D.P. Dog Day K-Drama Season 1 Review & Summary: The Dark Facets of Military Abuse

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Video Source – The Swoon (The Swoon YouTube Channel)

DP dog day is a military-themed drama that tells the story as a slice of life. It is based on a Naver webtoon of the same name authored by Kim Bo-tong who consequently also co-produced the series along with Han Jun-hee. The drama is a six-part adaptation released exclusively through Netflix

D.P. Dog Day Season 1 Plot

DP stands for deserter pursuit. It is a unit within the South Korean Army’s military police that is tasked with chasing down and retrieving AWOL soldiers who deserted during their compulsory enlistment period. 

(Side note: South Korean law requires every able-bodied male citizen to enlist in the military for an official duration {generally 2 years} of time)

It is an autobiography on the author’s time in the military police in the desertor pursuit unit. 

Ahn Jun Ho is a confused youth who is serving in his mandatory military service like other koreans. One day he suddenly becomes the member of a military defector arrest team. On his missions he encounters confused young adults and must grapple with more troubling cases of why some soldiers have no other choice but  to defect from their service. 

DP Dog Day Season 1 Cast

  • Jung Hae-In as Private Ahn Jun ho
  • Koo kyoo hwan as Corporal Han ho yul
  • Kim sung kyun as Sergeant first class Park Bum goo
  • Son Seok Koo as Captain Im Ji Sup
  • Hong Kyung as Ryu Yi Kang
  • Jo Hyun Chul as Cho Seok Bong
D.P. Dog Day Season 1 Review

D.P. Dog Day Season 1 Review

The series is based on the military life of the elistees and the dark sides of the military system. This is portrayed through different scenes such as when the elistees are assigned old 1953’s water bottles and when there is a hierarchy that the seniors misuse to harass the juniors. The series depicts a very abusive and bullying atmosphere where the seniors conscripts lord over their juniors by teasing, beating, humiliating and generally abusing them. So when many have had enough they take any opportunity they get to jump over a wall to run away from their base. To tackle this issue of defected enlistees a special unit of military police the desertor pursuit is dispatched to retrieve them from the civilian population. This unit is usually not well respected and seen as just wasting away their military enlistment days by the other soldiers.

The protagonist Ahn Jun ho is quiet and contemplative and is extremely observant which is the reason he gets tapped into the DP by his senior sergeant Park Bum Goo. He also has a lot of talent for reading situations and people and he is teamed up with one partner but during their case there are some issues and that ends up showing how much Jun Ho is committed. After that the first partner is replaced by the free spirited Corporal Han Ho Yul whose character is a bit goofy but also instantly likeable although he is a bit of a class clown, he is talented and good at his job and also more experienced. He teaches Junho the tricks and ways to track down defectors efficiently. It’s fun to watch the chemistry between the two  characters as they are sometimes like oil and water. Corporal Ho yul also provides the humour when it’s present and because he is slightly aloof he approaches issues differently but just as effectively as Private Jun ho. The two protagonists are good if they are played out during their tasks and bring some natural lightness and humor within some grim themes.

While Jun ho enjoys his privilege of wearing normal clothes and living outside the camp for long periods sometimes weeks playing detective he learns more about the individuals he chases, consequently he starts to feel ethically conflicted. Though some of the deserters are faint hearted or brushing off tasks others are doing it for nobler motives, like the young man who left in order to take care of his grieving grandmother who would face homelessness soon in episode 4. Jun Ho finds many deserters are young people who have been bullied beyond what they could endure and sympathises with them due to his own past family life and what he has observed first hand in the camp.

The series also glimpses into Junho’s past showing his childhood struggle of watching his father abusing his mother when he and his sister were young and he when becoming older questions his mother on why she was not  able to leave his father for good. Hence we see him not being enthusiastic to live with his family when his partner suggests to do so to save their designated monetary funds during one mission. As the show reveals the background of many AWOL’s they are young soldiers and we see horrendous instances of bullying by classified seniors who themselves have faced it when they were victims of it as juniors under the pretext of respect or punishment. It is to be noted that these representations in the drama are far from overblown if we search up news articles regarding south korean military, we can find problems from severe beatings to sexual assault to dehumanising humiliation.

The drama does a good job at showing realistically how when these situations are brought to light they sometimes tend to be  disregarded by the superiors.  Who have normalized this type of behaviour and complain about the younger generation being soft or sometimes for their personal interests to make their troop look unproblematic during their evaluations before their promotions. The author of the webtoon Kim Bo tong also the screenwriter and Han jun hee the Director must be commended on how this series deals with compassion and understanding to such incredibly tough and terrible issues. However we see that the three main protagonists are not explored enough. Although we see fascinating insights into their characters through small scenes, flashbacks and pieces of speech it is not fully fleshed out  enough to understand them deeply. Indeed we see that in each episode the deserters are given more meat than the stars of the drama. Even the guest actors are given good parts of screen time. The show ending is with a bang with all out escalation of climatic events which suddenly makes the show feel like a stereo thiller with all out dramatic actions of kidnapping, renegade groups and also anti terrorist special forces. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The phenomenal acting skills, great fight sequences and addictive pace of D.P. Dog Day make it a captivating six hour binge. It is also a great effort to shed light on dark facets of the culture of military abuse. DP Dog Day is streaming on Netflix.