Most of us were stuck at home during this summer and that includes me. In March, I returned to Brazil, sharing my childhood house with my mom, little sister and grandma. At some point, we wanted to find something to do to have some bonding time. Loving Korean dramas as much as I do, I found “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay” would be a good option for that. What was so surprising to me was the plot of this K-drama as mental health is hardly ever talked about in any form of Korean entertainment.
As the title suggests, the story is all about how everyone has their issues and being “normal” doesn’t equal being okay all the time. For that reason, my mom and my grandma, who usually don’t like watching Asian dramas, fell in love with it. We spent all weekends throughout a month and a half watching it together. This drama is so good that I want to point out five things that surprised me about it.
It’s Centered Around Mental Health and Trauma
As mentioned, mental health is hardly talked about in Korean entertainment. So, watching a drama with a main character who has Autism and a full cast of characters who deal with mental health issues, was a sight for sore eyes. The way this show explored mental illnesses and mental health in general was beautiful. My main takeaway from this show is that our traumas and fears need to be released and overcome. On top of that, it taught me that instead of us being who we are despite our struggles, we actually are who we are because of them. Now, I see traumas, fears and struggles differently.
Believable Character Development
Overall, all characters had an amazing character development by letting go of things that weren’t serving them. Only then, did they start seeing joy in the little things in life. They also started seeing things differently and understanding others better. Moon Sang-tae went from being a codependent character who has Autism to a reliable big brother who’s the owner of his own nose. Ko Mun-yeong is an antisocial woman who learns to let go of past fears, anxieties and limiting beliefs to find a soul tribe and a love to call her own. Moon Gang-tae is a man who took care of his older brother and anyone else other than himself his whole life while victimizing himself. He learned that he should take care of his own life and be more open to love and other joys of life.
This drama has a lot of aspects to it and a big one is suspense. The reason for some of the characters’ traumas are due to other people. Throughout the episodes, we get to see glimpses of a character and of what might have gone down. However, the suspense is there from beginning to end and most of us didn’t see the plot twist coming. After the plot twist, it’s eerie and quite infuriating to see why some people do what they do. You get so attached to the cast that this suspense is actually frustrating at times. However, it’s so worth it.
Critics to Society
Ko Mun Yeong is a children’s book writer with a dark humor and her publishing manager (Lee Sang In) is so money-hungry that he would bribe anyone who would get upset by Mun Yeong’s upsetting comments or straight up threats. Throughout the drama, you see how Sang-In goes from that to understanding how wrong it is to bribe people when a character attempted to bribe him. Koreans like to criticize its society’s greediness and corruption which can be seen in several dramas and even movies like Parasite. Other than that, you can also see a bit of criticism towards the judgement of mental health and mental illnesses in general as Gang-tae works in a mental hospital and we get to meet a few patients there.
From the very beginning, you see several mentions to fairytales and that is because the producers of the drama wanted us to learn from their moral lessons in a new way. It shows us how there’s both good and bad inside each of us and there’s no escaping it. However, it also shows that we will only find real joy in life if we let go of past struggles, traumas, resentments and just overall negativity. It’s interesting to see Ko Mun-yeong’s distorted version of what’s good in life and how we’re “meant” to live our lives. Especially when you get to know her dark humor and her weird preference of witches to princesses.
By watching this TV Show, I learned a lot about relationships and shadow work. I also did a lot of self reflection and changed some limiting beliefs that I had to do with relationships. Which is why I highly recommend it for anyone to watch it. If you want to make it even more enjoyable, tell your family to watch it with you and have a light discussion about it afterwards. That’s how I did it in my household and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To me, family bonding time is the part of the day.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay is 16 episodes long (one hour each) and is available to watch on Netflix.