I love a good K-drama and my usual choices are fluffy, happy romances tempered with clichés. But living in a pandemic, as if suspended by time, I began craving for slow-burning dramas. The ones where nothing happens—like our self-isolated lives—but also by the end of the episode, something has changed—like how we are surprisingly near the year’s end. These are the kind of shows I watch on late nights after work or on a lazy weekend. Here are some great K-dramas—featuring slow-boiling mysteries, gruesome fairy tales, and workplace politics—to lose yourself in as the nip in the air becomes stronger.
1. It’s Okay Not to be Okay (2020)
In It’s Okay not to be Okay, your dream Pinterest board meets the darkest fairy tales that (might) give you nightmares. The socially inept, fierce, stylish, beautiful but cruel Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) is a famous children’s book author. Her life gets tangled with two brothers, Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun)—caregiver at a psychiatric ward—and Moon Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se)—talented artist on the spectrum—who move every year when spring and butterflies arrive. The drama is a visual romp through illustrations, stylish outfits, airy psychiatric wards, isolated mansions and dark fairy tales. Each episode is woven around a story by Moon-young (the books were published after the show’s popularity and are bestsellers) or a folktale. You’ll meet a laughing dog, a Shadow witch, a boy whose face is stolen, a zombie boy, monk fish, torn butterflies, and frozen lakes.
The drama does not make caricatures of the patients at the mental health facility but offers a deeper look into their psyche. The main characters—all chained to traumas of their past—lean on one another but ultimately leap towards freedom on their own. It was Sang-tae who stole the show for me—the final fairy tale will have you weeping for joy.
Watch it on Netflix