In my last post, I mentioned that I was kind of in a funk, I thought I had it together but I guess I didn’t. I’ve just been questioning and doubting myself and everything lately, when I heard the news of Chadwick Boseman’s death, things pretty much got worse from there. My aunty was to be buried on the day he died so everything just seemed bleak and meaningless to me, as I questioned life, again (I always do this whenever I’m in such state).
To cope, I slept a lot around that time and drowned myself in this series I’ve been hearing much about; It’s Okay Not To Be Okay (IOTNBO) as I felt it was something I needed and would help. Prior to starting the drama series, I’d actually played a movie but got bored with it halfway, probably because of the state I was in. When I started IOTNBO, I couldn’t stop. What drew me into the drama actually was one of the characters, when I saw him, instantly knew he was autistic, thanks to these books I read. Before I started the show, I hadn’t read any synopsis or summary but I had a feeling it would be something concerning mental health and the likes.
It took me 4 days to complete the series and let me just say, I don’t regret any of it. I went through so many emotions when watching it. There are 16 episodes and each episode is at least an hour long. I’ve been skipping through my favourite episodes and scenes since I finished the drama because I still can’t believe it exists and is actually this perfect. It’s the 2nd k-drama series I’ve watched in my entire life so I don’t really know what others are/have been like, all I can say is that it’s perfect. I wanted to do a review but ahh, I feel like it would be so long and I still wouldn’t do it any justice.
The drama tells the story of Moon Gang-tae, a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who does not have time for love, and Ko Moon-young, a successful children’s book author who has never known what love feels like. After meeting each other, the two slowly begging to heal each other’s emotional wounds. As the story progresses, the truth behind their intertwining pasts that has been haunting them is also revealed.
Like I said above, I hadn’t read the synopsis, cause if I had, I’d have initially thought it was just romance and still watched it though but I like that I didn’t read the synopsis. The drama is actually more than just romance between the two main characters. The first episode introduces us to half the characters in the show, which is amazing and each episode has a fairy tale story tied to it.
In the end of an episode, you could see the relation or lessons actually being demonstrated (if you were paying attention, that is). Starting the drama, I’d actually thought it would be some kind of fantasy show because of how aesthetic and different the animations looked and then in the 2nd episode, I thought it was going to be some horror show and I was so excited because I was looking for something scary to watch around that time but it wasn’t really horror, maybe if you look deeper into it, it could be? In a psychological way? Anyway, enough rambling, let’s get to the actual review.
The Three Musketeers
Moon Gang-tae, one of our lead character, has an older brother, Sang-tae, who’s autistic. Autism is usually something that is frowned upon and you can see it in the first episode. Gang-tae, right from when he was little, had dedicated his whole life to being there for his brother. He provides for the both of them, he protects him, is patient with him and basically goes out of his way to make sure his brother is happy and satisfied.
Sang-tae, when he was little, witnessed the death of their murder and left him traumatized. Him and Gang-tae have to move every few months, when it’s spring because of the butterflies. Gang-tae is rarely happy because of the lack of affection he’d from his mother when he was little and Sang-tae, like any autistic person I’ve read about in those two books, is brutally honest and hardly shows expressions on his face, but you can tell when he’s happy, angry or sad. Sang-tae loves to draw and read fairy tale books, his favourtie author being Ko Moon-young.
Ko Moon-young is a sociopath but nobody knows apart from the CEO of her publishing company who I thought was only working with her because of her money, but it turned out he actually cared deeply for her and knew the kind of dark past and childhood she had. In the first episode, she’d made a child cry and wounded Gang-tae with a knife. She has high taste in fashion and wears lots of fancy and designer clothes. Besides the CEO, Sang-in, other people around her fear her. She’s bossy and demanding and likes to have things her way and only her way. When she had her third encounter with Gang-tae, she decided she wanted him, just because she could and became obsessed with him and started to follow him around even when he moved back to his hometown, where she’s also from.
The series practically took off from there. So many things began to unfold at the new Psychiatric hospital Gang-tae started working at and throughout the series, he gradually began to change, the more he interacted with Moon-young and vice versa. The most common thing between the both of them is that they were both lonely during their childhoods and Gang-tae had actually liked her even back then.
One problem I had in the beginning was how hard Moon-Young tried to possess Gang-tae, even till the point of using Sang-tae. I know the show was trying to say that there was something wrong with her and this was how she knew how to handle things but it still didn’t feel right to me. Besides that, everything else was perfect. The soundtracks, the cinematography and visuals. the plot and the characters.
