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It's Okay not to be Okay (2020) Episode 14
As the show nears its end, everything is set up for the final showdown in Ko Mun-yeong's and Moon Gang-tae's own Sleeping Beauty story. Whether Park Heng-ja is really Do Hui-jae might still be up for grabs but it doesn't detract from the fact that she represents the malevolent force that has to be contended with. She might not be Mun-yeong's childhood Maleficent but she is the dragon that has to be slayed in Gang-tae's odyssey. It seems to be the show's contention that the abyss can't be sidestepped, it must be overcome step by step. Otherwise the happily-ever-after will remain a pipe dream.
It does boggle the mind as to how Do Hui-jae could have survived that fall on such hard flooring and with all that blood loss. However, I don't hold out much hope for a logical scientific explanation for all that. :D If indeed Do Hui-jae has come back from the dead.
As an aside, the cover illustration of the monkfish reminds me of the ones that I've seen in Dr Seuss books and perhaps that's deliberate. A children's book with layers of meaning with lessons for the young and the adults alike. The monkfish story presents itself as an echo of the theme that runs right through the drama about parenting. It's the culmination of an ongoing conversation that Ko Mun-yeong has been having with her parents in absentia, all the time she has been writing children's books positioning herself and speaking through these chimeric characters. They have represented aspects of her self. She was raised in extreme fashion to be her mother's puppet, sculpture or empty vessel. The limbless child that's no better than a monkfish is an immobile beast that can't do her mother's bidding or function in the real world is discarded. The analogies are explicit in their condemnation that parents might bring children into the world to do their bidding... to be their "works of art" to show off to the world. It reminds me of Kwon Gi-do's siblings who can be shown off to the world with pride during an election campaign while the black sheep of the family has to be hidden in a mental institution never to be referred to in polite company.
For me the most important reason why Do Hui-jae has to be the killer of Moon Gang-tae's mother or at the very least believed to be her murderer has more to do with Gang-tae's identity and understanding of what family means. I could say that it is important for Gang-tae to know how much he loves Mun-yeong... or for Mun-yeong to know how much he loves her to bear those wounds for her sake. For her to know that he would be prepared to overcome all the anger and hate to spend the rest of his life with her, is an enormous gesture on his part. It's mind blowing. It's absolutely inhuman. But it is meant to bear testimony to the transformative power of love. Whoever Park Heng-ja is isn't so crucial in the scheme of things. What is important is what kind of man Moon Gang-tae really is. Or who he wants to be. As he said in the last episode, he was forced to care for his brother and then to work as a caregiver but now being a caregiver... is really what he wants to be. That is... if you like... his true calling. His whole, better self. He wants to be the one who stands between the vulnerable and their darkness as he did for Seon-hae, Jung-tae and A-reum. His confrontation with Park Heng-ja is a vital part of that authentication of his truest self and his protection of his new family.
Park Heng-ja who could be Do Hui-jae, wants him to run away from Mun-yeong. That's her goal undoubtedly. To remove the obstacle between her and Mun-yeong... her knight in shining armour... by ripping on his wound and dancing on it. He is the one standing in her way. So this is a test of his mettle. What he couldn't be to Mun-yeong as a boy... can he be that person now... as an adult and a man who is better equipped to rescue her from the clutches of her Maleficent figure. To the mind of Maleficent Gang-tae's influence is unwanted because he is gradually eroding and destroying the darkness that had consumed her by bringing light in. This is the fight of Gang-tae's life. His biggest battle wasn't finding out and processing the fact that Do Hui-jae killed his mother but to convince Mun-yeong that he loves her by what he does afterwards with that knowledge. This is the fight that will determine who he is and what kind of future they have.
I am reminded here of the Do Hui-jae's final manuscript... The Murder of the Witch of the West Vol. 10. With that my thoughts turn to Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow all heading towards Emerald City to fight the Wicked Witch of the West and free her slaves. Whether Gang-tae represents the Lion, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, or even Dorothy it probably doesn't matter much. Mun-yeong calls him a "coward". He has to stand his ground. He has to stand firm against the onslaught of the malevolent Park Heng-ja, the doubts of Mun-yeong and his own fears.
It isn't just Gang-tae who has stepped up to the plate but Sang-tae too. He leaps into the role of the older brother with great gusto. He notices when she's lying. He notices when she's scared. He brings her food and feeds her. He is no longer the monkfish. He now has hands and legs to be a support to others around him.
Do Hui-jae, in the flesh or in the spirit... whatever form she takes... is contrasted with Kang Seon-deuk (Ju-ri's mum). Her goal was always to tether her daughter to herself by shaping her into her own image. To keep elements and threats out. But the kindly Seon-duk brings people into her circle by her genuinely inclusive disposition. Her castle is welcoming of those who need a place to stay and hang out. She adopts strays as a matter of habit. She mothers them with her wisdom and her cooking. She wants her daughter to meet a nice man and encourages it. She brings cheer and light. She is loved by giving love not by demanding it. She is the quintessential Mother archetype. She is the Good Witch of the North. The true north where all lost ones gravitate towards. The true north that those who have lost their bearings find their way back to.