Showing posts with label D.P. Deserter Pursuit (Kdrama) 4.5 || 4.8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label D.P. Deserter Pursuit (Kdrama) 4.5 || 4.8. Show all posts

30 August 2021

K Drama Review: D.P. (2021) 4.5 || 4.8

I finally get to watch a Jung Hae In on-air drama. I thought my first was going to be Snowdrop. But surprise, he had a Netflix mini series released before his TV drama. Yey! I love Jung Hae In. If my list were arranged by order of preference, he would probably be on top. He's just so well-rounded as an actor and he gives justice to whatever character he has to play. And this one's no different. He just gave me more reasons to love him. 


D.P. (short for Deserter Pursuit) is about military servicemen assigned to a military police team. Private Ahn Jun Ho (Jung Hae In), a new enlistee, ends up with the DP team, which is in charge of catching military service deserters. He teams up with his senior, Corporal Han Ho Yeol (Koo Gyo Hwan), and together, they dig deep into the sad and scary world of the deserters. 

Jung Hae In as Ahn Jun Ho

As expected, Jung Hae In delivers another stellar performance in his new drama. This guy is so versatile that it's hard to imagine that someone who acts so tough and intense (a fiercer version of his character in Prison Playbook) can be a softy and sweet cutie like his characters in One Spring Night, Something in the Rain, Reply 1988, and Tune in for Love

What I love most about Jung Hae In's intensity and toughness is that he does them with so much restraint. His eyes are burning with rage but he does not need to resort to yelling matches or tantrums. He was so good in that scene where he was calmly taking in all of the insults from his senior Hwang Jang Soo (Shin Seung Ho of Love Alarm), but when Jang Soo started insulting Jun Ho's mom, Jun Ho politely but firmly (and scarily, if I may add) asked his senior to stop. It surely felt like there was a veiled threat somewhere in that request. 

But when the injustices became too much for Jun Ho to bear, he does not hesitate to let his anger go. Like how he beat up his initial DP partner, Park Sung Woo (Ko Gyung Po of Reply 1988 and Warm and Cozy), when the latter's partying caused them to miss a deserter who went on to commit suicide. 

I loved how Jun Ho's character allowed Jung Hae in to showcase his wide range as an actor. He was superb in his fight scenes. Yet, he was also amazing in his dramatic scenes. I especially loved that scene where he was pleading with his unit-mate deserter, Cho Suk Bong (Cho Hyun Chul of Hotel Del Luna and Samjin Company English Class), not to shoot Jang Soo. I felt the sincerity in his plea as he appealed to Suk Bong through his students. And oh, how he broke down when Suk Bong shot himself. 

Jung Hae In handled the funny parts too. Yes, his partner Corporal Han was funnier, but Jung Hae In was able to keep up with him. And Private Ahn Jun Ho's asset would really have to be how smart and logical he was whenever they needed to strategize and come up with theories about the deserters. 

I loved how this character is different for Jung Hae In. Yes, it's quite similar to his Prison Playbook character but he gets to show us so much more here. Good thing he has another drama coming up really soon so I won't have to miss him that long. 

Kim Sung Kyun as Park Beom Gu

D.P. is great not just because of Jung Hae In. I love how this show gave us extremely talented actors. Like Kim Sung Kyun, who played the role of the D.P. Team head. It's hard to imagine that this serious sergeant used to be a silly dad in Reply 1988, an awkward geek in Reply 1994, a priest in Hospital Playlist, and a crazy astrologer in Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo. Kim Sung Kyun can play any role of any age and still manage to do a great job every single time. 

As a character, I loved how Beom Gu was never intimidated by his superiors. Yes, he's been by-passed for promotion a lot of times. Yet he never hesitated to object to his boss' plans when they were clearly wrong, like using a terrorist group to catch a deserter. And the great thing about Beom Gu was his compassion. He knew how tough life was for the enlistees and he did the best he could to protect them. 

Koo Gyo Hwan as Corporal Han Ho Yeol 

I was surprised to know that Koo Gyo Hwan is some sort of a TV newbie. He did so well you'd think he's been doing this for a long time. He was a very effective funny guy who still took his job seriously.  I liked his very well-balanced comedy and drama, not too over the top but just the right amount required of his role.

Just like their boss, Beom Gu, Corporal Han was a very compassionate person too. I loved how he allowed a deserter (Choi Joon Young of Tune in for Love as Heo Chi Do) to escape so he can save money to bring his grandma to the hospital. 

And I loved how he protected Jun Ho against their abusive seniors. That scene where he pretended to beat up Jun Ho using his funny sound effects was really hilarious. 

Another thing that made Koo Gyo Hwan effective was his perfect chemistry with Jung Hae In. They never tried to outdo each other. Their partnership was truly harmonious, not just because of their characters but also because they were both extremely talented actors who knew how to give and take. 

Cho Hyun Chul as Cho Suk Bong 

Another revelation from this show was Cho Hyun Chul. He was so meek and witty and funny in Hotel Del Luna, which is totally different from the role he played here. 

