Nevertheless: 3 Lessons To Learn From The Characters of Nabi And Jae-eon

If there is one core message to honestly interpret the entirety of the Korean Drama series, “Nevertheless,”, it would be: Two broken people that struggle for relational security and significance.

If you have seen the 10-episode drama and curious about why Nabi and Jae-eon think and behave in their relational struggles, here are some of the insights from the characters:

1. A person’s primal brokenness may lead one to seek love in the wrong places.

An individual who receives a lot of love and attention from the primary caregivers knows how to love others well with boundaries and respect.

Whereas, Nabi and Jae-eon are two broken people who struggle for relational security and significance.

The drama did not elaborate enough backstory of Nabi and Jae-eon’s childhood woundings. For a short time, it showed Nabi’s pain of neglect from her mother, “You’re neglecting me again.” It was also briefly told that her mother went through many failed relationships and how Nabi wanted to go somewhere far away because of her mom.

On the other hand, Jae-eon mentioned that he lived separately with his mother since he was 10, telling us that he might have lived an independent life without his primary caregivers around.

Interestingly, the story did not introduce any father image or presence to both characters, which may also play a significant part in how they behave as persons growing up. Nevertheless, we can assume that both Nabi and Jae-eon are neglected children, denied of full love and attention from their parents.

Such physical and emotional neglect from significant relationships, the absence of father’s empowering strength and mother’s nurturing spirit, heightens the sense of feeling unwanted and unworthy as an individual.

This leads each one to seek love and attention in the wrong places. In fact, when Jae-eon and Nabi met, they instantly became sources of deeper wounding to one another.

2. Park Jae-eon is an empty person who suffers from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The drama does not directly name that Park Jae-eon suffers from Narcissism, but we can assume that he has this personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to American Psychological Association (APA), has the following characteristics: “(a) a long-standing pattern of grandiose self-importance and an exaggerated sense of talent and achievements; (b) fantasies of unlimited sex, power, brilliance, or beauty; (c) an exhibitionistic need for attention and admiration; (d) either cool indifference or feelings of rage, humiliation, or emptiness as a response to criticism, indifference, or defeat; and (e) various interpersonal disturbances, such as feeling entitled to special favors, taking advantage of others, and inability to empathize with the feelings of others.”

In relationships, a Narcissist goes through the cycle of “idealization, devaluing, and discarding”. Firstly, he brings his victim to a high pedestal of “love bombing”, filling her tank until she is comfortable around him. Once the victim becomes “clingy” and sees a series of red flags, the Narcissist starts to devalue and discard the person, and look for another victim to supply his insatiable need.

We can see in the drama that Jae-eon has a butterfly addiction that represents his enslavement towards women and sex. He uses his charm and does sweet talking to manipulate his target women, “I’m going to buy ice cream. Do you want to come with me?”, “Didn’t you want to see me again?”, “Do you want to see the butterflies at my place?”

Narcissists often targets the empathic women who easily compromise to feed their Narcissistic Supply of attention, power, and control. “I wanted to hear you say, happy birthday to me,” is an immature request from a Narcissist empty of love and attention.

Narcissists are unemotional beings who cannot commit. They are good at showing fake emotions and using “guilt trip” to demand attention or get what they want. “You sometimes get cold to me”, is one example of making Nabi feel sorry for him.

Jae-eon was also portrayed in the drama as a popular jerk who toys with people’s feelings and torment the things he likes. Nabi’s friend warned her several times:

  • “Jae-eon isn’t the dating type. He may flirt but never commits. He just draws the line. Flowers don’t bloom just for one butterfly. Jae-eon is like that flower. Full of vanity, a symbol of seductive beauty that withers once it’s plucked. That’s what Jae-eon is.”
  • “That’s how everyone falls for his tricks or not. They say they won’t get fooled, but they do when he shows an ounce of sincerity. Because they want to believe it.”
  • “Park Jae-eon has no interest at all in dating. He just likes to play with girls who are drawn to him.”
  • “From what I’ve seen so far, the things that made you feel special might be meaningless to him. I told you he’s nice to everyone without any exception.”

Jae-eon’s brokenness portrays impure motives that seek love for his own good, going through an addictive cycle that does not satisfy.

What leads one to become a narcissist? According to the Mayo Clinic, “the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, but some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in development of narcissistic personality disorder.”

Is this personality disorder curable? WebMD states that “there is no cure” for Narcissistic Personality Disorder “but therapy can help.”

3. Yoo Nabi is a needy person who lacks a solid sense of being and security, leading her to an unhealthy emotional dependency.

We have seen how vulnerable Nabi is. She is easily swayed by the tricks and “sweet talk” of Jae-eon. She keeps hanging out with him despite the numerous red flags and warnings.

Her brokenness portays false attachments that strive for her own sense of well-being, behaving in a way that it’s easy to have sex but hard to secure love.

