South Korean dramas, for a while now, have become a part of our lives and have swept the world for good reasons. Not only do these beloved shows feature swoon-worthy actors in their most gripping roles, but they also present well-crafted storylines that keep us glued to our screens. While some may prefer the typical sugar-sweet romance, more and more shows lately delve into more serious matters including mental health.
It is with the help of these dramas and their showrunners that discussions about mental health become less taboo. We have compiled some of the most compelling shows that shed light on mental health issues, in the hope of helping viewers understand what someone might be going through.
It’s Okay That’s Love
This 2014 SBS drama centers on the relationship of psychiatrist Ji Hae Soo (Gong Hyo Jin) and bestselling mystery novel author and radio DJ Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung). Despite their strong character differences, they strike up a romantic relationship when they end up living under the same roof.
Hae Soo then slowly learns about Jae Yeol’s undiagnosed schizophrenia and it is later revealed that the psychiatrist also has anxiety issues, both caused by the trauma they suffered as kids. They then embark on a healing journey as a couple that forever changes their relationship. Warning: Grab some tissues. You might shed a few tears while watching.
Soul Mechanic tackles mental disorders in a more lighthearted manner, as the protagonist Lee Si Joon (Shin Ha Kyun), a psychiatrist, tries to personalize his experience with every patient. He then crosses paths with Han Woo Joo (Jung So Min), a musical actress suffering from frequent mental breakdowns that hinders her career. Here, they deal with mental disorders firsthand and will make you empathize with the patients.
This hit 2018 drama that has won numerous awards tells the story of the residents of SKY Castle and their dangerous obsession to get their children to South Korea’s top universities. The children of this elite group are subjected to immense stress and anxiety, which then leads to depression, just so they can rank high in their schools, satisfy their families, and get into the university of their parents’ choosing. This seems to mirror the reality Korea faces and has brought criticism to the toxic educational system that has been cultivated over the years. The show is an emotional rollercoaster as it takes you behind the lives of both the students and their parents.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a 2020 release that follows the story of Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji), a children’s book author that goes to obsessive lengths to show her affection towards Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), a psychiatric hospital caregiver. Kang Tae, who often moves around due to his obligations as his brother’s caregiver, cannot find himself settling down until he meets Moon Young who has an antisocial personality disorder. As the show progresses, they find themselves opening up to each other and trying to heal the wounds their past has caused them.
Still 17, a 2018 drama, tells the story of Gong Woo Jin (Yang Se Jong) and Woo Seo Ri (Shin Hye Sun), whose fates have crossed when they were young and are reconnected again as adults. This time, the circumstances are different as they both find out they suffered from traumas caused by the same accident that happened 13 years ago. After discovering the effects the accident had on their lives, they set out to find the happiness they once lost as teenagers and eventually find love along the way.
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Words: Arian Blasquez
Featured image: via tvN