Pardon me for my laziness, this series has ended a long time ago and yet here I am just find a time to write the review. I have written a brief review for episode 1-4 that you can read here. Basically there is no tangible plot for It’s Okay, It’s Love, the genre is leaning towards slice-of-life theme. The relationship between characters is the main element which drive this story to move forward. Without a doubt, Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung) is the central character. His past, present and future is the red thread of this drama. In the initial episodes, it has been established that he is a crazy man despite his cool facade and popularity as a writer.
Jae Yeol’s so called OCD problem turns out to be more serious than that. Because of his past trauma (he and his family was severely abused by his step father) he is creating a hallucination called Kang Woo (D.O. EXO) a high school student with aspiration to be a writer. In his mind they are close friends, little did he know Kang Woo is just an imaginary friend that he built because of his trauma and guilty feeling towards his brother, Jang Jae Bum who was imprisoned in 14 years for a murder that he didn’t commit. As his relationship with Hae Soo (Gong Hyo Jin) deepens, Kang Woo’s appearance increases as well and he often risks his life to save his imaginary friend.
Hae Soo is a psychiatrist hence she knows that something is off with Jae Yeol, especially after she found out his secret (he can only sleep in the bathroom). This sassy woman has her share of mental problem (intimacy phobia) too however it resolves rather easily, an anti-climax moment since she gives in to Jae Yeol’s advance without much fuss or further explanation. Despite that circumstances, Jae Yeol and Hae Soo’s relationship is pleasing to watch since they are so easy on the eyes, a beautiful couple indeed with excellent chemistry. They often bickers but reconciles easily, it’s a mature relationship with both sides relying on each other.
Jae Yeol’s attraction to Hae Soo is undeniable and it goes a long way after he truly trusted Hae Soo with his secret. Other women left him after they found out his habit however Hae Soo is different, she’s a psychiatrist with experience and knowledge of the mental ones hence she is used to this kind of problem. Only with Hae Soo, he can feel at ease because he knows she will accept his true self. Similar to Jae Yeol, Hae Soo is a strong yet complex character. She can be brash and bitchy, she even acknowledge her prickly personality. However, Jae Yeol with his smooth move and straightforward attitude managed to break her wall and finally won her heart by revealing his vulnerability. Their love grows gradually through their interaction, shared moments, mutual understanding and attachment to each other’s inner turmoils.
In every episode of this drama, a new mental disorder is being introduced including a couple with schizophrenic wife, their relationships is foreshadowing the future of our main couple. Eventually we know that those are the pieces of puzzle representing Jae Yeol’s illness. Once Jo Dong Min (Hae Soo’s senior in the hospital) found out a video showing how Jae Yeol fought with himself in the middle of nowhere, he immediately diagnoses Jae Yeol with schizophrenia and other multiple disorders. Dong Min realizes that Kang Woo is the manifestation of Jae Yeol’s past and guilt. A guilt so deep that makes him subconsciously plan to commit suicide with saving Kang Woo as justification of the dreadful action.
Initially Jae Yeol insists that Kang Woo is real even when he already watched himself fought with no one in video. His illness is so severe as he can’t differentiate reality and hallucination, it’s pretty amazing that no one ever caught him in action since it has been three years since he sees Kang Woo. It creeps me out as I watch Jae Yeol talking with non-existent number on his phone or holding imaginary script on his hand. Furthermore, as a part of his treatment, the doctors are not allowing anyone to visit him especially Hae Soo, because it will trigger Kang Woo to appear again and hindering his healing process.
Because of Jae Yeol’s deteriorating mental health, Hae Soo is tormented between her love and family. She is already tortured enough because she can’t support her sick boyfriend, then she must faces her family’s opposition against her relationship since they have enough one mental patient to take care of (Hae Soo’s father). I think her family reaction is very reasonable, her mother especially don’t want her bright daughter to live like her so it’s all for her daughter’s sake. Both Jae Yeol and Hae Soo are mature enough to understand that their relationship will not survive under the unfortunate circumstances. Jae Yeol needs to heal himself first and functions like a normal human before he can commit himself fully in the relationship, hence the break-up is inevitable. A year later they meet again to start all over and get married with baby underway.
The happy ending of It’s Okay, It’s Love is nicely wrapped although I think they kinda sugarcoating the healing process. The scene when Jae Yeol realizes that Kang Woo is a fake hallucination is indeed very powerful and dramatic. But do I believe that Kang Woo will never appear again afterwards? I don’t think so. Schizophrenia is not curable, it’s going to relapse if the patient is under great stress and not in medication. Luckily, Jae Yeol has a psychiatrist as his wife and I believe they are a match made in heaven. Both Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin are superb in their respective characters as usual. Jo In Sung especially nailed that part when he totally lost himself as the treatment began. I also think D.O. EXO delivered a great performance despite his idol status, this boy can act well and has potential to be an actor.
I think the main message of this drama is hope, that it’s okay to be imperfect and everyone deserves to be loved. Jae Yeol once told a metaphor story that said it only takes one moment for the light to shine a dark cave where light hadn’t shined in over a thousand years. The dark side of mental illness is certainly dreadful but it can be cured and controlled once the patient got into a treatment. Hence don’t be afraid of the stigma surrounding mental health, meet a psychiatrist and get treated if you feel you have one. You are never alone as people are willing to support you. Like how Jae Yeol finally set himself free from the metaphor rope of his deep trauma, you too deserve to be free from the dark cave and let the light shine on you.
Do I recommend you to watch this drama? Yes, definitely. It’s not your typical rom-com but it feels very realistic, the complex story makes you think and definitely very touching towards the end. Despite their normal facade, nobody is normal as all of the characters have their own problems and past trauma (even doctors like Hae Soo and Dong Min). It’s a little bit superficial in covering the mental illness and I don’t think this drama will change the stigma, however it’s informative and entertaining enough with solid performances by the actors. All the scenes are beautiful, well directed and the OSTs are great too. I will give this drama 4 out 5. Do watch it if you have free time!
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