Cover The cast of ‘D.P.’ during the press-conference (Photo: Netflix)

The cast of the new Netflix Korean series, D.P. talks about what drew them to their characters, working with each other and what we should be excited about

You'll get your weekly dose of romance from Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha but Netflix is also giving you a taste of excitement with its newest action K-drama, D.P.

Based on the popular webtoon, the series follows Deserter Pursuit Unit members An Jun-ho (Jung Hae-in) and Han Ho-yeol (Koo Kyo-hwan) as they come across different stories while tracking down fellow soldiers who have deserted their posts.

Ahead of the K-drama's release, the cast of D.P.—Jung Hae-in, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Sung-kyun and Son Suk-ku—as well as director Han Jun-hee shares what about the series, the characters and the webtoon attracted them, their chemistry on set as well as what we should look forward to.

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The set was so realistic, did it feel like you were enlisted in the military again?

Jung Hae-in: Yes, the crew and the team did such a wonderful job. It felt extremely realistic. I actually got chills when I first walked in. When I was in my gear and entered the squad room, it brought back all those memories.

In the scene where the soldiers have to identify themselves, some of the actors identified themselves with their real names because they were so into their characters, is it true?

Director Han Jun-hee: Yes, it wasn’t just one actor, it was actually a lot of them. When we were doing our first take, there was just an immediate response to identify themselves with their real name.

Jung: I was actually one of them. I was too nervous. There were sergeants, officers and there so I identified myself as Private Jung Hae-in.

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The term D.P., tell us about it.

Jung: D.P. is short for “deserter pursuit,” it’s the name of the unit within the military police who have to go after soldiers who have gone AWOL. They may not seem like military soldiers because they’re undercover outside in the civilian world, searching for those who deserted the army. They sometimes dye their hair and wear sunglasses.

What kind of story is D.P.? What can we expect?

Director Han: D.P. is the story of the deserter unit within the military police. They are undercover, they can dye their hair, wear civilian clothes. You will also be able to see the personal growth of Ahn Jun-ho (Jung Hae-in) and Han Ho-yeol (Koo Kyo-hwan).

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Were you all aware of the D.P. unit?

Son Suk-ku: I didn’t know but I had an idea though I wasn’t familiar with them.

Kim: Sung-kyung: I knew of the military police as they overlook the guidelines within the army but this series allowed me to learn more about D.P.

Koo Kyo-hwan: I’ve heard of them over a meal, about two years before doing the series. The webtoon was also very popular. I was able to meet [D.P. members] as one of the people I had a meal with, served in the D.P. unit so I asked him about his experiences.

Jung: I wasn’t familiar with the unit but I heard of them. I got to know more about them through the webtoon and during this series.

Director Han: Yes, the writer of the webtoon [Kim Bo-tong] was from the D.P. unit so he talked to me about this experience. Some of the walk-in actors and agency workers were part of the D.P. unit so I got to know the people around us were from the D.P. unit. We became familiar and we learned more details from them to make this more realistic.

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Director Han, the total views of the webtoon is 10 million. Is there a reason why you wanted to bring it to the screen?

Director Han: After my first work, I knew this was a story that I wanted to tell. For five to six years, I was really looking forward to bringing this webtoon to the screen. What’s most important for me is the kind of story could be portrayed through this series. These young men in their early 20s serve in the military and many people can resonate with that and can put themselves in their shoes.

The webtoon also gives us social issues to talk about. The military rank of Jun-ho is different in the series than the webtoon. When I thought of the series, I wanted people to resonate with Jun-ho, to think of him as a friend as a new person in the military and see how he progresses.

Corporal Han Ho-yeol and Captain Im Ji-sup are new characters in the series. Tell us more about them.

Koo: Ho-yeol is like a duo with Jun-ho. When I was looking at the still cuts, the sunglasses really stick out so maybe I shouldn’t have worn them.

Son: I’m a captain here. Sung-kyun plays sergeant and we’re always at each other’s throats. It will remind you of your desire for promotions and your other desires within the workplace.

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When you first got your script, what did you feel?

Koo: The script seemed like a love letter to me. It has my name on it like it was really written for me. When I was reading it, I felt the warm perspective that the director has. I felt the humanist aspect.

Jung: Reading the script was like reading the comic book, it was fun and exciting. I could think about how it would pan out. I could picture them. The characters are lovely and fun, each of them have their own charm.

Kim: When I was reading the script, it was fun and exciting and I really wanted to be in it.

Son: I have served in the military before so I could just totally resonate with the script. It’s a show that I wanted to be in.

After filming, was there a sense of camaraderie among the cast members?

Son: Yes, when I went to the set, I always thought it was really realistic, like a squad room and military base. As I was acting out a soldier, there was a build-up of camaraderie.

Kim: I felt that we were really cool friends. It’s like hanging out with our elementary or middle school friends. When you’re young, you hang out and crack jokes. That’s what it felt like.

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Could you tell us about the atmosphere on set?

Koo: It was great. As I’m looking at [Jung Hae-in] right now, I feel affection towards him. We were also friendly with the showrunners and became friends with them. They're the first viewers of the series and they give us lots of feedback. We became a big family.

Jung: I felt like the cast were big brothers to me as if I’ve known them for a long long time. Even when we were done with the series, I felt like I wanted to meet with them again to have more fun with them. Every time I see them, I feel at home and comfortable.

