It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Episode 9 “King Donkey Ears”
Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) steps outside and rushes to find Ko Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji). He sees her sitting on a bench. He eagerly rushes to her. He declares he got suspended without pay and will likely be sued. He smiles that everything is messed up. He asks her to run away with him. He smiles. He holds out his hand. Moon Young puts her hand in his and stands. They both smile.
Now in shock Kang Tae sits mute while Moon Young queries him about preferred options. She notices and tells him not to regret his suggestion. She’s shocked when he doesn’t have a passport and wants only a day trip NOT an overnight trip. Irked she drives to the edge of the sea barrier. She tells him to exit the car. She tosses his backpack and leaves. Kang Tae sighs and shakes his head.
Moon Young gets angry and wonders if Kang Tae was teasing her.
Jo Jae Soo (Kang Tae’s friend) doesn’t understand what’s going on with his friend lately. He suggests Moon Young’s lunatic virus entered Kang Tae. He understands when Kang Tae wants to have more fun in his life.
Director Oh Ji Wang tells Joo Ri’s mother that suppressed people like Kang Tae can reach the end of their patience and explode. Moon Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) (Kang Tae’s brother) tells Director Oh to keep his hands off his food. Director Oh tells Sang Tae that Joo Ri’s mother rejected him. She tells Sang Tae she thought he was either a genius or idiot and passed. Director Oh suggests she has feeling for him. Sang Tae calls him delusional. A nurse comes to get Director Oh.
The husband demands that his wife, Patient Lee, be discharged into his care. Director Oh caves and allows it. Head Nurse Park and Director Oh watch them leave the psychiatric hospital. She says Patient Lee is ready for the real world. Director Oh says he can’t stop the family wishes.
The other patients tell her boyfriend, Patient Joo, that her family removed Patient Lee. Needless to say, he’s upset. A patient with a sixth sense declares that someone will arrive tomorrow that can help him.
As they joke about Sang Tae’s snoring, Kang Tae asks Jae Soo if he’ll help him with Sang Tae. Jae Soo agrees.
Sang Tae and Moon Young discuss cartoon characters. They agree about one character in particular. Sang Tae points out he’s Kang Tae’s guardian. Moon Young suggests they are best friends. Sang Tae doesn’t know what to do with that thrilling suggestion. Kang Tae arrives and wants to talk to Moon Young.
On the balcony, Moon Young and Kang Tae discuss spending time together. She notes he seems to tame her. He counters she provokes him to unleash himself. He couldn’t suppress his rage when the husband hit her. Moon Young notes he was magnificent when he dispatched the husband. They lock eyes. Kang Tae leans in to kiss her. Moon Young tilts her head to kiss him. Then a noise in the woods breaks the moment. Kang Tae quickly exits. Moon Young declares she’ll ring the deer’s neck for interrupting them.
Nurse Nam Joo Ri can’t sleep. She steps around Yoo Seung Jae who wakes. On the rooftop, Joo Ri asks Seung Jae if she’s ever been in a one-sided romance. Seung Jae declares that would be a stupid move and waste of time. Realizing she just insulted Joo Ri Seung Jae suggests Joo Ri consider someone that has something to offer her, which Kang Tae does not. Joo Ri admits Kang Tae isn’t emotionally available. Seung Jae suggests a better kind of guy for Joo Ri.
Publisher Lee Sang In overhears and is pleased when Seung Jae steers Joo Ri away from Kang Tae.
Kang Tae gives himself a butterfly hug when he can’t sleep.
Moon Young remembers the almost kiss and Kang Tae’s words. She wishes he’d kissed her.
Director Oh teaches his singing class. Moon Young’s father doesn’t sing along while Patient Park observes him not singing too. After class Director Oh suggest a walk to Moon Young’s father.
Kang Tae tells Sang Tae he’ll pick him up a Jae Soo’s that evening. Sang Tae proudly tells Kang Tae he and Moon Young are best friends.
