Cast : Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Ye-ji, Oh Jung-se, Park Kyu-young
What is it about:
It’s Okay to Not be Okay is a 2020 Korean drama, distributed by TVN with 16 episodes. The series revolves around Kim Soo-hyun(as Moon Gang-tae), who works as a caretaker in a psychiatric hospital, Seo Ye-ji (as Ko Moon-young) who is a popular children’s fairy tale book author with an antisocial personality disorder and Oh Jung-se (as Moon Sang-tae);
Moon Gang-tae’s older brother who is born with austism and is an aspiring illustrator. He is a huge fan of Ko Moon-young books. How each of these three unusual characters, once entangled with each other influence each other’s lives and eventually transform for the better is the theme of this Korean drama series.
The Brief Story:
Kim Soo-hyun works as caretaker in OK Psychiatric Hospital. He has an older brother Oh Jung-seborn with austism. His brother is the sole witness to their mother’s murder and the trauma develops a fear of butterflies. This pushes Kim Soo-hyun to move locations every year before Spring season when butterflies come out in open, to help his brother avoid his fears.
Kim Soo-hyun is focussed & emotionally drained taking care of his brother that he is always hard on himself. He cautiously does not get close to anyone as he does not want to settle at one place. Hence, he does not see a point in trying to have a relationship or friendship that cannot be nurtured for long.
Seo Ye-ji is a popular childrens author. She specialises in writing Fairy tales. This is something she relates well because she is born into an affluent family and as a princess. However, she has antisocial personality disorder, and does not relate to anyone emotionally. This is due to an emotionally troubled childhood. Her mother is evil and her dad is helpless in controlling her mother.
Kim Soo-hyun has an unplanned encounter with Seo Ye-ji (as Ko Moon-young). She falls for him almost immediately. She is aggressive and will do anything to get him. He likes her too but again, due to his brother does not take dare to pursue his liking. He tries to avoid her but cannot do so as his brother Oh Jung-seis a huge fan of her books.
Contrastingly, Seo Ye-ji has a multi faceted personality and does not judge people easily. She meets Oh Jung-sein a book signing event and is quick to accept as he is : her fan and does not disregard him due to his austism.
Seo Ye-ji’s father suffers from brain hemorrhage, hallucination and is treated in the OK Psychiatric Hospital.
She does not have much respect for her father, because he did not save her from her mother in her childhood. Curiously her mother, a famous author like herself is supposed to have disappeared & people are given to believe that she died.
Seo Ye-ji(as Ko Moon-young)is a total “go getter” and chases Kim Soo-hyun to OK Psychiatric Hospital as well, where he works. On the pretext of visiting her father, she pursues Kim Soo-hyun.
She also bumps into his older brother Oh Jung-sein the hospital, where he works as a part time illustrator. Once she interacts with him,she grows fond of his childlike nature. After seeing his drawing skills, she decides to give him a chance as the illustrator for her next book.
Then begins the cat and mouse chase between Seo Ye-ji and Kim Soo-hyun. Who wins the chase? Does Kim Soo-hyun take the dare and give in to what his heart desires. What role does Oh Jung-seplay in their lives, is the main theme of this Korean drama series.
There is another interesting character in Park Kyu-young(as Nam Ju-ri) who also works in the OK Psychiatric Hospital. Sheis an old time acquaintance of Kim Soo-hyun and has a one sided liking for him. Kim Soo-hyun and his brother also happen to be her tenants.
The Setting :
This Korean drama series has strong script backed by stunning cinematography. It has been shot across various provinces in South Korea. The most memorable location in the drama is the OK Psychiatric Hospital, where majority of the story takes place.
The hospital is located on the sea side and boasts of beautiful and serene sea view in many scenes in the drama. It’s actually shot in the seaside-cafe Secret Blue Bakery and Cafe, located in the Gangwon-do province in South Korea.
The second location is Seo Ye-ji house, also referred to as the, “Cursed castle” in the drama. It actually looks like a castle and is palatial in every way. From the huge wooden carved doors to the humongous study and the famous balcony where Seo Ye-ji usually stands in the abated anticipation that Kim Soo-hyun would come to get her! The castle goes handy with Seo Ye-jielegant personality.
