It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Episode 9
Our selfless hero is finally letting himself be happy, step by step. And once he lets a little happiness seep in, it all comes pouring in at once. There’s no more holding back, no more running away; just complete freedom. With that freedom, however, there comes the worry that he’s leaving someone important behind.
EPISODE 9: “King donkey ears”
After a split decision, an excited Kang-tae asks Moon-young to go on a trip together. But as soon as they’re in the car, he seems to lose all his energy. Moon-young warns him that he better not be regretting his actions, and he nervously laughs.
She suggests they go somewhere exotic, like the Serengeti, but she’s shocked to find out he doesn’t have a passport. “Did you come from the stars or something?” she asks (heh). She settles for an overnight trip, only to get frustrated when he insists on bringing Sang-tae.
Having had enough, she steps on the gas and threatens to crash them into a nearby pier. He shouts her name, and she stops just in time, her face stone cold. She doesn’t want to deal with him right now, so she orders him to get out of the car.
So Moon-young abandons Kang-tae by the water, cursing as she drives off. And Kang-tae watches her, smiling to himself. Later, he joins Jae-soo for lunch and tells him that he wants to start having fun. He asks that Jae-soo look after Sang-tae tomorrow, and Jae-soo agrees like the good friend he is.
At OK Hospital, Director Oh and Joo-ri’s mom chat while they eat lunch with Sang-tae. Mom doesn’t understand why Kang-tae punched someone, and Director Oh points out that he used to beat people up when they bothered her. Hee, he had a one-sided crush on her when they were younger.
Director Oh is suddenly called to the lounge, where Ah-reum and her family are. Her family is furious that her ex-husband managed to find her here, and they want her discharged immediately. To everyone’s surprise, Director Oh just lets them go; he sees no reason to fight against the family’s wishes.
Jung-tae is, of course, devastated when he finds out that Ah-reum has been dragged away. But his friends remind him that he can’t make a fuss, otherwise people will know that he and Ah-reum are a couple.
That night, Moon-young finds Sang-tae watching his favorite cartoon Dooly the Little Dinosaur. Still peeved from earlier, she says that she prefers the character Gil-dong because he gave his friends a place to stay.
Sang-tae likes Gil-dong too, as he’s the caregiver of the show, so Moon-young thinks they should be best buddies. And Sang-tae seems to love this idea, beaming at the word “buddies.” (The actual word she uses is kind of hard to translate; kind of like “two peas in a pod.”)
Kang-tae then arrives and asks to speak with Moon-young alone. The couple relocate to the balcony, a little awkward with each other. Moon-young huffs that it’s ridiculous Kang-tae made such a fuss when they can only have fun for one day. But Kang-tae says, “One day is more than enough for me. I dreamt of that day for my entire life.” He asks if she’ll go on that trip tomorrow, looking like a hopeful kid, and she sighs.
Moon-young notes that Kang-tae always seems to be taming her. He chuckles and says that it’s more like the opposite; he keeps doing things he wouldn’t normally do because of her, like punching Ah-reum’s ex. He thinks he must’ve been crazy to do that, but she thinks he was amazing. He looks at her with this intensity and slowly leans in — making the unflusterable Moon-young actually flustered. Their lips are mere inches apart and then…
A deer cries in the distance, LOL. The couple jump away from each other, and Kang-tae says a quick goodnight before hurrying out. Moon-young looks out at the forest, cursing the deer for ruining their moment. She even screams back, like she did once before.
Meanwhile, Joo-ri and Seung-jae have drinks up on their roof. Joo-ri’s mind is still on today’s events, and Seung-jae tries to be nice by saying that Joo-ri is way too good for Kang-tae. Joo-ri smiles and agrees that Kang-tae doesn’t have much to offer.
“I must’ve thought I could be the one to fill up his empty life,” Joo-ri says. Seung-jae assures her that she’ll find her guy eventually. Around the corner, on the staircase, an eavesdropping Sang-in thinks to himself that Seung-jae is finally doing her money’s worth.
The next day, at OK, the patients sit through music therapy and we see Park Ok-ran staring at Go Dae-hwan the whole time. Afterwards, Director Oh takes Dae-hwan out to chat, expressing interest in Moon-young’s class.
Dae-hwan says that Moon-young is just like her mother — fooling everyone with an angel’s face when there’s really a demon inside. Director Oh thinks that there is good and bad in everyone, but Dae-hwan snaps that his wife was a monster, that she killed someone. In turn, he admits, he killed her… or at least, he thought he did.