Director Oh asks Moon Young’s father if he misses his daughter. He says she’s just like his wife, angel outside, demon inside. Director Oh counters everyone has good and bad. Moon Young’s father declares his wife killed someone. He says he killed his wife. He declares his wife’s ghost is wants to kill him.
Head Nurse Park is startled when Patient Park snatches the book she was reading out of her hands. Head Nurse Park notices a paper cut. Patient Park notes that taking things that don’t belong to you has consequences. She leaves. Joo Ri enters and asks if all is well. Head Nurse Park notes that Patient Joo was given a day pass when it was Patient Kan’s turn. She suspects Director Oh made a deal.
Kang Tae is dismayed with the high fashion outfit Moon Young sports. Moon Young is dismayed with the commonplace food items and emergency kit Kang Tae packed. She tosses his bag aside. She grabs him close and says his focus should be her happiness. Kang Tae is relieved to get a phone call while Moon Young is irked.
Director Oh meets with Kang Tae. He guesses Kang Tae has a date with Moon Young. Kang Tae asks why people wear fancy clothes when it isn’t warrant. Director Oh says they use clothes to protect themselves. He tells Kang Tae to protect Moon Young.
Moon Young asks Sang Tae about the kind of women Kang Tae likes. Sang Tae doesn’t know of any. Sang Tae tells her Kang Tae can only play with him. He declares he’s wonderful. Moon Young asks if Sang Tae has ever hated Kang Tae. Sang Tae doesn’t share. She asks if he knows about the story “King Donkey Ears”. Sang Tae does. Moon Young states the story proves keeping secrets is frustrating. She urges him to share. The moment is interrupted when Jae Soo calls Sang Tae.
As he drives Moon Young, Kang Tae thinks about his conversation with Director Oh.
Flashback…Director Oh agrees that Moon Young’s dead mother could be someone she still fears. Kang Tae suggests the Moon Young’s mother isn’t dead, but disappeared. Director Oh believes if that is the case, she’ll return to her husband and daughter. Director Oh tells him to protect Moon Young.
Moon Young tells Kang Tae Sang Tae is calculating in that he doesn’t give without taking. Kang Tae notes she and Sang Tae have that in common.
Sang Tae and Jae Soo arrive at the apartment. Sang Tae declines Jae Soo’s offer to hang out. Jae Soo points out he closed the eatery to pick him up. Sang Tae counters that a boss hanging out with an employee is odd. They find PL taking a bath on the rooftop. He declares this is his vacation. He suggests Sang Tae join him. Sang Tae and Jae Soo leave.
Kang Tae tells Moon Young they are headed to the mountains. She smiles. They stand at the edge of a bridge. Moon Young admits she’s nervous. Kang Tae admits he can’t come here with Sang Tae. Moon Young agrees to walk across IF he gives her a piggyback. Kang Tae walks across. Moon Young can’t let him go without her and slowly makes her way across. When the bridge is defeated, she demands food. She takes a photo of Kang Tae on a bench. Then takes a selfie of them chiding Kang Tae to smile. He gets a phone call.
Moon Young and Kang Tae find Patient Lee and Patient Joo enjoying watermelon. Patient Lee tells Kang Tae that Patient Kan made a deal with Director Oh to give him the day pass. Then Patient Lee and Patient Joo went as far as their money would take them. They admit they are broke. Patient Joo says that he had Kang Tae’s number in case of emergency. They want money from Kang Tae so they can stay overnight at the guesthouse. Patient Joo points out that Kang Tae didn’t suppress his needs when he punched the husband and they shouldn’t suppress their needs either. Moon Young heads to the office and pays for the room. She returns and tells him she made for their room and once for them too. Kang Tae reminds Moon Young he can’t spend the night. Kang Tae counters that the patient lovers will elope before Patient Lee is forced to go to the United States. She asks if Kang Tae will let whatever happens happen. She suggests they allow the couple to spend the night. Kang Tae doesn’t want to, but he can’t walk away. Moon Young smiles.