A part of the castle is filmed at the Sanida cafe in the Gangwon-do province in South Korea. The remaining have been created for the filming. But the castle looks completely real than the dramas in the list of Korean drama series we watched. The interior is created in equal grandeur. It making you believe you are visiting a royal palace!
Let’s start with the title of this best kdrama series, “Its Okay to not be okay” – is it not more of a bold statement than another Korean drama title? It immediately gets you prepared to what you should expect in the 16 episode run – something unusual and bold. The story deals with current day issues we hear about so often – austism and mental health.
The story telling is brilliant and you will be hooked on from the first episode! Each episode runs for about 75 minutes. You will feel a lot of emotions in these 75 minutes – humor, drama,romance, heated sparks between the main leads, sadness, hope, thrill, fear but most importantly a lot of positivity!
Seo Ye-ji character is perhaps the most extraordinary character written for a female lead. She is fierce, speaks her mind bluntly and is aggressive who will go all out after what she wants. People around her find her daring personality intimidating.
Yet, there is this superior rational side that can see & accept people as they are. Then there is a total feminine & childlike side where she wants to be loved by the man she loves unconditionally and wants to be cared for. In her pursuit of her love, she holds no ego at all, which is refreshing and very mature. She is a modern woman who can take the lead and reveal her liking for her man and not wait for him to make the first move.
Seo Ye-ji is perfect as Ko Moon-young. She brings the character to life to the point you will easily fall in love with the anti- social Ko Moon-young.
I am compelled to start with Seo Ye-ji’s voice. I do not recollect the last time I’ve heard such a captivating voice from a female lead on TV! Her voice is not sweet, but there is this subtle bass like sound to it and she is a master of modulations and you will be mesmerised when she delivers her dialogues!
She shares a sizzling chemistry with Kim Soo-hyun. Seo Ye-ji is uber cool in her flirtations with Kim Soo-hyun. Again, something most female leads wouldn’t dare to do!The screen is on fire when you see the two in close proximity and don’t know what to expect next!
She easens things for him, teases him, taunts him and forces him to break the walls he’s built for himself. And helps him vent out his frustation, including the feeling of burden of solely taking care of his brother. She may sound extremely rude; but eventually helps him heal. Sometimes we all need that one person who cares enough to slap it on our face; instead of “sugar coating” the situation!
The relationship Seo Ye-ji shares with Oh Jung-se is special! She is one of the few who treats him like a normal person and grows fond of his child like nature! She consciously becomes his, “best friend”! What follows is heart endearing- its a treat to watch them both fight, bicker and have fun like small kids!
Perhaps one of the best scenes in this romantic korean drama series is where Seo Ye-ji begs Oh Jung-se to take her in as family and reassures him that she only wants to come into the family and not take away Kim Soo-hyun from him. The scene is a treat to watch because she has to convey to Oh Jung-se in his special language and not the usual adult talk.
Kim Soo-hyun plays his part to the tee. He is indeed a handsome caretaker! The journey of Moon Gang-tae from an ever responsible younger brother to a carefree person and a lover, could not have been portrated better than Kim Soo-hyun. He shows his emotions right from masking all pain, disappointment at self, sympathy for his brother and hidden feelings for Seo Ye-ji with total ease. Its a delight to watch him switch emotions so easily.
What’s even more contrasting is that Kim Soo-hyun is supposedly a very fun loving person in real life ( courtesy BTS scenes during filming the drama). You really wonder how he changes his expressions on switch of a button on screen.
His relationship with Oh Jung-se is an equally important part of this Korean drama. They bond so well on screen, almost feels like a real family.
His chemistry with Seo Ye-ji is a perfect 10 on 10. She chases him. He is intimidated about how she opens up about her love and passion for him. This is new as we don’t get too many male leads on TV to be on the receiving end of the lover’s move! Yet he is every bit the hero! That’s the power of his screen presence.
He tries avoiding her. However, cannot help but take cares of her in his own way. His empathy with her troubled childhood and helps her realise that she is not emotionally deficient! He never tells her he likes her; But yet he never denies it whenever confronted about the same.
