It’s Okay To Not Be Okay – Recap 2

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.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Synopsis:

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?

A reference to the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk?

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.

Joo Ri and Kang Tae at the bus

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.

Moon Young faces down his critic on the stairs she pushes him down.

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.

Kang Tae realizes he’s been running because HE wanted to.

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.

Red shoes = obsession, excitement, invigorated.

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.

My Take:

Sang Tae’s musical number

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 🤞🏽.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay – Recap 1

I debated whether I should write about It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) at all, as I’m sure there will be many people (some who actually know Korean, I will be depending upon English subbed version at Netflix), who will be recapping this. But the quality of the production is a master class in so many ways that I wanted to write about, to talk about it. I could discuss the characters, the bromance, the music, the directing, the writing, but in the end, I want to focus on two things, fairy tales and cinematography.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Synopsis:

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 1 Recap

The animation sequence ends with a shot of Moon Young (played by Seo Ye Ji), who hears a different voice (her mother?) saying no one will ever stay by your side and then we hear Moon Young’s voice saying yes, mother.

“No one can ever stay by your side because you’re a monster. Do not ever forget that. Do you understand?”

Shadow of death

“Yes, mother.”

Moon Young replies.

Back in the real world, we see a book called The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares by Go Moon Young that is beloved by Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se), the brother of Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun). Sang Tae had an incident where he caused a ruckus at the Daun Vocational School he attends and his brother came to talk to the people in charge. He wonders if his brother is angry, and seeing Kang Tae’s face, knows he is. Kang Tae sees Sang Tae is upset and reassures him beautifully, saying Sang Tae was never meant to stay there long anyway and they’ll find somewhere else.

Our first view of Kang Tae’s face. We saw a back view of him on the bus and walking to the school, but the first view of his face is through Sang Tae’s perspective.

Next, here’s our heroine Moon Young eating in a restaurant, dressed to the hilt. Moon Young’s lunch is interrupted by a young fan and her mom and Moon Young writes an autograph for her, but when the young girl babbles about being a princess cuz they’re pretty, Moon Young says cutting words to her, suggesting that the girl must not have read her books, because in her books, the witches are the pretty ones. She suggests the girl tell her mom she’s going to be a pretty witch, which sets the girl off. The CEO of Moon Young’s publishing company, Lee Sang In comes in as the girl and mom run off and he immediately knows what’s up as it seems like a situation he’s very familiar dealing with. As they leave, Moon Young casually steals a knife from the restaurant and puts it in her purse.

Moon Young is often set apart from others in public.

At Kang Tae’s workplace now, we get a view of various scars on his upper torso as he dresses in scrubs for his work in a mental hospital. He has to deal with a woman who is gobbling up food on the floor and elsewhere and he tries to talk to her. Eventually she hugs him, she thinking he’s her cheating hubby, but then the woman makes herself vomit all over him (presumably because said cheating hubby left her for a skinny woman). A flight of metaphors appear in place of actual vomit, an image of a waterfall and others. Kang Tae is also told of a new case, a man with an anxiety disorder who tried to kill himself and his daughter Go Eun, who is fine because she threw up the pills, but the father is being restrained.

Back to Moon Young who is headed to the hospital to do a reading of her story for the kids and their parents there. Sang In (CEO/manager) gets a call from another hospital that Moon Young’s dad stays in. Apparently, a nurse there by the name of Nam Juri (Park Kyu Young) is trying to get in contact with Moon Young to get her to sign papers as her father’s guardian so he can get a surgery. But Moon Young just says her father is dead and asks why are they trying to resurrect the dead? Juri is told by her supervisor to visit Moon Young to get the signature and we see a scene of the dad who get upsets when Juri mentions his daughter visiting him, talking about death.

A coworker asks Kang Tae about why he’s worked at so many different hospitals, changing them every year, but Kang Tae just shrugs it off. He notices that his brother Sang Tae’s favorite author is coming to the hospital and calls his brother, who immediately gets ready to go see her, but Kang Tae tells him it’s only for kids and that he’ll try to get her autograph instead. He asks his brother who’s better, he or Moon Young, but his brother hung up already and went back to his drawing.

The first meeting. Or is it? Moon Young wonders if it is destiny.

There’s a beautiful scene when Kang Tae sees someone smoking and asks them to stop. It’s Moon Young, who of course, isn’t about to just obey orders, but makes a scene of stubbing out her cigarette in his cup.

Moon Young’s reading

Moon Young starts her reading and things go beautifully until the patient Kim Seung Cheol who tried to kill his daughter tricks a worker into letting him loose and comes looking for his daughter Go Eun. As the hospital workers shut down the reading and ask families to leave, the father finds his daughter and manages to shuffle off with her and Moon Young sees them. She follows after them, taunting the father he’s too cowardly to die alone and smacks him with her purse. The knife she took falls out, and both reach for it, but she knocks it away.

Eventually, the father manages to get her in a chokehold, and we see Moon Young remembering? another scene of a young Moon Young and her dad choking her. Kang Tae comes to the rescue and ties the father up, but then he has to stop Moon Young, who has the knife now and is trying to hurt the dad. Kang Tae stops the knife with his hand around the blade, cutting himself, and Moon Young tells him he overreacted, she was only going to hurt the father a little. She tells him that there are people who kill vermin like the father without most people being aware of them.

