Jump to content

Recommended Posts





Director: Park Shin Woo

Writer: Jo Yong

Cast: Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Ye Ji, Oh Jung Se


First off, the premise. A young man Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) who is the sole carer for his developmentally retarded older brother Moon Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) works as an attendant at psychiatric wards and hospitals. Due to the murder of their mother when the two brothers were just boys, and the resultant trauma to the older brother, they frequently move when the older brother enters a traumatized state triggered by the thought of butterflies. They nominally move so that the older brother will be able to feel safe.  There is also a beautiful, quirky, emotionally stunted author Ko Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) who writes modern fairy tales that are not Disney at all, but hearken back to the original Grimm tales with their darkness and their morals. This drama is the story of their relationship both when they meet as adults, but also a slow reveal into how they had been entwined as children. There are also more episodic stories about the patients at the OK Psychiatric Hospital where MKT works for the bulk of the drama which deal with different psychiatric conditions.


I didn’t expect to like this drama particularly. I know it’s Kim Soo Hyun’s comeback drama and he is an impressive young actor with a specialty in emoting, but his projects have been a bit hit or miss for me pre-army. Plus, post-army movies tend to be long on abs (which I’m not protesting), but not necessarily the actors’ strongest work. And this drama was presented with the difficult topic of mental health. While it was pitched as a healing drama, I had my doubts.


However, I loved the idea of a Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji pairing. I feel that Seo Ye Ji has come a long way from her “Moorim School” days, and I was really impressed with her performance in “Save Me.” So, going in, I think it was really the strength of the dramatic talent of the OTP that got me to start watching. The supporting veteran cast, including the versatile Oh Jung Se playing the developmentally challenged older brother to Kim Soo Hyun’s lead and Kim Mi Kyung (Hacker Ajumma!) was only a bonus and provided more reassurance on the acting front.

I have to admit I was completely blown away from the first episode. The production values are fantastic! And the drama manages to maintain the right mood all through the series, evolving as the story and characters themselves grew and evolved along with the POV regarding the mental health issues that tackle. In the early episodes, the drama maintains an unsettling atmosphere as it combines beauty, quirkiness, and eeriness, so appropriate to the introduction of all of its disparate elements including a murder mystery, an odd and chilling little girl, a normal little boy with the burden of a brother who seems to take all of their mother’s attention, his brother who seems to be a simple character, and more. Towards the end, the whole production takes on a lighter, brighter vibes as the characters open themselves up to each other and the mysteries and odd elements are explained.


The acting was even better than expected. Both KSH and SYJ can emote and cry so beautifully and painfully that it caused my heart to ache, and I will admit that I could feel my eyes welling up from time to time just watching them. Fortunately, though, it wasn’t all angst and tears. They were able to bring their light moments and absurd moments to the screen as well, without any overacting to distract from the story itself or to cause me to break from believing that I’m watching the characters rather than actors acting. The entire cast was strong in bringing their respective characters to life and showing interactions and reactions that felt realistic and human. I didn’t feel I had to fast forward through anything or multi-task while watching to get through “slow” parts. The most engrossing scenes for me were actually the ones where KMY was interacting with both brothers, even more than the OTP progression itself.


The only slightly weak point was in the storytelling itself. Unfortunately, like a lot of other kdramas, the set up of initial premise and mystery was engaging and intriguing, only for the denouement to be not quite satisfying. The most unsatisfying element was in how it handled the question of KMY’s mother. The more encapsulated stories of the patients at the OK Psychiatric were handled better.


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this drama, and would recommend others to watch it. It may not crack my all time Top Ten of kdramas, but it was a satisfying watch, one that I may watch again sometime in the future.


One final note about the English title. The Korean title for this drama is actually "Psycho, But It's Okay" which I think worked really well with the evolution of this drama. Given that it had a scary vibe at the beginning that softens to one of a being one of a loving, extended, if a bit quirky family. I mean, really, most families are quirky anyway, and we hope that we have a loving one. I feel that the English title of "It's Okay To Not Be Okay" is perhaps more palatable than "Psycho", but it felt too diluted for me. 