Actual Thoughts and Review
I love love the plot and the characters. I think why I fell so in love with this series is that they gave a kind of depth to ‘most every secondary character, especially to the ones in the new psychiatric hospital Gang-tae started working at. There was a story to every one of them and what/why/how they ended up there. Through each episode, at least 2 characters got an insight. While Gang-tae, Sang-tae and Moon-young now had their lives intertwined, growing and healing at their own paces, the same was also being done for a few characters. The fairy tales were like one of the major themes of the series. Some of them were dark and twisted with very valuable lessons to them which were tied to an episode. I enjoyed learning about some of them and seeing how they related to a character or an episode.
Being the emotional maggot that I am, I could feel ‘most everything a character was going through, Gang-tae especially and I think it’s because the actor (whom I’ve heard is really popular in Korea) embodied him so well, the emotions and everything was so real, it didn’t look like he was acting. I could feel when he was angry or sad or happy, but he was rarely happy until like the later episodes so yeah, that sucks.
The actor who played his autistic brother did a pretty great job, it was hard for me to reconcile the fact he isn’t autistic in real life after I found out and Moon-young was a breath of fresh air. Strong female leads are a favourite and Seo Ye Ji didn’t disappoint. She was antisocial and ruthless the first few episodes but as I kept watching, I realized there was so much more than that. She was so extremely lonely and traumatized, she basically didn’t know how to act around people until she met the Moon brothers.
There’s a really big plot twist towards the end of the series. A friend told me k-dramas are heavy on plot-twists? Hehe, that didn’t look like it was something they did so often because anytime I think about it, I’m always shocked. I didn’t see it from the beginning, of course I wouldn’t. It’s a plot twist, hello? All I’m saying is, the way they carried it out was beautiful.
Another thing about the show is the supporting characters. They all have something about them the audience will love or hate. The way I saw it, they weren’t really that secondary to me because I loved almost all of them and wanted to see them in every episode and yes, they were almost in every episode and had serious, tangible things to do. I liked that they weren’t mostly in the background like in any show or movie. They each had their own stories and depth.
There are so many reassuring lines in the drama as well as valuable lessons, concerning mental health and life in general, to learn from. There was this episode where two patients who’d fallen in love planned to run away together and halfway through their escape, the guy tells his lover that he couldn’t do it. That he wasn’t fully healed and even though the girl tried to plead with him and say they could work things out, he told her it was something he needed to do by himself and I loved that scene so much.
To me, it meant that nobody else will save you but you and that you can’t save someone unless that person wants to be saved. It was also the same for Gang-tae, Sang-tae and Moon-Young, they each had their own trauma to unpack and healing process to go through. They weren’t really that dependent on each other to heal but still needed one another at their sides. Like being there for a sick friend while they tried to get better, not necessarily being the person to treat them.
I could relate to this one on a personal level too.
I could go on, really because I’m still hung over the show and have been re-watching my favourite clips and currently listening to my favourite soundtrack from the show as I’m typing but I’m just going to stop here. I enjoyed the show, I loved it and I want to thank everyone involved in being a part of it for bringing it into existence.
It highlights and explores themes like mental health, grief, trauma and agony. While it was emotional sometimes, there were heart-warming and funny moments. It didn’t only enlighten me, reassure me about certain things and made me start looking at a few things differently but it made me feel better when I thought nothing would.
I was supposed to put this out last week but I had no willpower to. Glad I am doing it now. I know this is probably coming late as I’ve seen about 6 blog posts on the show before watching it. This is my favourite one. Enna highlights some of the lessons you can learn from the show. Since I couldn’t put it all in here, check it out Here. I’d have written the same things and more, most of what she’s written resonates with me. Haha, I just hit 1900 words. So much for writer’s block and existential crisis.
If you got this far, thank you. I wish I could’ve kept it shorter. Not.
I hope you all have been doing well. Being away from here, I felt like a part of me was missing? Besides trying to get myself together, I’m trying to manage the way I spend money on data cause I’m running low. I hope I catch up on posts I’ve missed.
If you’ve seen the series, did you enjoy it? Who was your favourite character? I loved Moon-young and adored Jae-su. This is the 2nd k-drama I’ve watched in my all of my life. I think I’d seen the first one in 2011. I want to see more. If you have great recommendations, I’d love if you shared them. Thank you!
P.S. If you’re currently in a place where you don’t feel like yourself and/or you’re tired of everything, I understand and it’s okay to feel that way sometimes. No one is always a 100% happy or in a good mood. Just do things you find comfort in, whenever you’re in that state and take it easy with pulling yourself together. I hope this beautiful piece by Leslie Dwight makes you feel better.
Thanks for reading
As always, stay safe.