The Korea Herald


Netflix series shows S. Korean soldiers still face abuse: NK

By Choi Si-young

Published : Sept. 12, 2021 - 18:25

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Netflix series  Netflix series "D.P." (Netflix)
Enlisted soldiers in South Korea still have to deal with abuse and violent crimes, North Korea’s propaganda outlet, Meari, said Saturday, referring to Netflix’s Korean thriller “D.P.”

The Deserter Pursuit team, made up of rank and file soldiers, depicts some of the physical and psychological abuse that take place on the team and within the military in general.

All able-bodied South Koreans serve active duty as conscripts for at least 18 months. The military runs a separate DP team, but only the Army and Air Force allow enlisted soldiers on the team, which is reserved for officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.

“South Korean conscripts have no choice but to go AWOL because they are abused. The series is a demonstration of a waning discipline, rampant abuse and corruption,” Meari said, adding the series clearly demonstrates why South Korean soldiers choose to abandon their service.

The series depicts a culture of abuse on the DP team, who constantly find themselves trapped in bullying and hazing, while looking for deserters, who are usually fellow soldiers.

Meanwhile, the South Korean military said this week soldiers will be banned from joining the DP team starting in July next year, noting the decision had been made much earlier but legislative work enacting the change pushed back the formal announcement.

And the military described the series as potentially misleading, with the defense minister saying writers have dramatized some events. But he noted he would heed concerns to build a culture that better respects soldiers’ rights, referring to ongoing efforts led by a panel of experts.

The civilian-led advisory panel has been working on military reform since late June, after an Air Force suicide led to a public outcry demanding the military boost civilian oversight. The victim’s family claims their daughter had been sexually assaulted but cover-ups led to the death.

The military, which is still seen as reluctant to follow through its commitment to transparency in dealing with crimes taking place on the inside, is accused of bypassing the panel so as not to get its entire jurisdiction handed over to civilian courts.

It is also facing mounting criticism for dragging its feet on bringing aboard an independent human rights commissioner to overlook its rights complaints. An outside arbiter, however fair and impartial, could demoralize commanders, the military said.