Popular Netflix series sparks new debate over South Korea’s military conscription

A hit Netflix series is reigniting a debate in South Korea over the country’s massive military, its history of abuse scandals, and the mandatory conscription that fills its ranks with young men.

D.P.”, short for Deserter Pursuit, has been among the top Netflix shows in South Korea since it premiered at the end of August.

The series follows military police assigned to capture deserters, shining a light on daily life for many conscripts, including mental and physical abuse from other soldiers.

Director Han Jun-hee said he sought to tell a humanising story about how the system makes deserters both victims and criminals, as well as the toll it takes on those forced to do the hunting.

“‘D.P’ is a story of tracing a deserter, but at the same time, it is a paradoxical story of looking for someone’s unfortunate son, brother, or lover,” Han told Reuters in an email.

Asked about the popularity of the show, a defence ministry spokesman said that the military environment has changed and that the military has decided to stamp out abuse and harsh treatment.