It’s Okay, It’s Love is a quirky drama that I would describe has being weird and beautiful all in one. It was a very interesting drama to watch and I caught on after hearing many positive reviews in addition to wanting to see how it will tackle the theme of mental health. It sure gave this theme a lot of exposure because 2015 is set-up for an abundance of mental health based dramas. IOIL is a drama that depicts romance, friendship and family on top of psychiatry. It sounds like a lot going on for the one drama but there is a nice blend of the various elements which gives the drama a good balance. The theme of mental health is quite a raw one in k-dramas but IOIL has set the bars up high and watching was such a joyous adventure, especially seeing the various relationships develop and how the manifestation of schizophrenia to a person close at heart takes a toll on the relationships.
Jo In Sung did an incredible job portraying Jang Jae Yeol. He was mesmerising and charming all the way. He gave us a very raw Jae Yeol and that was very interesting to watch as we got to see various sides to him that the people around him and himself included do not even know of. Jae Yeol has a very bubbly and happy personality on the outside but secretly on the inside he is very vulnerable. He is a guy who is weak and frail and filled with years and years of guilt so much so that it has taken over his life with his hallucinations of a younger version of himself who doesn’t exist, except only in his hallucinated world. But with the people who matter to him right by his side he was able to fight with himself and come through with his senses.
Gong Hyo Jin is an incredible actress and she was certainly incredible here portraying the very charismatic Ji Hae Soo. GHJ gave an amazing performance in all aspects but I think some of her stronger performances came at the emotional scenes. When she broke down in tears, she broke down. Those scenes were powerful and just filled with some much emotion. It was hard for me to swallow them in which means a great performance by GHJ. Hae Soo is a complex character, but GHJ did a good job portraying her. Hae Soo is hot-headed with a hot temper constantly tries to get her way. She is very blunt and isn’t afraid to talk back to her peers. She will cross boundaries, even ones that she created herself. Just like during her trip with Jae Yeol to Okinawa when she told him not to make any further advancements, she got annoyed when he complied to her wishes. Also, when she was out at grocery shopping with him, she asked him for his opinion but bought everything opposite of his suggestions. Hae Soo is indeed a strong-willed woman and she is lucky to have found Jae Yeol who can handle her.
Hae Soo left me very puzzled. Her anxiety issue arose because she witnessed her mother having an affair but it was so ironic because she was the one who lit her mother’s affair. She was the one who pushed her mother to have the affair for her own benefit. That, I do not get. But I’m glad to see her overcome her insecurity issues and fears that has been tying her down her entire life.
I can’t believe that this is D.O.‘s very first acting gig (except for the cameo in You’re Beautiful which technically wasn’t an acting gig since it was EXO being themselves) because that was some amazing acting there for someone who has never acting before. In fact, he is a lot better than some of the other actors out there who have experience. I’m no actor myself but as a drama viewer, I have seen some varying ranges of first-time performances and D.O.’s is definitely up there. He gave off a wonderful performance as Han Kang Woo, really bringing Kang Woo to life. Emotional scenes are usually quite tough to handle, especially for newbies but D.O. did such a wonderful job at it! He not only brought Kang Woo to life but he also gave him character, showing the pain and wounds Kang Woo suffered from, whether that be from him coming from an abusive family or because of loneliness. His eyes tells all with the shallow tears and sadness.
One of the best scenes of the drama was when Jae Yeol had to bid farewell with Kang Woo. That was just very beautiful to watch. It’s three years of friendship that he had to say goodbye to and that’s not something easy to do but JIS gave a very touching performance there. When he said goodbye, he said goodbye to a part of himself and his guilt years and years worth of baggage that he had to put away. The friendship that he had with Kang Woo was a very dense one. Even though Kang Woo might be imaginary but he is the only “person” who truly understands the guilt that Jae Yeol feels which is why although he is merely a “fan” of Jae Yeol’s, Jae Yeol was able to bond with him and create a friendship with him. They have many shared experiences together but Jae Yeol doesn’t want him to have to go through this alone which is why he would go out of his way to help Kang Woo, but little does he know that this all just coming from his imagination.
Jae Yeol and Hae Soo have complex backgrounds but their relationship is simple because love is what brings them together and nothing else matters. It is because of their complex backgrounds that love is able to blossom between them. Hae Soo is a girl with insecurities due to her mother’s ongoing affair with President Kim which has traumatised her since childhood while Jae Yeol is dealing with so much guilt that has caused him to only be able to sleep in a bathtub as well as to suffer from schizophrenia. They both suffer from so much and due to this suffering, they are able to understand each other and see other in a way that no other can. This allows them to not only connect but also to open up to each other and helping to support one another on both the forefront and the sideline. Just like he helped her to get over her insecurity fears, she stood by his side and helped him to realise what is real and what isn’t.
