It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a healing romance that tells the story of a troubled health worker (Kim Soo Hyun) at a psychiatric hospital whose fate becomes intertwined with a writer (Seo Ye Ji) with Antisocial Personality Disorder as they fall in love.
Kim Soo Hyun plays Moon Gang Tae who is a health worker at a psychiatric hospital. His only family is his older Autistic brother who he has spent his life taking care of while neglecting his own needs. He silently struggles through life doing his best. His world is completely turned upside down though when Ko Moon Young blows into his life like a hurricane.
Seo Ye Ji is Ko Moon Young. She keeps the fact that she has Antisocial Personality Disorder hidden and has been able to become a successful children’s writer. She is cold, calculating, and a bit dangerous. She sets her sights on Gang Tae and sets in motion a complicated romance for the pair.
Then we have Oh Jung Sae as Moon Sang Tae. He is Gang Tae’s older brother. His Autism causes him to struggle understanding people and has brought challenges to him and Gang Tae. Even though Gang Tae tends to take care of him, Sang Tae is very loyal, independent, and also wants to do what he can to help Gang Tae too.
Wow! Get ready! This drama is something else! It hooked me right from the start, and then I was glued to my seat all the way through. This is one of those special shows that captures your heart and takes you on an emotional journey that leaves you changed when you are through. Special indeed!
The drama is like a dark, modern fairy tale. It has a magical quality to it in the way the story is told. The script was so incredibly well-written with every line of dialogue having meaning.
A lot of thought also went into the production with so much attention to detail in constructing the sets as well as how the scenes were shot. The OST also greatly enhanced this magical feel. All of these elements blended together beautifully to carry us away into this slightly disturbing yet very healing fairy tale.
Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji delivered powerhouse performances, and any time they were on screen together was completely captivating in so many different ways. Their chemistry was palpable. They run very hot and cold with each other which resulted in some incredibly intense moments as well as some deeply emotional ones.
This relationship is a bit disturbing in the beginning as these two clash. Their actions towards each other aren’t always that great. These are two very broken people. But they are drawn to each other, and those walls slowly start coming down between them.
It’s not a linear journey though, and the road is filled many bumps along the way. As they learn and grow in their relationship, healing begins to emerge. We experience a lot of joy and sadness with this couple, but it’s all worth it to watch these two hurting people face their demons and find comfort in each other. I was completely swept up in this amazing romance!
Seo Ye Ji was absolutely phenomenal as Moon Young. She owned this complex character and breathed so much life into her. Moon Young is a unique character in the drama landscape, particularly for a female lead.
Many times she feels quite dangerous as she doesn’t hold back and will take her anger out on those who wrong her. She’s impulsive and says what’s on her mind. Plus, when she sets her mind on something, she won’t back down. That includes her feelings for Gang Tae.
Her actions towards him are quite aggressive as she relentlessly pursues him. Definitely not the recommended way to initiate a relationship. Just reading that, Moon Young may sound like terrible person. But there is far more to her than that.
Underneath that powerful persona is a very hurt and damaged woman that has an incredibly traumatic past. Learning more about her, how her mind works, and watching her journey of growth was such a treat.
Gang Tae has his own deep-seated issues stemming from his past. He loves his brother dearly and has dedicated his life to taking care of him, but that comes with a cost. His brother has always came first since they were children, and he’s had to bury much of his pain in order to do what is best for Sang Tae.
That has taken an emotional toll on him over the years, and he has to unlearn some of his bad habits. His pain is quite raw to see, and it was evident that he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
When Moon Young comes into his life, he becomes incredibly conflicted as he is forced to fight his feelings for her. It was heartbreaking to watch as he struggled with wanting to do what was best for his brother as well as just take some small enjoyment out of life for himself for a change. He had a lot of growing to do too.
There’s also Sang Tae who faces his own challenges stemming from his Autism as he struggles to understand people and their emotions. A trauma from his past has also made his and Gang Tae’s lives very difficult.
I was thrilled with how this character was handled. Many times in shows, characters with disorders like his are sort of relegated to being a token side character that just impacts the main character. Not so here! Sang Tae is written as a completely fleshed out character that has his own journey to go, is an integral part of the story, and is just as important in every way. Wonderful to see!
Oh Jung Se also really put in a terrific performance as Sang Tae. I was very impressed with him and just how much he brought this character to life and opened a window into his soul.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay has so many relationships to explore too. I already mentioned the one involving Gang Tae and Moon Young. One that is just as important though is that of the brothers.
Gang Tae and Sang Tae have a complex relationship that is in many ways frozen in time from when they were kids. The dynamic they have between them has remained the same since then.
They love each other dearly but have stayed in their respective roles without growth. This ultimately had a negative effect on their relationship and their lives which resulted in neither of them being able to live their best lives.
Growing as individuals and in the relationship becomes very important for them. I loved seeing how they cared for each other despite some severe challenges to the relationship. And watching them grow closer, understand each other more, and finally progress into a healthier relationship was wonderful.
I could go on and on about all of the amazing relationships featured in this drama. Sang Tae and Moon Young definitely have quite the interesting relationship with each other and is quite fun to watch.
Then we have a wide array of wonderful supporting characters that are explored. There are friendships, romance, parent/child relationships, and more. Suffice to say, everyone in this drama is important, has a story, and is connected to the overall narrative. It was beautifully done.
There’s even some mystery in this series as Moon Young’s past is slowly peeled back as well as the traumatic events from Gang Tae and Sang Tae’s childhood revealed. It added yet another nice layer to this multi-faceted story.
As you can see, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay explores a host of mental health issues and complicated themes. I experienced so many different emotions watching this drama. So much raw pain is dealt with in this story.
Our characters are all very different from each other and have their own issues to deal with, but they all ultimately need the same thing…love and acceptance. Loneliness can be crippling, and that is shown very clearly here. Seeing this unlikely group come together and heal was such a treat. The concept of what a family is was explored in such a touching way.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is one of those unique and special thought-provoking dramas that truly is a masterpiece. It tells a heart-wrenching yet beautiful story of growth and healing. The characters are flawed, but we come to understand them and root for their personal growth and happiness. They don’t have to be perfect to achieve that either. Love and acceptance can be found in imperfection. The message is clear and simple…It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.
My Rating: 10/10
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