* This review contains spoilers for Episode 6 of Daily Dose of Sunshine
The new K-drama series Daily Dose of Sunshine shines a light on the often-misunderstood world of psychiatric care. The Netflix drama is based on a webtoon by former nurse Lee Ra-Ha, and follows the story of Jung Da-Eun, a nurse who transitions from internal medicine to the psychiatric ward. Through her experiences, viewers are taken on a journey filled with empathy, humor and the raw realities of mental illnesses.
Episode 6: A Day in the Life of a Mage
The episode begins by finally giving us a look into the mind of ‘Level 7 mage’ Kim Seo-Wan (Roh Jae-Won). His character has been a constant since the first episode, experiencing life through a video game. We find that he sees Da-Eun (Park Bo-Young) as a ‘great mediator’ of his world, while Dr. Im (Kim Jong-Tae), the head of the psychiatric department, is a venerable sage.
Eventually, Seo-Wan’s condition begins to improve after he begins taking new medication. During a consultation with Dr. Im, he finally accepts that he is not a mage, but instead a student who has failed the civil servant exam seven times.
Despite this development, Seo-Wan is depressed as he realizes how much time he has ‘wasted’ while in hospital. He begins to worry about the next exam, which is just a few weeks away. Seo-Wan asks Da-Eun to help him search for some textbooks, and she manages to find them. She creates a flipbook animation in one of the textbooks to inspire him. Seo-Wan is delighted to see the drawings, despite laughing over her poor drawing skills.
Seo-Wan’s day of freedom
Dr. Im has a meeting with Seo-Wan’s parents, and tells them that his condition has improved. He informs them that Seo-Wan wishes to study again, and that he might be ready to return home. The parents are hesitant about allowing him to study again. However, Dr. Im reassures them, saying they should take it one step at a time.
Seo-Wan is granted an overnight stay outside the hospital, and he pays a visit to his former cram school. He has a flashback to his study days, recalling how he decided to play video games as a way to escape his failures in the exams.
He runs into a couple of old friends and they discuss their struggles with their studies. Seo-Wan admits that it is hard to quit after spending so much time trying to pass. He eventually leaves them with a warning to not repeat his mistakes. However, he soon begins to hallucinate, and sees a dragon flying overhead and attacking.
The return of the mage
Later, Da-Eun is shocked to see Seo-Wan is back in the ward, having regressed back to his delusional state. He invites her to join him in “slaying the dragon”, but she gently refuses. However, she later realizes that he called her by her name, instead of the “great mediator”.
Da-Eun reports her suspicion that Seo-Wan is faking his regression. This results in Seo-Wan being discharged from the hospital. Da-Eun visits him as he is packing, and he confesses that he wasn’t brave enough to make a decision about his life. As he leaves the hospital with his parents, she writes down her number and asks him to call her if he needs anything.
She later has a conversation with nurse Soo-Yeon (Lee Sang-Hee), who advises her not to get too attached to patients. Da-Eun wonders if she should have done more for Seo-Wan. Soo-Yeon then advises her to take some time off to clear her mind.
A date for three
Da-Eun arranges a day out with Yu-Chan(Jang Dong-Yoon), but a series of events sees Go-Yun (Yeon Woo-Jin) joining them. The three of them have fun hanging out together, despite a few mishaps along the way. Eventually, Yu-Chan leaves for a moment, and Go-Yun and Da-Eun discuss the situation with Seo-Wan. He reassures her that she made the right decision, and the two of them begin to bond, much to Yu-Chan’s dismay.
Seo-Wan begins to attend cram school again, and moves into a small apartment to study. He pays a visit to hospital and runs into Da-Eun. She is pleased to see him doing much better, and he informs her that he has decided to see a consultant closer to his cram school.
Things get complicated
Elsewhere, Yeo-Hwan (Jang Ryul) finds out about Deul-Re’s (Lee Yi-Dam) financial problems, and contemplates helping her. However, she refuses, saying that she does not want to feel indebted to him. She reaches a point where she has no money left for food, and Yeo-Hwan brings her some sandwiches. He promises that will be all he offers her, as he cares about her health.
Da-Eun runs into Go-Yun at their shared bus-stop, and he confesses that he was waiting there because he missed her. Just as she is processing that information, she gets a phone call from Seo-Wan. He asks if she has time to sit with him for tea, but she hesitates, as she is still with Go-Yun. Seo-Wan resignedly tells her it is no big deal, and that they will “go dragon-slaying another day”.
He then heads to the roof of his apartment and thinks about his struggles with his exams. As he prepares to jump, he begins to hallucinate, seeing the world of Lost Valhalla all around him. Seo-Wan smiles, before finally taking a leap. The episode ends with a shot of Seo-Wan’s study desk, with his final note reading “I’m sorry”.
What we thought
The shocking ending of this episode left us speechless. Much like Da-Eun, we had grown to care for Seo-Wan, and his struggles in this episode broke our hearts. His storyline serves as a poignant reminder that the battle against depression (the dragon) is a constant one.
While Seo-Wan’s story formed the bulk of the episode, we also got to see some developments in the lives of the hospital staff. Da-Eun and Go-Yun appeared set to take their relationship to the next level, while Yu-Chan seemed resigned to being just the ‘best friend’. Yeo-Hwan and Deul-Re’s experience their first challenge as a couple, but they are able to overcome it together.
It’s clear that in the coming episodes, the characters will have to navigate the aftermath of Seo-Wan’s actions. This is sure to set the stage for us to explore the harsh realities of mental health struggles. How will Da-Eun handle the situation? Check out our review of the next episode of Daily Dose of Sunshine.