Joo Ri’s mother wonders when Kang Tae will show. Publisher Lee offers Joo Ri a lettuce wrap. She declines and he shoves it in her book. Sang Tae declares he and Moon Young are best friends now. Sang Tae says he’d love to hang out with her but went someplace else. Seung Jae suggests Moon Young and Kang Tae are hanging out. Jae Soo and Publisher Lee try and cover her gaffe. Joo Ri leaves to get beer. Publisher Lee follows.
As they walk back from the store, Joo Ri assumes Moon Young and Kang Tae are together. Publisher Lee asks why she cares when he’s around. Joo Ri understands why Moon Young stuck with Publisher Lee. He admits he stuck with Moon Young. He shares that Moon Young can’t be left alone because she’s lonely. But she pushes people away so they don’t know that. Joo Ri notes Kang Tae and Moon Young are similar like that. Publisher Lee notes what makes people fall for each other varies. He notes Kang Tae has likely found a reason to fall for Moon Young.
Moon Young brings Kang Tae something to drink. She asks if he’s called Sang Tae yet. He stands and says he’ll do it now.
Kang Tae calls Sang Tae and confirms he ate dinner. Sang Tae asks when he’ll be home. Kang Tae hedges then states he’ll likely be out all night. He gives his brother instructions and wishes him a good night. They agree to call each other if they get bored.
Kang Tae returns to Moon Young. He notes that Sang Tae likes being best friends with her. Moon Young admits she likes Sang Tae. Kang Tae says his mother wanted Sang Tae to be seen as a friend by just one person. Moon Young admits she once had a friend that understood her.
Joo Ri pulls out a book by Moon Young.
Flashback…Classmates are mean to a young Joo Ri. She cries. A young Moon Young enters. Feared by her classmates they stop their taunts. Joo Ri follows Moon Young and suggests they become friends. It’s positive for both of them. But Joo Ri wasn’t only Moon Young’s friend, she wanted to be everyone’s friend. Moon Young didn’t want to share.
Kang Tae asks if Moon Young harassed Joo Ri’s other friends. She confirms this. Moon Young admits she thought if she scared away the other children, Joo Ri would be exclusively her friend.
Flashback…Joo Ri’s classmates leave when she arrives. She stares at Moon Young who smiles. Joo Ri doesn’t want to be friends with Moon Young and tosses paint on her as she begs her to leave.
Joo Ri finishes the same flashback.
Moon Young says a friend that truly understands you does not exist. Kang Tae suggests she repair that relationship. Moon Young isn’t interested. She’s got a new best friend in Sang Tae. She slides to Kang Tae and declares she also has him. She touches his cheek and teases that he’s heating up. Kang Tae scrambles off the bench.
Patient Joo and PL realize their landlady gave them alcohol. He promises not to drink it.
In their room, Moon Young watches Kang Tae try to sleep. She turns off his phone. She tells him they should let the lovebird patients share a room. Feeling the alcohol Kang Tae says he enjoys his time with Moon Young. She decides to take action and literally jumps him.
Patient Lee and Patient Joo listen to the frenzy next door and asks who is more in love. Patient Joo notes love is patience. They smile.
Kang Tae has Moon Young pinned. She promises to leave him alone and sleep. She makes another move. Kang Tae holds her and urges her to sleep. Moon Young says stroking hair is calming. Kang Tae strokes her hair.
While Moon Young sleeps Kang Tae sits up and watches her. He murmurs that he can no longer hold himself back. He says he can’t run away anymore. He sighs.
The next morning, Sang Tae murmurs for his mother not to leave him before he wakes.
Moon Young wakes and finds Kang Tae not in the room. She exits and calls to him.
Sang Tae wakes tears on his face. He calls Kang Tae but he doesn’t answer. Looking at the camping van sketch he drew (with 3 people no doubt Sang Tae, Moon Young and Kang Tae), Sang Tae dials again.
