* This review contains spoilers for Episode 8 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 8: Expiration Date of Grief
The episode opens with Da-Eun (Park Bo-Young), who is struggling to come to terms with the suicide of her patient, Kim Seo-Wan. She is consumed by a profound sense of guilt, questioning her competence as his nurse and whether she could have done more to prevent his death.
Head nurse Song Hyo-Shin (Lee Jung-Eun) notices her distress, and suggests Da-Eun follow a schedule to help her through the grief. Da-Eun also asks Go-Yun to give her a month to process her feelings, before letting him know if they can pursue a relationship.
However, she soon finds herself struggling to care for a new bipolar patient. A careless remark leads to the patient having a breakdown in the rec room, and the other staff wonder if Da-Eun will be able to cope.
Getting closer, and further apart
Meanwhile, the romance between Yeo-Hwan (Jang Ryul) and Deul-Re (Lee Yi-Dam) is blossoming. After a few false starts, they finally declare themselves a couple, and all seems to be going well for them. However, Deul-Re gets a nasty shock when her estranged mother suddenly shows up and moves in. Deul-Re has been working almost her whole life to pay off her mother’s gambling debts. However, her mother insists that she is owed a place to stay, and continues to ask Deul-Re for more money.
Da-Eun and Yu-Chan (Jang Dong-Yoon) begin to play ping-pong together after work, and gradually grow closer. The new activity seems to cheer up Da-Eun, and she is able to continue caring for her patients. However, it is all a façade. She suddenly breaks down during a karaoke session with Yu-Chan, finally admitting that she is not over her grief.
Da-Eun goes to see Hyo-Shin, and admits that she has a problem. She asks to take some time off to process her emotions and heal.
Da-Eun spirals into despair
Da-Eun copes with her grief by sleeping all day, and skipping meals. Worried about her condition, Yu-Chan suddenly shows up and drags her out of bed, trying to force her back into life. However, this only angers Da-Eun, and she tells him that she doesn’t care if she dies or lives, pushing him away. She later feels remorse, but her grief continues to overwhelm her.
A frustrated Yu-Chan then visits Yeo-Hwan to talk about Da-Eun, and Yeo-Hwan believes that she has depression. Yu-Chan realizes that his actions may have worsened her condition, and becomes distraught. Meanwhile, Go-Yun has been impatiently waiting for a month and decides to visit Da-Eun to get her answer.
The final breaking point
Da-Eun and Go-Yun meet in the park, but after seeing her condition, Go-Yun becomes worried. Instead of confessing his love, he gently suggests that she sees a psychiatrist to discuss her feelings. However, Da-Eun’s mother overhears the conversation and berates him, as she cannot accept that anything is wrong with Da-Eun.
While waiting at a crosswalk, Da-Eun suddenly decides to step out into traffic. This leads to a nail-biting scene as cars swerve to avoid hitting her, before her mother is able to reach her and drag her to the other side of the street. The episode ends with a dazed Da-Eun staring into the distance, completely immersed in despair.
What we thought
Throughout this episode of Daily Dose of Sunshine, the portrayal of depression is handled with sensitivity and realism, painting a vivid picture of how it can envelop even the most seemingly vibrant individuals. The episode thoughtfully contrasts Go-Yun’s patient understanding with Yu-Chan’s eager but ineffective attempts to help, illustrating the nuanced care required when supporting someone through depression.
Da-Eun’s journey is a powerful testament to the importance of seeking help and the complex nature of navigating mental health struggles. Park Bo-Young does an excellent job in this episode portraying her character’s slide into grief. Seeing the once bubbly character go through so much pain broke our hearts.
The episode’s dramatic final moments serves as a stark reminder of the dangerous reality of untreated depression, and sets the stage for the series to continue its exploration of mental health issues.