It’s Okay, It’s Love: Episode 1
If you were as apprehensive about what a psychiatric-medical-romance would turn out to be like myself, then let me tell you that SBS’s newest Wednesday-Thursday show It’s Okay, It’s Love is quite the surprise with compelling characters in a rich world filled with all kinds of relationships, including housemates, friends, lovers, bromances, and more. Even if I can’t pinpoint the overall tone of the show just yet, the acting and writing still captivated my attention in the first episode, exercising my brain with cerebral challenges, and my stomach with unexpected moments of humor.
The good news is that I’m looking forward to what this show brings us next, and I can’t complain if that means watching a man like Jo In-sung for fifteen more hours ’cause that man is like fine wine: only getting better with age.
SONG OF THE DAY
Chen (EXO) – “최고의 행운 (Best Luck)” from the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We open at a prison where a white-haired man is being released back into society. As the other prisoners whoop and chant his name, it quickly becomes apparent that they deeply admire—or even revere this man: he’s JANG JAE-BUM (Yang Ik-joon), who drinks it all in.
Elsewhere at a pool party, the DJ entertains the crowd, then steps down to assume his main role as the birthday boy. He blows out the candles on his cake and is kissed by his sweetheart, completely unaware that an uninvited guest is about to crash the party.
The music cuts out and his smile drops when he turns to see a fired up Jae-bum, who throws a punch and stabs him repeatedly with the fork in his hand. Holy crap, this guy’s not right in the head. Our birthday boy falls to the ground while his friends charge at his attacker. His girlfriend starts crying, and a student runs to his side, crying out: “Writer-nim! Writer-nim!”
Jae-bum goes on a stabbing spree until he’s finally pinned to the ground. His vision and hearing blurry, Jae-bum’s death threats sound muffled to the birthday boy’s ears. Curiously, the birthday boy cracks into a smile, muttering: “Hyung… what a fool.” Wait a minute, you two are related? By blood?!
Better introduce our hero before he slips into unconsciousness: he’s JANG JAE-YEOL (Jo In-sung), and it turns out yes—he’s Jae-bum’s dongsaeng. (Also, acckkk we’re watching Jo In-sung get stabbed. Again.)
We cut away to meet our heroine, JI HAE-SOO (Gong Hyo-jin) who moves into her new, but messy abode. Not like she’s much of a neat-freak either, since she fishes a bowl out of the sink and makes herself at home eating cereal in front of the TV.
Evidently Jae-bum is sent right back to prison to serve a 30-month sentence for those multiple stabbings, despite his brother’s pleas for leniency from the court. Hae-soo remarks how that best-selling author Jang Jae-yeol’s got a face that sells books; she must be a reader, though, since she gripes at hearing that this means the release of his upcoming book will be postponed. “I’ve been waiting for months!” she yells, annoyed.
Her early bird TV watching wakes up an irritated housemate, JO DONG-MIN (Sung Dong-il), whose complaints Hae-soo lets roll off her shoulder. Dong-min spits up when she calls for their other roomie, shouting at her to let the poor guy sleep ’cause he’s just been dumped and been crying for days.
But Hae-soo ignores him, and bursts into PARK SOO-KWANG (Lee Kwang-soo)’s room. There’s enough evidence here about the break-up including pictures with the ex-girlfriend, the depressing music, and the pile of tissues for us without Dong-min having to warn her or us.
So when Hae-soo tsks disapprovingly, Dong-min claims the guy was just blowing his nose. Aw. Hae-soo isn’t unsympathetic to Soo-kwang’s pitiful state, but doesn’t say anything either and simply leaves.
Dong-min, on the other hand, wakes Soo-kwang up to ask if this book he’s been reading (written by Jae-yeol entitled Silence of Love) required that many tissues before curling up next to him. What a good friend for trying to cheer the poor guy up.
26 Months Later. Morning breaks on a luxurious high-rise apartment, where Jae-yeol washes up, his stab scar still visible on his shoulder. His clipped answers to his girlfriend (Yoon Jin-yi) irritate her, as she updates him on the apartment search. (Speaking of, that bathroom door has a digital lock. Is that a rich person thing? Or is Jae-yeol slightly paranoid? Or has dramaland transcended to door lock PPL?)
