As some of you know, I’ve been immersing myself in the world of KDramas or Korean Dramas.
Why I didn’t give these shows a chance before is beyond me. It started with The K2, an action drama about an ex special agent who has to protect a politicians illegitimate child from being exposed to the media. Then, I watched Crash Landing on You, a story of chance, where a prominent fashion designer and business woman from South Korea ends up crash landing in North Korea and right onto a Captain in the military who does his best to get her back home again without letting the local government know. I have just discovered It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, and I’m floored.
I’m so hooked on this show, I don’t want it to come to an end. You know, when you have a piece of cake, or chocolate, or food that is just SOOO good that you don’t want to take the last bite because you know it will be finished and there won’t be any more? That’s what It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is like for me. I’m only on episode 10/16 and I am hesitant to watch any more, because I don’t want the show to be over.
I had to do a post on this show since it touches on a few topics that are very personal for me, and also are discussed in The Eos Key. This show is worth taking a moment to discuss how beautiful it is, and has the potential to be.
If you haven’t watched the show as of yet, or if you haven’t passed at least Episode 10 – The Girl Who Cried Wolf, I recommend you skip to the end now. If you have watched the show, or you’re like me and don’t mind spoilers, please continue reading.
The main protagonist, (and one of the most beautiful human beings on the planet) Moon Gang-Tae (played by Kim Soo-Hyun) is the younger brother of Moon Sang-Tae, a 36 year old man with autism. After the death of their mother when they were children, Gang-Tae takes on the responsibility of looking after his older brother. As a child, his mother told him that his job was to take care of this older brother until the day he dies, that was why she gave birth to him. She only wanted Sang-Tae to have someone to look after him.
When Gang-Tae is told this as a child, it put a stress on him that he clearly wasn’t ready for as a pre-teen. He feels resentment towards his brother and the fact that he isn’t “normal” like all of the other kids. He hats the fact that he can’t do what all of the other kids can, and always feels as if he is being held back by his older brother.
A series of events lead Sang-Tae to fall through a frozen lake, and leaves Gang-Tae to decide whether or not he will save his brother from drowning and continue to live the life that he resents, or let the freezing water pull Sang-Tae under. After a moment of hard contemplation, and nearly running away, Gang-Tae jumps into the freezing water and rescues his bother from death which only puts his own life in peril.
Ko Mun-Yeong, a young girl who has also experienced a troubled past, (her father tried to kill her and her mother.) She is diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. She ends up rescuing Gang-Tae from drowning, and thus forcing him to continue living the life he hates.
Fast forward over a decade later, and Gang-Tae and Sang-Tae leave their home town. From what I gather, every year around the time of their mother’s death, Sang-Tae has nightmares of butterflies that haunt him and cause him major stress. Every year, around the same time, Gang-Tae packs up his brother and any belongings they have, and moves to the next place, taking up a job as a caretaker for the elderly and mentally ill. He has convinced himself that he is not allowed to have a life of his own. He has accepted that “Moon Gang-Tae belongs to Moon Sang-Tae.”
Over the years, Gang-Te has learns to keep his emotions bottled so he can have a “normal” relationship with his autistic brother. But his brother is much smarter than anyone gives him credit for. Sang-Tae, knows that Gang-Tae keeps his feelings bottled up for his sake. He knows that even though Gang-Tae is younger, he’s been taking care of him ever since their mother died and has been unhappy ever since. The responsibility put on Gang-Tae by their mother, was much more than he should have been tasked with at that age.
Gang-Tae suffers from depression, and what seems to be anxiety, of which all seem to stem from his relationship with his brother. This is something he doesn’t want to admit it at first. Gang-Tae takes up employment at OK Psychiatric Hospital as a nurse and caregiver, even though he’s been doing just that for his older autistic brother since they were children. Gang-Tae defines his entire existence as a caregiver. Being a caregiver is all Gang-Tae knows how to do. So much so, that he has no idea of how to take care of himself when things get really complicated for him.
Ko Mun-Yeong, now a world famous children’s author, just so happens to write Sang-Tae’s favourite books. When the chance to meet the author arrives in their town, Gang-Tae takes his older brother to get his book signed. One thing leads to another, and Ko Mun-Yeong comes face to face with the boy from her childhood.
When he meets Ko Mun-Yeong, she refers to herself as the bomb, and Gang-Tae as her safety pin. Ko Mun-Yeong’s traumatizing childhood, partnered with her APD, make her character someone Gang-Tae is suddenly finds him self first repulsed by, then slowly attracted to. Gang-Tae, as much as he tries not to, ends up adding Ko Mun-Yeong to his patient roster.
** SPOILERS END HERE **
I have to admit, I was immediately drawn in by the title of the show at first. When I watched the trailer below, and saw the love that Gang-Tae had for his brother, I knew I was going to love it. When I started watching the show and really getting to know the characters, their past, and their present, I found myself binging two or three 1.45hr episodes a night.
This series isn’t overly dramatic, at least not yet anyway. Actor Oh Jung Se plays the autistic character of Sang-Tae so well. The dramatic representation of thought process, feeling and emotional spectrum were well played. Actor Kim Soo-Hyun is amazing as younger brother Gang-Tae. His commitment to the character and the dialogue, his range of emotion, the delivery and staging of his lines will convince anyone he’s an amazing actor in this role. From what I’ve read, actress Yea-Ji brings to life APD stricken Ko Mun-Yeong with a realism and seriousness that should be commended. Her character is fierce, and strong, and completely insecure.
The supporting characters of the show are in a league of their own. I have to say, there isn’t an actor that is worse or better than another. They are all big-screen worthy performances.
When it comes to what’s going on in someone’s mind, we can never truly know. Like Gang-Tae, some of us are better able to force our lips into a smile and go about the day as if everything is sunshine and roses. Looking at Gang-Tae, at least in the beginning of the show, we see a responsible, rational, and together young man. You would never know that inside, he is scared, and anxious, and resentful. You would never know that he feels as if his world would be better if he weren’t in it.
When a friend tells Gang-Tae to, “try to focus only on yourself when things get to stressful. It’s okay to do that,” it really hit home. It truly is hard sometimes to train your mind to put yourself and your mental health above others every once in a while. Many of us can give advice, but are slow to follow it ourselves.
One last spoiler I had to add. I think the reason I felt the need to write this post was because I loved the fact that Gang-Tae finally realized that he needed Sang-Tae, just as much as Sang-Tae needed him.
It’s a beautiful story and a must watch.