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Park Bo-young aims to break mental illness stigma in Netflix series

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Park Bo-young, right, plays Jung Da-eun, a nurse who gets posted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital where she works, in the new Netflix series ″Daily Dose of Sunshine″ [NETLIFX]
Park Bo-young, right, plays Jung Da-eun, a nurse who gets posted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital where she works, in the new Netflix series ″Daily Dose of Sunshine″ [NETLIFX]

Actor Park Bo-young says her new Netflix drama, “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” in which she stars as a nurse in a psychiatric ward, approaches mental illness in a “refreshing way,” as people with such ailments still experience a great level of discrimination in Korea.

“I cannot deny that I had misconceptions about mental illness before I joined the cast of ‘Daily Dose of Sunshine,’” Park said during an interview with reporters at a cafe in Jung District, central Seoul, on Friday. “But by the end of my first reading of the script, I thought that everyone could be comforted by this drama, including those with mental illnesses. I am very thankful that I was able to be a part of it.”

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“Daily Dose of Sunshine” is based on a popular webtoon with the same Korean name, written and drawn by Lee Ra-ha, a former nurse who worked at a psychiatric ward.

When the nurse in the story, named Jung Da-eun, transfers to a psychiatric ward, she gets a reality check and struggles to adjust to her new surroundings. The story develops as Da-eun begins to connect with her patients. The series climbed to No. 1 on Netflix’s chart for Korea just a week after its release on Nov. 3 and also landed at 10th globally, according to streaming service aggregator FlixPatrol.

Actor Park Bo-young [NETFLIX]
Actor Park Bo-young [NETFLIX]


The series deals with various kinds of mental illnesses, from depression and bipolar disorder to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Ultimately, Da-eun, played by Park, becomes so sympathetic toward her patients that she herself suffers from depression. Park says she could really see herself sympathizing with the character at this point.

“Like anyone else, I have gone through rough times in my life, and I could feel for Da-eun,” Park said. “When Da-eun acts out, not being able to accept the fact that she is depressed, I was relieved. I’m not saying acting out is acceptable for everyone, but I could fully understand why she was doing that as she used to be a person who always repressed her feelings. She was expressing what was inside of her.”

Da-eun starts writing a daily affirmations diary while receiving therapy for her depression. She writes compliments about herself every day and praises herself to enhance her self-esteem. Park says she has also tried writing such a diary to relate to the character and said she sees the benefits of doing so.

“I approached it as something very grand at first, trying to find something praiseworthy to write about,” she said. “But my character writes even the most trivial things in her diary, like ‘I arranged my shoes nicely today,’ so I started doing that too. I think complimenting and appreciating yourself for the little things is important for your self-esteem.”

A scene from the Netflix series ″Daily Dose of Sunshine″ [NETFLIX]
A scene from the Netflix series ″Daily Dose of Sunshine″ [NETFLIX]


The episode that resonated most with Park was episode five, which deals with working moms who overwork themselves and stress out so much that they end up with an illness.

“There is a scene where a character says, ‘You don’t have to try so hard,’ and it made me cry,” Park said. “I think it would comfort a lot of people who feel like they’ve lost themselves because they are working so hard to satisfy the standards of this society.”

The key to mental health is maintaining a balance in life, Park said as she reflected on her 17-year acting career.

“I look for a balance between my career as an actor and my personal life,” Park said. “I try to focus from time to time on my own life outside of being an actor. This year has been very special for me since I appeared in the film ‘Concrete Utopia’ and now ‘Daily Dose of Sunshine,’ both of which have been quite different from the works that I have done so far. I want to keep trying new things.”

To find out more about Park Bo-young, visitCeleb Confirmed! 

BY LIM JEONG-WON [lim.jeongwon@joongang.co.kr]