It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Episode 1 Recap

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Episode 1 Recap

The series begins with an animated fairy tale of a girl with the shadow of death hovering around her. She’s rejected by people. One day she saves a boy’s life. He’s stays by her side day and night in gratitude. She asks him if he’ll forever be there. He confirms this. Then the girl reveals a pile of ripped butterflies. Her eyes glow. The boy runs away. The shadow of death tells the girl she’ll always be alone and evil. The girl repeats the words confirming her mother’s (the shadow of death) words.

Quality animation.

Chapter 1: The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares

I love titled episodes!

Moon Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) waits outside the Director’s office at the psychiatric hospital. Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) is berated by the Director about his brother’s behavior. The Director declares they can no longer allow Kang Tae to stay. Kang Tae looks through the window in the door. He and Sang Tae lock eyes. Sang Tae realizes his brother is not happy. Kang Tae cleans out his brother’s locker. He suggests they get something to eat. As they walk away, Kang Tae promises to find a better facility.

Writer Ko Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) dines on rare steak. A young fan and her mother recognize her and ask for an autograph. Moon Young obliges. The young fan irks her when she declares Moon Young looks like a pretty princess. Moon Young suggests a photo. The young fan gets in her lap. As the mother frames the photo, Moon Young softly tells the young fan that in her books it is the witch that is pretty not the princess. The young fan runs away. Publisher Lee Sang In arrives. He sees the girl flee and knows Moon Young is the reason why. He ignores a call from the psychiatric hospital. He wants Moon Young to change her look so she doesn’t look scary to the children’s event. Moon Young refuses, takes a sharp knife from the eatery and leaves forcing Publisher Lee to pay for the wait staff’s silence.

Kang Tae gets in his uniform at the psychiatric hospital. A nurse complains about a patient that took other patients’ foods. Kang Tae talks to her gently and is rewarded when the food is expelled. Kang Tae tells the patient it is okay.

A new patient, a father, suffering from anxiety due to a drug overdose is admitted. His young daughter who expelled the drug, is treated for stress. Kang Tae is told the monitor the father’s vitals each hour.

Publishing coworker Yoo Seung Jae drives Publisher Lee and Moon Young to the event. Seung Jae complains that she didn’t think her job would include menial tasks like this. She notices an incoming call from a psychiatric hospital and comments. Moon Young orders Publisher Lee to answer the phone and put it on speaker. Psychiatric hospital Nurse Nam Joo Ri asks Publisher Lee when guardian approval for surgery for patient Ko Dae Hwan will be forthcoming. Moon Young says that Dae Hwan is dead to her. She asks why bring him back to life. Moon Young tells Nurse Nam to get her signature in person. Nurse Nam hangs up in anger.

Psychiatric hospital Head Nurse Park Haeng Ja listens to Nurse Nam’s report that Dae Hwan needs surgery. Head Nurse Park suggest that Nurse Nam visit the uncaring guardian in person. Seeing no other way, Nurse Nam agrees. Before she goes, she visits Dae Hwan in his room.  She tells the older gentleman that his daughter won’t be able to see her. He gets upset. He imagines Moon Young standing in front of him. He believes she’ll kill him.

Kang Tae views the poster for Moon Young’s upcoming reading. Another orderly tells Kang Tae he’ll help with the new patients. He tells Kang Tae the staff wonders why Kang Tae moves work locations often. He shares the staff theories. Kang Tae implies he likes men. The orderly moves away.

Sang Tae listens to TV and draws. He knows the show so well he recites it. Kang Tae calls and urges his brother to eat well. Sang Tae confirms he’s drawing in Writer Ko’s book. He loves her books. Kang Tae reports Writer Ko is doing a reading at the psychiatric hospital. Sang Tae freaks with joy. Kang Tae tells his brother to calm down. He says he’ll get an autograph from Writer Ko. Satisfied Sang Tae hangs up on his brother.

Publisher Lee is irked that he upset Moon Young. Seung Jae asks why Moon Young hates her father. Publisher Lee snaps that’s the way it is. He wonders where Moon Young is.

