This year has been quite the one for K-Drama fans, with both hits and misses along the way. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay was yet another title fans had high hoped for.
This whimsical, romantic series tells the unusual love story between Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), a caregiver at a psychiatric hospital and Ko Moon-young (Son Ye-ji), a popular children’s book author.
The breakout star
What kept me hooked to the drama wasn’t just the sheer star power of Kim Soo-hyun. Instead, it was his on-screen partner — Seo Ye-ji. The 30 year-old actress stood out and stole the show within the opening few scenes.
Ko Moon-young is immediately portrayed as a dominating, head strong character who is unapologetically rude. An antisocial personality disorder and a troubled past with her parents gave the character more depth and complexity.
The eccentric relationship between the two main leads makes this pair one of our favourite on-screen couples this year. And it’s not just the main protagonists which we are talking about.
Fresh from bagging the Baeksang’s Best Supporting Actor award for his role in When The Camellia Blooms (2019), Oh Jung-se plays Moon Sang-tae, who’s born with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
As the older brother to Gang-tae, the dialogues between the two siblings are often the most heartfelt and interesting ones in the drama, shedding light on the different perspectives of living with autism.
In the later half, the relationship further develops between the brothers and Ko Moon-young.
Message on mental health
Oh Jung-se’s touching and realistic portrayal as an autistic adult in the show has definitely impressed both critics and viewers alike.
A fan who was diagnosed with intellectual disability, wanted to protect and help Sang-tae feel better after witnessing his encounters in the opening episodes!
The actor responded to the request and even spent a day out at Lottle World together. He even took the extra effort of dressing up and staying in character as Sang-tae. Who’s crying now?
With Gang-tae’s day job working in OK psychiatric hospital, viewers got to learn about the various mental health issues from the various patients. In a conservative society like South Korea, it is definitely encouraging to see what is perceived to be taboo to be raised and addressed in mainstream media.
A dark fantasy
With the Tim Burton inspired cartoon animations, match-cuts and transitions cleverly paired with the eerily curated soundtracks right from the get-go, we see why many viewers have referenced this series to a modern day fairytale.
But at the end of it, we realise that none of these characters in the show actually possess any super-powers. As brave or flawless one might look, as portrayed by the main leads, there may be so much more that’s happening which people around might be oblivious of.
Especially so in unprecedented times like this, the title of the drama convey an important message that It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.
Will it be a happily ever after or a bittersweet ending? Though the drama has been relatively well-paced thus far, it is uncertain where the story is headed to in the final few episodes.
But with the stellar acting chops and chemistry between the casts thus far, we are definitely hoping it won’t fall short of our expectations.
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