Netflix is dropping great K-dramas like leaves falling in autumn. Just a little while ago, we got to see Doona, starring Bae Suzy and Yang Se-Jong, which mesmerized viewers with its stunning style and sweet story. November has kicked off with yet another fantastic K-drama, but this one is a little on the darker side. Now, the title is Daily Dose of Sunshine, but this show is rather draining and quite bleak until the end. Still, it tackles mental illness, something that has become prevalent in Korean dramas in the past few years. Daily Dose of Sunshine reflects on mental health in a country where the work culture is solely based on hierarchy. We learned in Revenant that Korea has the highest rate of suicides among OECD countries. While sometimes Daily Dose of Sunshine comes across as overly dramatic, it sends a very clear message to those who may need help, whether it’s a victim or their guardian. The show revolves around nurse Jung Da-Eun, who has just been transferred to the psychiatric unit in the hospital.
What Happens In The Show?
Da-Eun’s story begins in the internal medicine unit, where she was told by her senior nurse that she would do better in the psychiatric unit. It turns out that Da-Eun is a burden on the nurses in her previous unit because she’s too nice to the patients and ends up wasting too much time. Da-Eun is completely new to psychiatry, and at first, she has a hard time understanding patients and their erratic behavior. Her first patient is an exhibitionist who has never done anything for herself; she has just been a puppet for her mother. Due to her past, she suffers from bipolar disorder, and Da-Eun slowly tries to understand why dancing without any clothes on made the patient happy. Ultimately, it is Da-Eun who helps the patient connect with her mother and be honest with her on her road to recovery. At the same time, there’s a patient named Kim Seo-Wan who finds a liking for Da-Eun because she listens to what he says, unlike the other nurses. Seo-Wan has delusions and believes he’s a player character inside a video game. He labels Da-Eun his mediator because she’s kind and helpful to everybody.
On the other hand, a proctologist named Go-Yun is smitten by Da-Eun after noticing how nice she is to the patients. He himself has OCD and continuously cracks his knuckles, but somehow it goes away when he’s near Da-Eun (Is this real? Or is it just TV?). In the meantime, Da-Eun is unaware that her childhood best friend, Yu-Chan, has a panic disorder, which led him to quit an office job he was really great at. At the hospital, the nurses work terribly hard, with no time to rest and all the ill treatment from guardians and patients, while the doctors have it a little bit better. Da-Eun is still learning the ropes of the psychiatric department, so she messes up with a patient who has severe anxiety because of work. In the hopes of trying to help the man, Da-Eun makes a huge mistake. This leads to the hospital having to take responsibility because the patient is meant to be shifted at the same time. Da-Eun feels terrible, and even though the team is throwing her a welcome dinner, she decides to go back to the hospital and fix her mistake. After a little bit of anger, she’s been met with support.
Yu-Chan is in love with Da-Eun, and he also happens to be friends with the doctor who is crushing on her. Go-Eun asks Yu-Chan for permission to like his friend, but Yu-Chan declines. It seems he’s never found the right time to tell her, but he’s liked her since high school (this is the most interesting second-lead syndrome situation). Even so, Yu-Chan still respects and likes Go-Eun a lot. He thinks he’s a wonderful doctor and also trusts him deeply. Go-Eun is the one who notices Yu-Chan’s panic disorder and leads him to the hospital to get well. For Yu-Chan, whenever he feels himself drowning in panic and anxiety, Da-Eun is his life jacket.
There’s a young patient who has delusions after getting scammed out of all her savings. When Da-Eun is checking her belongings, the patient believes Da-Eun has stolen the money from her and starts to act out in the hospital. She writes on the walls, yells at her in the corridors, and even pulls her by the hair. After snapping at her one time, Da-Eun realizes that she needs to understand the girl’s side of things. After facing a lot of trouble from the patient, Da-Eun decides to listen to her story for real. The young girl, who was living on her own to find a job, got scammed with the false hope of a job and lost everything. After telling Da-Eun everything that happened, she starts to recover and apologizes, even asking Da-Eun to accompany her to the bank so she can start to save money again. Kim Seo-Wan gives Da-Eun a special card to return the young girl’s money, making Da-Eun feel very special.