Outside, Moon Young smokes and pulls petals from flowers. Kang Tae notices and asks her to put out her cigarette in this nonsmoking area. Moon Young stands and stares at Kang Tae. The blossoms from the trees flutter and fall. Moon Young asks if he believes in destiny. She puts her cigarette out in his coffee and tells him this is destiny. She walks away. Kang Tae watches her go.

At the event where Moon Young reads the book The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares, she starts the reading with a scream startling the children. As the sand artist illustrates, Moon Young reads her book. It’s about a boy with nightmares that asks the witch to rid him of the nightmares in exchange for anything she wants.

The new patient searches for his daughter. The nurses call the code that a patient is roaming free. Kang Tae snaps at his coworker for freeing the patient from the restraints.

The patient arrives at the reading and searches for his daughter. Just as Moon Young gets to the apex of the book where the boy now rid of his nightmares can’t be happy and must give up his soul to the witch…hospital officials burst into the auditorium and flips on the lights. They tell the parents to take their children out. The father calls to his daughter, who is bewildered where to go. Moon Young declares the reading isn’t finished.  Everyone files out. The father then sees and grabs his little girl and takes her backstage. Moon Young gives the official a piece of her mind for interrupting the reading.

The father tells his daughter they have to flee or he’ll be locked up. He tells his daughter she can’t survive without him. Moon Young listens to the father. He declares if they can’t live together, they should die together. Moon Young interrupts. She calls the father worthless. She’s not afraid of him. She dares him to kill himself solo. He attacks her, the knife falls from her hand, she’s knocked to the floor and he starts to choke her.

The little girl runs out into the auditorium. She runs into and tells Kang Tae where her father is. Kang Tae calls for help.

The father declares he has the right to kill his daughter if he wants to. Moon Young tells him to choke her harder. He does.

Flashback…Moon Young’s father chokes Moon Young telling her it will be over quick.

Moon Young superimposes her father’s face over the patient’s. Kang Tae arrives and pulls the patient off Moon Young. The two men grapple with each other. Kang Tae gets the patient’s hands behind his back. Moon Young find the knife and approaches the man. She goes to strike him but Kang Tae grabs the knife. They stare at each other as blood drips down Kang Tae’s arm. Moon Young says it wasn’t destiny. She tells him to stay out of this. Kang Tae tells her the man is a patient. Moon Young declares the man is vermin. The patient runs away and is apprehended by orderlies.

Kang Tae wraps the knife in a cloth. Moon Young points out she can claim self-defense. She takes the wrapped knife from Kang Tae. She tosses the knife and wraps his hand in the cloth. She tells him sometimes people deserve to die but clueless people kill them in secret. That’s why normal people can sleep at night. After she finishes with the wrap, she asks which kind of person she is. They stare at each other. Kang Tae identifies her as a clueless person. Moon Young laughs.

Later Kang Tae gets stiches on his hand. He’s distracted. The doctor asks why.

Publisher Lee frets out the potential fall out of Moon Young having a knife. She tells him to bribe the reporters. She declines the ride home stating she has something else to do.

The psychiatric hospital Director scolds Kang Tae about the patient roaming and ruining the reading event. He needs to identify a scapegoat. He cites the number places Kang Tae has worked out. He fires him.

While Moon Young shows Publisher Lee want Kang Tae’s contact information to bribe him and ensure his silence.

Waiting at the bus stop Kang Tae doesn’t accept the incoming call. Chicken delivery person and friend Jo Jae Soo spots Kang Tae and pulls over. He offers Kang Tae a ride.

Nurse Nam arrives at Moon Young’s building.

Publisher Lee frets that his calls to Kang Tae are being ignored. He takes Nurse Nam’s call and tells her Moon Young’s room number. He leaves.

Moon Young opens the door to find Nurse Nam holding the papers for her father’s surgery.

Kang Tae and Jae Soo enjoy the ride until the bike (named Alberto) breaks down. They are forced to push the bike. Jae Soo encourages Kang Tae to take a cab home but Kang Tae keeps pushing.

