Although making accusations of misconduct has got easier since smartphones were allowed in April 2019, violence like abuses of power, and sexual harassment in the military have continued to rise recently. According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Military, the number of desertions from 2017 to last August reached 521. The main reasons for desertion in the Netflix drama <D.P.> are concerns about punishment such as maladjustment and disciplinary action, which is about 61.2 percentage, more than half of the total. There was a case of a soldier who deserted in a week because he couldn’t stand the harsh acts in the military. In this way, the position created to return the deserters to the army is ‘D.P.’, which is short for Deserter Pursuit, and they track and arrest the deserters.
The Netflix drama <D.P.>, which originated with the cartoon "D.P. Dog’s Day," which was serialized in 2015 contains the stories of D.P. as the title suggests. As it is a drama reconstructed based on a webtoon written by a writer who was subject to D.P., the drama's big feature is its realistic portrayal of absurdities in the military. I think we are interested in soldiers who decide to desert the army because of the harsh words and actions of seniors even if we know their stories indirectly. So, I want to help people approach these kinds of stories from military life by introducing three episodes from <D.P.>.
1) A man holding a flower
Ahn Jun-ho, who was assigned D.P. at first spends his time meaninglessly and doesn’t check deserter Shin Woo-Seok‘s data because he has been swayed by his boss Park Sung-Woo who doesn’t do his task. On the other hand, the deserter Shin Woo-Seok was bullied even while working in society and he decided to commit suicide eventually. Though Shin Woo-Seok borrows a cigarette lighter from Ahn Jun-Ho because he wants to smoke right before he dies, Ahn Jun-Ho doesn’t notice that he is a deserter Shin Woo-Seok because he didn’t check the data. Meanwhile, Shin Woo-Seok returns to a motel room after he smokes a cigarette and commits suicide by burning charcoal briquettes. After Ahn Jun-Ho learns that Shin Woo-Seok has committed suicide, he feels guilty for the irresponsible attitude of himself and Park Sung-Woo, and the sense of guilt that he didn’t notice Shin Woo-Seok is a deserter. So, he hit Park Sung-Woo and is put into the military prison.
2) An empty dream
Ahn Jun-Ho, who is in the military prison, is assigned to D.P. again with Han Ho-Yeol, through the help of sergeant first class Park Bum-Gu. Their second task is to return another deserter, Choi Jun-Mok. During the investigation, they find that Choi Jun-Mok has tried to kill himself at Incheon station, and they also notice strange points through Choi Jun-Mok’s action in the place where he is discovered last. The strange things are that Choi Jun-Mok tries to take his own life at Incheon station even though there are three stations without safety doors on the way, everywhere he is found was the last stop, and he eats noodle at 11:30 p.m. through the love of country debit card. At last, Ahn Jun-Ho and Han Ho-Yeol realized that Choi Jun-Mok doesn’t try to commit suicide, and he almost falls off while dozing off. After they arrested Choi Jun-Mok on the subway that reached the last stop, they finally find out the reason why Choi Jun-Mok deserted from the army is snoring. Ahn Jun-Ho feels regret about Choi Jun-Mok while returning, so he allows him to call his parents, ending the episode.
3) A military dog
Cho Seok-Bong who has been ridiculed by calling an ‘otaku’ or pervert and is also sexually harassed, deserted with 180 degrees change from his previous experience of being kind and calm. As Cho Seok-bong does something terrible outside of the army, incumbent police officers are put in. Meanwhile, Ahn Jun-Ho gets the file related to Cho Seok-Bong from the art academy he has worked. There is a cartoon containing his plan to kill Sergeant Hwang Jang-Soo, who is bothering him in the unit, and Ahn Jun-Ho and Han Ho-Yeol notice the reason for desertion. Cho Seok-Bong's reason for desertion and his ultimate goal is killing Hwang Jang-Soo. Cho Seok-Bong runs away with hostage Hwang Jang-Soo before long, Ahn Jun-Ho and Han Ho-Yeol persuade Cho Seok-Bong to return to the army because they don’t want to aggravate him. But it is already after Cho Seok-Bong has lost his head, and he hurriedly aims a gun at Hwang Jang-Soo as he becomes urgent because of the supporting fire of the special duty team. However, he finally realizes his actions are so meaningless and he can’t be responsible for this situation, so he shoots himself with the gun.
Through the summary of drama, we can better understand about violence in the army indirectly. Also, we can know the military culture is abusive and hierarchical. We can verify slack off of D.P. through the first episode, bullying in army through the second episode, and the violence such as sexual assault through the third episode. But that’s not all. The reality is also brutal as directed in the drama. In society, that is, outside of the army, people use the expression ‘military vacation’ that means to go to the army is comfortable, and they undervalue the hardship of an army life. Also, there are many people who look away intentionally although it became easier to hear what happens in the military thanks to smartphones. For instance, we can see some people who consume the news of injured soldier with humor and think ‘soldiers fine with getting hurt’ on the internet.
We need to pay attention to soldiers and follow those who sacrifice to protect our country. Let’s help soldiers who work for our country and citizens not to be treated unfairly where they deserve to be treated with a thankful heart from now. I hope that safer units will come and a day when bad news related to army will not be heard as a result of citizens’ continuous attention and support.
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