It’s Okay To Not Be Okay starts with a dark and intense episode as we learn who our main characters are and already see inklings of deep wounds for some of the main players. This drama is set to be quite the intriguing one, focusing on some very important mental health issues.
Episode 1 of It’s Okay To Not Be Okay starts as someone narrates a fairy tale of a young girl who was always lonely and never had any friends. People were scared of her as she always had a dark shadow following her around and was called a monster. One day, she saved a boy from drowning and he followed her everywhere she went. Unfortunately, he ran away after she destroyed a lot of butterflies.
We then cut forward to see that girl as a woman, a voice telling her that no one can ever stay by her side as she is a monster. The girl turns around and proclaims, “Yes Mother.”
We then cut to Moon Kang-Tae arriving at his brother’s school after being called in following an incident; Sang-Tae had a violent reaction around machines. The school is not happy about having him there and tells Kang-Tae to send him to a special school instead. Kang-Tae takes Sang-Tae’s things and decides to take him out for dinner.
In a restaurant, Ko Moon-Young is eating by herself. A mother and her daughter recognize her as the famous children’s book author and asks for her autograph. When the little girl mentions that she is pretty like a princess in a fairytale, Moon-Young suggests getting their picture taken. While the mother takes it, Moon-Young whispers that only witches are beautiful in fairy tales and to tell her mother that she wants to become a pretty witch.
Lee Sang-In ( CEO of a publishing company) arrives after to take her to the children hospital but suggests that she change her dark clothes. Moon-Young dismisses him though and shows her dark side by playing with a knife.
Meanwhile, Kang-Tae heads to work in a psychiatric hospital. He has to deal with one of his patients who has been eating a lot of the food. When he tries to comfort her, she proceeds to throw up on his back. Another patient later arrives who has tried to kill his daughter by making her overdose on pills. Not long after, she had tried to kill himself afterwards. His daughter Go-Eun has now been taken to the children’s ward to be treated for PTSD.
While driving Moon-Young to the hospital, Sang-In receives a call from Ok psychiatric hospital. Nurse Ju-Ri asks him to give consent to operate on Ko Dae-Hwan as they have been asking for a while now. Moon-Young listens to the conversation and tells the nurse if she wants the consent, she will have to come get it herself. As the nurse relays the situation to her colleagues, Haeng-Ja suggests that she visit her the next day.
Ju-Ri heads into Dae-Hwan’s room next to let him know his daughter is not visiting. This upsets him greatly as he gets flashbacks of Moon-Yong looking menacing.
In hospital, Kang-Tae’s colleague tries to find out why he always moves hospitals every year. Kang-Tae jokes, touching his shoulder and declaring that it’s because of men. He later calls his brother who is at home drawing inside Moon-Young’s book.
He tells him that the author is actually coming to the hospital for a reading which prompts Sang-Tae to get excited and decides to join them too. His brother tells him to take deep breath and explains that he won’t make it on time but promises to bring him an autograph.
Kang-Tae meets Moon-Young in the hospital’s garden where she reads her book, ” The boy who fed on nightmares.” In the psychiatric ward, Go-Eun’s father, Kim Seung-Cheol, manages to escape his room and starts frantically searching for his daughter.
Kang-Tae rushes over to look for him just as the patient arrives in the auditorium. The reading is interrupted because of this and the place gets evacuated. This annoys Moon-Young and she sees Seung-Cheol taking Go-Eun backstage. Moon-Young follows them there and confronts the father; she tells him to kill himself but to leave his girl.
A fight then ensues between the two but Seung-Cheol strangles her. As he does, she has a flashback of a man doing the same to her – someone we assume to probably be her father. Kang-Tae then arrives to save the day. While both men are fighting, Moon-Young walks towards them with a knife but Kang-Tae grabs it in his hand, cutting himself in the process. They both face each other and she asks him to stay out of it.
Later on, Kang-Tae is made to take the fall for the incident as the hospital needs someone to blame. As he waits for a bus, his friend Jae-Su, happens to drive past while delivering chicken and gives him a ride.
Meanwhile, nurse Ju-Ri arrives in Moon-Young’s apartment with the consent papers. As they sit together, we learn that they used to go to school together but Moon-Young insists that her father is dead to her. Ju-Ri mentions her mother being alive which prompts Moon-Young to tell her she has registered her dead a long time ago. However, she claims that her soul is still alive. She finally signs it though and send Ju-Ri away.
After breaking down, Kang-Tae and Jae-Su discuss Moon-Young. Jae-Su berates him for not fighting for his job but Kang-Tae tells him it was time for him to leave anyway. Suddenly, Kang-Tae realizes that he forgot the autograph so they copy one from online on a piece of paper. They bring it to him but Sang-Tae sees that it’s a fake.
During the commotion, Mr Lee sends a long message asking to meet Kang-Bae after what has happened. On the news, we later learn that Seung-Cheol has been found dead while in solitary confinement.
As the day comes to an end, both Moon-Young and Kang-Tae remember each other and their encounter. Kang-Tae then reads the same book we saw earlier in the episode. Within the book is a story about a witch who takes his soul as promised and tells the boy that it is the people with painful memories who grow up to be passionate, emotionally flexible and happy. After this, he sees his brother having a nightmare and waking up claiming that the butterflies will kill him.
At the same time, Go-Eun reads that very same book and starts crying as she doesn’t want her dad to be taken away. She tells the nurse that he is not bad but mentally ill.
The next day, Kang-Bae heads to the publishing company to meet with Mr Lee. Moon-Young arrives in the building too which causes panic among the workers as they scramble to hide anything sharp from her. She manages to find a letter opener though before heading to Lee’s office where she is surprised to find Kang-Tae waiting there.
He tells her he is not interested in money when asked about bribery and admits he wanted to see her again as her eyes remind him of someone; a girl who messed up and lacked warmth. After seeing a flashback montage of a young boy and girl, he tells her that he wasn’t afraid as the episode comes to a close.
Already in this first episode, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay gives an important lesson that becomes a core part of this series. Experiencing pain is a sad but important part of life and can shape the person into someone passionate and caring, determined to be kind to others. This is a really powerful message, one that I completely agree with.
Moon-Young’s character is quite the intriguing one and reminds me a little of IU in Hotel Del Luna as she acts quite cold and superior. The show showed some connections with Kang-Tae too, which I am sure we will find out more about in the upcoming episodes.
This first chapter also had some decent cinematography and editing too, with some great animation at the beginning and end. It is a little early to tell what direction the drama will take from here but for now, It’s Okay to not be Okay gets off to a really intriguing start.