It’s Okay, It’s Love Signs Off this Week After a Memorable and Aggravating Run

It’s Okay, It’s Love ends this week, a brisk 16-episodes that packed a lot in (some can say too much) and never left one feeling indifferent. This latest drama from writer Noh Hee Kyung, regardless of its shortcomings in accurate medical knowledge and forging realistic and/or likable characters, remains a revelation for me to watch. I seesawed from loving it in the beginning to loathing it in the middle and am now back to loving it again. Does that average out to a really really like it when all is said and done? LOL, it probably doesn’t work that way since even one glaring stumble can often tank the overall watchability of a drama, but IOIL stands out as something daring and deserving of both acclaim and criticism. At least it’s not stupid like a placid cow munching curd in the middle of a field, yes? Ultimately what smoothed over all the edges for me was the phenomenal acting from the entire main cast.

Special shout out has to go to Jo In Sung, playing both the character that touched me the most as well as giving the performance that equals some of the most memorable of his career such as in What Happened in Bali and A Dirty Carnival. He conveyed Jae Yeol’s enigmatic opaqueness smoothly in the beginning while gradually peeling away the layers to drop us right into the dark center of a man imprisoned by his own untreated childhood abuse and familial guilt. Paired him up with D.O. (Do Kyung Soo) of EXO as a shining acting revelation playing the manifestation of Jae Yeol’s trauma, the result is an alterna-OTP that is even more moving for me than the central romance. Ultimately the drama coalesced and all my quibbles with it have fallen away, it’s amazing to watch a fully formed narrative piece come together like it has in the last few episodes and with tomorrow’s ending I will be sad to see this lovely story go.

IOIL started filming way back in April, giving it a three month head start, and still it just wrapped its final scene last week. Noh Hee Kyung had half her script written before the cameras even rolled and finished it all two months ago. That’s some stellar planning and still the production cut it this close to the final episode airing. Goes to show how dangerous and terrible the normal live-shoot situation is for most other K-dramas.

I’ve found myself tearing up in each of the last four episodes, honest tears that just come forth without needing a lot of coaxing from an overly melodramatic story. There’s no point in discussing how the writing over-simplifies or botches the mental illness diagnoses or treatment, in all ways it’s no different than all medical K-dramas in the past having illogical or improbable diseases and surgeries in order to facilitate a story line. Once I accept that IOIL dramatizes mental illness in the same way, ergo I don’t have to accept that it aims to be realistic, then it works marvelously as a moving plot point in showcasing Jae Yeol’s personality and mental condition in forming his character.

Gong Hyo Jin and Jo In Sung’s chemistry is really one of the best in their respective acting combinations with other actors or actresses. A few might top it for me, such as Jo In Sung-Ha Ji won or Gong Hyo Jin-Rain, but otherwise it’s potent amazing stuff that should be bottled up and sprayed on other onscreen couples. The countless kisses and skinship between the couple in this drama was so natural I actually stop noticing it anymore since it’s just the actions of a couple who love each other. Nothing to squee over when it’s the most effortless and unconscious display of love in physical form especially the way the two leads express it almost like they are breathing in sync. It’s a marvel to watch.

Gong Hyo Jin is as edgy and powerful as ever in her acting but honestly her Hae Soo is the weak link by being a character that is hard to relate or root for anchored by personality thought processes that initially always walked the extreme line. I think the problem with Hae Soo is that her self-absorbed viewpoint in the early to middle parts of the drama might be explained by her childhood hang ups but ultimately that’s no excuse for her raging attitude. Thankfully when Jae Yeol’s way more serious problems come to the forefront she also steps up and puts aside her own issues to help him first, and it’s there that she becomes better formed in bringing her psychiatrist side in line with her prickly personality side. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll like her enough by the end or just find her serviceable as a fictional identity not worth remembering after this drama is done.

I love the directing in this drama so much and its hard to describe why it works other than it needs to be watched to connect with how the PD draws out the perfect impact on each and every scene. The quiet moments don’t feel lifeless and the major explosions have this unexpectedly off-balance impact to it. I love the music choices as well, especially the incongruity of many selections that absolutely do not fit the scene but makes it even more shocking to watch. While the PD turned That Winter, the Wind Blows into a diorama of pretty people posed in pretty scenes, IOIL feels alive with the humid wash of humanity.