In another frame of his horrible, no good, very bad day, Kang Tae learns he’s to take the blame for the incident, and well, he probably would have left soon anyway since he doesn’t stay in the stay place long, so he’s fired. He’s waiting for the bus, when his old friend Jo Jae Soo (played by Kang Gi Doong) comes by on a motorbike and gives him a ride. His luck being what it is, of course, it breaks down and they have to push the motorbike to his home.

“Fake.”

Kang Tae then remembers the autograph he never got, thankfully Jae Soo makes a forgery, which Sang Tae takes only one look at to denounce it as fake and goes off in a huff.

Moon Young and Juri

Meanwhile Moon Young gets an unwelcome visitor in Juri, who is trying to get her signature so Moon Young’s dad could get his operation. There is something uneasy between the two, Juri and Moon Young, who seem to have known each other in the past. After much verbiage from Moon Young about her father being physically alive with a dead soul and her mother dead, but her soul is alive, Juri gets her to sign and collapses outside the apartment, talking about how much she (Moon Young) pisses her off.

And in an almost throwaway clip, we get a brief shot of news saying someone died in solitary confinement. Go Eun’s father, the man who caused the incident at the reading. Interesting, no?

Bedtime, with both thinking of each other. Kang Tae starts to read Moon Young’s book, The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares. Basically the story goes as follows (paraphrasing here.) A boy was besieged by bad memories and nightmares that he wanted to forget so he went to a witch and she helped him. But the boy grew older and noticed he wasn’t happy. He meets the witch again to pay the price, his soul and tells her that, and she replies that the bad memories are what makes you grow stronger, more passionate and without them, you don’t have happiness.

The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares

In other words, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

We see the little girl Go Eun, unable to sleep, looking at the autograph of her book, in which Moon Young wrote to the girl, “Never forget today.”

Another person has nightmares as well, Sang Tae, where he’s younger and is being chased through the woods by butterflies. His screams wake up Kang Tae and his friend Je Soo who spent the night.

In the morning, Kang Tae heads out to get the autograph. He meets Moon Young of course, and she wonders what’s he’s there for? Money or even… sex? He denies it, saying he came only to see her again, her eyes that reminds him of another girl he knew, one without warmth or conscience. Moon Young asks if he was afraid of her and he tells her it was just the opposite, he liked the girl. And we see flashbacks of a boy drowning and a girl, picking flowers with the boy trailing after her. And the two stare at each other, the boy with the beautiful eyes, the girl with eyes lacking warmth.

My Take:

From the opening sequence.

When I was young, I discovered fairy tales. I would go to the library and check out swathes of Andrew Lang’s fairy tale books. I would go on to become a fan of Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and TV shows such as The Storyteller. But along the way I discovered something, that there was and is a big difference between the Disney versions of fairy tales and the Grimms Brothers original tales which contained more violence, sex, and many other facets of society. I started to watch more Hayao Miyazaki films such as Princess Mononoke, which contained multiple scenes of violence and gore as well as a more nuanced look at good and evil.

It’s Okay to Not be okay is such a tale. It is the darker side of fairy tales, the Grimms Bros version, that wants to remind you that there are always things hiding in the dark and it is better to face them, rather than pretend they’re not there.

We could argue about who is the princess in this drama, who is the villain, the Big Bad Wolf, the evil witch (Moon Young obviously wants this role 😁) or the prince (Sang Tae perhaps?). I could debate whether Kang Tae is the fairy godmother, the wise old man who sets the characters on the right path. Or whether he is the Big Bad Wolf. Because of all the characters in the drama, the most closed up and less unknown one is Kang Tae. He appears framed as if closed in a box, from the first shot we get of his face, to another frame shown below. Perhaps he is the sweet brother, competent worker he appears to be. Perhaps not. From fairy tales, we should know by now that the sweet old grandma could indeed be the wolf in disguise, or the beautiful polished apple is also a poisoned one.

Another image of Kang Tae framed by the drink machine, looking a Moon Young’s poster.

But what is clear is that it is the fairy dust sprinkled around, the visual flights of fantasy that make this a fairy tale. What is a fairy tale that is just reality with no fantasy elements? So for vomit, we see waterfalls, we see animated trash, milk. Think of these visual flourishes as Tinker Bell’s pixie dust.

Fairy tale vomit.

The main character, Moon Young, is a pure wonderful, glorious fairy tale creature. She wears clothes that mark her as such, acts as if she’s a princess (she claims to be a witch or monster, but only a princess is that entitled). What or rather who is the shadow of death that follows her? What parts do her parents play in this? And why do those around her end up dead? To be continued…

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Tuesday’s Teaser: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Korean drama It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) stars Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji as the main couple, with other main leads Park Kyu Young and Oh Jung Se starts airing on June 20, 2020. Most of the romantic drama seems to revolve around the inmates and workers around and in a psychiatric ward. This is the type of drama I would like to see from Thailand, with characters who have mental illness (and yes, I realize most screaming nangrai’s and parents could qualify as such). They’re getting there, there was one lakorn I remember about Wai Sab Saraek Kad (2016) involving a female psychologist, but it’s not subbed unfortunately.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) Synopsis: 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. Moon Kang Tae is a man 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)

Kim Soo Hyun (You Who Came from the Stars) is a very popular star and this is his first drama since he completed his mandatory military service. Seo Ye Ji (Save Me) is the female lead and we also have director Park Shin Woo, who is known for his kdramas such as Encounter and Trap. This tvN drama should be available on Netflix English subbed.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki