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It's Okay to Not Be Okay

‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay’ is very okay

By Ruth L. Navarra
06/27/20 9:53 PM
Seo Ye-ji
Seo Ye-ji

Utter disregard for the safety of others and herself, and showing no signs of remorse after hurting someone else: These are the some of the symptoms of someone with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), according to the website WebMD. They can also be charming and witty.

ASPD is also the condition that the character played by Seo Ye-ji has in the Netflix Original “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” Seo plays Ko Mun-yeong, a famous children’s book author who feels no empathy toward other people.

“She’s a very cold character. And as she develops a relationship with Kang-tae, her inner wounds begin to heal and therefore she undergoes a significant change,” Seo said during the virtual press conference on June 10. A table away from her is “My Love from the Star” actor Kim Soo-hyun.

Heartache

This is Kim’s first drama after discharge from mandatory military service last year. Kim said that even when he was serving in the military he thirsts to be onscreen and act again. He did two cameos in two popular series namely “Hotel del Luna” and “Crash Landing on You” before this comeback.

Seo told the press that the actor has been very considerate of her from the start. She also describes him as the best screen partner she ever had. Read about it in the article “Kim Soo-hyun is the best screen partner Seo Ye-ji ever had”.

Kim talked about his impression of the script written by Jo Yong (“After the Rain”).

“When I first saw this script and read it, I felt a heartache. I think that you may be able to agree once you see the show, but there are a variety of characters. There’s a lot of stories and there is also a lot of love. So I think from whatever angle you see our show, there is something in it for everyone,” he said.

Brotherhood

He plays Moon Kang-tae, a nursing assistant who specializes in mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients. He also takes care of an older brother who is on the autism spectrum. Kim talks more about their brotherhood. As his brother’s keeper, he has to act like the older brother when he’s around Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se).

“Kang-tae has to become an adult in front of his brother. He would have to swallow his pride, he would have to just give in to things for him,” he said. Kim said that this relationship with his brother defines his character.

I want to be able to express the heartache into this form of art. I think I also wanted to see how I would change as a human being outside of the story as just me, Kim Soo-hyun,” he said.

Butteflies

The actor said that his character changes when he meets Mun-yeong.

“He begins to let his guard down and complain about things. Kang-tae becomes like a child in front of Mun-yeong,” he said. For Seo, the three words that best describe her character are red shoes, butterflies and love. Viewers have already seen the butterflies in the first two episodes of the show.

Mun-yeong heartlessly tears their wings into two in front of a shocked Kang-tae. Curiously, butterflies also represent the thing that Kang-tae and his brother are trying to run away from.

“She is very selfish. Her obsession is like a double-edged sword that hurts both herself and other people around her,” Seo said. “I was really drawn to the character. If I am able to truly express all of the things that are hidden inside, it would create a truly wonderful story.”

Important drama

Seo said that having Park Shin-woo (“Encounter,” “Jealousy Incarnate” and “Hyde Jekyll, Me”) as director made the project irresistible for her. She added that any actress would be happy to have Kim as a partner.

This is her most important drama to date, one that could make her into a household name. She previously starred in “Hwarang” as a princess and betrothed of Park Hyung-sik.

Mun-yeong is definitely not a princess in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” Her character even describes herself perfectly when she said that “the witches in my stories are beautiful” in the first episode.

“I had to channel this image of a witch to express her most adequately. I would say that my low voice and also what I can call a witch-like aura helped me channel my inner Ko Mun-yeong,” she said.

Her own color

To prepare for the character, Seo did a lot of research including looking into people characters who have ASPD. She asserted, however, that her character is unique and that has a color of her own.

“I tried to express a lot of her character with what is seen from the outside. So hair, makeup, costume and all of that,” she said. “I think there’s going to be some things that my character wears that might even come across as a little odd to other people or difficult to understand.”Fashion

Mun-yeong does not dress up just for fashion’s sake alone. Her character so far has been depicted as emotionless. But the lack of emotions on her face is expressed through the clothes.

“(She) is extremely expressive through what she wears. I think it’s important to understand that what she wears is not something to show off, but it’s actually something she puts on to defend herself,” she said.

In contrast, she said that her fashion choices are more casual and something that she can wear comfortably while she lounges around the house. She also shared that her favorite children’s story growing up is the Korean folktale “Golden Axe, Silver Axe.” She said that it’s a story about greed and it resonates with the drama as well.

“The moral of this story is when adults get too greedy, that can make them lose everything that they had in the first place.

Favorite story

This is something that my character Mun-yeong also goes through. Things happened to her because of her own greed. So, by playing this character, I am constantly reminded of that children’s story,” she said.

kim Soo-hyun
Kim Soo-hyun

Kim said that his favorite story is “Anne of Green Gables” because he was touched with the story. He also recently watched an adaptation of it recently on television.

People have their own rules and they are hurt in different ways, Seo said. But she wishes that everyone who takes time to watch the drama can also experience healing. She wants the audience to be angry, heal, laugh and feel happy together.

Healing drama

Kim hopes that the audience will find a moment in the drama where the audience will be able to relate to.

“I think that despite all the cultural or physical differences, what’s universal would be the way we are worried or concerned about our loved ones. The way we think of the people that are important in our lives and the way we feel love toward other people is universal,” he said. Finally, Kim described the drama to start off as laid-back and comfortable.

“But as the story goes on, there will be greater weight placed on the story. And then I’m sure all of you will find yourselves engulfed in the story. So I hope that you brace yourselves for that,” he said.

It's Okay to Not Be Okay
Photos from Netflix

New episodes of “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” stream every Saturday and Sunday on Netflix.

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READ: Seven reasons to watch ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’