Moon Young comments that it has been 20 years since she’s seen Nurse Nam. She produces the paper for Moon Young’s signature. Moon Young says her father is dead to her, but lives like a zombie. She says her mother is physically dead, but her soul lives. Moon Young asks which parent is dead. Nurse Nam points out that her father will die without the surgery. Moon Young proposes that Nurse Nam becomes her father’s daughter if she gets Nurse Nam’s mother in return. If Nurse Nam agrees, she’ll sign the paper.

Nurse Nam gets on the elevator and sinks to her knees.

Flashback…Moon Young signs the papers and says she’ll visit her mother soon.

Nurse Nam throws the papers in the elevator, irked at Moon Young.

Jae Soo says Kang Tae should have caused a fuss. Kang Tae counters he needed the severance pay. He notes it is that time of year. The butterflies will appear. Jae Soo asks if Sang Tae has shown any signs. Jae Soo says Kang Tae cares more about his brother. Kang Tae realizes he didn’t get Writer Ko’s autograph. Jae Soo and Kang Tae study Writer Ko’s signature and Jae Soo tries to reproduce it.  Kang Tae is impressed with his friend’s ability. Kang Tae declares this will make his brother happy.  Jae Soo says when Kang Tae smiles, he looks like the cartoon character the joker.

Sang Tae studies Writer Ko’s autograph and declares it a fake. Jae Soo and Kang Tae are dismayed. Sang Tae declares Kang Tae lied to him. Kang Tae apologizes and suggests a trip to the book store tomorrow. Jae Soo declares this is Writer Ko’s fault. He threatens to burn her books. Sang Tae throws himself in front of the bookshelf. With the scuffle, Kang Tae doesn’t hear his phone ring with a video message from Publisher Lee. He apologizes for the incident with Writer Ko and asks Kang Tae to stop by his office the next day.  Kang Tae sees the message.

Publisher Lee is pleased when Kang Tae responds with an affirmative.

News reports declare the man that roamed in the psychiatric hospital and caused an incident was found dead in his solitary confinement cell.

Moon Young remembers Kang Tae looking into her eyes. She murmurs he has beautiful eyes. She smiles.

Kang Tae remembers his interaction with Moon Young.  He looks at his brother sleeping holding her books. He reads the The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares. The boy that promises his soul to get rid of his nightmare rails when the witch comes to him as an adult to collect his soul. He demands to know why he isn’t happy. The witch takes his soul and tells him regret and pain over hurting others and being hurt plus abandonment are those they can rise up a handle the emotional onslaught of life and become happy. Kang Tae watches his brother dream restlessly.

The little girl whose father is dead (though she doesn’t know it) worries about her father. She tells the nurse that her father isn’t a bad person, but he’s mentally ill. She cries that the wants to live with her father.

Moon Young looks at a folded picture of herself as a young woman with the folded part containing her father’s image.

Voiceover of Kang Tae and Moon Young…The book ends with “overcome your pain or your soul won’t grow”.

Kang Tae closes the book and stares at the cover. He looks at his brother. He returns the book to his brother’s bed.

Sang Tae dreams about butterflies. In a dark forest the butterflies follow him as he runs in fear. They overcome him. Sang Tae wakes and repeats butterflies again and again. Jae Soo and Kang Tae shake their heads. The butterfly dreams are back.

The next morning the land lady complains that Jae Soo stays over too often. She grouses about Kang Tae breaking his lease.

At the publishing company, Seung Jae meets Kang Tae in the lobby and assures him Publisher Lee will be back from an early meeting soon.

Moon Young drives aggressively and parks in Publisher Lee’s spot.

Seung Jae leaves Kang Tae in Publisher Lee’s office. She watches as he pursues signed copies of Writer Ko’s books on display.

