It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16 recap – the finale explained

August 9, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
K-Drama, Netflix, TV Recaps


The finale of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay does not bring any fiery dramatics but it exemplifies what happens when good writing comes together at the end of a story.

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The finale of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay does not bring any fiery dramatics but it exemplifies what happens when good writing comes together at the end of a story.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16, the finale, contains spoilers.

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How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16, the finale open?

It begins with where episode 15 left the story with Gang-tae making a move on Mun-yeong. As they are about to kiss they hear the deer outside and Gang-tae shouts at it — both characters laugh. Gang-tae tells Mun-yeong that he loves her again and as he kisses her, a single tear leaves Mun-yeong’s eye. That tear signified that she was finally happy — she has found someone.

I want to be an illustrator

Sang-tae tells Jae-su that he wants to quit working at his shop. Jae-su tries offering him a pay rise but Sang-tae talks about his desires to be an illustrator. The pair hug it out. Sang-tae’s maturity is to be admired as we reach the closing stages.

The photo on the tree

Mun-yeong asks Gang-tae why he hung the photo on his mother’s tree. He explains how he wanted his mother to meet her and explain that they are a family now.

Future plans

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16 sees things slowly coming back to normal to begin a future of happiness.

Mun-yeong and Gang-tae wake up next to each other naked, clothes dashed everywhere to signpost to the fans that they had sex. Gang-tae prepares food and tells Mun-yeong that he quit his job and he’s going to study — she tells him to stay by her side and do the online classes. Gang-tae tells Mun-yeong that he wants to show off the book she did with Sang-tae. This is a funny scene as it demonstrates how overprotective Mun-yeong is. She doesn’t want him to go to real classes so she can feel assured no-one else will try have him.

The book

Mun-yeong shows a drawing to Gang-tae — the one that Sang-tae drew of his brother happy. She said after she saw the drawing, she decided to change the story for publication. Gang-tae tells his brother the good news that his book which he made with Mun-yeong will be published. Mun-yeong tells him she can’t buy him a camper van anymore because they don’t wish to move anywhere.

Mun-yeong gives Lee Sang-in a choice

Mun-yeong gives Lee Sang-in the manuscript of “The Murder of the Witch in the West” and the freedom to publish it. She gives him a choice — either publish her mother’s book or hers. Lee Sang-in says she isn’t going to publish a book by someone who gave her so much pain. Lee Sang-in seems to have grown in this scene — he could have sold Do Hui-jae’s book and made loads of sales but chose friendship. The pair leave “The Murder of the Witch in the West” in the cafe. However, afterward, he texts Seung-jae asking her to pick up the manuscript so they can make loads of income. He accidentally sent the text to Mun-yeong — he hasn’t grown up in many ways at all despite his growing romance with Nam Ju-ri.

Visiting mother in prison

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16 brings a surprising scene for Mun-yeong who is desperate to get closure so she can start a new life.

Mun-yeong visits her mother in jail and explains how Gang-tae and Sang-tae are her family but her mother disagrees and tells her she loves her — “You’re so precious to me”. Do Hui-jae keeps trying to manipulate her. Mun-yeong explains how she’s happy that she never changed into a demon like her and feels sorry for her for not being able to feel the warmth. Mun-yeong vows to remove her mother from her memory before leaving. Do Hui-jae screams after her stating she cannot erase her — “You and I are the same”. Mun-yeong tells her that butterfly symbolizes “cure” before walking out for good.

In the next scene, Sang-tae is painting a new butterfly on his mural. The symbolism comes into full effect to demonstrate all the characters are cured.

I quit!

Seung-jae and Lee Sang-in head to a trash yard and look for “The Murder of the Witch in the West”. Believing that Lee Sang-in is getting the book for himself, Seung-jae quits the company. Afterward, Lee Sang-in invites Nam Ju-ri for a drink to vent.

Sang-tae’s achievement

The finale of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay then brings a sweet moment that feels rather genuine — episode 16 isn’t doing anything in halves.

The next day, a copy of the new book is brought to the house; Sang-tae is super excited at seeing the book and his name inside. Lee Sang-in is worried the book will not do well because it isn’t Mun-yeong’s usual style. Sang-tae tells his mother’s tree about his achievement of becoming a professional illustrator. As he reads the book to her, he’s crying in happiness. Gang-tae looks on and cries and puts his arm around Mun-yeong and then hugs his brother. What a pivotal moment and this is the start of Sang-tae’s full development in the series — it gets better later.