Jae Yeol is by far my favorite character in this drama and with it his interactions with his manifested teenage alter ego Kang Woo are also the most unforgettable scenes. Episode 15 was an impressive gut punch moment the way Jae Yeol finally realized that Kang Woo doesn’t exist by the full scale recollections of all his previous interactions with Kang Woo being shoeless. I think the drama overly dramatized Hae Soo’s emotional hang up on physical intimacy but perfectly showcased the extent and seriousness of Jae Yeol’s mental illness. I’m okay with it having a happy ending, and I hope it goes that direction, because mental illness in the real world isn’t as neatly packaged as what we’ve seen here but this is still a drama and a dash of optimism is warranted because the story has done a good job of humanizing an illness that cannot be felt or seen by others.

It’s Okay It’s Love “Good Luck” Official MV:

It’s Okay It’s Love “It’s Okay It’s Love” Official MV:

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It’s Okay, It’s Love Signs Off this Week After a Memorable and Aggravating Run — 30 Comments

  1. I cried so much in episode 15. Jo In Sung looks dashing in this series. Every angle is perfection. GHJ also looks her best here too. I guess when you work with the right partner, you just shine together. I feel that is the case here. Wonderful actors.

    It wasn’t a powerful drama but really touches the heart. I yearn for their future projects already. Hope GHJ rest up well.

  2. Thanks for the. Wrap up despite one more episode tonight.

    For me, this drama is absolutely amazing! The cast, esp JIS is outstanding, the OTP sooooo natural and awesome together in spite of their respective issues, and the direction as you mentioned is flawless (not to mention the music). It is such a special drama despite its infuriating parts midway.

    Really hope we get to see more quality work from the kdrama world again soon!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the series JIS and GHJ are great actors and have magical chemistry together hope they do more projects together in the future.
    Hope the end is happy wishing all the actors on the shop all the best for the future they were all great!! Thank You for a great drama.

  4. Powerful caste … they also should receive several awards and especially the portrayal of Jae Yeol…the complexity he brought to this character was solid!I loved Ji Hae flawed character and the last few episode I cried so much because of her and her love for Jae Yeol!!! I just finished watching eps 15 and I can not count my tissues!

    I also have to give a shout out to the supporting cast Tourette syndrome, eldest brother’s issues, Mom’s denial, Dr. Jo blending of love/psychotherapist/bigbrother/pastor/counselor…once again I feel that this drama should clearly wake up on awards…because the acting was solid and complex unlike the acting in Heirs…just my thought.

  5. I really like IOIL overall for as a drama and the acting. The central theme of childhood abuse and mental illness is so refreshing from the usual trope storylines. This is my second time and I’m blown away by his peformance here. I always like Gong Hyo Jin and she maintains her usual strong acting but this drama is really about Jae Yeol and I think it ends well for him in the drama tonight.

  6. Easily one of the best dramas, if not the best, I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, the writer did oversimplify the complex nature of psychiatric illnesses, but her message of hope and understanding shone through like a beacon for people suffering from the stigma of being mentally ill.

    Everything about it screamed near close to perfection, from the actors, to the direction and even the music used. I have never watched Jo In Sung’s previous works but I’m now in awe of his acting prowess. I’m a fan of Gong Hyo Jin and her portrayal of Hye Soo was equally laudable. The versatile Song Dong Il delivered a tour de force performance as Sunbae Jo, Lee Kwang Soo’s Soo Kwang was for me, a revelation. His performance was stunning. Yak Ik Jun as Jae Bum was perfectly executed….Man I can go on and on about this drama but one thing is very much evident, this drama felt real and it has heart.

    Captain, it has been a long time since our HHS LTM days, as always…I enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks.

  7. I agree with everything written. Aggravating in the middle, good in the beginning and seriously amazing in the end (so far). No drama OTP has ever felt more real to me. Jo In Sung was so beautiful and captivating as Jae Yeol. Gong Hyo Jin gave many moving performances as well and I already love her so anything else I say will be the same old stuff since she’s been good in almost everything she’s been in. I don’t know how she’ll find a better onscreen partner than Jo In Sung. I’m really sad to see this drama end. Please be good, episode 16! Please let Goo Hara have only a tiny tiny role.