One moment she is confused and anxious:

“I want my heart to keep fluttering. But I keep feeling anxious.”

“I was confused about boundaries.”

“Right. I should just check for myself and forget about him.”

“I’m sure he does this to everyone. He’s so frivolous. Would someone like him really be considered frivolous?”

“Right. I’m going to draw the line. I don’t want to be a fool again.”

But quickly yields when Jae-eon stirs her emotions:

“Jae-eon keeps making me feel excited.”

“I hate to admit it, but I can’t take my eyes off him once he comes into my sight.”

She struggles in an emotional tug-of-war, between compromise and boundaries:

“I can stop this right now. Because there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t do this. But… I’m still attracted to him, even at this moment. Like crazy.”

“That one simple reason buries all my concerns again.”

“I’m just not pushing away someone who’s being nice to me.”

“Why can’t I ever refuse him? I feel like I’m going to crumble down again.”

What made Nabi get enslaved to a toxic relationship?

One major source of this kind of brokenness is the breakdown between the relationship of the parents and child in the formative years.

A mother’s tender presence is a child’s solid sense of being in which she has the confidence to say, “I am wanted. I belong. I am somebody. I am beautiful. I am special.”

The inner child needs to feel that she is loved, wanted, and valued by a feminine figure, her mother. If there is affection, attention, empathic support, and nourishment in the innermost being as a child, she grows up to be a woman with a solid sense of being.

The little girl blossoms into a young lady who knows the healthy balance of giving and receiving love in her relationships. She brings into her community a sense of belongingness, feelings of self-worth, and self-acceptance deeply molded by her mother’s emotional responsiveness.

On the other hand, her father’s empowering presence is her solid sense of security, in which she can boldly say, “I have faith. I am confident. I know my values. I can endure challenges. I believe in my abilities.”

There is a solid sense of security when the inner child knows that she is safe and well-provided for by the first man in her life. Her father’s masculine presence provides her stability and solidity that she can overcome whatever obstacle comes her way.

He is her first mentor in righteousness, sharpening her mind with the right perspective, strengthening her hands to purposeful decision-making, and training her feet to walk towards the right direction.

The values that her father instilled in her heart is her conviction and protection when she chooses her path, dreams, and relationships. Her father’s affirmation is her confidence and undaunted strength. She can withstand seasons for her father’s empowering presence prepared the inner child to be secure – heart and soul.

In the case of Nabi, her mother neglected her most of the time. And her father was absent in the drama. Such parental neglect contributed to her neediness that made her drawn to toxic men who gave her false love, attention, and abused her physically and emotionally, displaying lack of strong conviction and healthy boundaries.

Did you know that abused women has the tendency to linger and cling onto the perpetrator or pain? It’s called emotional dependency and it is unhealthy and self-damaging.

“I hate you. I really hate you. I hate how you play with people’s feelings. But now that I see you, I finally feel I’m alive. So don’t go anywhere and stay by my side,” says Nabi.

“You won’t regret it?”, Jae-eon asks.

“I know it will cause me pain again. Nevertheless, I still…”, concludes Nabi.

The drama tells us that Nabi is happy with her decision in taking the risks for love. But in reality, it’s a never-ending cycle of trauma, abuse, and pain.

Do take note that several studies show that a huge number of women are suffering from depression and worse, suicide, for feelings of worthlessness and self-blame connected to toxic relationships. And yet, the character of Nabi subtly conveys that toxic love is cool and fine.


This drama is brave enough to show the struggles of toxic love and sexual addiction. But the kind of healing it delivers, the backstory, and character development are way too shallow. What made Jae-eon behave that way? What made Nabi compromise easily? What are the repercussions of their behavior in all aspects of life? What pyschological help do they need to surpass and receive individual healing? Such significant storylines were not addressed. It lacked depth.

Moreover, the drama portrays that it is okay for love to be toxic, abusive, and self-damaging. Some say it’s the reality of love. Nevertheless, it should not be the standard for healthy relationships.

Right. The good cinematography, soundtrack, and use of art symbols made the story romantic for the viewers to get engaged but overall, it was honestly all about unhealthy sensuality that subtly implies to choose toxicity. Too bad that it insinuates for abused women to happily remain in a cycle of defeat.

Yes, the drama always ends happily with the main cast getting together, however, flawed. But how about an ending that shows happiness and growth in pursuing no one for a better self? In choosing self-love for inner-healing? In letting go for real transformation?

The benefits of walking away from a toxic and abusive relationship far outweigh the risks of remaining in it.

The truth is, we can never pour love onto others if we cannot love our own selves. We can never see the worth in others if we cannot see the worth in us. It takes a proper individual self-assessment and healing.

Nevertheless, the main duo, Song Kang and Han Sohee, are visually beautiful and did well in their performance as Yoo Nabi and Park Jae-eon.