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[Herald Interview] ‘D.P. 2’ had to complete unfinished story: Jung Hae-in, Han Jun-hee

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Aug. 7, 2023 - 15:15

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"D.P. 2" (Netflix)

Hoping to live up to the viewers’ love for the first season of “D.P.” and high expectations for the next installment, director Han Jun-hee decided at the end of 2021 to return with a second season.

The director had never expected to make a second season while shooting the original series, which was released in August 2021. And the unplanned season 2 made Han think hard about the story he wished to share with the audience in “D.P. 2.”

“I needed to know why I would continue the series with the second season,” the director told The Korea Herald in a recent interview with a group of reporters at a cafe in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

Han, who had never worked on a drama series prior to “D.P.,” said he was uncertain about how he should take a new step in the next iteration.

Director Han Jun-hee (Netflix) Director Han Jun-hee (Netflix)

But, the director felt it was only right to present the growing pains of Pvt. An Jun-ho (Jung Hae-in) and newly promoted Sgt. Han Ho-yeol (Koo Kyo-hwan), who experienced the shocking incident -- a private's attempt at suicide after ceaseless physical abuse in the military -- in the last episode of the first season.

Han felt that a violent shooting incident, which came afterward, needed to be addressed in “D.P. 2” as well.

“I knew that many viewers praised our series for presenting realistic sides of the Korean Army, which were highly relatable, especially to many Korean men,” the director said.

Han explained that he also considered showing more sides of military life in South Korea. But, he felt it was not appropriate for season 2.

“The screenwriter and I shared many ideas. And we felt that the conflicting ideas of ‘If I want things to change, I should at least do something’ -- a quote from Pvt. Cho Suk-bong -- and the message of ‘nothing has changed’ were crucial to the series,” the director said.

“There are times when a person feels powerless in front of a great authority, which can be seen in organizations, like private companies and the military. While some people simply accept their situations, others desperately fight and struggle for change. This was the story that I wished to share with viewers,” Han added.

Jung Hae-in (Netflix) Jung Hae-in (Netflix)

Jung Hae-in, 35, said that he could not agree more with the director’s decision.

“I don’t think Jun-ho and Ho-yeol can act the same as they did in the first season,” Jung said in a separate interview with local reporters on Thursday.

“Though they are a private first class and a sergeant, Jun-ho and Ho-yeol are only 20 or 21 years old. Maybe they are 23 at most. And they witnessed a fellow soldier pointing a gun to himself. This event was more than enough to traumatize the young soldiers,” the actor explained.

Jung agreed that the actors and the director could not continue unless they took up the unfinished story from the first season.

Koo Kyo-hwan (left) and Jung Hae-in (right) play Sgt. Han Ho-yeol and Pvt. An Jun-ho, respectively, in the second season of Koo Kyo-hwan (left) and Jung Hae-in (right) play Sgt. Han Ho-yeol and Pvt. An Jun-ho, respectively, in the second season of "D.P." (Netflix)

“Maybe, some viewers might be disappointed that Jun-ho’s struggles against the Korean military system is too dramatic, making the series lose its original charms, but we needed to tell the viewers how the characters, who were closely related to that shocking incident, react afterward,” he said.

Realizing local viewers' high demand for the presentation of realistic military life, Jung said he expects a possible third season might bring back such storylines.

“Since Sgt. Han Ho-yeol is discharged from his duty, Jun-ho will be put in charge. Maybe, more new, fresh stories can be shared in season 3,” Jung said.

However, the director said that he does not have firm plans for additional seasons yet.

Meanwhile, when asked about whether his personal experience had helped him play Pvt. Ahn Jun-ho, Jung said that was not so much the case.

“I started my mandatory two-year military service in 2008. Since ‘D.P.' is set in 2014, things are a little different. But, I felt the same emotion when I shot the scenes in the Army boot camp in season 1. My military experience helped me bring out the nervousness and anxiety of an Army trainee,” he said.

Jung, who has starred in multiple crime thrillers and suspense series, expressed his desire to star in a heartwarming romance as well.

"I met many fans who wished to see me play a bright character. I did not intentionally avoid such genres, but I certainly feel that it's the right time to explore something different," the actor, who made a name for himself as an iconic romance lead with JTBC's hit melodrama flick "Something in the Rain" in 2018, told The Korea Herald.

"But I never regret my decision to star in 'D.P.,' because I heard that many male viewers, who were less interested in romance series, became my fans after watching the military show," Jung explained with a bright smile.

Short for “Deserter Pursuit,” the series centers on the life of Pvt. Ahn Jun-ho, who tries to uncover the motivations behind soldiers’ attempts to escape the Army.

“D.P. 2” has topped Netflix’s TV shows chart in South Korea since its premiere on July 28.