    • LOL
      when TGL ended in 2011, people wondered if GHJ would get to have better chemistry in her future project.

      then 2013, in master’s sun, the chemistry can be said quite phenomenal and people wondered too if in future, she could surpass her chemistry in master’s sun (at that time I hardly imagined that she would)

      and now 2014, when in fact both leads has already had GF/BF, still GHJ amazed us by her natural chemistry with JIS even more this time, she has done a phenomenal kissing scenes LOL havent counted but for sure more than 20 kisses :DDD

      So, I’m quite optimist that in future, GHJ likely will surprise us again with more amazing chemistry πŸ™‚ though I hope she wont take too long back to screen. πŸ™‚

      • GHJ is GHJ and is comfortable naturally acting out affectionate scenes while other actresses tend to be more reserved. So you’re absolutely right – she’ll be able to create good chemistry with anyone and that’s probably why so many male actors want to work with her. I always thought SJS was always kind of restrained and uncomfortable acting out affectionate scenes with her. I think her onscreen chemistry with CSW and JIS trumps her onscreen chemistry with SJS a bit. Maybe it has something to do with CSW, JIS, GHJ being attached while they were filming and GHJ/SJS being single when they were filiming. Idunno.

  8. I marathoned 14 eps during the last days and have yet to watch 15. Like so many others I’m overwhelmed by Jo In Seung’s acting. During the scene in ep 14 in which he explains that he can’t find the words to talk he literally took my breath away.

    It’s a drama, they have to simplify the medical issues, but they did a very good job in creating understanding and sympathy for people with a mental illness. Loved the whole cast and I’ll be sorry to see this show end.

  9. Zo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin have to be the best, the creme de la creme actor/actress in the Korean film industry… Love every one of their oeuvre. They are such natural and gifted actors. Look forward to watching them into the future. Love D.O. too how he portrayed the young Gang Woo.

    BTW, have been enjoying “Glorious Days”, it’s at ep. 39 and never a dull moment… Every episode has been so charming and endearing about family, with loving grandparents, father, mother and children, and a spoiled annoying 50 year-old daughter… No evil characters here…

    • Hehe, IOIL and Glorious day are the only two dramas that im watching too! Love them both for being different from others ans having no evil characters just aggravating ones! Im surprised that not too many people are watching GD with its makjang-free story.

      I am loving IOIL. My fave moment is when Hae Soo goes to see Jae Yeol for the first time during his treatment..No music and a vulnerable Jae Yeol. Best scene in my opinion. This drama better have a happy ending for him and Hae Soo!

  10. I badly wanted to get into this drama but I just couldn’t. It just felt so awkward to me I can’t really pinpoint as to why. Love both leads and for what I’ve seen, they were amazing in it. Dropped it by episode 8, then I just started skipping every episode or so and just read recaps of the episodes I skipped.

    Life of a drama addict is hard. Complaining about overused plots, but when a different one pops up, can’t get into it. >__<

  11. thanks for sharing your thoughts on IOIL, koala-ssi! fell hard for this drama right from the first episode. It wasn’t easy to overlook the oversimplification of medical aspects in most dialogues and scenarios but I guess the flawless framing of the relationships worked really well in showcasing the talents both from the actors and the production team. It was hard not to tear up watching ep15. I’m excited for the finale and trying to brace myself for the impact (tissues are on standby). I do hope they’ll end on a hopeful note.^_^

  12. I love this drama!!! It defenitly touched home, schizophrenia is hard not only on the patient but the family as well. Specially when you live in a country that an adult with schizophrenia can’t be treated unless they agree to the treatment. IMO is a disease that CAN be felt and can be seen specially by family members. That’s how his childhood friend was the person to bring his behavior to light.

  13. The quibbles about the authenticity of the medicine and psychiatry in this Drama are a little baffling to me. I just finished watching all 15 episodes in one day, and was struck by the number of times that an episode opened with the disclaimer reminding viewers that it is indeed a work of fiction and that the medical and psychiatric procedures depicted had been fictionalised. Its message of acceptance and understanding was far more important than any deviation from actual medical practice IRL. Overall, this is the best Drama I’ve seen on any of the big three this year, without any real weak points, and plenty of genuine highlights. Including the number of times episode 15 moved me to tears.

    • Irrelevant answer to you comment, but I agree wholeheartedly ^^ The point of the drama isn’t exact medicine, but healing, acceptance, and humanity. It brought to light a debate about mental health, something that’s usually swept under the rug.