Among the characters in this show, Suk Bong probably evolved the most. He started out meek, accepting the abuses of his seniors. Then he started showing his abusive tendencies too when he asked Jun Ho to beat up his juniors who didn't know him. Until he finally lost it, deserted, and sought revenge against his abusers. I cannot imagine the torture and abuses Suk Bong had to go through that pushed him do the things he did. 

The best thing about Cho Hyun Chul was how he perfectly maneuvered through those different stages his character went through.  


The pilot episode of D.P. was very gripping. It was very heavy, showing abuses, torture, and suicide. Although there were only six 50-minute episodes for this series and you can probably do a marathon of all the episodes, you'd probably need a breather once in a while because the show featured heavy topics. 

As an aside, the pilot episode felt like a Reply 1988 reunion with Ko Gyung Pyo, Kim Sung Kyun, and Jung Hae In sharing the screen. 

D.P.'s main theme revolved around Korea's military service. I won't pretend to be an expert on that topic. I won't even pretend to know a lot about it. So my views here are just based on my own observations from watching K dramas and movies and the little bit I read about it on the news. 

No doubt about it, military service has good intentions, especially for countries like South Korea who is always under imminent threat from its neighbor. 

But the thing I don't really get about military training (and this is not limited to the Korean experience) is how abuse and torture advance those good intentions. Contrary to what some insiders say, I am highly skeptical that torture and incessant cursing and verbal abuse would actually help build and strengthen one's character. 

The sad thing about the military is how extremely hierarchical it is, placing super high value on seniority. Juniors and newbies can't even raise their ideas even if they're better than what their superiors want because they could be tagged for insubordination if they do so. Jun Ho, who wanted to work on catching the deserter right away, could not do anything because his senior wanted to party first. 

The even bigger problem is how this cycle of torture and abuse is very vicious. Victims like Suk Bong often end up doing the same thing to their juniors because if they went through those things, then everyone should too. It would take a huge overhaul of the system to cut this problematic cycle.  

Jun Ho and Corporal Han were probably in the best position to start that change. They both appeared level-headed enough. But we can't really tell if they would have been straight enough if they were also exposed to those abuses they way the others were. As Suk Bong said, they were hardly there because they often had to go out as D.P. soldiers so they were not beaten up that much. 

I haven't had the time to read up on this, but the show made me curious if there are really many deserters, if many of them leave because of the abuses, if many of them commit suicide or suffer from mental health problems. If this drama's portrayal was close to reality, then I think the system needs to revisit how they can better protect the enlistees and how deserters who were abused should be punished.  Again, I feel like this is a systemic problem where deserters are automatically branded as quitters who must be punished, even if the truth is they were abused and the system failed them badly. It was sad that the abused deserters who were caught like Choi Jun Mok (Kim Dong Young of Run On) were so jaded and distrustful of the system that is supposed to protect them. They didn't think change was possible. And it was heartbreaking to hear Suk Bong say that if he wanted things to change, he must do something, which was to shoot himself. 

Unfortunately, we can't blame the system alone. Every onlooker who chose to turn a blind eye on the abuses happening around them, are party responsible too. I understand that they're in a difficult position too because they might be picked on next. While some just choose to be indifferent because the tortures are too rampant anyway. Although that appears to be the sad reality, collective effort is needed to change the system, and that includes speaking up when you see something wrong is happening. 

While majority of the deserters featured in the show left because of abuses, it was nice to see other reasons why some enlistees choose to leave. Some go because they need to protect their families. And some just really want to defy the authorities. 

I also loved how the D.P. job was more mental than physical, especially since most of the deserters were running away from abuses and were not inherently bad guys. I loved the strategizing and the mental games that came with every pursuit. But yes, a bit of physical strength is needed too, especially when catching the truly resistant ones or those that they've underestimated like Suk Bong. I'm not sure if the D.P. soldiers get sufficient training for this but I was just glad that Jun Ho trained how to box so he was able to fight back. 

Although the entire series was not always as intense as the pilot episode, the drama manages to make all episodes very gripping. It was as if the show was allowing your heart to rest with some episodes before they give you something very intense again. 

Among the five deserters featured in the drama, Suk Bong's story was the most compelling one because he was one of their own. They knew him. They trained, ate, slept, and got tortured with him. And now they were asked to bring him back at all costs. 

I liked how the show gives you something to think about in the end. No, it does not solve the problem for you. It would even appear that the problem still persisted with Suk Bong's friend shooting his own abusers. I felt like the show was challenging its viewers to think if reforms are needed and if these are even possible to have. Would people like Beom Gu, Corporal Han, and Jun Ho succeed in changing the system? What would it take to change things? And would there ever come a point when everyone would collectively do their part to fix the problem? 

Yes, the show was heavy but I picked up a lot of insights that made the show really worth it. The excellent cast, with a good mix of newbies and veterans, really helped bring out the best in this drama. 

And the theme song, Crazy by Kevin Oh was nice too. 

Oppa says...4.5.

Noona says... 4.8