JIS and GHJ alone are enough to sustain the drama due to their sizzling chemistry but because of the way their characters are written, this brings out even more chemistry from them. Jae Yeol is a fascinating guy with a very intriguing personality and he is the only one who can handle Hae Soo and her hot-and-cold temper. I love the way he flirts with her, always keeping her on the edge of her seat and wanting him more and more. He knows his limits and sticks by it and that is what keeps Hae Soo on the edge. He sticks by his principles but she wants him to break yet at the same time she doesn’t want him to do so. He knows when to tug with their relationship and that’s what keeps their relationship at a constant flirtatious mode.
Just like Jae Yeol always says to Hae Soo, he is just her style. He is perfect or her and the one meant for him. He knows her like no other and complements her life perfectly. She knows that she can open up to him and still have him respect her and accept her. They just click when they are together, which is why despite knowing him for a mere few months and assuming a relationship so soon after that she was able to advance to the next base with him. Contrastingly, compare this to her relationship with Choi Ho (Do Sang Woo) and you’ll see a very different Hae Soo with Choi Ho because he doesn’t understand her the way Jae Yeol does. She had to cry in front of him and beg him to understand her and even so he still doesn’t get her. Shows that he just isn’t meant for her.
One of my favourite aspects of the drama is the dynamics between the housemates. I just absolutely adore their relationship! Such an oddball of people living together under the one roof but it all works very well together. Despite their daily disagreements and bickering, they all love each other and care for each other dearly in very explicit ways, such as when Sunbae Jo raises his voice or when he gives his housemates a whack on the head. What I love most about this group of housemates is that despite all the things that goes on in their life, once together under that one roof they are a family and will support one another regardless of what they are going through. It’s those little actions of cooking up breakfast, lighting the candle and giving hugs that shows acceptance and love and that is really what this wacky family is all about.
Jo Dong Min (Sung Dong Il) is the head of the house and is the sunbae that everyone can go to for advice and help. Despite his usual grumpy temper, he is actually a very approachable and friendly guy and we got to see this right from the beginning when he was helping Park Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo) to control his tics. He is the most rational of the household and while there is lots of fun and games in the household, when the time comes, he assumes the head role, helping to lead his housemates on the righteous path.
Soo Kwang is a very interesting character. He suffers from Tourette syndrome but he is determined to not be limited by his condition. While he does get disheartened from his condition, he always manages to keep persisting on. I love the relationship that he formed with Jae Yeol, calling him “hyung” and going to him for advice on how to pursue girls. I especially loved it when he found out that Jae Yeol has a mental illness, he didn’t scrutinise him, but instead he turned up unexpectedly at his house, gave him a hug and even cooked him up breakfast. It was nice to see him use the puzzle to explain that psychiatric patients are just normal people whole are missing a few pieces of the puzzles in their life. That was a nice switcheroo since it is usually Jae Yeol giving Soo Kwang the pep talk.
Jang Jae Beom (Yang Ik June) is a very interesting character. He is not as heartless as we know him. He is just a guy lacking the motherly love that he has always yearned for. He doesn’t hate Jae Yeol; he is just jealous at Jae Yeol for have stolen all of his mother’s attention. He does love his little brother, seen evidently so when he gave his shoes to Jae Yeol when they were little. But what hurt him the most was that Jae Yeol did not trust him enough to let him know the truth. But who knows what would have happened had he had know the truth. It’s all in the past and not something they will ever be able to find the answer to.
IOIL is very smart, very very smart. Lots of the credit has to go to writer Noh Hee Kyung behind the creative storytelling. The way that Kang Woo was written in was just pure brilliance. It didn’t in anyway messed up the perceived reality for us viewers and actually took me a while to realise that he was in fact Jae Yeol’s hallucination. I really like this concept of Kang Woo, making the drama appear as if it was written with two audiences in mind – us viewers who are clearly aware of Jae Yeol’s perception of reality and the people surrounding Jae Yeol who aren’t. It’s a very neat way of showing the development of his illness while not interfering with the life that is reality. There was mention that Jae Yeol has OCD but I felt like there wasn’t enough focus given to it. I do wish that there was more explicit emphasis on his mental illnesses earlier so that we would have been more emotionally invested into Jae Yeol.
Music plays a very important part to all dramas and it was no exception here. Music is really what helps to complete a drama, helping to create the different moods. However, the music here felt a bit off with light-hearted music playing in the darker scenes. But I reading somewhere and I found it a nice interpretation how this blogger saw it being done so intentionally to convey that while we all may have our own issues to deal with but life should be lived upon happily, which is a different way of seeing it. That aside though, I really enjoyed the OST. It was beautiful and there were some very powerful music. I loved the mix between the really light-hearted songs and the heavier songs, which provides a contrasting balance to the drama, really helping to bring about the issue of mental illness.
I really enjoyed watching IOIL and having the various relationships grow on me. This is a really interesting drama with some very interesting characters who have some very interesting personalities. It was an interesting watch and it had me interested right from the first ep.
Click here to watch It’s Okay, It’s Love.
[Credits: Pictures from https://www.facebook.com/ItsOkayItsLove]