If there’s a K-drama that made introverts feel more seen this year, it’s probably Kim Seok Yoon’s My Liberation Notes. Despite airing its finale last May, a lot of viewers still resonate with most of the lines from this South Korean slice-of-life drama starring Lee Min Ki, Kim Ji Won, Son Suk Ku, and Lee El. Even Gong Yoo has hyped up this melancholic K-drama, through his IG posts in April.
My Liberation Notes depicts the life of Yeom siblings, Chang Hee (Lee Min Ki), Mi Jeong (Kim Ji Won), and Gi Jeong (Lee El), who each missed out on opportunities due to their remote location from their workplaces, or at least that’s how they perceived it.
In case you’re wondering what made the drama remarkable, below are eight of the comforting lessons it imparts:
1. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive.
Sometimes to avoid conflict, you’d rather choose not to ask someone what they owe you. However, by being passive, you might be putting yourself in a more difficult situation. Kim Ji Won’s character, Mi Jeong, found herself in such a situation when her ex-boyfriend refrained from paying the loan she took for him. Yet as Mr. Gu (Son Suk Ku) advised her, she shouldn’t act like she’s doing something wrong by asking what’s rightfully hers.
2. There will be times when detours are necessary.
When asked how he ended up in the countryside, Mr. Gu initially said he got off at the wrong stop without giving Chang Hee (Lee Min Ki) more context. It was later on revealed that the detour spared him from death. Hence, detours shouldn’t always be seen as a setback but rather, as an opportunity to know oneself and be more prepared before heading on.
3. There’s no reason for you to doubt yourself.
Most of the time, we tend to think of others so highly that we forget about our own capabilities. As Mi Jeong’s officemate made her realize, she only lacks self-awareness. “I think you’re unhappy because you don’t know how good you are,” is probably one of the best examples of how words of affirmation can boost a colleague's morale.
4. Embarrassing moments make us more human.
Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation and felt like you will never get over it? Chang Hee considers life to be a series of embarrassing moments. “It’s embarrassing from the moment you’re born. You are born naked,” he uttered regarding the choice of his sister Gi Jeong (Lee El) to avoid embarrassment from rejection by staging an accident.
5. Being honest can be liberating.
The Liberation Club which Mi Jeong is a member, only has “I will not pretend to be happy. I will not pretend to be unhappy. I will be honest,” as their tenet. By letting each other share what they wrote in their journals, they were able to engage in a practice similar to group counseling without the unnecessary unsolicited advice, and it helped in their attempt to break free. By being vulnerable, we’re also helping ourselves to be further understood.
6. It’s okay to ask for help.
When Gi Jeong confronted Mi Jeong about taking out a loan and not asking for help, Chang Hee interrupted with one of the thought-provoking and heartbreaking lines: “When did we ever rely on our family?” One of the essential messages My Liberation Notes conveyed is the importance of a support system, which aside from social clubs, can be built by “worshipping” someone which Mi Jeong defined as cheering someone on, telling them they can do anything, and that everything is possible.
7. A few minutes of peace can make life bearable.
My Liberation Notes is considered raw for not only depicting one’s desire for consolation but even the exhaustion that comes from mundane things like our daily commute. Like Mr. Gu, we might never have had a perfect day and never will but as Mi Jeong told him, sometimes it only requires five minutes of peace to survive. “Five minutes a day. If you have five minutes of peace, it’s bearable,” Mi Jeong said.
8. Something good will happen.
Some of the lessons from the K-drama were concealed in metaphors and symbolism but the most simple or explicit was the sign that Mi Jeon often sees on her way to work which reads: “Something good will happen to you today.” Despite how frustrating a day can be, at least we can still hope that something good will happen; if not today, we can still look forward to what good things tomorrow may bring.