Hallyu Star Male Lead, Brilliant Directing, And Natural Talent: What To Watch After “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay”

If you’re like me, you’re already dreading having to go through a weekend without anticipating the release of a new “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” episode. Seeing Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Ye Ji, and Oh Jung Se on the regular was so healing to the soul. And we will surely miss seeing the trio together on the small screen. If you’re looking for some other shows, movies, or K-dramas to watch to help you get over this sad period in time, take a look at these recommendations.

Hallyu Star Kim Soo Hyun

If you’ve been in K-dramaland for awhile, then you probably know Kim Soo Hyun very well. He’s the one who took the world by storm after his portrayal as Do Min Jun in “My Love From the Star“—or some of us can argue that he took our world by storm way before that! With his return to the small screen after serving in the military, we were both pleased and surprised to see that his choice in script was such a success. But, if you’re looking for some other Kim Soo Hyun appearances apart from “My Love From the Star” and “Moon Embracing the Sun,” here are a few other solid watches!

Dream High

“Dream High” tells the story of several high school students who aspire to become K-pop idols. Go Hye Mi (Suzy) must convince two other students to come to her school for her to get accepted into the program. One of these students is Song Sam Dong, played by Kim Soo Hyun. He is a boy from the countryside who meets Hye Mi and falls in love with her, following her to Kirin Art High School.

This was Kim Soo Hyun’s first big break in a K-drama. His role as the country boy Song Sam Dong is such a heartthrob. The progression of seeing him go from an innocent and naive boy to a lovestruck potential K-pop idol is thrilling to watch, and it made the series a total success. You seriously might not even recognize him because of the crazy transformation!

Watch the first episode of “Dream High” here:

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Running Man

Kim Soo Hyun was on episodes 102 and 147 of the hit variety show “Running Man” early on in his career. It was obvious even then as a rookie actor that he is talented and has an energy about him that is hard to look past. He is charming, adorable, and obviously very entertaining. Let’s hope we see him on the show again!

“Secretly Greatly”

Won Ryu Hwan (Kim Soo Hyun) is in the North Korean Special Forces and is sent to the South as a spy. He acts mentally challenged and is ordered to wait it out until he hears more from his part of the country. Once he gets word from the North, he is given a nearly impossible task that makes him rethink his return to North Korea.

This movie was released in 2013 and immediately broke several box office records. People enjoyed seeing Kim Soo Hyun’s versatility in acting and were pleasantly surprised to see his ability to pull off this comedic side so naturally. Luckily, we were able to see a reprise of Won Ryu Hwan in the recent hit series “Crash Landing On You,” and it was one of the best cameo appearances ever!

The Beautiful Seo Ye Ji

Seo Ye Ji’s character as Go Moon Young in “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is hysterically over the top but so necessary in K-dramaland. Her character is refreshing, one of a kind, and unforgettable. Go Moon Young could only have been played this flawlessly by Seo Ye Ji. And for those of you who are new to seeing Seo Ye Ji on the small screen, here are a couple dramas that are also worth checking out.

Lawless Lawyer

Bong Sang Pil (Lee Joon Gi) is a hotshot lawyer who is well known all throughout the country. Ha Jae Yi (Seo Ye Ji) is also a lawyer who works hard to bring justice as a result of the death of her mom. When Jae Yi returns to her hometown after being suspended, she bumps into Sang Pil, and he encourages her to join his firm.

Seo Ye Ji is so great at playing intense roles. She has the ability to really draw viewers into her character and make them feel what she’s going through. Her portrayal as Ha Jae Yi whose mother died in vain really brought out a hostile and emotional side to Seo Ye Ji that really showed us how seriously she could be taken as an actress. It was a huge turning point in her acting career!

You can start watching “Lawless Lawyer” here:

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“Save Me”

Im Sang Mi (Seo Ye Ji) and her family move to a small town where there is a religious cult that lures her family into their church. After Sang Mi’s brother commits suicide, her parents get taken advantage of and get sucked into this cult, which results in Sang Mi being unable to escape. She meets Han Sung Hwan (Taecyeon) a few years later, and he realizes that she needs help. He takes it upon himself to try and save her from this cult.

Seo Ye Ji in “Save Me” is downright chilling. The fear that her character has to endure as a result of this cult is portrayed so well, and there are more than enough goosebump-inducing moments from her performance. It is not a drama that is for the faint in heart, but it’s definitely worth the watch if you’re a Seo Ye Ji fan. Prepare yourself for the chills!

The Very Talented Oh Jung Se

Talk about talent. Oh Jung Se has been in a huge repertoire of films and K-dramas. He is definitely not a stranger to the art and showcased his natural ability to take on any role through his character in “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.” Oh Jung Se as Moon Sang Tae in the drama is perfection, and the series would have been less than perfect without him. Here are a few other K-dramas that he has been in that are totally worth watching.

Stove League

Baek Seung Soo (Namgoong Min) is hired as the manager of a baseball team that is in last place. He steps into the position and makes some major adjustments which often clash with the owner of the team Kwon Kyung Min (Oh Jung Se). The two must come to a common ground in order for the baseball team to win the upcoming season.

It’s hard to believe that Oh Jung Se is capable of playing an obnoxious owner of a baseball team, but he does it so well in “Stove League.” Kwon Kyung Min is a guy that is easy to get annoyed with in the series, but somehow by the end of it, he makes you really like him. This love and hate feeling can only be brought out so well by the acting chops of Oh Jung Se.

