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[Drama 2020] It's Okay not to be Okay, 사이코지만 괜찮아


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https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2020/08/398_294682.html
[INTERVIEW] Concept artist discusses success behind 'It's Okay to Not Be Okay' storybooks


By Kwak Yeon-soo | 2020-08-20


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Concept artist Jamsan, who worked on "It's Okay Not to Be Okay" storybooks featured in the smash-hit drama series, poses after an interview with The Korea Times at his office in Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk



Cable network tvN's series "It's Okay to Not Be Okay" wrapped up its 16-part run earlier this month, but is still making headlines because of the children's storybooks that appeared in the smash-hit drama.


Following the massive success of its fairy tale romance, the production company has decided to publish five storybooks: "The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares," "Zombie Kid," "The Cheerful Dog," "The Hand, the Monkfish" and "Finding the Real Face."


Jamsan, a concept artist who joined the hugely successful TV series, said he is still overwhelmed by the overnight success of the drama both at home and abroad, which caused his career to take off.


The benefits have continued even after the end of the drama. 


All five of the storybooks shown in the series are currently listed in the top 20 bestselling books of the month, according to the Kyobo Bookstore and YES24 websites.

 

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Jamsan's concept art sketch for "Finding the Real Face," featured in tvN's drama series "It's Okay to Not Be Okay" / Courtesy of Jamsan


In the series, Seo Yea-ji plays Ko Mun-yeong, a children's storybook author who suffers from antisocial personality disorder. She writes cruel fairy tales full of dark themes and grotesque scenes.


Ko falls in love with Moon Gang-tae (played by Kim Soo-hyun), a caretaker who works in a psychiatric hospital and takes care of his older brother Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se). 


Apart from the healing romance between Ko and Moon, the drama shows how three adults ― traumatized by parental abuse and murder when they were children ― learn to recover from their past traumas.


"It's Okay to Not Be Okay," which earned popularity overseas through streaming on Netflix, is recognized for its visual storytelling that includes concept artist Jamsan's illustrations in Ko's body of work. 


His dark, grotesque drawings entwined with screenwriter Jo Yong's stories about family and love resonated with drama fans. 


"It's been a while since the series ended in Korea, but I'm surprised that people continue to express their interest in and love for it," he said during an interview with The Korea Times, Tuesday. "My follower count on social media has increased dramatically and I still get a lot of messages from drama fans."


Jamsan said he happily accepted the challenging task of illustrating all of Ko's storybooks seen in the series.


"I've worked with producer Park Shin-woo before on tvN's Encounter, starring Song Hye-kyo and Park Bo-gum," he said. "Last year, he told me he's preparing a dark drama about a psychopath. I expressed my desire to join the project, sharing my personal interests in zombies and cruel fairy tales."


Concept artist Jamsan, who worked on 'It's Okay Not to Be Okay' storybooks featured in the smash-hit drama series, poses after an interview with The Korea Times at his office in Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


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The book cover illustration of "The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares" / Courtesy of Jamsan


Compared with "Encounter," in which he created a fairytale-style rendering of the introduction and ending of the series, Jamsan had to build illustrations for each of the episode in "It's Okay to Not Be Okay." The 47-year-old artist said he changed the overall feeling of the illustration styles to reflect how characters overcame their fears and bad memories. 


In Ko's early storybooks such as "The Boy Who Fed on Nightmares" and "Zombie Kid," the artist used dark colors to express the emotional damage suffered by the character. As the story develops and Kim Sang-tae debuts as an illustrator with "Finding the Real Face," Jamsan captures scenes filled with color and vibrancy. 


"In the beginning, I pretty much focused on defining the dark mood and appearance of lonely characters. But for Sang-tae's drawing, I wanted to create his world in watercolor to give a warm and friendly feel to it, just like The Little Prince and Alice in Wonderland," he said. 


According to Jamsan, the illustrations made him feel proud because his work has proven that cruel fairy tales can become bestsellers. 


"Personally I really loved this project because Ko Mun-yeong's storybooks becoming instant bestsellers has opened up new opportunities to concept artists and illustrators like me. In the past, publishers were reluctant to release cruel fairy tales, saying such stories would not appeal to a wider audience," he said.

 

Spoiler

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The book cover illustration of "Finding the Real Face" / Courtesy of Jamsan


Jamsan was among many concept artists who focused on work that delivered warm, fuzzy feelings. However, he grew tired of bright, mystical and fantasy-themed illustrations after experiencing a career slump. 


"After working as a concept artist for more than 20 years and experiencing the ups and downs of life, I realized that life isn't beautiful," he said. "After going through a career slump, I found joy in drawing zombies and fairy tales with dark twists. However, the fact that I tell stories though images and symbols remains the same."


