It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1 recap — a complex, deep opener

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 20, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
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Netflix K-drama series -- It's Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1 - The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares


It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” is a complex, deep opening chapter, showing an unusual dynamic between the leading characters.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” contains spoilers.

Access all the episode recaps.

How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” open?

Episode 1 opens up with a fairy tale — a long time ago, there lived a beautiful girl in a castle located deep inside the forest. She was alone and bored and no-one accepted her — they claimed she was a monster that brought shadows. Angry, she needed to take it out on someone — she hooks a boy out of the river and accidentally saves him; since then, the scary shadow that always followed her around suddenly disappeared.

One day, the girl showed the boy her true self and the boy ran away and she was alone again. The shadow of death whispered to her, “No one can ever stay by your side because you’re a monster”. She replies “Yes, mother”. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”, gives us an intriguing opening. In the next scenes, Moon Gang-tae’s brother has caused some issues at his vocational school — they both go to eat somewhere.

Enjoying a steak

Episode 1 then moves Ko Mun-yeong who is enjoying a steak at a restaurant and licking the blood. A young girl and her mother come over and ask if she’s the author of their favorite children’s book — they ask for an autograph. The young girl says Ko Mun-yeong looks like a beautiful princess from a fairytale and she is irked by that comment. As she has a photo with the young girl she scares her by saying witches are beautiful. Ko Mun-yeong’s acquaintance Lee Sang-in (CEO of the publisher) comes over and she states that she doesn’t want to change clothes for her next event and cuts her finger with one of the restaurant’s knives. Episode 1 introduces the audience to a peculiar, dark character.

Working at a hospital

Episode 1 then flits back to Moon Gang-tae who is a caregiver. One of his patients, Myoung Ji-suk, is stealing all the food. He tells her to take time with her food. She then throws up all over his back. His shift gets busier when a man needs restraining and checking every hour — this man has traumatized his daughter Go-eun who now has PTSD.

Sign the consent forms

While in the car, Mr. Lee gets a call from the psychiatric hospital from nurse Nam Ju-ri. They tell him that there is a date from Mr. Ko Dae-hwan’s surgery and they need consent. Ko Mun-yeong speaks to the phone and tells the nurse that Mr. Ko is dead to her and if she needs a signature, she should come to get it. When Ju-ri tells Ko Dae-hwan’s that his daughter isn’t visiting, he starts to freak out. Both stories start to merge as Moon Gang-tae rings his brother Moon Sang-tae and asks if he’s drawing on Ko Mun-yeong’s books again and makes him aware that the author is visiting the hospital to read to children — Sang-tae starts hyperventilating and Gang-tae offers to get her autograph.

Instant attraction

When Ko Mun-yeong arrives at the hospital, it gets off to a bad start as Gang-tae tells the author to put out her cigarette. As they meet each other’s eyes, it is clear there is some attraction. Ko Mun-yeong asks Gang-tae if he believes in destiny before walking off. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”, starts the chemistry between both leading characters instantly.

A hospital incident

Ko Mun-yeong reads her book to the children — “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”. Meanwhile, Go-eun’s father Kim Seung-cheol has escaped the psychiatric ward. Kim Seung-cheol ends up in the auditorium where Ko Mun-yeong is reading looking for Go-eun. The hospital stops the reading due to the circumstances. Kim Seung-cheol grabs Go-eun and exits via a fire escape. Ko Mun-yeong finds the Go-eun and her father and calls Kim Seung-cheol a useless, loser human before whacking him with a bag and standing on his hand. Kim Seung-cheol starts strangling Ko Mun-yeong. As she is being strangled, she has flashbacks of another man strangling her. Moon Gang-tae manages to fight Kim Seung-cheol off her.

Ko Mun-yeong tries to stab Kim Seung-cheol but Moon Gang-tae stops the knife in flight which cuts his hand. The author tells Moon Gang-tae that the man isn’t a patient, he’s vermin. Ko Mun-yeong then tries telling Moon Gang-tae that some people do not deserve to live and she was acting in self-defense. Moon Gang-tae calls her a clueless freak. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” brings complications to their dynamic very early on.

