Most medical Korean dramas that have aired throughout the years focused on general medicine. While it’s rare to have medical dramas that center on psychological issues, there are still some hidden gems in K-dramaland, where mental health problems take center stage as the concept and plot of the series. One example is Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji’s recently concluded drama It’s Okay to Not be Okay, which garnered attention for its fairytale-like narrative and sparked debates and discussions for its focus on mental health and individuals with disorders and conditions.
If you’re also into shows with a similar theme, why not check out the other K-dramas down below that also tackle mental health issues like It’s Okay to Not Be Okay?
Good Doctor (2013)
Starring Joo Won (Alice), Moon Chae-won (Flower of Evil), Joo Sang-wook (Touch), and Kim Min-seo (Witch at Court), the award-winning medical drama follows the story of a pediatric doctor who has autism and possesses a genius-like memory and impressive spatial skills. He goes to the top pediatric hospital as a first-year resident, where he is only given six months to prove his capabilities. But because of his mental and emotional condition, he continuously struggles as he faces conflict with his peers and patients, who always doubt him and get him into trouble. In 2013, the Korea Association of the Welfare Institutes for the Disabled awarded Good Doctor a plaque of recognition for creating awareness on socially and mentally challenged individuals and their capabilities and contribution to the society. In the same year, the Disability Awareness Campaign Headquarters also gave the series an award, while the Korea Communications Standards Commission regarded the series as a “Good Program.” It was later on adapted to an American remake of the same name.
It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014)
Starring Jo In-sung (That Winter, The Wind Blows), Gong Hyo-jin (When the Camellia Blooms), Sung Dong-il (The Cursed), Lee Kwang-soo (Live), and Do Kyung-soo (100 Days My Prince), It’s Okay, That’s Love follows a best-selling author of mystery novels who also works as a radio DJ. Although he is playful and a bit arrogant, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder due to traumatic events in his life. Because of his condition, he can only sleep in his own bathtub. He meets a psychiatrist on her first year of training who is driven with ambition and is compassionate towards her patients. However, she has a negative attitude towards love and relationships. Aside from this, she has also self-diagnosed herself with having anxiety issues, fear of commitment, and sex phobia due to family issues. They become acquainted, and she becomes his psychiatrist. Later on, they discover the male lead’s undiagnosed schizophrenia. The series also features another character with Tourette syndrome, who often gets panic attacks.
Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)
Tackling mental disorder and child abuse as center elements, Kill Me, Heal Me tells the story a third-generation chaebol heir who developed dissociative identity disorder as a consequence of several traumatic events in his life. His six other personalities appear based on his emotions. Vehement and tough Shin Se-gi emerges whenever he witnesses violence; 40-year-old Perry Park, with an affinity for fishing and building bombs, appears whenever he longs for his father; smart and suicidal student Ahn Yeo-seob takes over whenever he’s having suicidal tendencies; free-spirited and mischievous Ahn Yo-na (Yeo-seob’s twin sister) surfaces whenever he’s in great pain and needs to unwind; and seven-year-old Na-na, the representation of his childhood fears, and a certain Mr. X, the most mysterious of all his identities who is later revealed to be Na-na’s father, also turn up. Starring Ji Sung (Doctor John), Hwang Jung-eum (Men Are Men), Park Seo-joon (Itaewon Class), Oh Min-suk (Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life), and Kim Yoo-ri (18 Again), the series became a topic for mental health disorders on various platforms. It also reunited Secret Love (2013) co-stars Ji Sung and Hwang Jung-eum, who were also the leading characters of the said series. In 2017, Kill Me, Heal Me was adapted to a Chinese web series titled A Seven-Faced Man.
Soul Mechanic (2020)
The 2020 romantic-medical drama features a team of psychiatrists who believe in the power of healing and not just medically treating sick patients. Starring Shin Ha-kyun (Less than Evil) and Jung So-min (Hundred Million Stars from the Sky), Soul Mechanic (also Fix You) centers on a happy-go-lucky psychiatrist who is a bit odd and uses humor to reach out to his patients. He is assigned a problem patient, a rising musical celebrity who has deep-rooted anger issues. The female lead character also has contrasting personalities, which leads her to seek medical and professional help. The series, however, received consistently low ratings throughout its run.