The thought that every adult male must live in a military barrack cut off from the civilian world, constantly under the watch of his superiors, enduring a notoriously grueling and more than not abusive life must be hell on earth. I could see why these deserters felt they had no other choice and why they viewed compulsory military conscription as a chore to escape rather than patriotic duty.
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before Joon Ho started to empathize with the deserters he was pursuing, having had a simple taste of what they probably endured for an even longer time. The deserter cases in Busan, along with the shrewd girlfriend as well as Cho Suk-bong's were a great example of how deserter pursuits started to affect Joon Ho even change him, especially since he too lives with the long shadow adult survivors of a dysfunctional family that's influenced his emotional state, and how he relates to others. So, yes, that emotional state may lead others to take advantage of him sometimes, but I would rather he was fooled than have none.
I admit at; first I was impressed with Captain Im Ji Sup; I mistook his ambition for courage, but the more I saw him in action. But the more I saw him, the more I realized he wasn't any different from the other senior officers who stood silently in the face of the many wrongdoings within their units. Not to say Sergeant Park Bum Goo (Kim Sung Kyun) was better, but he at least stood up for Joon Ho and Ho Yul, even if for his own benefit, challenging Im Ji Sup to do the same begrudgingly for that he earned my respect. The captain apologizing to Joon Ho and Ho Yul for cutting their leave short and making them take a case to boost his image was great to watch.
Seeing the horror unfold with Cho Suk-bong (Kim Bum Soo) was stifling. Seeing one human being degrade another simply because their rank allowed it was unthinkable, if not downright disgusting. To call hazing, verbal nastiness, the use of abnormal methods and behavior, because one looks a little weak, or doesn't speak promptly enough a means of establishing discipline, is outrageously humiliating and disrespectful to the person who only wanted to protect his family by serving in the military. There are other cases throughout the six-episode run of the drama, but Cho Suk-bong's haunts me. It was tough to watch. It was of little surprise that he deserted the military that lacked accountability or decency.
Everyone deserves to be respected, and that a military organization employed military authorities that condone the actions inflicted on Cho and many others like him and left it to deserter pursuits to take care of rather than looking into the underlying issues of bullying and aimless hazing only perpetuated the cycle by pretending it didn't exist. Sooner or later, it was bound to explode. I mean, one can only bury their head in the sand and avoid the truth for so long. I loved that Ho Yul, despite knowing the upward probability of Cho Suk-bong totally deserting, lets him go to take care of his grandmother. It's exactly that kind of compassion that sets D. P. Dog Day apart from other dramas. I did a lot of research on conscripted service and its consequent adverse hazing and bullying effect on those who join the South Korean military to ensure it informed my reviews of D.P. Dog Day. About 60 percent of the deaths in the South Korean military each year are suicides. According to research, severe beating experiences, verbal abuse, and sexual violence significantly impact the suicidal impulse of conscripted soldiers. Watch episodes 3 & 4 here.