      Also, I adore HS to bits, as I do the rest of the characters. She’s deeply flawed, and she has insecurities fueled by a past that has left so many scars in her, but everything adds to a character arc that’s moving and relatable for me. Even if I haven’t lived her life, I can see where she comes from, and how she fights against that darker side of herself almost 24/7. Of course, nothing rivals JY in complex issues, and that’s an understatement, so JIS had a chance to shine and he certainly did it.

      The journey watching this drama week to week has been unforgettable and it goes straight to my favorites list as well (unless e16 ruins it, but I doubt it haha).

    • Love your comment!! I really really hope that when award season comes around they don’t forget about this awesome drama(haven’t seen the ending but I hope they do t fudge it up) πŸ˜‰

  14. I was hooked by the directing and the soundtracks. It happens when the male lead is a Dj/writer. I was afraid to watch this show because Jo Insung traumatised me with TWTWB and Frozen Flower but I watched it for Gong Hyojin and glad I did. The plot is out of ordinary and attractive. When people blamed HaeSoo’s sexual insecurity, I can understand it. It’s completely understandable when you live most of your life with unfaithful mother, a paralysed father. I know other blamed Haesoo is partly at fault for the affair but she acted that way for her frustration from her dad collapsing again.

  15. I loved this drama beginning to end (haven’t watched p 16 yet). There were only tiny things I wasn’t fond of, but these are irrelevant because I think what this drama did was different from many kdramas and different in a good way. Not only did it make away with all kinds of tropes (I’m forever grateful it did away with what I hate the most in kdramas: the love triangle… and brought in awesome secondary characters instead – yay Soo kwang!), it brought a taboo topic – several really – out in the open. I don’t care that it wasn’t a ratings hit or that some dropped it because HS was ‘too whiny’, all I care about is the people that watched it and realised that mental illnesses can affect anyone (or that anyone might be abused).

    I’m one of those who also loved and related to Hae-soo’s character from the beginning to the end, to me she’s a very real person with some very real flaws. Never found her frustrating or infuriating or anything of that sort.

    • hI alua, remember me? πŸ˜€

      same with you, though sometime HS get my nuts too, but I can understand her, I feel her and well maybe because I have some similar behavior/personality with her that is why I could be related to her πŸ™‚
      and for this, I give high credit to writer noh how brave she is writing such real character to screen and to GHJ, for portraying HS amazingly.

      • Yes, I recognise you πŸ™‚

        Like you, love the character and am glad that non wrote someone like that – and wrote a drama like It’s Okay It’s Love.

  16. Wonderful acting, gud chemistery between all the actors. I have watched so many Kdramas and none of touch the issue of Mental Illness, as this one. Beautiful acting by all the actors. Hope they win lots of awards.

  17. koala, truly happy that you write this article, and though I have different thought about HS, I can understand you, and well, I enjoy reading your insightful.

    as for me, Dr. Uncle Jo aka Dong Min is my most favorite character, specially because the way he help JB, the way he keep his sexy relationship with Dr. Lee πŸ˜€ (aaaah, it’ll be better if this two didnt divorce πŸ˜€ ).

    and everything has said very well done by @drmjs about this drama, (envy how good you express IOIL πŸ˜€ ), IOIL is so heartwarming and wonderful to watch, that I’m so sad it’s over now… wonder when I can get to watch drama like this again T-T

    koala, thank you, this article is special for me, a beautiful gif for IOIL’s ending… πŸ™‚

  18. lol this comment is ages late but I really liked your review. I watched the show as it aired and as someone who suffers from OCD and depression, despite the inaccuracies and simplifying of some of the symptoms this drama brought attention to mental illnesses in a refrrefreshing and non-stereotypical way without making it unbearably dramatic or sad. A feat even most US and other international series have failed to achieve. I mean need I mention Emma from Glee? Disgusting.

    With korea having an even worse stigma towards mental illnesses than the US this drama is super progressive not to mention episode 1/2 with the transgender character.

    Aside from all that the acting was superb and although th middle got kinda dry it was overall my favorite drama of all time. And oddly enough I’d like an American remake because it addresses so many important relevant issues in our society. Or more so I’d like an american show with real representation of mental illness sufferers without making them the punch in a joke.

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