It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12 recap – Gang-tae learns a dark secret that changes everything

By Daniel Hart
Published: July 26, 2020 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Netflix K-drama series It's Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12


Episode 12 is the best chapter of the K-drama series so far as it lands a twist that has emotional ramifications for the lead characters.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12 contains spoilers.

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How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12 open?

Episode 12 is the best chapter of the K-drama series so far as it lands a twist that has emotional ramifications for the lead characters. To begin, Gang-tae wakes up and realises Sang-tae and Mun-yeong have started breakfast. The pair have started brainstorming on the new book and are not giving attention to Gang-tae who quietly leaves them alone. He rings Jae-su who is annoyed that he’s left him out recently due to spending his time with Mun-yeong but he still agrees to hang out. Jae-sue is a very weird character — we cannot put our finger on it.

Jealous Mun-yeong

When Gang-tae arrives at the restaurant, Jae-su texts Mun-yeong and claims loads of women are trying to get Gang-tae’s attention. Predictably, Mun-yeong makes her way to the restaurant. Jae-su is trying to make Mun-yeong look crazy. Mun-yeong tells Gang-tae she doesn’t want his children. He flicks her forehead and states that not everyone can be a mother.

Not all butterflies are scary.

The director tells Sang-tae that he needs to stop running away from butterflies. Sang-tae expresses that he’s scared of them — in response, the director states that not all butterflies are scary. This seems to resonate with Sang-tae who spends most of the chapter stating that some butterflies are friendly.

I want a son

In the middle of a supermarket, Mun-yeong suddenly wants a son with Gang-tae and starts shouting at him. He has to calm her down as she is thinking ahead of herself. When they get home, Mun-yeong asks him when are they going to start sharing the same room — she’s 100% horny. Later, Mun-yeong waits for Gang-tae on the bed but she has drunk too much wine and gets a headache. She tells Gang-tae that she’s happy before drifting off to sleep. Mun-yeong is softening with each episode.

The butterfly returns

While looking at the arts and crafts table, Gang-tae finds a letter with a butterfly inside with a note that says “I will find you soon”. This shocks Gang-tae to his core, believing the person who killed his mother is back. Flashback scenes suggest Park Ok-ran planted the letter. The next morning, Gang-tae tells Sang-tae that they must stop running away when his brother raises the concern of the butterflies returning.


At the midway point of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12, while Sang-tae is on the bus with patient Mr Kan, he begins to have severe PTSD. Sang-tae calms him down to make sure he’s okay before bringing him to hospital. Mr Kan has traumatic memories of being in the war and killing innocent people — the guilt cripples him.

The director is full of praise of Sang-tae and lets Gang-tae know what he did on the bus to help Mr Kan. Sang-tae tells them both that he will not run anymore — Gang-tae’s words have resonated with Sang-tae, with both brothers aligned to staying where they are rather than running for once.

Reliving that night

The director asks Sang-tae what happened that traumatic day. Sang-tae describes how he was walking home with his mother and while Sang-tae was distracted by a cat, his mother was murdered in a tunnel. The murderer was a woman who had a butterfly on her jacket. The woman tells Sang-tae to not tell anyone what he saw.

The butterfly on the jacket is new information for Gang-tae who didn’t realize that’s what his brother saw. Gang-tae looks at a photo and learns that the murderer could have been Mun-yeong’s mother — her jacket had the same butterfly on it that Sang-tae described. But the question remains… is Park Ok-ran the mother? An angry Gang-tae punches the wall repeatedly as he cries. This is devastating for him who had only just started accepting a new chapter in his life — it hits the audience.

A family portrait

A concerned Mun-yeong asks Gang-tae what he has done with his hand but he’s unresponsive so she becomes concerned. He tells her he is tired. She suggests that they do a family portrait together and he shouts at her, asking her to leave.

Mun-yeong heads home and wonders why Gang-tae is upset. She asks Jae-su if he knows — he explains that Gang-tae never really opens up and that he’s an expert in hiding his feelings. He suggests to Mun-yeong that she comforts him quietly. At work, Gang-tae compares his situation with Mun-yeong as Romeo and Juliet, two loving people with ill fates.

I thought I could live a little

Gang-tae tells the hospital director that he believes the “butterfly” that killed his mother was Mun-yeong’s mother — he hopes he is wrong but he is scared. Gang-tae thought he was finally able to live a little. He breaks down in tears and asks the director “What should I do?”. Gang-tae expresses that he wants to run away.

How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 12 end?

He doesn’t want Mun-yeong to find out about this secret as it will hurt her. In a separate scene that’s before Gang-tae’s breakdown, Mun-yeong explains that she doesn’t know if her mother is actually alive. The next morning Sang-tae and Mun-yeong head out to take the photos for the family portrait. Gang-tae refuses to leave his room, wallowing in his dark secret. Mun-yeong tells Sang-tae to be the real him before their family photoshoot. After a change of heart, Gang-tae shows up all suited up to take part in the family portrait. Sang-tae and Mun-yeong are so delighted to see him.

But the ending of episode 12 was sweet in many ways, though the main point is that Mun-yeong finally has a family that she wants. You can see the happiness glow in her face as the photos are taken. Episode 12 is an emotional rollercoaster.

Additional points
  • The director wants to know why patient Park Ok-ran no longer has a place in the hospital. It seems he wants to keep investigating.
  • While away on a trip, Nam Ju-ri waits for a call from Lee Sang-in — he’s on a blind date and she’s getting jealous.
  • Nam Ju-ri suggests to Mun-yeong that she should take her father for a walk soon but she doesn’t want to.

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