It rather seems like that lovey-dovey phase we saw earlier is long past them, even though they’ve spent the night together. Seeing Jae-yeol pull her into a lingering backhug makes me wonder if there’s still a little romance left, but he gives her a quick goodbye. Once he’s gone, she picks up a call and asks after “my book.” Hm, curious.
Over at the hospital, Hae-soo and her team oversee their newest patient—an abuse victim. An angry family member barges in, yelling at the already beaten and bruised patient to get up before screaming at the docs about how his brother is a disgrace by cutting off his penis, claiming to be a woman, and liking other men.
Hae-soo doesn’t take her eyes off the transgender patient, taking note of the oncoming tears. When the angry brother demands that a psychiatrist be brought in, Hae-soo finally speaks, “She’s here.”
Another doctor explains how the patient received gender reassignment surgery three years ago and has been beaten by the family ever since. Hae-soo recommends moving the patient to the psychiatry department before she’s literally beaten to death.
Then Hae-soo tests her interns on the next course of action, only for them to test her patience with their bumbling or biased answers formulated from a textbook. That gets them rightly scolded, as Hae-soo tells them that it’s a given that an abuse victim would want to run away; right now, their patient is lying like a corpse without will or volition—so does she require therapy or not?
They mumble a yes. Hae-soo then calls up Dong-min (whom we’ll call Sunbae Jo, since that’s what Hae-soo calls him), and declines his request to appear in a talk show today in his place. Sunbae Jo asks her to cut him some slack because his wife—whom he hasn’t seen for two years—is leaving for the States soon.
After hanging up, Sunbae Jo gets back to sexy times with his wife. Soo-kwang just so happens to walk in on that moment, and something about the situation triggers his Tourette’s. Sunbae Jo isn’t at all surprised by his housemate’s verbal and motor tics, and assures his wife that his episode will pass in a minute.
At the same time, Hae-soo chases a patient being dragged out of the hospital by her mother. She loses them, and then gets another urgent call about that talk show, this time from her PD boyfriend.
He’s all smiles when she reluctantly agrees; he’s also a cheat, but gets caught getting frisky with another girl by none other by the show’s guest, Jae-yeol, who’s all, Oh whoops, got lost!
It turns out that other girl is on friendly terms with Hae-soo, raving about how good-looking Jae-yeol is in person. But Hae-soo says she’s a former fan because virtually all of the author’s works in the past three years have mostly been thriller novels filled with gore.
The girl, Min-young, says Hae-soo must have some male phobia along with her alleged aversion to sex, but Hae-soo self-diagnoses herself with insecurity issues and fear of commitment. When Hae-soo is introduced inside, Jae-yeol suppresses a smile, recognizing Min-young from earlier.
He’s charming and polite with Hae-soo, though he admits that he’s a little disappointed to see a female psychiatrist when he’d been expecting a talk show debate with a man. “I’m afraid I’ll be distracted because you’re too pretty,” he finishes.
His flattery intrigues her, and as Hae-soo steps outside to leave, her eyes follow Jae-yeol’s line of vision in the mirror… to the stylist’s chest. Ha.
Backstage, Jae-yeol offers some tips to help Hae-soo with stage fright, but she says she’ll be fine… and then trips on live broadcast. Oops. But then Jae-yeol sends her a flirty wink. Then it’s time for their debate as they discuss about the psychopathology and legal punishment of sexual predators.
He wins his first point with the audience by cutting off Hae-soo’s argument that justice in court isn’t always the answer with his counter-argument that the culprits in his novels were met with karmic justice instead. Whether that’s a crime or not is for a judge to decide, and he adds that Hae-soo should consider the victims’ perspectives before showing compassion on the offenders.
His next book will explore the nature of evil, and he believes there’s a fine line between good and evil in man. Hae-soo holds her tongue until she’s asked if it’s possible for someone to trick a mental health professional into thinking that the patient suffers from depression. She says yes, just so long as they don’t get caught by a licensed professional like herself.
Them be fightin’ words, and now this debate gets personal: “Not if that someone is smart like me. I think I could deceive you if I were your patient.” Jae-yeol remarks. He believes he could fool a lie detector test, which makes her scoff at him: “Do you think all psychiatrists are fools or just me?”
