Video Source: Dojeon Media YouTube Channel
For those of you who have watched D.P. 2, have you ever wondered how accurate the drama is to real life? You may have pondered "is what I'm watching based on something real or is this just dramatized? I mean surely it has got to be dramatized right?" Unfortunately, for many Koreans, what we saw in D.P. was a harsh reality during their time in the military. Let's take a further look into D.P.'s accuracy and delve a little deeper into Korean mandatory military service.
제3조(병역의무) ① 대한민국 국민인 남성은 「대한민국헌법」과 이 법에서 정하는 바에 따라 병역의무를 성실히 수행하여야 한다.
Article 3 (Military Service Duty) ① Men who are citizens of the Republic of Korea must faithfully perform their military service obligations as prescribed by the 「Constitution of the Republic of Korea」 and this Act.
In this article, we present to you a real D.P. interview and the perspectives of three anonymous Korean men who agreed to share their views of their time in the military as part of their mandatory service.
How accurate is D.P. to real life (interview)?
1. D.P. 2: Bullying and Violence
Did you know that D.P. is actually based on a webtoon called D.P. Dog's Day?
According, to the D.P. we interviewed the drama is accurate in the time setting it was based in, which is early 2000-2010. He goes on to say that people who finish their service now would not have the same experience as what is depicted in D.P. (I feel like I just want to add that this would apply on an individual basis as we don’t know the experiences of everyone that attends their mandatory military service.) He also says that these days the extreme bullying/torture depicted in D.P. is most definitely not accepted and once someone is found out to be behaving in a harmful way towards others they immediately go to military jail. According to the interview, it also seems as though, if violence is reported at a particular base, that base gets a label as being known for being violent.
2. D.P. 2: Mental Health
"They don't care about mental illness."
According to the interview, if a man is just a man and appears physically healthy he is conscripted to the military to serve.
Psychological impacts and issues relating to mandatory military service include mental illness, escaping, and an inability to do natural things such as meet women. The D.P. in the interview also mentioned that there had been issues previously with a gay soldier and some unusual behaviors which made some of the other soldiers on the base feel uncomfortable. He referred to anti-social behaviors and said that there was a specific room for people who behaved unusually and needed to be monitored over a 24-hour period. For example, he referred to overly sexual behaviors exhibited by the gay soldier towards other soldiers and people who talk to themselves excessively, he stated that these people needed to be watched for their safety and the safety of those around them too.
Overall, he stated that even if a toilet is broken approval needs to come from above to get this fixed and usually the government isn't directly involved when something happens on base. D.P. was accurate in terms of the violence and bullying that happened in the time it is set in. Events similar to those depicted in D.P. 2 have happened before. His father told him that what happened in the drama was not as intense, compared to what happened back in the 70s/80s so it is realistic (for example, supervisors burning their subordinates' arms with weapons).
"It was realistic then but not now. Back in 2010 yes, right now? No."
We also interviewed three Korean men who were able to give us their perspectives regarding Korean Mandatory Military Service. Here are their thoughts:
Q. How was your time in the army? What did you do there?
One of the men described his time in the military as though "working very hard for a company."
Each person had different roles on their base: one assisted with logistics for oil and food, another worked in cooking and guarding the shore (sea base), and lastly another as an M.P. (Military Police).
Q. Were there any memories that stood out for you?
One of the men mentioned the hard work that he did and how other soldiers commented on how labor-intensive his work was.
Another mentioned that it took a long time to get used to the tasks he performed as part of his duty and to get along with the people in his base during his service.
Q. Was the time waiting to enlist daunting? How did you first hear about mandatory military service?
One of the men said it wasn't really daunting waiting to enlist until it was time to face his service and actually do it. A month before was daunting as he started to research more about enlistment and others' experiences of it.
They all concluded that the premise of enlisting and completing their mandatory service seemed regular and was just something that they had to do, similar to attending school.
They learned about their mandatory military service through their older brothers (형) and friends as well as the media. It wasn't something that was formally introduced to them.
Q. Did you witness anything you felt was morally wrong or unjust?
One witnessed a supervisor stealing supplies and after he was caught the military hid this behavior by transferring him to another department. They mentioned that there was a lot of unjust behavior by those who internally worked with the military.
Another experienced unfair treatment from a supervisor who hated him for no reason.
Q. Have you seen the show DP or do you know it? Is this depiction of the army accurate or dramatized?
They all agreed that even though there are also good parts to it, the military can be very dark and much more dangerous and severe than what was depicted in D.P.
I felt as though 80% of the emotions I experienced while watching D.P. were negative. I feel so strongly against injustice, but to hear from real people that the reality was much worse than what was depicted in D.P. makes my heart shudder because what we watched was just a small part of the reality that some people had faced and perhaps still face today. What do you feel about the thoughts shared above? Comment below.