This is compelling to watch him maneuver his actual thoughts whenever caught in such tricky situations!Oh Jung-se’s performance as Moon Sang-tae is award worthy! He is child like and has simple and direct questions and thoughts. He is pure and does not manipulate anyone.
After seeing Oh Jung-se’s performance, you will no longer be hesitant or scared of people born with autism. He had paid attention to the smallest things while depicting a person with autism. It shines in his performance. The way he walks, delivers his speech, fights and hesistates to show affection… kudos to him for the lovely performance!
While the story revolves around the three main protagonists, there are equally well etched suporting characters in Kim Chang Wan. He is the medical director of the OK Psychiatric Hospital, Kim Joo-hun, who is Ko Moon-young’s book publisher and Kim Mi-kyung, mother of Park Kyu-young, who works as a chef at the hospital.
The above characters support the three main protagonists in their own way helping them evolve.The medical director and hospital chef remind and reassure Kim Soo-hyun that he has to give a chance to his brother to grow up; else both of them will remain trapped in their imaginary safe world!
Both, also subtly instigate Kim Soo-hyun to follow his heart and not give up his desire for Seo Ye-ji.I personally liked the chef, Kim Mi-kyung;mother of Park Kyu-young(as Nam Ju-ri). She knows about her daughters’ one side crush for Kim Soo-hyun .Yet chooses to support him and his brother.
Kim Joo-hun, who is Seo Ye-ji’s book publisher looks out for her always as he knows about her past. He does not sway from his good intentions even though she is impolite to him most of the time!
It would have been totally “normal” of them to not support the three main characters; but what makes them “extraordinary” is that they choose to help them even when help is not verbally sought by the three main protagonists. This makes us wonder how many times have we come across situations where we sense someone we know needs our help; but wait for them to ask!
Finally the story narrative – its different,its classy and yet the message communicated in the most simplest way possible! The script has a lot of metaphors and an interesting fairy tale narrated in every episode.
Every episode has an innovative animated story. The cartoon is unlike Disney’s beautiful cartoons; its slightly real and a bit dark.Whats makes it different is that the moral from each fairy tale is something you can use in real life; especially in today’s times. These fairy tales are something to watch out for.
Seo Ye-ji in reality, actually finds it difficult to gain weight. She actually gained 2 Kgs for this role. Seriously, don’t we wish we had similar weight problems 😉
Watch out for :
Seo Ye-ji’s funny and naughty flirtations with Kim Soo-hyun. She names him her ” safety pin”. Now that’s some description!
Seo Ye-ji’s fashion sense makes you gasp an OMG at almost every attire, accessory and shoes. She carries off the best fashion brands like Givenchy, Jimmy Choo,Magda Butrym,Honghol, Zimmerman,Burberry exquisitely like a total pro!
OST : 4.5/5
The OST of this Korean drama series has a wide array of songs that suit up to every mood in the drama.
It ranges from slow melodious in Breath, happy fast in Puzzle, emotional melancholy in You’re cold, naughty in Wake Up,emotional melodious In your timeand the healing Hallelujah. The entire album is worth to be on your repeat list.
Listen to it on Spotify
What’s Refreshing :
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a unique Korean drama series where all the three protagonists have their own imperfections; not perfect.
Passion Quotient : 5
Thumbs Up :
The story line, the healing, the chemistry and the passionate kissing scenes. The kissing scene comes after a long wait for the viewers; but its worth waiting for!
It is easily one of the best kissing scenes of 2020.
Thumbs Down :
Seo Ye-ji’s mother is evil. The writers could have dwelt a little more on her character.
Kim Soo-hyun has a nice voice, that roars right in a high pitch. But, his character is so mellowed down. You hardly get to hear him speak loud. Few scenes where he could have modulated his voice would have been viewers’ delight.
My Verdict : Highly recommend
I highly recommend to watch this Korean series. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay conveys about mental health, emotional healing and austism with such tactic; any intelligent viewer should not miss it. Plus you do not want to miss the chemistry of the star dazed lovers in Seo Ye-ji and Kim Soo-hyun!