Jamsan shared that he had a visceral love for art and comics from a young age, dreaming of becoming a cartoonist. He studied oriental painting at an arts high school and then majored in cartoon illustration and animation at Kongju National University. He worked as an animation and art director until he quit to pursue a career as an illustrator when he was in his late 20s. 


"I've always been interested in visualizing emotions and expressing feelings through art," he said. "I think good art is different from well-drawn art. Good art requires turning one's thoughts and feelings into art."

 

Spoiler

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Jamsan's concept art sketch for tvN's drama series "Encounter" / Courtesy of Jamsan


Jamsan is preparing a cruel fairy tale series titled "Blood Apple" for adults. The first book of the series, "Self-inflicted Mermaid," which is set to hit the shelves in September, features a mermaid's self-destructive behavior after being unable to win a prince's heart. The artist said he is currently searching for a writer who can turn his synopsis into a well-developed story.


"I want to tell the story but in small steps. My goal is to arouse some smiles and emotions in readers so they will wait for the next story. I'd like to entertain and, at the same time, make them think about things," he said. "However, I don't think a storybook should always have a message or a moral theme. I just want to share stories about empathy."

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I have a wild theory that POR is Do Hee Jae’s twin sister, and the real murderer was POR, not DHJ. But it could well be me grasping at straws, hoping that MY’s mom didn’t kill KT’s mom.   DH

For one reason or another I kept thinking of the old Beatles' song "Eleanor Rigby" during this last episode. The chorus kept reverberating in my ears : "All the lonely people... where do they all come

It is worth mentioning that Mun-yeong became a writer too but not of (adult) crime fiction but of children's books. Although the mother's influence on the daughter was palpable, the daughter resisted

On 8/17/2020 at 4:31 AM, ncly said:

 

Did you mean this actress?

  Reveal hidden contents

Park Shin Hye?

 

If you meant her, apparently, it's only a rumor, PSH's agency also clarified that she was never offered this role.

 

Anyway, when talking about SYJ as KMY, not only the director but even the writer said she's the perfect one and can't imagine someone else as KMY. I'm so glad they made the right choice in choosing SYJ. 

 

Yes!  That's the actress I came across.  Thanks for the clarification!!  

 

Somewhat related but also not really: was SYJ ever a surprise choice in terms of partnering with KSH?  I have never watched either of them in a drama, but of course I knew about KSH's massive popularity and accolades.  In a way, I am so glad.  This drama gave SYJ deserving recognition and showcased phenomenal acting and proved you don't always need 2 established powerhouses to make a drama successful!

 

On 8/17/2020 at 6:52 AM, demarchelier said:

HERE'S THE BACK STORY ON WRITER JO YONG'S INSPIRATION FOR THE DRAMA & HOW SURPRISED SHE WAS THAT KIM SOO-HYUN PICKED HER DRAMA. **Disclaimer: not a perfect translation but it's okay

 

https://n.news.naver.com/entertain/article/108/0002887454

 

Jo Yong's Love Story:

...."This drama started with my love story with a man who had a personality disorder as the background of the drama. It's a drama like a self-reflection of my narrow-mindedness. I could't admit, embrace, and move beyond the prejudiced views. I gave up, and it was a sad ending. So through the character Kang-tae, who is the opposite of me, I wanted to show him recognition and acceptance that I couldn't do back then. I also wanted to apologize. [directed to her former love] I wanted to tell you somehow that it wasn't your fault and please be happy wherever you are. While writing this drama, I received the most healing treatment than anyone else, so I was happy and am grateful for the character Kang-tae."

 

 

I remember reading this and thinking wow, it all makes sense now, with this context.  Do you guys interpret it the way I do - the writer wanted Kang Tae's character to be the person she couldn't be, but also to be a character that in many ways resembles her own internal struggles at the time?  To me Kang Tae is someone who sacrifices immensely and does so with grace, but he also suffers and it's not exactly the healthiest way to live.  But someone looking at him would see he is so giving and so selfless.  Like the epitome of a big brother/family man that puts the needs of his family above his own, always.  So maybe the writer aspired to be like Kang Tae.  But even if she was like Kang Tae, she wanted to reconcile how to find him balance with his role as an individual person and as a brother.... in this way she finds reconciliation with herself as well (had she become like Kang Tae in her own life).

 

Just some thoughts!!  I loved that she shared this back story with us.  I also loved that the writer shared the hardest scene for her to write was the one where Kang Tae apologized in tears to Sang Tae... also the scene that punched me the most (and I'm sure many others).  It's true - you can really feel the emotions when someone poured that much emotions in.  Writer, actor, and audience :joy:

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Lmao whatever. Korean media/Knetz are a joke and they need to grow up. I watched Backstreet Rookie out of curiosity and save for annoying scenes of cultural appropriation that drama was like PG rated. And they called it so inappropriate.  They are so scandalized by the dumbest things. I don't even take them seriously and I hope nobody on the IOTNBO team does either. 