Inside, Nurse Park is looking through the book The Murder of the Witch of the West by Do Hui-jae (Moon-young’s mother). Ok-ran appears and snatches the book away, giving Nurse Park a paper cut. “See?” Ok-ran says, her tone dark. “That’s because you touched something that wasn’t yours. I really hate that.”
At the mansion, Kang-tae tells Sang-tae that he’ll be going out today (without delving into any details). Sang-tae is still in his good mood, announcing that he and Moon-young are buddies now, just like Kang-tae and Jae-soo. Aww.
Once Sang-tae is occupied, Kang-tae heads over to Moon-young’s room to see if she’s ready. He sighs to see that she’s severely overdressed, and she sighs to see that he overpacked. She pulls him close and tells him that she’s all he’ll be needing on this trip. That intensity between them returns, until his phone rings.
It’s Director Oh, wanting to meet with Kang-tae for something. But first, Kang-tae wonders what the psychology is behind a person who wears outrageous clothing. Director Oh says that it’s most likely a way for them to protect themselves, like armor. So, knowingly, Director Oh urges him to take good care of Moon-young.
Director Oh then says that he’s starting to wonder if Kang-tae was right — maybe Moon-young is afraid of her mother. He doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions, but it is possible that the mom is still alive. And if she is, she’ll probably seek out her husband and daughter.
While Moon-young waits at home, she asks Sang-tae questions about Kang-tae, like what kind of girls he likes. She muses that she should show Kang-tae a good time, and Sang-tae blurts out that she’s not allowed to hang out with his little brother. If she wants to hang out with someone, it should be him, since they’re besties now.
Moon-young notes that Sang-tae really adores his brother, and she’s curious to know if there was ever a time he hated him. Sang-tae stops what he’s doing but doesn’t answer. Moon-young tells him to spill, reminding him of the story King Donkey Ears (about a character who spilled the king’s secret). But still, Sang-tae remains silent.
Jae-soo takes Sang-tae back to the apartment, giving Kang-tae and Moon-young the chance to sneak off. Kang-tae drives them over to the mountains, their first stop being a super long bridge that is giving me anxiety just by looking at it.
Moon-young is legitimately scared to cross, making Kang-tae laugh, but she’s willing when she learns that this is something Kang-tae is unable to do with Sang-tae. She goes slowly, leaning on the railing and singing a song to distract herself. He tells her to stop, though, because her singing voice is scary. Haha, it really is.
On the other side, the couple take a break, with Moon-young insisting on getting some pictures together. And Moon-young has to cheese extra hard to get a genuine smile out of Kang-tae. But then Kang-tae gets a surprise phone call from Jung-tae, learning that he and Ah-reum ran off together and are somewhere nearby.
Apparently, Pil-wong (Director Oh’s friend and personal spy) had given up his day out to give it to Jung-tae. Jung-tae asks that Kang-tae pay for their guest room, since he spent all his money on the taxi ride here.
Jung-tae tries to guilt trip Kang-tae, saying the couple wouldn’t be separated if Kang-tae hadn’t punched Ah-reum’s ex and gotten her discharged. Can’t they spend at least one night together? Kang-tae starts to argue, but a smiling Moon-young comes up and states that she’s already paid for two rooms — one for them.
Kang-tae pulls Moon-young aside, reminding her that he can’t spend the night. But she points out that the couple might elope and that “your rationality can never win against your desires.” It’s his duty, she says, to look after them. He doesn’t want to work off the clock, but one look back at the couple and he caves.
Over dinner, Joo-ri and the apartment gang wonder what Kang-tae and Moon-young are up to this late. Seung-jae mindlessly wonders if the two are together, and oh boy, the silence that washes over the room. (Sang-tae looks hurt at the mere thought of this possibility.) To break the tension, Joo-ri’s mom sends Joo-ri and Sang-in out for more beer.
On the walk back, Joo-ri gives Sang-in a reluctant compliment, saying she understands why Moon-young has partnered with him for so long. But Sang-in replies that it’s the other way around and that he’s the one who’s been sticking around her. “Because she can’t be left alone,” he explains. “She’s very lonely, but she doesn’t want people to know that, so she pushes them away.”