Jae-yeol concedes that point to Hae-soo, but scores audience support back by calling himself an ignorant novelist. He keeps a curious eye on Hae-soo, and then speaks first on whether they can test whether humans are innately good or evil.
He uses audience participation to ask if anyone has hit, cursed at, or killed someone before. Those who actually hit someone rise from their seats, but then they all sit down again when Hae-soo asks those who went ahead and committed murder as described in Jae-yeol’s novels to remain standing.
She uses the topic of sexual deviance with the men, and Jae-yeol smirks that he thinks he won when most of the men rise to admit that they’ve been attracted to women before, whether they knew them or not. When asked to remain standing if they raped those women, all the men sit down.
With that, Hae-soo argues that human nature is essentially good because everyone can have violent or sexual thoughts, but it’s another thing to act on them. But Jae-yeol doesn’t skip a beat and counters that that means his novels aren’t problematic, since they’d be considered rambling thoughts, which she claims isn’t a crime.
So Jae-yeol has basically won another point, thanks to his silver-tongued arguments, as noted by commentators Sunbae Jo and Soo-kwang in the car. He leans in to whisper a thanks for boosting his book sales for him, and Hae-soo mutters through clenched teeth that he’s a salesman, not a writer.
Hae-soo illustrates her next point with a hypothetical where a captor will present two slips of paper to his captive. Even though both slips say that the victim will die, the captor will lie and claim that one slip says the victim will live. The question: What will the victim choose? So she tells Jae-yeol to choose, and he asks, “Can I call you when I figure out the answer?” Cheeky.
Although slightly flustered, Hae-soo gets back to her point explaining that in the end, the victim lives because there’s always hope, even in the bleakest moments in life. She encourages the audience to be open-minded about getting psychological help to cope with those dark times.
On that note, the show wraps up, and both Jae-yeol and Hae-soo are surrounded by fans. Hae-soo slips away and passes on a date with her boyfriend PD Choi. But even if she isn’t big on the PDA, her boyfriend reminds her of their romantic 300th day anniversary coming up.
She climbs into the taxi before Jae-yeol can catch up for a chat. Jae-yeol’s thwarted in his attempt to ask after her number, and tells PD Choi that Hae-soo’s a woman who lacks oxytocin, aka that chemical when people are in love. “It’s why she’s so uptight,” he adds.
Inserting some humor into the mix, we cut away to Jae-yeol and the student who was at the opening pool party (and also lit up anytime Jae-yeol so much as looked at him during the debate) standing in front of the urinals. Are they checking out each other’s wangs? HA.
We’ll come to know this moony-eyed student as HAN KANG-WOO (D.O.), an aspiring writer and idolizes Jae-yeol enough that he’d probably follow him to the depths of hell. Anyhow, Jae-yeol glosses over Kang-woo’s request for reading his manuscript for the millionth time, and is surprised when Kang-woo claims to knows the answer to that paper slip dilemma. (He doesn’t, heh).
Jae-yeol asks if Kang-woo’s father is still beating him these days, to which Kang-soo replies that he’s been working out per Jae-yeol’s advice. Jae-yeol agrees to give the manuscript a read, but emphasizes that it’s the last time, then ruffles Kang-woo’s hair like a puppy. These two are adorable together.
Jae-yeol ponders over the Two Slips of Paper Dilemma outside, itching to know the answer. Meanwhile, Hae-soo and her fellow doctors are out for drinks, where Sunbae Jo gets teased for choosing psychiatry because he was afraid of surgery.
Then things get awkward when that same doc blurts out that doctor LEE YOUNG-JIN (Jin Kyung) is Sunbae Jo’s ex-wife. The teasing doc can’t take a hint to just, yunno, stop talking while he brings up how those two fought like cats and dogs until he finally gets a drink thrown in his face.
Hae-soo excuses herself while the argument continues inside, as Sunbae Jo declares that yeah, he got counseling for his broken heart. Do none of them ever get sick just because they’re doctors? Sunbae Jo just tears into the other doctor about aggravating other people’s pains, only to be told that the guy he’s yelling at has got cancer.
