It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Its Nuanced Writing and Strong Performances


David Mudd

Netflix’s 2020 Korean drama It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is almost done, and what have you been doing throughout quarantine if you haven’t been watching this romance drama? A romance centered on mental illness and trauma may be exactly the catharsis. This is what you need at a time when mental health concerns are on the rise alongside the worldwide epidemic. If you’re still not convinced, reading this article will present you with some of the reasons to watch it.

The intriguingly titled It’s Okay to Not Be Okay has been among Netflix’s top trending shows for. The K-drama, which has new episodes released every weekend, has so far lived up to its intriguing idea admirably.

it's okay to not be okay

Plot of the Show: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

In the first few episodes of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, we meet Ko Moon-Young (a fiery, impeccably-dressed Seo Ye-ji), a children’s book author whose demeanor and books are far from warm and fuzzy. Her publisher and others around her discuss her Antisocial Personality Disorder in hushed tones (APSD). On the other hand, we have Moon Gang-Tae (Kim Soo-Hyun). She is a caretaker at a mental facility, and Moon Sang-Tae (Oh Jung-Se). The elder brother with Autism Spectrum Disorder who is also a blossoming artist.

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The brothers, who were orphaned when they were young, are seen to have moved about a lot. And Gang-Tae gets work as a caretaker at a psychiatric facility in every area they temporarily set up camp. Despite their turbulent background, Gang-Tae and Sang-Tae have a real warmth in their love. As the episodes go, it’s great to watch Sang-innocence, Tae’s zeal, and forthright declarations, and how they provide strength to Gang-Tae.

it's okay to not be okay

A significant portion of the show takes place at the OK mental hospital, where Gang-Tae begins to work. The mental health center defies stereotypes by being packed with brilliant sunlight, breathtaking vistas, and calming colors. The carrers and nurses wear pastel pink and green uniforms, and the program has so far mostly succeeded in not making caricatures of the convicts. 

What Is So Extraordinary About the Show, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay?

If the psychiatric hospital is warm and bright, Moon-‘haunted Young’s castle’ home is the polar opposite. The production design of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay merits special mention for its wonderful aesthetics. Each episode of the show, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay has been titled after a book written by Moon-Young or a traditional story and has dealt with its themes. These stories have been included into the episodes in a variety of intriguing ways, including a Tim Burton-esque animated short, pictures from a children’s book, and even a silent film.

Cast of the Show

It’s Okay to Be Not Okay stars two of South Korea’s most appealing actors: Seo Ye-ji plays Ko Mun-yeong, a children’s book author suffering from antisocial personality disorder, and Kim Soo-hyun plays Moon Gang-tae, a habitual caregiver who works as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital while caring for his autistic elder brother. Kim Soo-hyun is Korea’s highest-paid actor, and IOTNBO is his first leading role after leaving the South Korean military. Not only are the two actors lovely on their own, but they make each other even more beautiful onscreen.

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Moon-Young is a well-written character that is superbly performed by Seo Ye-ji. Without the appropriate performer, this character might have easily been an over-the-top parody. She’s self-assured, has no qualms about being unpleasant, is unrepentant about being a ‘monster,’ and follows her own set of rules. At the same time, she’s fragile, and plagued by her past. It’s touching to witness her try to connect with the brothers.

The Most Appealing Part of the Show

One of the main reasons the majority of people look forward to new episodes every Sunday is to see what Ko Mun-yeong will wear. Mun-yeong is a highly accomplished children’s novelist and the heir to a vast wealth, and her dress reflects this. Every episode contains at least one designer garment that will make you gasp out.

Portrayals of Mental Illness and Neurodiversity

The whole series, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay concentrates around mental illness and neurodiversity, with the OK Psychiatric Hospital, where Gang-tae works and Mun-father yeong’s dwellings, serving as a primary location.

it's okay to not be okay

Mun-yeong is diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, and her character exhibits many of the clinical qualities exhibited in actual persons with ASPD, while avoiding some of the more erroneous and stigmatizing characteristics frequently presented in media. She has no regret for her acts, is extremely impulsive, may be aggressive and violent, and has difficulty empathizing with others around her. She is never shown as malevolent or malicious, and the program never implies that she is emotionless (a stereotype common in media surrounding ASPD).

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Mun-yeong, in reality, feels everything intensely and strives to keep her feelings hidden. Personality problems typically develop in childhood, therefore I believe that the future episodes will investigate Mun-trauma yeong’s and result in some healing. Moon Sang-tae (Gang-older Tae’s brother or “hyung” in Korean) is another prominent character who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has trouble recognizing subtleties, has trouble managing his emotions, is obsessed with dinosaurs and children’s literature, and is shown studying a chart of facial expressions in order to recognize other people’s feelings.

While not shown to be extraordinarily clever, Sang-tae is a talented artist who can navigate the world on his own. He works part-time at a pizza restaurant and travels by public transit with ease. He is not helpless in any way, and his nature appears to long for greater freedom. The actor who plays Sang-tae spoke at a press conference to promote It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.

Mysterious Part of the Show

With each episode, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, like a macabre fable, unveils more levels for each character. The biggest question is what shaped Mun-yeong into the person she is today. While I won’t disclose any spoilers, each episode will have you on the edge of your seat as you play detective and psychologist.

There are a plethora of K-Drama reunions!

  • In My Love From Another Star, Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Chang-wan were best friends.
  • Oh Jung-se and Kim Mee-kyung were both members of Plus Nine Boys.
  • If you watched Netflix’s Romance is a Bonus Book, you’ll recall Kang Ki-doong and Park Gyu-young, an adorable workplace couple.
  • The historical Hwarang, one of the most famous K-Dramas in recent years, stars Kim Chang-wan and Seo Ye-ji.

Chemistry in the Show!!!

Our two leads have incredible chemistry. While their relationship appears to begin in peril, as the tale develops, viewers will understand how intertwined their lives are. They are each other’s ideal match, however whether that match refers to the match that causes an explosion is unknown. Gang-tae is able to ease Mun-inner yeong’s turmoil, while Mun-yeong provides Gang-tae with freedom he has never experienced before. When they’re together, they can finally have genuine grins instead of the artificial ones they put on in front of others.


While It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a romance, the show’s primary focus is on healing. Each character, even the minor characters, begins the story as a troubled and damaged person. The episode appears to be moving up to each of the characters finding some peace and recuperation. While the main three cast members dominate the drama, four secondary characters stand out: two of Gang-pals Tae’s and Mun-Publisher Yeong’s and Art-Director.