The Netflix short Korean drama D.P. has received massive praise for its dark, disturbing yet realistic portrayal of what it means to fulfill South Korea’s mandatory enlistment. Actor Jung Hae-In stars as Ahn Jun-Ho, a new military recruit who joins the D.P. (Deserter Pursuit) team to bring back AWOL soldiers. The drama delved deep into the problematic cases of mistreatment soldiers face by their superiors. In a virtual interview, Jung explains how the K-drama brings to light an uncomfortable truth about the military.
‘D.P.’ shows the truth behind military service and deserters
The 2021 Netflix K-drama has rave reviews for its storyline. Ahn Jun-Ho enlists in the military for his mandatory service. Upon entering, he realizes the misuse of power by the barracks superiors. He only gets a taste of the physical mistreatment these soldiers endure before he is recruited to the D.P. team.
His role on the D.P. team is to return to civilian life to get inside the minds of AWOL soldiers. He and his teammate are to return them to base. Along the way, Jun-Ho comes face to face with the reality of why these soldiers abandoned their service. Under constant mistreatment, mental and physical misconduct, these soldiers saw no other way out. According to Soompi, Jung explains in an online interview, “The drama is not a lighthearted one. It goes beyond frustration into suffocation, heaviness, and emptiness.”
Jung Hae-In credits K-drama’s success to ‘the strength of the story’
Jung did not expect D.P. to gain as much recognition as it did but understands that its success comes from its ability not to shy away from the truth. According to Soompi, Jung calls the military a “small microcosm of society.” Soon after the K-drama’s premiere, Jung heard that many viewers experienced stress while watching and explains, “I think that shows how realistically ‘D.P.’ portrayed the events of that time. If people experienced similar things, then they must have had a lot of thoughts about it.”
At the end of the K-drama, one case had fans gutted over a soldier’s desertion and the severe conditions that drove him to it. The unfolding scenes are hard to watch for any viewer, even for Jung, who describes, “Even when I was filming, I felt so frustrated and claustrophobic. I think that the viewers will have felt the same.” D.P. is a short drama detailing the dark underbelly of what can happen in the Korean military that leaves a lasting effect.
‘D.P.’ takes place in 2014 when mistreatment cases were on the rise
Jung-Ho’s story in the military takes place in 2014. Jung says he was careful in creating his character as 2014 was a heavy year when many mistreatment cases involving the military arose. The New York Times reported an ongoing case in 2014 involving a 20-year-old soldier. The soldier was beaten for months and forced into unhealthy conditions by his superiors. During an incident, the soldier choked on a piece of food, leading to his death.
The case is only one of many that came to light that year, sparking public outrage. NBC News reported on other instances in which soldiers died by suicide over the harsh training environment and mistreatment by superiors. South Korea’s mandatory military service is seen as a vital prerequisite for young men to become successful in life, with a dark reality portrayed in D.P.