Sunbae Jo immediately feels bad and offers the doctor an apologetic drink outside. The good news, however, is that the cancer was caught early, so his prognosis is pretty good. Annoyed at frightening him half to death, Sunbae Jo swipes the water back. Heh.
“My wife wants a divorce,” says the doc. Sunbae Jo hands back the water. Hah.
While Soo-kwang and Hae-soo enjoy themselves at the club, we see Jae-yeol at the bar looking for his publisher. It’s pretty funny how he can’t go five seconds without being recognized, but then he smiles when he spots Hae-soo on the dance floor.
He pops a piece of cheese (out of two) in his mouth, and then eureka. He figured it out, didn’t he? At the same time, his publisher looks like she’s about to tear her hair out for good reason: Jae-yeol’s girlfriend, LEE PUL-IP, has written a book of her own, and it’s a plagiarized piece of Jae-yeol’s newest book.
After failing to get Hae-soo’s attention when she declines his drink on the dance floor, Jae-yeol catches up to her and uses a pair of mints to illustrate the answer to her question. He pops one in his mouth and says that if the one in his hand means that he’ll die, then the one in his mouth must mean that he’ll live. “A trick answer to your trick question.”
She tells him that’s right, but he won’t let her go that easily, grabbing her arm. He lets go and apologizes, which earns him some points, and then suddenly a dude who recognizes Hae-soo charges at her, and she tumbles down the stairs. What the—a former patient, maybe?
Jae-yeol kicks the guy down and punches him before he can hurt her further, but then Hae-soo breaks a vase over Jae-yeol’s head to make him let go of the angry patient.
Despite bleeding from the head, Jae-yeol takes off after her, and now this three-person long chase through the streets is sort of cheery… because the upbeat music tells us so? Apparently Rage Issues was given a short leave from the hospital, and Hae-soo tells the friends to call his family before running after him again.
Things get worse quick when Rage Issues makes off with a taxi, and Jae-yeol shows up moments later with someone else’s car. He gets reluctantly wrangled into going after the screaming man, and zips around the other cars easily to catch up to him.
He asks if she’s normal compared to Rage Issues behind the wheel over there, and she says it’s be better to think of it that way. Then Hae-soo calmly calls it in to the hospital, although even she can’t help but gasp at Jae-yeol’s driving.
Jae-yeol looks a little amused that a schizophrenic patient can drive so well, and he’s impressed when she says to keep following the taxi. He asks why Rage Issues hit her at the club, and doth my ears deceive me? Did Hae-soo just utter the words “patient confidentiality” like it means something?
She even makes Jae-yeol take a breathalyzer ’cause she saw him drinking earlier. Got to cover her bases, don’t cha know. Noticing his bleeding state, she tests his consciousness and snaps at him for speaking in banmal.
When Hae-soo gets ahold of Rage Issues’ girlfriend, she learns that he stopped his meds because it interfered with their sex life, and stops Jae-yeol’s curiosity in his tracks again.
It’s nearly daybreak by the time they follow the taxi approaching a cliff. Hae-soo braces herself as Jae-yeol guns the accelerator and swerves in front of the taxi. It collides into the car and both vehicles spin. The taxi spins out and stops on a mound, and their car screeches to a halt.
After the police arrive, Hae-soo orders to keep the patient down in order to administer the medication. The effect is virtually instantaneous, and Hye-soo calms the patient down so he can be transferred to the hospital.
Jae-yeol’s clearly impressed, and tells her they’re not going anywhere because they’re out of gasoline. So she calls an ambulance for Jae-yeol’s bleeding wound, and he asks, “Is that your way of hitchhiking?”
She tells him to close his eyes, and while they’re closed, Jae-yeol confesses that he’s a bit interested in her. Taking off her shirt, Hae-soo says he probably won’t for very long. To his disappointment, Hae-soo’s still very much dressed when he opens his eyes.
She tells him to kneel in front of him, and pulls his head towards her to examine his wound. It’s only now Jae-yeol realizes that he’s bleeding, and she says assaulting someone to save their life can’t be prosecuted by law. He asks for how long she’s known, and she smiles, “Maybe from the moment it happened?”
She keeps treating him with the one working arm she’s got while Jae-yeol winces in pain. When asked what he’s thinking right now, he grits out: “How I’m going to get my revenge.”
