It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) continues to be a dark fairy tale sprung to light. And like with any Grimm fairy tale, we begin to see the bits and pieces of a dark past filled with blood and violence that brought this fairy tale to life. You can find this drama English subbed at Netflix.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020): The story of a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who lives on 1.8 million won (approximately $1,520) a month and a storybook writer suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. A man who denies love and a woman who doesn’t know love defy fate and fall in love, finding their souls and identities in the process. Moon Kang Tae is a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who was blessed with everything including a great body, smarts, ability to sympathize with others, patience, ability to react quickly, stamina, and more. Meanwhile, Ko Moon Young is a popular writer of children’s literature, but she is extremely selfish, arrogant, and rude. (Source: Soompi & Koreandrama.org)
Episode 2 Recap
Episode 2 starts right where episode 1 left off, Kang Tae and Moon Young are discussing why he’s here and he says her she reminds him of someone who is messed up. Then we see a flashback of a boy in an icy pond drowning. Meanwhile, a girl stands nearby and picks petals from a flower, asking should I help him or not?
Back to the present, where they talk about bad memories. Kang Tae then tells her to tell the manager not to call again, but the manager Lee Sang In has already arrived, loaded with boxes filled with money. Moon Young learns that Kang Tae wanted her autograph and gives him it, while the manager tries to give Kang Tae the money, but he refuses the money and leaves. Moon Young watches as he leaves and says ‘he’s beautiful’ and ‘I want him’. And then we have this flight of fantasy as we see this gigantic version of our heroine trying to grab him.
When Kang Tae looks at the autographed book, he finds that she has invited them to go to her new book’s launch party and he enlists his friend Jae Soo to take his brother instead. Jae Soo has a guest, an old friend Joo Ri whom he’s excited to see and they go drinking at his place where Joo Ri asks him about Kang Tae. Meanwhile, Sang Tae is very excited to go to launch party, looking at his clothes and figuring out what to wear, while his brother is more concerned with wrapping things up so they can move. And Moon Young? She’s in the middle of a meeting at her company, queening it up as she shoots down any and all queries, she’s more interested in queries about Kang Tae, which she gets Jin Joo, the assistant to Sang In, to look for info on him.
Joo Ri meets with Kang Tae, whom it’s obvious she has a thing for as she tries to scoot closer to him on the bench, and he scoots away. She tells him that her hospital, the OK Psychiatric Hospital, is looking for a caregiver. Joo Ri tells him it’s in their hometown and there is a flashback.
Flashback: There is a stream of blood and a crime scene in a tunnel. A younger Kang Tae is seen crying over a dead body as the other brother (Sang Tae?) keep talking about a butterfly. Younger Kang Tae tries to get more details out of his brother, but Sang Tae just says that the butterfly said it will kill him if he said anything. When Kang Tae hears people arranging to split them up, he tells Sang Tae to leave and they hit the road.
Meanwhile back in the present, Kang Tae goes to see Joo Ri off on the bus. She offers him a place to stay if he comes with her and her mom if he took the job. Kang Tae thanks her but says he won’t go. As she leaves on the bus, Joo Ri remembered something she had previously talked about with Jae Soo about how Kang Tae never builds deep relationships because he’ll just leave. She wondered why he leaves, but Jae Soo just says it’s because of that butterfly.
Later, Kang Tae looks up jobs and then looks at Ok Psychiatric Hospital where he sees an article saying that you have to face your traumas to overcome them. The next day, he calls his friend Jae Soo, but he doesn’t answer because he’s out cold, so Kang Tae has to take his brother to the launch party and stuff. There’s this wonderful little sequence of pure joy as Sang Tae walks to the launch party with his party, seeing these balloons and birds and animated sequences in a full blown musical number.
At the launch party, it’s obvious that Moon Young is looking for them. When they arrive, Kang Tae gets a call and leaves to take it, making sure his brother is in line. The CEO Sang In is having a conversation with a critic of Moon Young. Then Sang Tae sees someone wearing a dinosaur costume and he’s absolutely entranced by it and he goes and starts to point out details about dinosaurs to the kid in the costume. He’s not doing anything really, but the dad pushes him and makes a scene. When the dad touches him, Sang Tae starts screaming and his brother runs back from the call to calm down. And we see the heroine making a calculation, to help or not? She decides in his favor, and joins the group, says that you need to apologize to the father who pushed Sang Tae. She tells him he’s ruining her book’s launch party and basically turns the table on him, not accepting his excuses. The mom steps in to protect her husband, calling the brother a lunatic harassing her son, but the heroine just ask her are you a psychiatrist? She then calls her Crazy B*tch and everyone is shocked. Moon Young goes on to explain that lady was talking about random stuff so she thought she was a lunatic.
