Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by by Kim Hoyeun
Though perceptions have improved over time, the term “psychiatric ward” still evokes a sense of discomfort for many. Nonetheless, this is an indispensable facility where people reside and receive crucial medical care for mental ailments. In this light, Netflix’s series Daily Dose of Sunshine captures the stories of those in a psychiatric ward through a warm gaze, comforting not only the patients in the hospital but also touching the hearts of viewers.
A notable part of this work is its everyday and detailed depiction of life in a psychiatric ward, an aspect many of us are unaware of. The series elucidates various details, such as the admission process and whether caregivers are on standby all day, making the unfamiliar subject matter more accessible. This easily-approachable narrative dissolves preconceived notions about the place, allowing viewers to immerse themselves more deeply in the story.
The drama unfolds through 12 episodes, centering around nurse Da Eun (Park Bo Young) and her encounters and thoughts while facing the patients. Most patients’ illnesses stem from societal and familial stress and pressure. From a daughter crumbling under her mother’s excessive expectations to an office worker suffering from anxiety due to the supervisor’s gaslighting, and a job seeker plagued by delusions after losing all his fortune to voice phishing—the series presents patient stories that could very well happen in reality. This approach makes the narratives relatable as if they were happening to our own family or friends. An interesting aside is that each episode stands alone, each with its own arc, making it an easy binge-watch.
Daily Dose of Sunshine addresses mental illness without the typical medical drama visuals like CT scans or X-rays. Instead, it uniquely portrays the patients’ conditions, like visualizing a delusional patient’s thoughts through CG or using a prison-like set to represent the isolation felt by a patient worn down by gaslighting. This approach effectively debunks misconceptions about mental illness being a matter of personal will, making the severity of these conditions more comprehensible.
The effort and sincerity of the medical staff in treating the patients are the soul of the series. Outwardly, they may try to maintain a professional distance due to hospital rules, but they empathize with the patients’ suffering and constantly seek ways to help. The narrative deepens as medical staff face similar issues to their patients, like nurse Park Soo Yeon (Lee Sang Hee), who juggles childcare and work, seeing herself in the working mom patient. The story effectively communicates that medical treatment isn’t just a one-way process from professionals to patients; it involves shared problem-solving and understanding.
Central to this portrayal is nurse Jung Da Eun, played by Park Bo Young. Originally a nurse in internal medicine, she is transferred to the psychiatric ward due to her overly attentive care, which causes a backlog of work and resentment from colleagues. But in the psychiatric ward, Da Eun’s qualities become beneficial to patients’ treatment, and she begins to heal from her past wounds. Her journey to becoming a true medical professional is heartwarming and aligns well with the series’ theme. Park Bo Young, with her charming and relatable acting, brings the character’s charm and positive energy to the story.
Everyone has felt the strain and stress of modern life at some point, wondering and worrying, “Am I sick?” Daily Dose of Sunshine offers a comforting smile and seems to listen to our worries. It gently explains mental illness, highlighting the efforts of medical staff and the patients’ will in a straightforward manner, completing a touching story. It’s rare to find a fictional series that offers such realistic solace and healing. Watching this drama might even help alleviate some of the emotional burdens carried within. Here’s hoping that this show’s healing power extends beyond mere entertainment, offering solace to those grappling with similar issues. (9/10)
Editor Hwang Hong Sun: A Korean movie buff who wishes that the warm messages in good works will warm up this world at least by one degree Fahrenheit.