The book launch

Before the book launch, Mun-yeong and Sang-tae argue who is going to read the book. The book launch is in the hospital. They read their book “Finding the Real Face”. Mun-yeong, Sang-tae, and Gang-tae read it together. The story is very relatable to various moments of the series; a touching story for the finale. Suddenly, Sang-tae and Mun-yeong argue over one of the pages believing it’s their part. It’s a good end to the scene, showing that nothing ever changes.

“And you’re here”

Nam Ju-ri tells Lee Sang-in that the argument between Sang-tae and Mun-yeong may work in his favor in terms of marketing. She also tells him that he’s a strong person. Lee Sang-in reveals he’s not moving back to Seoul and one of the reasons is that she’s here. He touches her hand. The series at least confirms something is blossoming before ending.

Director O has a surprise

On the way out of the hospital, Director O has a surprise for Mun-yeong, Sang-tae, and Gang-tae. For the mural, he has given Sang-tae a camper van. Gang-tae tells Director O that it’s too much. The director explains that the trio has gone through so much. He tells Gang-tae to go on long road trips and learn about the world. What a sweet gift from the director who is leaving the hospital himself.

Let’s go on a road trip

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16 sees one last bit of drama before the series ends for good and the butt of the joke is Gang-tae.

Gang-tae has to explain to Sang-tae what a trip means and that it involves returning. Sang-tae doesn’t understand the concept. Gang-tae then tells Mun-yeong that she can get inspiration from road trips with the camper van. Mun-yeong suggests a day trip instead which frustrates Gang-tae — she tells him to calm down and count to three. A drunk Gang-tae tells Jae-su and Lee Sang-in that he feels betrayed by Sang-tae and Mun-yeong over not wanting to go on a long trip — he feels ostracized.

Hungover trip

When Gang-tae returns home, Mun-yeong and Sang-tae have suitcases ready for a long road trip. It was a surprise and Gang-tae is emotional (and very drunk). The next morning, Gang-tae is very hungover for the journey. They park up to camp; Gang-tae throws up while the other two eat. Mun-yeong mocks him, wondering if this is how he imagined the camping trip. The audience is then treated to a montage of scenes of this small family enjoying their long road trip. It’s a happy ending for sure.

I’m sorry

During one of the nights, Mun-yeong sits next to the fire with Gang-tae. She apologizes for hurting him twice physically and hopes she’ll never hurt him again. She then thanks him for bringing her on the trip. And then… she tells him she loves him and this time it is for real — she means it. If you did a scene by scene comparison of this moment and the earlier moments, you’d find it hard to grasp. It’s been a long journey up until this very moment.

How does It’s Okay to Not Be Okay episode 16, the finale end?

The next day, Sang-tae tells Gang-tae he wants to work and do illustrations as it is more fun for him. Gang-tae suggests they go home but Sang-tae wants to go back on his own and let Mun-yeong and Gang-tae continue to have fun. When Mun-yeong enters the conversation, Sang-tae reveals another children’s book author is in love with his illustrations and wants to work with him — “I’m needed”. Mun-yeong says she also needs his illustrations.

But Gang-tae has realized something and asks Sang-tae if he will be okay without him — “Won’t you need me?”. Sang-tae says “Moon Gang-tae belongs to Moon Gang-tae”. This brings a flashback where Gang-tae shouts at his mother claiming he belongs to himself. In the present day, Sang-tae also says he belongs to himself. Gang-tae cries and realizes his brother is ready to look after himself more. Sang-tae thanks him. This scene confirms this story has been just as much about Sang-tae as Gang-tae and Mun-yeong. It brings well-woven, full-circle character development to the story that’s integral to the happy ending — it isn’t wishy-washy, there are reasons to why everyone is happy — genuine reasons.

Lee Sang-in then picks up Sang-tae. Mun-yeong and Gang-tae carry on their road trip. The series then finishes off the book “Finding The Real Face” — the three characters have found their true faces. Sang-tae realized this when he saw Gang-tae was happy — that’s where all the happiness began.

The finale of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay does not bring any fiery dramatics but it exemplifies what happens when good writing comes together at the end of a story.

Additional points
  • Director O finds his son sleeping in the storage room when he should be working and publically embarrassed him.
  • Gang-tae tells Jae-su that he sees him as a big brother now.
  • Jeong-tae and A-reum are reunited in the finale.
  • Gang-tae gives a copy of the book to Nam Ju-ri’s mother. Sang-tae has written a note for inside that begins with “Dear real fake mum”.

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