Next we see that Sang Tae has isolated himself and is trying to calm himself down. Kang Tae and Moon Young are waiting for him, and she’s getting impatient. They’re interrupted by her critic who is carrying bundles of money thanks to Moon Young’s CEO Sang In and he starts messing with her calling her sexy and so on. He also talks about her mother, a famous writer, who passed away somehow and her father went crazy after that and got locked up.
Moon Young goes after the critic, as Kang Tae tries to stop her. The critic threatens her and he tells her he can destroy her career with his pen. He tells her he’s tired of just receiving the money, and he would rather she humor him a little. She takes his pen and jabs at him and he totters back. She pushes him down the steps with a finger as he’s tottering on the edge and then we see an ambulance coming to take him away.
Kang Tae comes over to her and shows her a technique to help her calm down, a technique called the butterfly hug method. This is the same thing that Sang Tae was doing to himself, but she turns in his arms as she moves in close as if for a kiss. Sang Tae has come out of the closet, and Kang Tae turns to go back to him. But Moon Young is not finished with him, she has an offer for the hero and tells him that he could keep her in check, preventing her further from going out of control and that she’ll pay him a lot. He tells her that unlike his patients, drugs and injections can’t help her and so it’s just best to avoid her. Moon Young tells him he’s not avoiding her, he’s running away and we see a flashback to their younger selves where Kang Tae runs away and Moon Young calls him a coward.
The brothers ride home on the bus, and it looks like someone has a surprise for his brother as Kang Tae pulls out the dinosaur encyclopedia for Sang Tae to cheer him up. Ahhhh.
At their stop, he tries to take the book from him, but Sang Tae doesn’t want to give it back and they’re interrupted by his friend Jae Soo. Kang Tae and Jae Soo have a talk, Kang Tae telling him that he needs to stop following them and get a life. Kang Tae tells him that he thought he was on the run because of his brother. But he realized that maybe he was just running away because he wanted to because life was just too hard and the easiest thing is to run away. Later, Kang Tae approaches the subject of them going back to their hometown as they are packing, but much to his surprise, his brother Sang Tae is all for it, talking about the great food they have.
The phones are off the hook and everyone is talking about the scandal that Moon Young created. We see the CEO and his team watching the news as even her past scandals are dragged up. The book burning begins and there are new calls to censor her new book, saying that it is too cruel for kids. Meanwhile Moon Young hits the road, she just got back the report from Jin Joo so she’s on her way to Kang Tae’s or their hometown.
Jin Joo also tells Sang In and he calls Moon Young, who asks him if he knows the story of the red shoes. She goes on about the story and says she is on her way to meet her pair of red shoes, Kang Tae. And so they meet again at the Ok Psychiatric Hospital, where we see Kang Tae at his new job.
I love some of the movie musicals of the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. (If you haven’t watched some Fred Astaire or Jane Powell you’re missing out). The musical number here with Sang Tae and balloons and dancing very much reminded me of them. And it’s somewhat surprising that in the same episode we can also learn about the death of their mother. Not to mention Moon Young’s tragic life, with her mother dead (killed?) and her father at a psychiatric hospital. Kudos to Director Park Shin Woo and the writer Jo Yong for making it work.
One of the most important moments here was when Kang Tae realized he was running away not because of his brother, but because it was easy to do. After he started running off with his brother after his mother’s death, perhaps it was just easier to move then deal with whatever problems occurred and it became a habit. But when he met Moon Young again, he woke up. Sleeping Beauty perhaps?
And Moon Young, too, has been newly invigorated, newly awakened. She probably spent her years toying and playing with her food (aka the people around her) and Kang Tae was always the good brother, the one who took care of his brother, but lead a lonely life by his side.
In fairy tales, characters have to be tested and tried before they are found worthy and deserving. Cinderella’s whole life at the hands of her stepmother was a test, Hansel and Gretel had to face a witch and Jack a giant. This isn’t just a facet of fairy tales of course, a lot of stories do this, but how many lakorns have you watched which are basically Cinderella tales with the poor, but good nang’ek has to deal with being treated like crap before she gets her hea (happily ever after) ending? So this makes me wonder, will there be a happy ever after? I think the answer is probably yes, but we’ll keep our fingers 🤞🏽.