Kim Seo-Wan used to be a student attempting the civil servant exam. The man would work too hard and end up getting tempted to visit an internet cafe to enjoy himself. Instead, because of the stress of passing the exam and making something of himself, Kim Seo-Wan ended up convincing himself he was in the world of video games. With the medication taking effect, Kim Seo-Wan finally shows signs of recovery and immediately asks Da-Eun to bring him some books for the exam. After a little while, he recovers enough to get discharged and goes back to working hard on the exam. Nearing the date of the exam, Seo-Wan becomes stressed again. He realizes he’s good for nothing and pretends to be sick again. When Da-Eun recognizes this because he calls her nurse instead of the mediator, she tells the head nurse. Unfortunately, when Seo-Wan goes back to working hard for real, it’s too much for him to handle, and he’d rather be a mage, slaying a dragon. He ends up taking his life by jumping off a building.
Before taking his life, Seo-Wan calls Da-Eun to talk for a bit, but she’s with Go-Yun, who has just told her that he likes her, and she’s distracted. When she finds out about the death of Seo-Wan, her defense mechanism is to forget it ever happened, and Go-Yun begins to notice. When the doctors and nurses finally tell Da-Eun what really happened, she completely breaks down and becomes depressed. Da-Eun tries to work her way through it, but after a month, she realizes she’s not okay and takes a few days off. She starts to blame herself for his death, and after sleeping for two days straight, she tries to take her own life by walking into oncoming traffic. Go-Yun helps Da-Eun’s mother take her to a different psychiatric hospital to heal. At first, Da-Eun feels annoyed that she’s in the hospital, being a nurse herself. She claims she should be able to see her own symptoms, but, in reality, Da-Eun doesn’t even remember she walked into traffic. She doesn’t take her medication at first and starts to act out, yelling at other patients. Finally, the doctor reminds her of what she’s actually done—to be admitted involuntarily.
Da-Eun puts her all into recovering to her regular self. She starts to admit how much the death of her patient has impacted her. Da-Eun learns to write compliments for herself every day, and there’s a lot of value she gets from her previous patients that she can absorb now. Da-Eun and the head nurse decide to keep her struggle with depression a secret from the rest of the team for now. The nurses are working really hard trying to cover for Da-Eun and are overjoyed when they hear she’s returning to work. Da-Eun, on the other hand, is under the impression that she can’t go back to being a nurse because a sick person can’t treat sickness.
The head nurse convinces Da-Eun to return, and first, everything goes great until word gets out that she was a patient at another hospital. Unlike Da-Eun’s expectations, the nurses all take her side and make her see that she’s not at fault. The guardians all started to protest with pickets in front of their hospital after trying to persuade the hospital staff to fire Da-Eun. It reaches the director of the hospital, and yet everyone supports Da-Eun. Finally, it is the head nurse who tells the guardians that they should see Da-Eun as their family, the patients in the hospital. When they return to work, would the guardian be happy to hear the harsh words they used against Da-Eun? The talk works on some of the guardians, and slowly everything dissolves.
Why Does Da-Eun Want To Be A Nurse?
After some persuasion, Da-Eun and Go-Yun finally get together. She appreciates everything he’s done for her and sees that you need people to be on your side even in the hard times, rather than just the good. Yu-Chan finds a job where he is able to say no and not fall under the pressure of his seniors. Da-Eun works daily on getting better herself by going on regular walks, continuing her compliment journal, and eating her meals on time. Da-Eun admits to one of her fellow nurses that she’s having a difficult time when another patient with self-harm tendencies is handed to her. The other nurse wonders why Da-Eun would continue being a nurse when it caused her so much pain, especially for someone who is already sick. Da-Eun admits that it’s difficult, but at the same time, she became a nurse because it’s what excites her, and helping people is what keeps her breathing. It’s a habitual thing for Da-Eun, being a nurse, and she just can’t let it go.
Hearing this, the other nurse, Deul-Re, chooses to quit being a nurse and actually find a passion for herself. Da-Eun is the person who opened her eyes by talking about the excitement of going to work. The final patient we see Da-Eun work with is a young girl who wants to be a pilot. Similar to herself, the girl never quits, and even if she doesn’t have the credentials to become a pilot, she begins to work in the airport to get closer to her dream. Da-Eun tells the girl that if she ever feels the need to cut herself, she should just snap a rubber band on her wrist to calm herself down. Da-Eun has finally learned how she can help her patients. There will be more deaths and more patients who hurt her feelings, but Da-Eun has her safety net, her family, and her friends to keep her going. In a room that doesn’t have curtains, the day always starts early, with a dose of sunshine to brighten the day.