Jung Hae-in, tell us about your character.

Jung: I’m just enlisted in the army. The process is portrayed in detail. When you watch the series, you can resonate with Jun-ho. I had a lot of conversations with director Han to make sure that’s the case. In the first episode, you can see Jun-ho enlisted for the first time, he leaves his family and goes through the boot camp. People will be reminded of their military service and they can follow Jun-ho’s footsteps.

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There’s a lot of action scenes, is it true that you did boxing for three months before shooting?

Jung: Yes, that’s true. The director and martial arts director wanted to make sure there’s no cuts between the action scene and that we can do it at once. The acting has to be very realistic. The director didn’t call out any cuts so I wanted to do boxing well.

Who was the cast member who said they wanted to treat Jung Hae-in to a meal?

Kim: That would be me. I said that because the Korean title of his former drama is Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food so I wanted to be an older brother to him this time.

How about the cast member who wanted to go on a date with Jung Hae-in?

Koo: That's me. Rather than giving him a physical gift, I wanted to get closer to him and become better friends with him. But we can go on a date and bring Sung-kyung along and let him treat us to a meal.

Son Suk-ku, I heard that one of the reasons you decided to be part of the cast is because of this duo (Jung Hae-in and Koo Kyo-hwan)?

Son: Yes, that’s true. I was really curious to see the chemistry between the duo since it's always interesting. But I haven’t seen the final edit yet, I was looking forward to seeing them both.

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Let’s get to know more about Kyoo-wan’s character.

Koo: My character takes a bath every day and he uses a room spray for multiple reasons. I’m personally very fond of the jersey jacket. My character is the type of guy that’s not trying to be funny.

You said the duo (Jung Hae-in and Koo Kyo-hwan) is a must-see?

Director Han: Yes, there’s Jun-ho (Jung) who’s the newbie and growing into what he wants to be. Then there’s Ho-yeol (Koo), who’s a little senior to him. I think there was a synergy between the two of them coming head to head. So that really led to a refreshing and new kind of chemistry.

Koo: I think the universe wanted us to do a series. We would bump into each other into film festivals. When we saw the director’s former works, Hae-in and I wanted to be part of director Han’s universe.

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What’s the experience working with Koo Kyoo-wan?

Director Han: I personally love Kyoo-wan’s style of jokes. I’m just a huge fan of his joke. Maybe Kyoo-wan want a little too far with the joke but I always love it.

Jung: It’s happy pain. There were times when Kyoo-wan was too funny that I find it hard to get into character again. He’s great with improvising that you have to work with.

Kim Sung-kyung can tell us about your character?

Kim: Bum-gu is a sergeant in charge of the D.P. unit, he’s rough with his speech and he nags a lot. But inside, he worries a lot about his men. He’s also someone who will go against his seniors to protect his men. The cast referred to me as my character name instead of my real name because I was so into it. In the webtoon, they refer to him as “big brother”.

Jung: Kim Sung-kyung gave me comments that put me at ease. In the beginning, he didn’t seem like an approachable guy because of the roles that he played before but I was really happy to find out how warm-hearted and easy-going he is.

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Was there really a lot of improvisation?

Koo: There’s a lot of ad-libs. I’m hesitating to call it improvisation because it goes against the director’s intention but the director has a high level of concentration. While there’s a script, if there’s something else added to the screen, he allows us to make an ad-lib.

Kim: Koo-wan does a lot of ad-libs but because Hae-in is his junior, he has to respond to him. But because I’m a senior to him, I sometimes don’t need to respond to him.

Kim Sung-kyung, how was your enemy chemistry with Son Suk-ku?

Kim: There’s tension between us. The military is like a hierarchy that we see in organisations. Suk-ku is so good at irritating me.

Son: Because we’re enemies, we're at each other’s throats. We literally face each other and fight. I would be reminded of a soldier’s eyes. It’s almost like we’re Tom and Jerry.

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Son Suk-ku, what about your character?

Son: I’m a new captain to the military. I play tennis often. I’m always at odds with Bum-gu.

Is it true that you visited your platoon leader before filming?

Son: Yes, I really wanted to make sure that I did a good job. This is a story that a lot of people resonate with. I was just an enlistee but now I take on the role of an officer. So I went to my platoon leader’s place to ask for advice on how to act like an officer and he gave me tips. I wanted to give my thanks to him and I hope that he takes a look at our series and I won’t forget that I owe you one.

D.P. Dog Day is one of the popular webtoons. What did you focus on or highlight when bringing it to the screen?

Director Han: There were some social issues incorporated into the series from the webtoon. It’s a little more dark and deep in terms of the story. We wanted to make sure this was scalable to be brought to the screen. I wanted to make sure this will be humanistic and portray the writer’s story.

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Koo Kyoo-wan, what sets your character in D.P. apart from your other ones? How do you feel about being called a rising star?

Koo: I wanted to thank the people that feel that way, calling me a rising star. My character is definitely different from my other characters. Director Han introduced to me two sides of my characters and I thought simply that he’s a satellite that orbits around Jun-ho.

This series will remind a lot of men of their time in the military.

Director Han: The series deals with many issues within the military as well. Many people might think that it’s not like that during my day but the original intention of the webtoon series is and what we try to tell is that things happen in places where people are not seeing it happen, certain things take place where people aren’t always watching.

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D.P. premieres on August 27, 2021 exclusively on Netflix