Plot / story                                                                                         7/10

Cast / acting                                                                                    10/10

Production value(aesthetics/OST/cinematography)                     10/10

Re-watch value                                                                                 8/10


Overall                                                                                                8.5/10

  • Like 9
Link to comment

Thanks so much for this thread and, of course, for your post, dear @stroppyse😍


For me, It's Okay Not to Be Okay was initially "the return of my favourite Korean, Kim Soo-hyun". Especially after I have waited for so long for him to be discharged from the military. It took me only minutes after the very first episode of the drama started in order to understand that IONTBO would not be only "a very good k-drama" or "the newest k-drama with KSH in the lead role" but one of the best k-dramas I have ever watched. I can talk on and on about it but will summarise it in three major points:


1. The Magic Trio - MKT, KMY, MST

- They started with every single one of them in his or her own "bubble". MKT was always taking care of his older brother; MST was always afraid and focused on his traumas; KMY was always isolated from the entire world. At the end, they not only overcame their own negativities and fears but they realised that they cannot be alone ever again. MST and KMY found a sibling; KMY and MKT found love; MKT and MST found brotherly support and trust. Those are the most obvious revelations. But each one of them "grew".

Honestly, one of my favourite quotes in the entire drama is MKT's "The person I like the most is myself." One of the best character developments I have ever witnessed in a k-drama - from the caregiver's personality (and job, of course) to a person who dedicates all the time, love, support to himself only. And this is how he could best take care of others as well.


2. Setting, animations, fairytales, clothing

- The entire vision of the drama was glamorous. It began with the sweet animated characters of MKT & KMY (Tim Burton-style) and ended with the fairytale-ish drawings of MKT, KMY, and MST. And all those animations and paintings and sketches are, more or less, through the prism of MST's brush.

The fairytales were incredibly presented, always seemingly clear from the beginning but with a cunning twist at the end. And always touching or even heartbreaking.

The setting was simply... beautiful. The locations were extremely well chosen - be it the OK Psychiatric Hospital (with its breathtaking seaside landscape), the Cursed Castle (which blossomed by the end of the drama), or even Ju-ri's and her mother's house (with its cosy simpleness).

KMY's clothes were astonishing. Honestly, there was no attire which I did not like. Of course, the beauty, the charm, and the appeal of SYJ helped a great deal, but the clothes (and the make-up, with its touchy sparkles) gave an additional value to KMY's character. (Don't forget the note of Director O about people wearing flamboyant clothes!)


3. The acting

- There are no words to describe my astonishment after witnessing every single minute of IONTBO and the incredible acting skills of KSH, SYJ, and, of course, OJS. I cried whenever I saw the devastated MKT; I smiled whenever MST was protecting his "little brother"; my heart was shattered into small pieces when KMY learned the truth about the "butterfly". The emotions which those three (and, frankly, every single person cast in the drama) evoked were a bit new to me. I never knew I could switch from complete devastation to an honest laughter (and vice versa) so quickly. Hands down, in my opinion, this is the best cast I have seen in a k-drama. From the three leads, through the supporting roles, to the very minor and episodic characters. Each character added a valuble importance to the drama, which was fortified by the astonishing acting of each actor.

And yes, I am proud of KSH - his acting is on another level now, and I am proud because I can see he is "growing" and he is not just a pretty face or "the highest paid actor in South Korea" without any value. He is an incredible actor indeed.


I like to repeat and repeat that I am grateful that I had the chance to watch IONTBO. This k-drama was so breathtaking (and ended so quickly 😞) that, even though I tried, I cannot watch another Korean drama soon. I still have the memory of those three beautiful leads planted in my head, and I am afraid that it will be erased if I watch anything else right now. This is why I say I am grateful - because it really made an impact in my life (especially in those hard times for everyone right now): made me think, see, feel.


I will follow @stroppyse's model above (hope you don't mind, sweetheart):


Plot / story                                                                                         9/10

Cast / acting                                                                                    10/10

Production value (aesthetics/OST/cinematography)                     10/10

Re-watch value                                                                                 9/10


Overall                                                                                                9.5/10

Edited by TiNaDo
  • Like 5
  • Star Struck 2
  • Clapping Hands 2
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Months after the end of this drama, I find myself thinking about it again as I struggle with a host of mental issues brought about by the extraordinary times that we find ourselves in. I find that I both have too much time since I've had to curtail most of my social activities, but also too little time as i cope with various emergencies that pop up at work and personally, plus setting challenges for myself on top of that.


The thing I notice most, though, is the sense of isolation brought on by trying to appear calm while responding to events and handling things, and not really having a way to vent off the adrenaline and stress. So, I found myself thinking about Kim Soo Hyun's character Kang Tae who lived like that for a decade of his life rather than for a single year.


I still stand by my original review of this drama as a drama, but I think I'm perhaps more appreciative of how much this drama has brought issues of mental and developmental issues to the fore of the conversation. And, despite its fantastical elements, it may have done so in a relatable way, even more than the drama It's Okay, That's Love which tackled schizophrenia trying to humanize that condition.


Plus, the interactions between KT and MY are an atypical and yet satisfying romance even if there are reused tropes such as having met as children, etc.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use