Joo-ri gets teary-eyed, saying that Moon-young and Kang-tae are a lot alike; that must be why they like each other. Sang-in says that there are many reasons why someone falls in love, like say, their crush getting drunk and slapping them. They laugh, with Sang-in’s final input being that Kang-tae must have his own reasons.
Back at the guest lodge, Kang-tae braces himself before calling Sang-tae and informing him that he won’t be back tonight. When he rejoins Moon-young, she notes that he’s acting as if he’s cheating on his wife.
Kang-tae just feels guilty because Sang-tae was so happy to call Moon-young his bestie. Their mom always wished for Sang-tae to have just one friend who could understand him. Moon-young says that she had a friend like that — and we cut to Joo-ri in her room, taking out one of Moon-young’s books.
Moon-young tells the story of how she and Joo-ri met: In elementary school, Joo-ri was scared of her classmates because they bullied her. But the classmates were scared of Moon-young, so they stopped their ridiculing whenever she was around. This prompted Joo-ri to initiate a sweet friendship with her.
The girls became pretty close, but after some time, Moon-young realized that Joo-ri wanted more than one friend. Moon-young didn’t like that, so she harassed all the other kids in hopes that they would ignore Joo-ri. Moon-young’s plan worked, but instead of winning Joo-ri back, Joo-ri became scared of Moon-young herself.
Moon-young tells Kang-tae, “A friend who truly understands you doesn’t exist.” Kang-tae urges her to make up with Joo-ri, but she doesn’t see the need to when she has him and Sang-tae. She moves closer, and his panic sends him falling to the ground. Uh-oh… the drinks they were sipping on had heavy amounts of alcohol.
Later, in their room, Kang-tae is red-cheeked drunk and giggling that he has fun when he’s with Moon-young. Unable to hold back, Moon-young moves toward him again. We cut to Jung-tae and Ah-reum being cutesy outside, unaware of the ruckus going on in the room behind them.
Cut back to inside, with Kang-tae now hovering over Moon-young, holding her down. When she attempts to kiss him, he pulls her to his chest and rolls them into bed. He tells her to stop and go to sleep, and she cutely mumbles that she’d fall asleep faster if he caressed her hair.
Kang-tae does as she asks and holds her like that until she’s asleep. Eventually, he untangles himself and sits across the room. “I told you that I can no longer hold myself back,” he says, staring at her. “I guess I can’t run away anymore.”
It looks like Sang-tae was waiting up for Kang-tae all night. By morning, he’s asleep at his desk and shaking due to a nightmare. He whimpers for Kang-tae not to leave him and then jolts awake, tears streaming down his face. We then see the drawing he was working on — him, Kang-tae, and Moon-young riding in a camping car.
At the same time, Moon-young wakes up in the guest lodge alone. She heads outside to find Kang-tae and is relieved to see that he’s coming toward her, his hands behind his back. He explains that he wanted to get what he couldn’t give her before, revealing a little bouquet of flowers. She smiles and says that they’re pretty, and he tells her, “So are you.” So without holding back, he leans in and kisses her.
Moon-young’s smile grows even bigger, and Kang-tae starts laughing with giddiness. He sees the young version of her, finally accepting his flowers and, naturally, his feelings.
They return to the guest lodge, holding hands, and are surprised to find Jung-tae without Ah-reum. He admits that earlier that morning, he and Ah-reum planned to run away (with the extra money Moon-young secretly left them).
But in the end, Jung-tae didn’t feel right. When the lodge owner offered them drinks last night, he realized that he isn’t fully recovered. Ah-reum was heartbroken, but Jung-tae reassured her that he would get better on his own and come back to her.
Kang-tae and Moon-young drive Jung-tae back to OK, the poor guy crying in the backseat. When they drop him off, Moon-young states that he was foolish for letting Ah-reum go. Kang-tae says he did it because he loves her, but Moon-young thinks that’s bullshit.
“I’ll never let you go,” Moon-young tells Kang-tae. He jokes that they never know what will happen (and, Show, this better not be foreshadowing). He leaves her in the car to make a quick trip inside and check on Sang-tae.
Meanwhile, Jung-tae tells Pil-wong all about his trip, mentioning the fact that Kang-tae and Moon-young showed up together. He even jokes that the couple could have a double wedding with him and Ah-reum. And unfortunately, Cha-yong overhears this and has to spread the news.