Kang Tae greets Moon Young in the road. She asks where he was. He says he got what he couldn’t give her last time. Her presents her wildflowers. He tells her not to trample them. She declares they are beautiful. Kang Tae says she is too. They smile. Kang Tae presses a gentle kiss on Moon Young. She smiles. He smiles too.
We see a young Moon Young smiling at an adult Kang Tae.
They return to the house to learn the other couple is gone. But Patient Joo returns.
Flashback… Patient Lee and Patient Joo walk down the road. Patient Lee declares with Moon Young’s money they can run away and not worry about money for a while. Patient Joo says this isn’t right. He admits not drinking last night was a herculean effort. He knows he isn’t ready for a full-time relationship where he is the primary breadwinner. Patient Lee cries they should try and this is there chance. Patient Joo promises he’ll recover and find her. He asks her to wait for him. She sobs.
Patient Joo cries as Kang Tae and Moon Young drive him back to the psychiatric hospital.
Sang Tae works on the mural.
Patient Joo thanks Kang Tae for driving him back. He exits the vehicle. Moon Young asks why he let the woman he loves go. Kang Tae explains letting someone go is what is best. Moon Young declares she’ll never let Kang Tae goes. He warns her that she could change her mind one day. Kang Tae heads into the psychiatric hospital to see Sang Tae.
Patient Joo tells Patient Kan that he and Patient Lee had a wonderful time they’ll never forget thanks to Kang Tae and Moon Young. Patient Kan is more interested in Kang Tae and Moon Young. Patient Joo says a double wedding would be fun. An orderly overhears and is shocked by the wedding comment.
Kang Tae tells Sang Tae the mural is looking wonderful. Sang Tae asks why Kang Tae didn’t pick up when he called. Kang Tae looks at his phone and declares it ran out of battery. Sang Tae wants to know where Kang Tae went. Kang Tae lies that he went to Seoul by himself. Sang Tae walks away. Kang Tae walks to Sang Tae’s bag which has his sketchpad.
The orderly rushes to Head Nurse Park and another nurse to share what he overheard. He makes them promise to keep what he’s about to tell them a secret.
Moon Young decides to find Kang Tae and exits the car.
The orderly then tells a doctor in the restroom that Moon Young and Kang Tae will be married soon after spending the night together a guesthouse. Sang Tae exits a bathroom stall having heard everything.
Kang Tae finds the camping van sketch. Head Nurse Park finds him looking at the sketch. She asks if the three of them went on a trip in a camping van. Kang Tae says no. Head Nurse Park asks if he spent time with Patient Joo. Kang Tae says he ran into him as he entered the psychiatric hospital. Sang Tae calls his brother a liar. Kang Tae asks what is wrong. Moon Young steps into the lobby. Sang Tae asks who Kang Tae likes more, his brother or Moon Young. Kang Tae asks why he’s asking. Sang Tae demands a response. Head Nurse Park declares Kang Tae cares for his brother more. Sang Tae yells at Kang Tae to answer the question. Head Nurse Park dashes up the stair. Moon Young waits for Kang Tae’s response too. Kang Tae says he likes his brother more. Sang Tae reads his brother face. He tells Kang Tae that is a lie. He throws water on Kang Tae. Director Oh arrives but decides to let it play out. Kang Tae entreats his brother that he didn’t lie. Sang Tae repeats the words a young Kang Tae said years ago “I just want my brother to die”. Sang Tae declares Kang Tae told their mother every day that he wants his brother to die. Sang Tae says that’s why Kang Tae pushed him in the frozen river. Sang Tae cries that Kang Tae ran away and didn’t listen to his pleas for help. Sang Tae sobs that Kang Tae wanted to kill him. Kang Tae shakes his head no.
