It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11 recap – Gang-tae explains what the butterflies mean

By Daniel Hart
Published: July 26, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
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Netflix K-drama series It's Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11


Episode 11 is a heartwarming and complete chapter and despite its 90-minute running time, it provides the answers and breakthroughs the audience wanted.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11 contains spoilers.

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How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11 open?

Episode 11 is an hour and 25 minutes which suggests there’s plenty to cover — let’s break this emotional and complex chapter down. It begins with Park Ok-ran approaching Mun-yeong’s residence, wishing her happy birthday. Mun-yeong makes the patient a cup of tea while Park Ok-ran strangely walks around the house. Park Ok-ran explains how her father tried to kill her and he called them monsters — she claims she came over to wish Mun-yeong happy birthday and make her feel better. The whole scene is strange and sinister, with both women coldly looking at each other.

Gang-tae rushes to the house

Park Ok-ran then claims she’s a big fan of her mother and touches a sharp object. Mun-yeong tries to grab it off her but slices her hand. Gang-tae rushes to the house and finds Mun-yeong, hugging her in relief. Gang-tae then wants to rush to find Park Ok-ran but then Mun-yeong asks if he came over because he missed her — she theorises that he’s more bothered of the patient and his brother before walking off.

Happy birthday

Gang-tae finds Mun-yeong in her bedroom and wants to talk. He wraps her bloodied hand and she reminds Gang-tae what he said — his hurtful words from the last episode. He tells her to count to three to calm down and then Gang-tae kisses her and they embrace for the first time. Episode 11 finally breaks the cycle, as both characters give in to their feelings. Gang-tae sweetly wishes her happy birthday.


Gang-tae has a fever so Mun-yeong runs him a cold bath to bring his temperature down. Mun-yeong explains what Park Ok-ran told her and asks what happened at the hospital. Gang-tae notes how no-one has ever looked after him before. Episode 11 is not only a pivotal chapter but it is also a point of no return. It will never be the same again. Gang-tae has completely opened up.

The butterflies explanation

Yes, we finally get Gang-tae’s view on the butterflies that have been engrained into the story.

The next day, Gang-tae tells Mun-yeong about his traumatic memory — he explains how his mother was murdered and Sang-tae found her. Sang-tae was scared that the “butterflies” would kill them as well so they kept running away — it’s possible “butterflies” is a reference to the people that murdered their mother. The butterflies remind Sang-tae of that fatal night — “He’s bearing the pain on his own for 20 years now”. Gang-tae expands that even though he needs to look after his brother he still wants to spend time with her — he suggests he needs her while staying by Sang-tae’s side while Mun-yeong stays by his side. Mun-yeong accepts his proposition. Episode 11 gives an entire explanation behind the reason for the butterflies and the context and meaning are tragic. It leaves audiences wondering if Gang-tae’s proposition will work.

Clearing out

When Gang-tae gets to work, Nam Ju-ri asks him to clear Park Ok-ran’s things as they need to admit a new patient. Apparently, she will not be coming back. She can feel Gang-tae has changed. The director asks Gang-tae where he slept the night before as he looks happy; he wonders why Park Ok-ran went all that all way to wish Mun-yeong happy birthday. Gang-tae hopes that there is nothing too it and that they will all be safe.

Move back in

At the midway point of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11, Mun-yeong heads to the pizza place and asks to speak to Sang-tae. She asks him to move back in and that his drawing inspired her to write a new book about three people on an adventure looking for “something”. Mun-yeong reminds Sang-tae of their verbal contract and that he’s breached it by leaving — she claims she wants compensation. Sang-tae tells Mun-yeong she can’t have Gang-tae and the pair argue.

Mun-yeong is impatient about the situation and Gang-tae lovingly tells her that his brother needs assurance that he has her by his side as well. He’s the only family Sang-tae has. As Gang-tae heads back into the hospital, he learns the bad news that Ko Dae-hwan does not have much time left due to a brain tumour. The series leaves the viewers pondering how Mun-yeong will react to this news and how it will have ramifications in the story.

Lee Sang-in and Nam Ju-ri have a drink

While out for a drink with Lee Sang-in, Nam Ju-ri asks if Mun-yeong has any other family members as Ko Dae-hwan has little time left. As the pair discuss her family, Lee Sang-in states they should talk about something else and he compliments Nam Ju-ri. The pair are slowly getting closer.

No butterflies, no money

The director of the hospital tells Sang-tae that unless he paints butterflies on the mural he will not be getting paid as it is incomplete. This is clearly the start of his treatment. Sang-tae is upset and Gang-tae approaches him about it, asking him to get up — Sang-tae ends up biting Gang-tae so his brother tells him to count to three and act as a big brother. Sang-tae is angry that Gang-tae yelled at him and throws him to the floor and the pair fight and throw things at each other.

Afterwards, Gang-tae tells Jae-su that it felt good fighting his brother — it feels relieving for him. The fighting between both brothers helped ease the frustrations that were pent up — they don’t express their feelings enough.

Fighting was a blast

During the night, Mun-yeong hears a knock on the front door so she approaches it with caution. It’s Gang-tae and he reminds her to not open the door to strangers. He takes her to a subway and explains about the fight with his brother. Mun-yeong insists that he must tell his brother that he likes her and care for himself more. Gang-tae explains he wanted a fight with his brother and that it was a blast — “I’m finally living a normal life”. Gang-tae enjoying normalcy — it’s normal for brothers to fight.

He’s happy

An alternative reality shows Gang-tae wanting to approach Mun-yeong during their school days and his brother sets them both up to talk. This is a dream and he’s talking in his sleep, stating how much he likes Mun-yeong. Sang-tae hears his sleep talking and realises that his brother is happy and that he’s never seen him like this.

The next day, Sang-tae looks at his locked box full of money and makes a phonecall to Gang-tae — he asks his brother if he’s hungry and arranges to meet at a restaurant.

Your only family left

Lee Sang-in asks Mun-yeong about her father’s brain tumour which stops her from typing her new story. She reminds him that her father is already dead to her. He tells her that her father is only her family left but she asks Lee Sang-in to leave. Mun-yeong then wants to join Gang-tae and Sang-tae at the restaurant but he tells her no. Mun-yeon is clearly not looking for closure on her father and is seeking a new family instead — removing her loneliness is her mission.

How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 11 end?

At the restaurant, the brothers have a nice meal together — there’s peace between them that’s not being felt since the series started. Sang-tae uses his saved up money to pay for the meal and then gives Gang-tae money as an allowance. Gang-tae is emotional but happy. Mun-yeong arrives and asks Sang-tae to buy her dinner — “I want a big brother too!”. Sang-tae asks his brother and Mun-yeong to join him on his way home. He’s accepted Mun-yeong into the group, which signals a heartwarming breakthrough in the story — all three characters have found their dynamic, finally.

Gang-tae asks Sang-tae what would have happened if “The Ugly Duckling” was loved, then all of them could have got along and lived together just fine. He asks Sang-tae if he’s an adult that can embrace others. A sleepy Sang-tae explains that he can. The episode ends with someone lurking in Mun-yeong’s house but it’s not clear who. Episode 11 is a heartwarming and complete chapter and despite its 90-minute running time, it provides the answers and breakthroughs the audience wanted.

Additional points
  • Mun-yeong is glad she held back and counted to three when Park Ok-ran came over.
  • Gang-tae tells the director about the butterflies with Sang-tae and asks him to help his brother so he can face the trauma.
  • Lee Sang-in is happy to see Mun-yeong writing her new story but then sees that she has little plans and hasn’t even set a deadline which frustrates him.

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