The hospital needs to blame someone for the incident and the director suggests Moon Gang-tae should take the fall; he lists how Gang-tae has worked at 15 different hospitals so they fire him with severance pay.

Nam Ju-ri visits

Nurse Nam Ju-ri visits Ko Mun-yeong to force her to sign the consent forms for Ko Dae-hwan’s surgery. Ko Mun-yeong tells Nam Ju-ri that she looks different but the nurse just wants her to sign the form. Ko Mun-yeong questions her sense of duty due to the fact that she’s traveled 3 hours to get to her house; when Ju-ri states her mother is alive Ko Mun-yeong explains that she registered her death along time ago and that she’s an orphan. Ko Mun-yeong also states that her father’s soul died a long time ago and her mother died physically, but her soul is still alive. Ko Mun-yeong signs the consent forms and continues to make jokes that make Ju-ri angry. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”, suggests history between these two characters which will become clearer in later episodes.

Fake autograph

On the way home, Gang-tae asks his friend Jae-su not to tell his brother Sang-tae what happened at the hospital. He then realizes he forgot to get Ko Mun-yeong’s autograph so they try and make a fake one. When Gang-tae gets home his brother knows it is a fake autograph and hides in a tent repeating how Gang-tae lied. You feel sorry for Gang-tae in the first episode who has to look after his brother who evidently has mental problems.

As Gang-tae sorts out his brother, he gets a voice mail for Lee Sang-in, the CEO of SangSangESang Publishers, a children’s book publisher. He apologizes for the unfortunate incident with his author and would like to speak to him. Gang-tae agrees to meet. Meanwhile, on the news, it is revealed that Kim Seung-cheol was found dead in solitary confinement.

Reminiscing and reading into the book

Ko Mun-yeong reminisces her time earlier with Gang-tae and tells herself that he has beautiful eyes. Gang-tae is also thinking about Ko Mun-yeong. It seems that they have had an impact on each other very quickly.

Gang-tae starts reading the author’s book, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” — the narrative talks about a boy who keeps on having nightmares about the past but when he turns into an adult, the nightmares stop, but he isn’t happy. A witch shows up to take what he had promised in return for granting his wish. The boy shouts at the witch with so much resentment and asks why can’t he be happy. The witch took his soul and said, “hurtful, painful memories. Memories of deep regrets — memories of hurting others and being hurt — memories of being abandoned. Only those with such memories buried in their hearts can become stronger, more passionate, and emotionally flexible. And only those can attain happiness”. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”, gives some narrative on how pain and the past mold you into the person you are in the present, and how pain is required to be happy.

As he finishes reading, Gang-tae hears his brother have a nightmare. In the hospital, the girl Go-eun is reading the book, and Ko Mun-yeong has left a message inside — “Remember today”. Go-eun asks for her father and she’s very upset. Sang-tae wakes up screaming — “Those butterflies will kill me”.

How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares” end?

Gang-tae heads over to meet Lee Sang-in at his office. Ko Mun-yeong heads inside and all the staff are scared of her — she sees Gang-tae and is instantly absorbed by him. She approaches him and asks Gang-tae how much Mr. Lee offered him in compensation for the knife injury back at the hospital. Gang-tae states he is not about the money so Ko Mun-yeong asks if he wants sex as compensation — Gang-tae coyly asks if sex is worth more than money. When she asks Gang-tae why he is here, he moves forward to her closely and says he hoped to see her again — “Your eyes. I wanted to see them again. Your eyes remind me of someone I used to know. Someone who is messed up and has no conscience and completely lacked warmth”. Gang-tae says he wasn’t afraid of this girl but the complete opposite — “I liked her”. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 1, “The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares”, is a complex, deep opening chapter, showing an unusual dynamic between the leading characters.

Additional points
  • Nurse Nam Ju-ri hints that she has a date.
  • On the way home, Gang-tae is picked up by a fried chicken delivery takeaway driver and the bike breaks down.

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