Does Nam Joo Ri really deserve to be the most hated character on It’s Okay to Not Be Okay?

Female character Nam Joo Ri has been receiving much hate from many viewers of the drama It’s Okay to Not Be Okay for being “two-faced”, but does she really deserve to be hated?

 After 6 episodes of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, the audience has somewhat been exposed to the past and thoughts of the main characters. Particularly Nam Joo Ri (played by actress Park Gyu Young) is being hated by many viewers for being “two-faced” and “hypocritical”, looking nice on the outside but actually very complicated inside. However, does Joo Ri really deserve that much hate?

Joo Ri and Moon Young: Like dog and cat

In the first two episodes, Nam Joo Ri appeared with a nice and even timid image. She was soon revealed to have had a childhood relationship with female lead Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) but was clearly not a pleasant friend. For a reason that hasn’t been revealed yet, Joo Ri both hates and fears Moon Young.  And Moon Young herself, every time seeing Joo Ri, she would show a mocking attitude and look down on her. This of course does not help improve the relationship between the two at all.

Joo Ri is shown to have a nice and gentle personality, completely opposite of Moon Young. She and the female lead seem to have unpleasant memories of each other.

The peak detail that caused many people to turn to dislike Joo Ri was the physical fight scene of the two female characters in episode 5, when Joo Ri slapped Moon Young first. However, it is fair to say that Moon Young was still the one who “fired up” the situation, calling Joo Ri “two-faced”, then repeatedly claimed that Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) was hers and scolded Joo Ri for stealing him while none of the three was confirmed to be in a relationship. How many people could keep calm if you were insulted by someone you hate like that?

 It is unclear whether the writer intentionally ignores or considers it obvious that most characters on It’s Okay To Not be Okay have not been aware or certain that Moon Young suffers from an antisocial personality disorder. Most viewers have read the introduction before, so they watch the film knowing that the female lead is mentally unstable so it is understandable that she could be acting “thoughtless” and “weird” at times.  However, the characters in the movie are different, except for some characters such as the two partners of the female lead and the reporter, no one has ever mentioned her disorder directly. Therefore, it is likely that in many people’s eyes, including Joo Ri, Moon Young was born cold-blooded and unruly, so it is understandable for them to not like her.

 Joo Ri towards Kang Tae: What’s wrong with pursuing love?

 Joo Ri suggested the male lead Kang Tae to work at the OK Psychiatric hospital as well as to rent her house as a residence. It is easy to see that she has been fond of Kang Tae for a long time and wants to come closer to him. A woman pursuing a man has become so common in movies and dramas, especially in this context where Kang Tae is single and Joo Ri is not pushing anything but just silently helping him. There is nothing wrong about her having feelings for him. 

When being implicitly rejected, Joo Ri, despite being sad, still tried to appear calm. Obviously, she still could not give up right away, because her feelings for all this could not go away immediately. The “bad luck” of Joo Ri is she is up against a powerful, attractive female lead that is much loved by the audience, so any action of her trying to “get in the way of the main couple” is extremely hated.

 However, according to what actress Park Gyu Young herself shared in the press conference before the drama aired, Joo Ri is a character who needs time to stabilize, maybe she will keep this one-sided love for a while, but eventually there will be the day she let go and wish him happiness with his true love. So the love triangle of It’s Okay Not to Be Okay is believed to be resolved in the end.

Go Moon Young is like a “spokesperson”, every line of her has become viral. She laughed at Kang Tae for being “hypocritical” because behind his strong, smiley look, doing everything because his brother is lots of repressed negative emotions. She said Joo Ri is “two-faced” because Joo Ri often acts soft and understanding on the outside but is actually filled with jealousy inside. Moon Young’s lines not just have meaning within the scope of the drama, but pose as a blunt statement that we, human beings, are all “hypocritical” and “too-faced” who often act differently from what we actually think.

Honestly, aren’t most of us sometimes also “fake” like Joo Ri? When going to work or going out, we always have to put on happy and comfortable attitudes, sometimes we make selfish decisions then self-question our choices. Doesn’t everyone want to show the person they like only the good sides of them? When seeing someone you like for a long time like someone else, isn’t it extremely uncomfortable but noone would be brave enough to express their true emotions. When watching the scene of Moon Young being strangled, did anyone think “maybe she was related to her mother’s death so she was strangled”? The answer must be yes. Joo Ri is simply the character chosen to voice that question of many people, so does she deserve the hate?

Some viewers suggested that maybe this character probably annoys people because some could “see themselves in her”. Joo Ri is actually the most “normal” character among the leads who have so many problems on It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. Thus, she became less interesting to viewers. Hopefully this character will have a breakthrough in the next episodes to restore the hearts of the audience as well as towards a complete ending of this “healing” drama.

 It’s Okay Not to Be Okay will continue to air every Saturday – Sunday on tvN and Netflix.

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