Moon Young strides through the publishing company. Everyone is deferential as she strides through. She takes a sharp letter opener from someone’s desk. Seung Jae meets her outside Publisher Lee’s office. Moon Young spots Kang Tae reading one of her books in Publisher Lee’s office. She smiles and enters the office. She approaches Kang Tae and declares he looks better in street clothes. She assumes he is there to get money from Publisher Lee. She thought he was different. She asks how much money Publisher Lee offered. Kang Tae isn’t fazed. Moon Young repeats the question, how much did Publisher Lee offer to pay to guarantee his silence? Kang Tae counters that money isn’t his objective. Moon Young asks if sex is. Kang Tae asks if that’s better than money. Moon Young chuckles. She asks why he came. Kang Tae steps close and states he wanted to see her again. Kang Tae says he wanted to see her eyes again. This surprises Moon Young. Kang Tae says her eyes remind him of someone he used to know. Moon Young want to know who.

Flashback…A young Kang Tae struggles in the cold water he fell into when the ice broke. A young Moon Young plucks petals from flowers and ignores him. A young Moon Young stamps on Kang Tae offered bouquet of flowers. Other images of an older Moon Young flash.

Kang Tae says someone that is messed up and without conscience. A woman whose eyes had no warmth.

Moon Young asks if he was afraid of that woman.

Kang Tae admits it was the opposite of that.

Flashback…a young Kang Tae devotedly follows Moon Young, he offers flowers, etc.

Kang Tae declares he liked that woman.

They can’t take their eyes off each other in the charged moment.

My Thoughts

I loved everything about this initial episode. Writer Jo Yong created a structure for this series that felt fresh, unique and appealing. Opening the series with an animated fairy tale was an excellent start. Centering the episode around one of Moon Young’s books and using the book repeatedly to relate to scenes and multiple characters was terrific. Having Kang Tae’s brother love her books created a strong tie. Having Kang Tae have a backstory with Moon Young which was revealed in the last powerful moments of the episode was great. The setting of psychiatric hospitals with characters with mental illness that aren’t considered rabid animals was a positive. Sang Tae is a main character with a mental illness. I love the fantasy feel when the book was brought to life. This series can be a winner.

Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) cares for his brother more than himself. First of all, Kang Tae seems like a good guy. His love and caring for his brother showed his heart. He was kind to the patients at the psychiatric hospital. He didn’t berate the orderly that should have been fired. Kang Tae was strong when he encountered the upset patient throttling Moon Young. He stayed strong in all his encounters with Moon Young. He worried when the butterfly dreams began again for his brother. It was topped off by the ending scene with pull between Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji that crackled the air.

Writer Ko Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) is an atypical female character and I loved it. Moon Young likes blood, knives, and writes fairy tales on the dark side. Her control was absolute. Her style was impressive. Her lack of caring, soul, and kindness was fascinating. Seo Ye Ji created a character I want to know about, dig deep, and see if she can reconnect with her heart and humanity.

Moon Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) (Kang Tae’s brother) wasn’t fooled by the forged signature. Sang Tae loves Moon Young’s books. He has a focus on what he loves. He relies on Kang Tae, who doesn’t fail him. The butterfly dream caught my interest.

The first song of the OSang Tae “You’re Cold” sung by Heize lyrics are in the video below:

I rank this episode as very good, 8 on a 10-point scale.



Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on

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Posted in It's Okay to Not Be Okay, Recaps
8 comments on “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Episode 1 Recap
  1. DramaDazed says:

    Interesting characters (except maybe the manager) unpredictable plot and loved the performances. I’m in. The fairy tale and the fantasy elements are framing some hard realities I think. I enjoy it when main characters have faithful friends.


  2. Agree. It is exciting when a drama feels fresh. With the volume of dramas, that doesn’t happen often.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Snow Flower says:

    Poor Kang Tae. I hope he has the mental strength to deal with MY. But maybe this will be the point of the story…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Suraksha Shetty says:

    Which is the song being played at the end of first episode at 1:08:00 ,The english song -“Finally you are……”
    It would be great if you can let me know the song.


  5. Jane Tilly says:

    I got a łate start, but I was hooked before the episode was half over. LOVED the animation at the beginning❣

    Seo Ye Ji did an excellent job of portraying the cold-hearted Moon Young. Kim Soo Hyun is always a pleasure and I’m looking forward to this series.


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June 2020

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