Fairy tale books play an important role in the show "It's Okay to Not be Okay" (or "Psycho but It's Okay," PBIO in short). They help Moon Kangtae (Kim Soohyun) and Ko Moonyoung (Seo Yeji), who live with different wounds, understand each other, open their hearts, and bring them close.
In many parts of the drama, works drawn by Jamsan appear. It is Jamsan, a concept artist, who actually made the drawings for the children's literature writer and antisocial personality Ko Moonyoung. In Korea, he is considered a first-generation illustrator who pioneered the realm of concept art.
Though not a household name, Jamsan had been in charge of important works such as advertisement illustrations for Nike and Samsung, as well as the album jacket for Seo Taiji's "Quiet Night" (소격동). Before "Psycho but It's Okay", Jamsan was mainly known for his warm and colorful illustrations.
Therefore, the dark and concise drawings of PBIO set a new milestone for the artist's 20 year long career. "After 20 years of drawing like that, I was growing frustrated and fell into mannerism. Just when I wanted to draw with greater clarity, I was elated to be offered this job of drawing for cruel fairy tales."
20년을 그렇게 그리다보니 답답함도 있고 매너리즘에 빠졌던 것 같아요. 이제는 좀 명쾌하게 그리고 싶다는 생각이 들던 차에 잔혹동화를 그려달라는 의뢰가 오니 너무 반가웠어요.
PBIO is Jamsan's second collaboration with the director Park Shinwoo. Their first was with the drama Encounter, also directed by Park, in which Jamsan drew for the beginning and ending scenes of each episode.
Clay animation, which appears in the first episode, was also created based on his concept art. Jamsan spent a full month to study the characters Moon Kangtae and Ko Moonyoung. "Both have darkness and pain inside, but they are expressed in different manners" he says. Kangtae has a will to live, basically a good kid. On the other hand, Moonyoung is defensive and closed. Kangtae is like a struggling dog that wants taken care of, while Moonyoung is more of an elusive cat.
Jamsan is also responsible for the paintings of the elder brother Kangtae. Suffering from autism, Sangtae mainly expresses himself through pictures. "Sangtae has a hard time verbalizing his thoughts. For him, pictures are his language" comments Jamsan.
The fairy tale books in the drama became a hot potato among drama fans. Book titles made it on Korea's real-time search list at the end of every broadcast. It was a surprise for Jamsan, who has been painting commercial paintings for more than 20 years. He said, "It was the first time that public feedback to my work has been so fast."
The fairy tales with Jamsan's illustrations were published as real books starting from mid-July. Going forward, he hopes to make illustrations with his own stories in the future.
The physical storybooks are available here.
The books are in Korean only. To help you get the most out of the books so dear to your heart but somewhat alien in language, we have prepared English translations of all 5 books, along with matching scenes from the drama.