Sang Tae yells to the gathered audience that Kang Tae wants him dead. Kang Tae falls down at the horror of the accusation. Sang Tae yells that Kang Tae is trying to kill him. Kang Tae sobs it isn’t true. Sang Tae yells the accusation in the lobby. A tear rolls down Moon Young’s face. Overcome by emotion Kang Tae can only murmur it isn’t true.
Jealously has an ugly side. Writer Jo Yong explored this through two lead characters – Sang Tae’s jealousy that Kang Tae could love another more than him and Moon Young’s jealously that Joo Ri didn’t want to be exclusively her friend and that others took Kang Tae’s attention away from her. Moon Young’s actions when she was young destroyed her friendship with Joo Ri. Will Sang Tae’s jealousy destroy the bothers’ relationship? Isn’t it interesting that Sang Tae’s memory, often precise, was biased against his brother? We only saw Kang Tae say he wished his brother was dead once as a child, but that got hardwired into Sang Tae and grew into more than a one-time outburst. It was hard to see Sang Tae yell his accusation to everyone while Kang Tae sobbed gutted by the horrifying and inaccurate words of his brother.
Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) lied to his brother and the consequences were immediate. Kang Tae lied to Sang Tae that he was alone the previous evening. Sang Tae knew otherwise when he overheard the orderly’s gossip. He demanded Kang Tae pick his favorite between his brother and Moon Young. Kang Tae said his truth, but Sang Tae didn’t believe him knowing Kang Tae had lied to him moments before. Poor Kang Tae, Sang Tae is his Achilles Heel. He loves his brother dearly but longs for freedom to be himself. Kang Tae knows that Sang Tae can read his face and tried to remain blank but Sang Tae wasn’t able to believe his brother based on the previous lie. Kang Tae has his hands full between Sang Tae and Moon Young, who have some similar issues though they have different levels of maturity and functionality in the real world.
Writer Ko Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) received her first kiss from Kang Tae. Moon Young received flowers and a sweet kiss from Kang Tae. Lovely moment. She is determined to make Kang Tae hers. She’s not good at sharing as the flashbacks with Joo Ri proved. Kang Tae cannot walk away from Sang Tae and devote himself to Moon Young. This episode Moon Young was less of a catalyst of “positive” awakening for a particular person and more of a “negative” awakening for Sang Tae. She did ask when he hated his brother the most. I had to laugh when she attacked Kang Tae at the guest house. She funded the runaway patient couple but Patient Joo decided he needed to get his act together before he took on the responsibility of caring for Patient Lee. Moon Young’s flashback to her friendship with Joo Ri clearly shows that sharing isn’t her strong suit. But Moon Young cannot have all of Kang Tae. Intellectually, she knows that Sang Tae will never be a trivial relationship to Kang Tae. But emotionally she wants to stake her claim and priority.
Moon Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) (Kang Tae’s brother) declared Kang Tae wanted him dead. Sang Tae never forgot young Kang Tae’s outburst that he wished his brother dead. That made a permanent mark on Sang Tae. It morphed into the belief that this was a daily declaration from his brother, further proven by Kang Tae leaving him for dead on the frozen river. Sang Tae did not remember Kang Tae saved him (eventually). The camper sketch was telling, there were 3 adults (Sang Tae, Kang Tae, and Moon Young) enjoying the camper. Sang Tae was thrilled when Moon Young offered to be his best friend. That was ill advised and frankly foolish on her part. Moon Young is impulsive and this blithe promise had a price. Sang Tae read the lie on his brother’s face. Sang Tae overheard that Kang Tae lied to him about his whereabouts the previous evening. He couldn’t take it and lashed out at Kang Tae. While painful, this is necessary. Sang Tae needed to speak his truth. I doubt he’ll ever accept that his recollection of the past isn’t accurate. Kang Tae may never be out of the hole his outburst dug him years ago. None the less, it is better for the brothers to lay the accusations on the table. Can Sang Tae believe anything other than his version of the past and present?
The special track OST volume 1 contains “Wake Up” sung by Elaine:
I rank this episode as almost terrific, 8.5 on a 10-point scale.