You can watch the first episode of “Stove League” here:

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“When the Camellia Blooms”

Dong Bae (Gong Hyo Jin) moves to a small town with her son. She is a single mom and decides to open up a small bar to help make ends meet. She bumps into Hwang Yong Sik (Kang Ha Neul) at the local book store, and he falls in love at first sight with her. Dong Baek is in a constant battle with the locals including No Gyu Tae (Oh Jung Se), who is a politician and customer at her bar.

No Gyu Tae is quite the handful in this series and pretty easy to get annoyed with. He is the relentless landlord of Dong Baek’s small bar who would often pester her about getting free side dishes whenever he would drink there. He is rude and childish but also has an innocent quality that is brought out by his boss of a wife. His portrayal as this character is so believable and epic that he even won several awards for it!

Plus Nine Boys

Goo Kwang Soo is a production director who is still hung up on his ex-girlfriend Joo Da In (Yoo Da In). The two meet again and he discovers that she is a single mom and lives above where Kwang Soo lives. He takes it upon himself to try and win back her love.

People fell head over heels in love with this couple in the series. Seeing Goo Kwang Soo and Joo Da In fall in love is such an adorable adventure! His chemistry and interaction with Da In’s little girl is also totally worth watching. He has an infectious smile and adorable persona that makes him so lovable. If you want a glimpse of his Moon Kang Tae character, this one is probably closest to it, mainly because of his cute personality and how he wears his heart on his sleeve!

Love and Mental Health

The theme of mental health is prevalent in this series. The setting takes place in a mental health care center. Seeing the leads meet and fall in love in this particular setting is tumultuous but adds to their love story. This theme also seems to be pretty common in K-dramaland these days. Here are a couple others that are very much focused on mental health and can be considered classics.

“It’s Okay, It’s Love”

Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung) is a famous writer, and Ji Hae Soo (Gong Hyo Jin) is a psychiatrist. The two happen to meet and are quickly annoyed by one another. This bitterness slowly turns to love as the two realize how much they have in common. Shortly after they become a couple, it is realized that Jang Jae Yeol suffers from schizophrenia and must figure out a way to fight his demons.

This series was a very unique K-drama at the time in that it tackles the issue of mental health straight on. Jang Jae Yeol seems like a traditional male lead at first as he is handsome, arrogant, popular, and wealthy, but he is actually dealing with deep-rooted trauma that causes him to see people who aren’t there. It is a K-drama that brings much needed awareness to mental health.

You can start watching “It’s Okay, That’s Love” now:

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Kill Me Heal Me

Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) is dealing with some serious childhood trauma that has lingered on throughout his entire life. As a result, he develops multiple personality disorder where any of his several personalities can appear on a whim. With the help and guidance of Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), he tries to figure out the root of his illness in order to be healed.

This series can be quite heavy in that it deals with various mental illnesses. Cha Do Hyun suffers from multiple personality disorder, but it seems as though his personalities are also dealing with some mental health issues. The series really puts you through a rollercoaster of emotions. When the main lead is able to come to terms with his traumatic past and understand what happened, he is able to heal. It is a story and adventure that viewers are also able to get comfort from as it is not only serious in nature but has some comedic elements also.

Watch the first episode of “Kill Me Heal Me” here:

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Brilliant directing by Park Shin Woo

If you’re into the production aspect, one of the main reasons why “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” is so appealing and entertaining to watch is because of the artistic and genius directing of Park Shin Woo. Park Shin Woo has a particular style when it comes to directing and producing his films, and if you’ve seen his other K-dramas, you will totally get it. He’s got a way of showing what the characters are going through mentally and emotionally through camera angles and the use of different parts of the environment that they are in.


Kim Jin Hyuk (Park Bo Gum) and Cha Soo Hyun (Song Hye Kyo) meet by chance in Cuba. The two share a magical time together and are completely smitten with each other by the end of their respective trips. Upon returning to South Korea, Jin Hyuk starts his new job and realizes that the CEO of his company is the woman he met in Cuba.

The first few episodes of “Encounter” take place in Cuba, and as much as it takes pretty little effort to make the scenes look good with Cuba being the backdrop, Park Shin Woo did a remarkable job. The way he was able to capture the two main leads feeling so free-spirited and slowly falling in love with each other is magical to see. You can also really appreciate the stark contrast in colors and the beautiful scenery.

You can start watching “Encounter” now:

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Don’t Dare to Dream

Pyo Na Ri (Gong Hyo Jin) is a weather caster who aspires to be an anchor. She had a serious crush for several years on the main anchor of her broadcasting station Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Suk) but got over her feelings for him. Fast forward three years, Pyo Na Ri and Lee Hwa Shin’s best friend are an item, and Hwa Shin quickly begins to realize that he has feelings for her.

This is another series that was surprisingly very well produced and directed. The series has a dream-like vibe to it, and Park Shin Woo did a great job capturing the love and emotions of the three main characters. You can see that every scene is so intricate and very well thought out. You can find yourself taking a step back and admiring the way everything in the particular scenes mesh together so well.

A familiar way of ending a scene for Park Shin Woo! This was also done several times in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.”

Park Shin Woo loves to use the color red to accentuate his female leads!

Bonus: If you liked the creepy children’s story aspect of the K-drama, it might be worth it to look into some Tim Burton. Some specific examples are his short film “Vincent” and full feature length films like “Corpse Bride” and “Frankenweenie.”

Hey Soompiers, which of these K-dramas are you going to check out next? Let me know in the comments below!

binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She is also the author of “K-POP A To Z: The Definitive K-Pop Encyclopedia.” Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!

Currently watching: “How Do You Play?” and “Was It Love?”
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen

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