* This review contains spoilers for Episode 11 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 11: And The Journey Continues
In the penultimate episode of Daily Dose of Sunshine, Da-eun’s (Park Bo-Young) journey of self-discovery and healing takes a significant turn. After receiving treatment for depression, she steps back into the familiar yet now daunting halls of the hospital where she works.
The episode opens with her clutching her compliment diary, one of the new coping mechanisms she learnt during her recovery. When she arrives at the room that was once occupied by Kim Seo-Wan, she hesitates for only a moment before entering. She slips back into her routine to care for her patients, and seems almost back to being her old self.
The secret is out
Da-Eun encounters her old patient Kim Sung-Sik (Jo Dal-Hwan), who is now back at the hospital to continue his treatment. He appears happy to see her, but his brother suddenly tells her to stop examining him. Da-Eun obeys, but is concerned about the situation.
She later speaks to Yeo-Hwan (Jang Ryul), and tells him she wants to tell her colleagues about her hospitalization. He advises her to focus on reducing her anxiety first, and she agrees. However, when she returns to the ward, she sees the mother of Byeong-Hui, a newly-admitted patient, asking the other nurses whether it is true that Da-Eun had been hospitalized for depression.
Da-Eun later apologizes to her collagues for not telling them sooner. She also speaks to head nurse Song Hyo-Shin (Lee Jung-Eun), who reveals that their patient Ae-Shin is actually her sister. She tells Da-Eun that she did nothing wrong, and urges her to continue working.
Tension on the ward
Da-Eun’s situation then becomes public knowledge after someone posts about her on the hospital’s forum. Patients and their family members gossip about her, but Da-Eun tries to ignore them.
Her colleagues, including Dr. Im (Kim Jong-Tae) and Hyo-Shin, continue to support her. Senior nurse Park Soo-Yeon (Lee Sang-Hee) tells Byeong-Hui’s mother that Da-Eun is the best person to care for her daughter, as she knows what it is like to live with a mental illness.
Things escalate when the patients’ family members hold a protest to get Da-Eun fired from the ward. Deul-Re (Lee Yi-Dam) asks Da-Eun why she insists on putting up with the abuse. Da-Eun tells Deul-Re that she has learnt so much from her job, and that working here has made her a better person.
Confronting hard truths
Eventually, the patients’ family members insist on a meeting with hospital authorities to discuss Da-Eun. They begin to explain their concerns over Da-Eun’s mental condition, and her ability to care for their family members.
Hyo-Shin then stands up and points out everything they are saying against Da-Eun could also be used against their own family members. She tells them that this stigma is exactly what their loved ones will face once they return to society, and that they should not be too quick to judge Da-Eun. It is an emotional moment for everyone involved, and a highlight of the episode.
This finally makes the family members see sense, and most of them decide to end their protest against Da-Eun. We also find out that Go-Yun was quietly advocating behind the scenes for Da-Eun to continue to keep her job on the ward.
Everyone moves on
Besides the situation with Da-Eun, we also see the subplots featuring the other characters. Yu-Chan (Jang Dong-Yoon) is continuing his treatment for his anxiety and has decided to interview for a new job. Da-Eun congratulates him on taking this big step, but Yu-Chan is still nervous.
At the interview, his old fears almost drown him, but he is able to find his coping mechanism, and calm down. He then tells the interviewers about his panic disorder and how it taught him to value the important things in life.
Meanwhile, Deul-Re decides that she no longer wants to be a nurse. After meeting with a group of friends who work on a cruise ship, she realizes that it is time for her to do things that make her happy.
What we thought
Episode 11 of Daily Dose of Sunshine took an unflinching look at the stigma surrounding mental health. It also explored the impact of such biases on personal identities and professional responsibilities. The episode also offered some hope, through Da-Eun and Hyo-Shin’s stories.
We saw how their experiences allowed them to empathize with patients, and gave us a new perspective on mental illness, and how living with it can become a strength instead of a weakness.
This episode sets the stage for a finale that promises to deliver a poignant and hopeful conclusion to the series’ exploration of these critical issues.