Straying from many typical K-Dramas, Ko Moon Young was modelled after a fairytale witch, not a princess. The producer of It’s Okay To Not Be Okay wrote the characters for Ko Moon Young and Moon Kang Tae specifically in a way such that these very valuable, yet difficult life lessons would be delivered.
In an interview with Star News, producer Park Sin Woo dished on the story behind the story. Although the global society may be growing to normalize mental health issues, in South Korea, it is still highly stigmatized. He wanted to show the grittier side behind the struggles of those with mental disorders, and that they were normal people too.
On Seo Ye Ji‘s character, he stated that Ko Moon Young was cruel and closed off because there was no one in her life to understand the reasonings behind her and her actions, however twisted they may have been. The way she acted out was simply, how she survived alone in the world. He was careful to emphasize this point subtly in the drama as well, which is why he thinks the character was portrayed as a charming one, rather than cruel. He related that although she may seem strong, she is still stuck as a child for most of the drama, as can be seen in the way she craves affection and attention. Only at the end, when she is released from her trauma, can viewers truly see maturity and growth in her character.
On Moon Kang Tae as played by Kim Soo Hyun, he learns to love, something which he previously actively stopped himself from doing as he thought it selfish. Indeed, love is selfish but it is also necessary to one’s happiness and growth. Producer Park shared that if being with someone becomes a pain to both of you, it is fine to break up. However, if you feel that you can withstand the pain and being together makes you happier, then you should make the judgement that it is alright for the two of you to be together.
Perhaps the most surprising nugget of wisdom Producer Park shared in the interview, was that ultimately, the drama is not meant to be one that encourages being a family or caring for your loved ones. It is one that emphasizes that it is okay to be an individualist. He stated that even the ending showed that the main characters had developed as individualists.
The parting words from Producer Park? As much as it is okay to not be okay, it is okay to put yourself first, to learn to love yourself, and to go after the things you want in life, in a manner that does not harm yourself. Once you have fulfilled your own needs and wants, then will you have the ease to look after others.