We as human beings are all flawed in some way, shape, or form. “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” (사이코지만 괜찮아) delves into what it’s like to be broken inside. The new 16-episode K-drama series on Netflix sees 2 very different individuals crossing paths and making a huge impact in each other’s lives.

One is a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who doesn’t have time for love. The other is a storybook writer who has never known love due to antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Fate brings them together and slowly, they rediscover their lost souls and identities through love.

1. This is Kim Soo Hyun’s first drama role since his military service.

It's Okay To Not Be Okay

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How did military life helped his acting skills? “I went to the military late in life. That was really advantageous for me. It felt a bit like a break, and most importantly, my physical stamina improved. That gives me a bit more freedom. There are still things I’m lacking when it comes to acting, but I think that those aspects make up for that a lot,” the actor said.

2. Fans are already thirsty for Kim Soo Hyun’s chisel abs.

3. What attracted Kim Soo Hyun to “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay”?

The character Moon Kang Tae has been hurt a lot, and I wanted to resonate with people by conveying his pain,” he said before continuing, “I’m going to do a good job of explaining his healing process.

4. 2 words to Seo Ye Ji uses to describe Go Moon Young.

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When asked to describe her character as a shape, Seo Ye Ji opted for “cutting” and “sharp.” She said, “She’s a cold person with no empathy, but regardless of how many scars she has, she’s very defensive.”

There’s a reason behind Go Moon Young’s need to look picture perfect. If you peel off the outer layer, it’s actually a self-defence mechanism rather than her being ostentatious. She said, “I think of it as a kind of armour; she’s saying to others, ‘This is the type of person I am, so be quiet. Don’t speak to me.’”

5. Director Park Shin Woo’s decision on choosing each of his cast.

Park Shin Woo: “Joo Ri is a hard character to act as because she’s the most realistic character instead of having particular traits. I felt that Gyu Young acted very realistically, she felt real and not fake so she was cast early.

Oh Jung Se’s casting was set a long time ago. I didn’t want viewers to view Sang Tae with pity and feel sad; I wanted viewers to feel happy and smile when they see Sang Tae. I didn’t think he would accept the offer, but he did so I was very thankful.

Moon Young is such a difficult character that sometimes I get mad at the writer. After contemplating, because Moon Young is a very multi-faceted character, seeing Seo Ye Ji made me think she was the one.”

6. First impressions of each another.

It's Okay To Not Be Okay

Kim Soo Hyun: I saw Joo Ri (Park Gyu Young) as very cold at first. She has a pale complexion and she’s cute as the director said. Oh Jung Se and I were actually very awkward with each other in the beginning. After working together, we built up a rapport we can feel even if we don’t talk much to each other. Seo Ye Ji is very comfortable as a person, but when she’s acting as Go Moon Young she is extremely focused.

Oh Jung Se: Like Kim Soo Hyun said, we were really awkward in the beginning but that wasn’t uncomfortable for me. Everyone has different aspects to themselves and the characters do too, so I wondered how it would all mesh, but it worked out well.

Seo Ye Ji: Gyu Young was so lovely, cute, and kind and she really is. Oh Jung Se is really great in person and was the same as his first impression when we were filming, so that was really great. I feel comfortable when I’m around Kim Soo Hyun like he also said, but when we’re acting he gets absorbed into his role. He gives me energy and helps me, so he was similar to my first impression. Our director has worked on a lot of great projects and I had also hoped to work with him. When I met him on set, he was so respectable. If I think of 2 things about lines, he thinks of 20 things.

Park Gyu Young: Kim Soo Hyun is someone I only watched on TV, so I worried about how I could look into his eyes and act. He was really warm and lead on set very well. Seo Ye Ji has a chic appearance, so I thought she might be a little cold. However, she thought of so many things I couldn’t even imagine to take care of me. I was really thankful for that. Oh Jung Se is the same as his first impressions and is always cheerful.

7. How Seo Ye Ji and Park Gyu Young prepared for their cat fight…

Seo Ye Ji: Gyu Young was very nervous. We kept telling each other it’s okay, it’s okay. We fought in the scene, but we were very careful and considerate in reality so it felt like a warm scene to us even though it’s a fighting scene.

Park Gyu Young: We rehearsed so I think that helped filming go well. It looks really painful, but she barely used any force.

8. Autism is not an illness. 

Oh Jung Se: I’m very cautious and I studied a lot about portraying the character Sang Tae. I try to deepen my approach to the character, but I think I’m still lacking a lot. Actually, even now some things… When I had an interview during the early half of the project, I said he is a character suffering from autism. I learned that this was a wrong expression. Saying that you’re suffering from something means you have an illness. However, autism isn’t an illness, but something you’re born with. I learned it’s correct to say he’s a character who was born with autism. Even though I studied intensely, I’m more careful and I think there’s more that I need to know. I am carefully doing my best to prepare well.

The seasoned actor also made an effort to highlight Sang Tae’s greatest charms: “his innocence, his good-hearted nature, and his pureness. Traits that we’ve had in the past that have faded a bit with time. I think he’s a character that has a lot of innocence“.

9. Kim Soo Hyun compares his character to an Avenger.

Kang Tae appears to put aside a lot of things just to take care of his older brother who has autism spectrum disorder. In preparation, Kim Soo Hyun met an actual caregiver at a ward. He recalled, “His body was very sturdy and you could see traces of experiences left on him. I observed these kinds of things and thought I need to make an effort to express these things since I don’t have these traits. Something I felt after observing him was that he always looked exhausted, kind of like how The Hulk always looks angry.”

10. What can fans take away from this show?

It's Okay To Not Be Okay
Source: tvN

Oh Jung Se: As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of unique characters. There’s a line from
the drama that says “There are more patients out there who aren’t wearing hospital gowns.” If you meet someone like Sang Tae, who is on the autism spectrum, on the street, I think it would be nice if people could think “I would like to be with that person” instead of “I would like to help that person.”

Seo Ye Ji: Our drama narrates difficulties endured by people and one of my favourite narrations is “Overcome it. If you don’t overcome it, then you’re nothing but a young child whose soul can’t grow.” I hope that viewers can feel hope and courage to overcome everything through watching our drama.

“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is a 2 episodes weekly (9:30pm) K-drama that is available on Netflix from 20th June 2020 onwards.

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