Cha-yong finds Dr. Kwon Min-suk in the bathroom and tells him what he heard as well. Though, Cha-yong doesn’t have his story straight, as he gossips that Kang-tae and Moon-young were on a trip together because they’re getting married. The two workers freeze when someone comes out of a stall — Sang-tae.
Kang-tae is at Sang-tae’s painting station, looking at Sang-tae’s sketchbook and his most recent drawing. But then Sang-tae appears in front of him and blurts out, “Hyung told you not to lie.”
Sang-tae asks Kang-tae who he likes more, him or Moon-young, which is right when Moon-young walks into the lounge. Moon-young, and everyone else, stare up at the staircase as Sang-tae gets more heated. He yells at Kang-tae to answer his question, and nervous, Kang-tae answers that of course he likes him more.
Sang-tae looks past Kang-tae’s forced smile and into his eyes, throwing water at him and calling him fake. Kang-tae tries to apologize, but then Sang-tae repeats the words that were said years ago: “‘I wish Hyung would just die!’ You said that.”
Sang-tae breaks down in tears, saying that that’s why Kang-tae left him for dead at the river that day. He runs down the steps, shouting to the whole building that Kang-tae wants him dead, that he’s trying to kill him.
Everyone watches not knowing what to do, Moon-young herself shedding a tear. And completely broken, Kang-tae collapses to the ground. He sobs to Sang-tae, and almost to himself, that what Sang-tae is saying isn’t true.
My god. That ending was, by far, the hardest thing to watch. I mean, it almost made me uncomfortable, with how real and raw it felt. We all know Kim Soo-hyun can break some hearts, and boy has he, but Oh Jung-se is a freaking revelation. Together, the two actors are nothing short of magic. Then adding Seo Ye-ji’s sad yet helpless reaction on top of that, it’s magic times ten. I’ve said it before, but I really have to commend this cast; it’s been quite a while since I felt this strongly for fictional characters.
When we first learned of Kang-tae’s horrible secret, I was wondering if Sang-tae actually understood what happened and if he held a grudge. I was thinking it, but I didn’t expect it to come around and hit us like this. Even when Moon-young asked Sang-tae when he most hated Kang-tae and I knew it was that day, I didn’t expect him to bring it up. I guess Kang-tae wasn’t the only one holding his feelings in. Sang-tae’s strong attachment to his brother, his refusal to give him away to Moon-young, suddenly makes complete sense to me. Sang-tae saw his brother walk away from him and he’s scared that it’s going to happen again. Now that I think about it, the overall theme this episode was loneliness — the way it affects our characters and the things they will do to fight it. And Moon-young doesn’t even know how right she was in saying that she and Sang-tae are alike. All they want is to latch onto the people they care about, so that they’re not left behind.
Moon-young’s tears in that last scene really surprised me. She’s been selfish since the day we met her, going after what she wants without considering others’ feelings. But in that last scene, I saw genuine heartbreak for someone else, for someone she’s maybe come to care about more than herself. The drama hasn’t discussed Moon-young’s disorder in detail (and I’ll admit, I’m disappointed by that), so I do feel weird trying to dissect her as a character. But just going off what I know and what I’ve seen, I think that she’s always had emotions and that they were pushed down by her mother. She’s starting to experience them now, for the first time, and I can’t imagine how overwhelming that must be. It has to be overwhelming all across the board, from sadness and sympathy to happiness and love. The moments where she’s feeling love, it almost reminds me of the freshness of youth/high school dramas. She truly is young at heart, and it makes me worry that any pain coming her way will hit like a bulldozer.
Another interesting point made was with understanding. Joo-ri’s been hit-or-miss for me, being sweet and real one episode and then kind of throwaway funny another. But this episode, I appreciated seeing her full flashback with Moon-young and getting a good feel for how she thinks. Again, like Moon-young and Sang-tae, Joo-ri was traumatized by her loneliness. She was so traumatized by her own experiences that she never thought to consider it from Moon-young’s perspective. It’s difficult, obviously, for both women to understand each other when they’re so different. So I liked that Joo-ri at least gave Moon-young’s book a read. Going forward, I hope she tries to understand and accept Moon-young for who she is. Kang-tae, I believe, is already there — Kang-tae sees through Moon-young and she sees through him. For her, it was in Episode 4 when she saw his desire to be loved, and for him, it was when he gave her the flowers. It’s an unspoken kind of understanding that is both rare and beautiful.
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