplicity of Kang's style to be a perfect fit with the stories.
Those deformations, oversized sweat drops, and flapping arms capture the way we really experience embarrassment, fear, betrayal, and attraction: in the moment, one's own sense of self is grossly—even cartoonishly—exaggerated, even if that moment seems trivial in hindsight.
Much as I liked the artwork, what I liked best about 10, 20, and 30 is Kang's knack for creating compelling characters that, at first glance, might not seem particularly remarkable or, at times, likeable.
They make mistakes; they overreact; they misjudge the men in their lives; they sometimes hurt loved ones with selfish behavior.
To be sure, these kind of flawed women populate the pages of chick-lit titles like Bridget Jones' Diary and TV shows like Ally McBeal.
But there's a qualitative difference between Bridget and Ally and the ladies of 10, 20, and 30: Rok, Belle, and Krumb aren't neurotic.
Beneath their quirks and anxieties, all three women display genuine strength and self-determination, even if they don't always make smart choices about the men in their lives. And that makes them the kind of sympathetic, appealing characters that readers like to root for.

Volume 1 of 10, 20, and 30 will be published in July. The first three chapters are currently available online through NET Comics' pay-per-view system. This review was based on a galley provided by the publisher.

May 2007

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Krumb Yoon
Trying to be the perfect single working mother and keeping the household together are two of the highest priorities on Krumb's to-do list. To that, add trying to be a successful designer and looking for some love in her life. The only problem is that being a klutz, having a precocious and fiery-tempered daughter, and trying to wrangle her immoral niece are getting the better of her! At heart, Krumb is a weak-willed conformist, but through it all she has managed to cling to her innocence and integrity. As a 30-something worrywart, she is constantly considering everyone else but herself, but through it all, she searches for—and hopefully will find—her true self.

Belle Woo
Belle, much like her name implies, is gorgeous 20-something and a product of our materialistic times (she even classifies human emotions according to their owner's economic status). Obsessed with couture, fashion, glitz and glamour, it's a surprise that she has any time to fool around with all the men who come knocking at her door. Though she can be a bit snobbish, especially to men who waste her time or are lacking in substance, she is nothing but caring for her Auntie Krumb and little cousin

Rok
Rok—though sometimes her version of caring involves a whack on the head. Lacking a life philosophy, Belle wanders through life stumbling through her many pitfalls and romances trying to find herself. Rok Nah Rok is a feisty and keenly intelligent teen. Seeing her mother's and cousin's lives and the habitual catastrophes that befall them, Rok makes a solemn oath to never live like they do. Of course, with her saying that, she unavoidably becomes involved in the very same situations the other two encounter. She's sarcastic and witty, and it frustrates her to no end that her mother is such a scatterbrain. Ultimately, Rok feels the burden of taking care of the single-parent household, viewing her mother as "not-so-dependable" and oftentimes feeling like the parent in her relationship with Krumb. Though Rok my rail against the winds of change, she will slowly come to realize that life doesn't just go on the way we'd like it to.

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10, 20, and 30

18
Rating: 
4.933335
Average: 4.9 (15 votes)
2
Drama 16+ Updated Thursday
Completed with Vol.7 Ch.4

A heartfelt drama of love and life- Three extraordinary women in three age groups and three unforgettable lives intersect in Morim Kang's fascinating 10, 20, and 30.

Krumb is a clumsy, scatterbrained widow in her 30's whose teenaged daughter, Rok, is forced to take care of.
Meanwhile, Rok's jaded, twenty-something cousin Belle suffers a messy breakup with her boyfriend.
Finally, Rok, who dreads the thought of growing up and its attendant responsibilities, hates men and is sure to complicate matters.
Get ready for one wild ride with 10, 20, and 30.

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