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11 hours ago, softestfairy said:

Lmao lo que sea. Los medios coreanos / Knetz son una broma y necesitan crecer. Vi Backstreet Rookie por curiosidad y salvo por escenas molestas de apropiación cultural en las que el drama tenía clasificación PG. Y lo llamaron tan inapropiado. Están tan escandalizados por las cosas más tontas. Ni siquiera los tomo en serio y espero que nadie en el equipo de IOTNBO lo haga tampoco. 

I totally agree. How do you kiss a couple in love? With eyes open and without opening the mouth? Strange, and I'm not talking about vulgarities that I don't like either.

 

11 hours ago, softestfairy said:

Lmao lo que sea. Los medios coreanos / Knetz son una broma y necesitan crecer. Vi Backstreet Rookie por curiosidad y salvo por escenas molestas de apropiación cultural en las que el drama tenía clasificación PG. Y lo llamaron tan inapropiado. Están tan escandalizados por las cosas más tontas. Ni siquiera los tomo en serio y espero que nadie en el equipo de IOTNBO lo haga tampoco. 

 

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This is one of the most memorable dramas that I have watched so far. And honestly it is certainly one of the best dramas as well. The story was very nicely done in a way that it tackled a lot of issues in our current society. This gave us a glimpse of a real life story/situation that may happen in everyday life. Through this drama, a lot of lessons were learned and aside from that the acting of the actors and actresses were superb. I also love the OST as well. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it to give it a chance and you will absolutely love it.

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22 minutes ago, Emerheliena said:

Este es uno de los dramas más memorables que he visto hasta ahora. Y, sinceramente, también es uno de los mejores dramas. La historia estaba muy bien hecha de una manera que abordó muchos problemas en nuestra sociedad actual. Esto nos dio un vistazo de una historia / situación de la vida real que puede suceder en la vida cotidiana. A través de este drama, se aprendieron muchas lecciones y, aparte de eso, la actuación de los actores y actrices fue excelente. También me encanta el OST. Se lo recomiendo a cualquiera que no lo haya visto para darle una oportunidad y le encantará.

Let's help each other from our countries but united (by netflix we saw thousands) how we support INTBIO with the issue of legal sanction. It is the best drama broadcast by netflix and done in these times with a really consciousness-raising content of mental illness, autism, pain and healing.

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7 hours ago, Emerheliena said:

This is one of the most memorable dramas that I have watched so far. And honestly it is certainly one of the best dramas as well. The story was very nicely done in a way that it tackled a lot of issues in our current society. 

 

I think what also solidified this drama is how they ended it in a neat bow. Usually, with characters like them, someone or everyone ends tragically (nothing wrong with that, too). But instead, the writers explicitly suggested the possibility that they, too, deserve a happy ending. And they can start by choosing to have a different narrative of themselves. 

 

To me, DHJ is hte typical ending of stories with these type of characters. She was the "old-school" way of thinking. Her relevance to the story is to give an example of someone who, in Mun Yeong's words, is not even curious how it's like (of course, DHJ is also sick in the head, so she also represents sociopaths)

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31 minutes ago, Paula2019 said:

 

Creo que lo que también solidificó este drama es cómo lo terminaron en una elegante reverencia. Por lo general, con personajes como ellos, alguien o todos terminan trágicamente ( tampoco hay nada de malo en eso ). Pero en cambio, los escritores sugirieron explícitamente la posibilidad de que ellos también merecen un final feliz. Y pueden comenzar eligiendo tener una narrativa diferente de sí mismos. 

 

Para mí, DHJ es el típico final de historias con este tipo de personajes. Ella era la forma de pensar de la "vieja escuela". Su relevancia para la historia es dar un ejemplo de alguien que, en palabras de Mun Yeong,  ni siquiera siente curiosidad por saber cómo es (por supuesto, ella también está enferma de la cabeza, por lo que también representa a los sociópatas).

She did not have a sociopathy, she suffered from an antisocial disorder, not necessarily a sociopathy. But everything else agrees.

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4 hours ago, Katherine Villarreal said:

She did not have a sociopathy, she suffered from an antisocial disorder, not necessarily a sociopathy. But everything else agrees.

Sorry for the way I constructed the sentence. I meant DHJ is the sociopath, not Mun Yeong :) 

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I started watching this drama half-heartedly but found myself engrossed almost at once. It beautifully and bravely  portrays the darker facets of life and human nature, while maintaining a sense of lightheartedness as well- that’s quite a feat imo.  

 

I was also very impressed by Oh Jung-se’s acting! He deserves an award for this role!

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