As I was looking at IMDB’s top-rated shows for something to watch, I came across a South Korean drama – something I would never have picked on my own. It’s OK to Not Be OK is different from everything I have seen in format, in acting, and in content, and I totally recommend this masterpiece.
The plot revolves around three main characters. Kim Soo-Hyun plays Moon Gang Tae, a selfless psych ward caretaker who has to care for his autistic brother, Sang Tae (brilliantly played by Oh Jeong-Se). Parallelly, we are introduced to Go Moon Young (the beautiful Seo Ye-Ji), a writer of children’s books with a personality disorder bordering on sociopathy. Their paths of course cross, which leads to healing for the three of them.
The story has many funny moments because of the characters who are socially inept, but a lot of heartwarming times when people openly express their feeling – especially the male characters, which is something we do not often see in western cultures. In this series, men cry openly, tell each other how much they love each other, and are extremely respectful to women – just soooo nice to see!
But what really set this series apart for me was how therapeutic it was. It deals with mental issues in a very delicate and sensitive way and uses a lot of symbology to bring deep issues to light. All of Moon Young’s tales are extremely symbolic of emotional issues, and every time she tells one of her stories, the book is shown in the form of an animation for the audience to better visualize the plot. It’s a simple yet powerful device, and many of the stories brought tears to my eyes because of their deep emotional symbology.
One of the themes that resonated with me was the fact the Gang Tae felt compelled to take care of his older brother because of his disability and had thus not allowed himself to live his own life in the process. How many of us women go through the same process because of our families because it is what is socially expected of us? How many of us just wake up from this stupor when we are old and gray and realize we have gone through life without having done what we like because we have only done what we had to do?
Gang Tae works at a psychiatric hospital and we have the chance of observing the healing process of many of its patients, and, in doing so, we can also heal ourselves if we take the time to reflect on how what each of the characters went through is similar to our own reality. It is truly cathartic.
So, if you want this therapy for free (well, you have to have a Netflix subscription) watch It’s Ok to Not Be OK. You might be surprised at how much you will learn about yourself.
by Cris Gontow