But tending to him proves too difficult for Hae-soo, and that’s when Jae-yeol realizes that her arm’s gone limp. She explains the patient kicked her in the shoulder earlier, and insists that she’s fine, only to faint into his arms moments later.
His attempts to wake her don’t work, so Jae-yeol covers her up before scooping her up. As he carries her down the road, he acknowledges that she’s kind of cute. Exhausted, he wonders where that damn ambulance is, and then hears sirens in the distance.
Looking down at her face, he admits this situation wasn’t half-bad, but he’s breathing pretty heavily now…
… And then his eyes roll backwards, and Jae-yeol crumples to the ground.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect coming from It’s Okay, It’s Love since I avoided as much promo material as possible beforehand in order to come into the premiere with fresh eyes. So even if I didn’t watch a teaser, I still saw the posters and scratched my head in confusion. And possible dread for more medical and ethical boundaries being demolished in dramaland. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time on my recapping record. Surely, surely our heroine couldn’t be his shrink, right? Okay, the jury’s still out on that one, but I really, really hope it doesn’t come true.
Although I haven’t been a devoted follower of writer Noh Hee-kyung’s works over the years, I’m familiar enough with her style to know that she creates these enriched worlds filled with complex characters. Even from the first few minutes, I liked that we could tell that these were established relationships between our characters to all types of degrees, whether that was lovers, friends, or a reader recognizing a best-selling author on TV. So there’s a lot to explore as we move forward as well as discover in our characters’ pasts. Even if we only saw snippets of some characters over others, those moments still gave us lingering questions, like whether Soo-kwang’s tics are triggered by certain social situations or not. Right now it seems like his Tourette’s doesn’t impede his daily lifestyle, so we’ll have to wait and see.
What I am confused about at present is the overall tone of the show, thanks to some strange music choices on occasion. It isn’t that the music was bad by any means, but more that I couldn’t wrap my head around why there was a street chase with a writer, psychiatrist, and a schizophrenic patient and a following car chase to the tunes of happyish, upbeat music. I don’t know if this is something the show will continue to do, so for now, it’s something for me to keep in mind.
At present, I appreciate our heroine in Hae-soo, both as a character and a competent psychiatrist. I know, I’m surprised to say those words, too (if only because Triangle showcases one of the worst examples of professional competency). Hae-soo is calm under pressure, astute, smart, and compassionate towards her patients. Additionally, she cares for her housemates, even if she isn’t the type to readily show affection. In that sense, her self-diagnosis grows ever curiouser because she’s aware of her insecurity issues and relationship commitment issues, and it sucks to see her with a cheating boyfriend.
And would you believe it when I say that I’m pleasantly surprised by the level of professional competency exemplified in Hae-soo’s work. While I know medical and ethical guidelines in Korea differ from the States, it feels like eons since a drama character mentioned the phrase “patient confidentiality,” and given the circumstances, verbally kept to that as much as possible. Here’s to hoping that she maintains that level of competency and keeps getting patients that keep viewers’ noggins running on sensitive topics like views on gender identity in this hour.
I do enjoy Hae-soo’s interactions with our hero Jae-yeol thus far, and intrigued by their mutual tinge of interest in one another. With two veteran actors (Jo In-sung and Gong Hyo-jin) at the helm, I didn’t have to worry about their performances and left a little excited by the end of the hour by their chemistry together. Jae-yeol’s also an interesting hero—sharp-witted and charming while also daring at times. He cares for the people around him as well, even if he’s got a crazy hyung who flies off the handle and stabs him at his own birthday party. And now with the final few months of hyung’s jail sentence winding down, I can’t help but fear for his safety. Maybe we should attend to that bleeding wound first.
- Bath time snuggles for It’s Okay, It’s Love
- It’s Okay, it’s dance time
- Gong Hyo-jin fractures arm in three-car collision
- First stills from the set of It’s Okay, It’s Love
- Yoon Jin-yi joins melodrama It’s Okay, It’s Love
- Sung Dong-il cast as Gong Hyo-jin’s first love
- Idol D.O. cast in warm romantic melo It’s Okay, It’s Love
- Gong Hyo-jin and Jo In-sung consider Noh Hee-kyung melodrama