The Red Shoes
The second episode of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay carries on showing us the complex and cold character of Moon-Young while we see the caring side of Kang-Tae. This is quite an interesting contrast between the two which I am sure will create sparks in the weeks to come.
Episode 2 of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay starts where the last one left off with Kang-Tae telling Moon-Young that her eyes remind him of a girl he knew; one that lacked warmth. In a flashback, we see a young Kang-Tae drowning in a frozen lake until Moon-Young saved him. After following the girl, she started to kill butterfly in front of him and asked if he still liked her.
In the present, just as Kang-Tae is about to leave Mr Lee and Seung-Jae arrive in the room. They mention the autograph he wanted so Moon-Young agrees to give him one. Mr Lee follows him out and tries to give him money but Kang-Tae turns it down. Lee is surprised as he has been cleaning Moon-Young’s mess for 10 years and it’s the first time he has been turned down. The woman watches and claims that she wants him.
On his way back home, Kang-Tae looks at what Moon-Young wrote in the book. She invited his brother to her new book launch party so Kang-Tae asks Jae-Su to take Sang-Tae for him. Upon finding out, he’s excited to go to the party. He looks for something to wear but worries about his facial expressions.
Ju-Ri visits Jae-Su in his fried chicken restaurant and the two catch up. She asks him how Kang-Tae is doing, which is where Jae-Su explains that he is still overworking while Moon-Young carries on terrorizing everyone at work, doing whatever she wants. At the same time, Seung-Jae tries to find out more about Kang-Tae.
Meanwhile, Kang-Tae finishes his last day at his part-time job. Ju-Ri visits him and after catching up, tells him that there is a position for caregiver available at the psychiatric hospital she works at. When she tells him it’s in their hometown, he has a flashback of his mother being killed when he and Sang-Tae were younger. Sang-Tae saw something back then but kept repeating that the butterfly did it. To avoid being taken away, both boys fled.
Back in the present, Ju-Ri offers one of her rooms for him to stay in. Kang-Tae thanks her but winds up refusing.The next day, Kang-Tae takes his brother to the book launch party after Jae-Su passes out from drinking too much. On his way, Sang-Tae is very excited and skips along the pathway. Both brothers arrive in the busy book store where Moon-Young notices Kang-Tae.
While Moon-Young signs books, Mr Lee looks at posthumous work by Do Hui-Jae, Moon-Young’s mother. Kang-Tae receives a call from Jae-Su, causing him to leaves the room for a few minutes. While he does, Sang-Tae causes a commotion when he notices a child dressed as a dinosaur, thinking it’s real. The child’s father reacts quite badly, threatening and pushing Sang-Tae around, not realizing that he has mental health issue,s until Kang-Tae rushes back to comfort his brother.
Moon-Young decides to help too and tells the father to apologize, grabbing his hair and reinforcing the notion that anyone would scream in this situation. Both parents are outraged by her behaviour, as she adds fuel to the fire by calling them the crazy ones.
While they wait for Sang-Tae to calm down, Moon-Young provokes Kang-Tae to get a reaction out of him and make him look her in the eyes. She teases him about his hat and laughs when he turns red. The book critic sees them together and asks if they are an item. Looking at Moon-Young’s angry face, he tells her she looks like her mother.
The book critic warns him against Moon-Young, especially after her mother passed away very suddenly and her father had to be locked up in mental hospital. After leaving Kang-Tae, Moon-Young goes after the book critic, who threatens to write that she has an anti-social personality. She takes his pen and threatens to stab him in the eye. She doesn’t follow through with this though, but does push him down the stairs.
After the incident, Kang-Tae helps her calm down by showing her his butterfly hugging method. He tells her it is a self-healing move for people with trauma. She stops him though and decides to face him instead, asking for help to keep her under control. He refuses and tells her to stop following him. We then see the same flashback of young Moon-Young killing butterflies and scaring Kang-Tae away.
On the bus back home, Sang-Tae looks very sad. Kang-Tae manages to cheer him up though by giving him the dinosaur encyclopedia he always wanted, which seems to do the trick. As they reach their home, Jae-Su happens to be there waiting for them and kneels down to apologize. Both friends sit and talk as Kang-Tae tells him that it may be time for him to settle down and stop following them around.
At home, Kang-Tae asks Sang-Tae if they should go back and live in their hometown. “Yes,” Replies Sang-Tae which surprises his brother. He then calls Ju-Ri to accept the job.
The next day, a video of the incident has gone viral, showing Moon-Young pulling the father’s hair and calling them crazy. After more footage of Moon-Young being rude to kids is leaked, people begin boycotting her books while others believe her name should be removed from the list of candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards.
Things get even worse when they learn that a civic group has applied for an injunction against selling her new book “Zombie Kid”, saying the story line and illustrations are too grotesque. This pushes Mr Lee to the edge and he screams, asking where Moon-Young is as she is nowhere to be found. Seung-Jae tells him it is her fault as she sent her where Kang-Tae may be living.
At the same time, Moon-Young is seen driving to her home town, Seongjin City. Mr Lee calls her while in the car and asks where she is. Instead, she decides to tell him a story written by Hans Christian Andersen called “The Red Shoes.” The story depicts ideas around obsession and how this is noble and beautiful. We then see her walking towards Kang-Tae in the OK hospital, saying that she has finally found her red shoes, admitting that she missed him, which is where the episode ends.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is certainly not your average K-Drama. It’s a dark, moody and intense series but also very intriguing. The premise is original and the actors have so far done a great job, especially Seo Yae-Ji who really steals the show in her scenes with her chic and cold demeanour. I am looking forward to find out more about her past and just what made her that way.
The show continues showing off some great editing, weaving in a great use of animation; one particular example of this comes from Sang-Tae on his way to the book party. Both brothers have a really nice bond too and haven’t had a very easy life up until now.
The series definitely has a lot of possibilities and plenty more development to come in terms of its story and complexity of character. Only time will tell if the drama ends up utilizing all of its potential but for now, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is off to a decent start.