Apathy can sometimes be an interesting thing. We have all heard the story of Hitler’s employee, whose only defense when being convicted for his World War II crimes was that he was simply following orders. Concerning D.P. Season 1 and Season 2, the military was never a nice place to be, but it was the South Korean law that men must compulsorily serve their term before the age of 30. Since service is compulsory, desertion is a crime. It really would have been as simple as that if the military, as shown in the series, was indeed a place of nobility and not bullying. It is a given that order, rank, and authority are important in any organization, provided they are treated with responsibility. But if it is only a matter of being on a power trip, everything can go to hell very fast. But if you want to make your place within the system, do you have a choice other than to accept the injustices and play by the unwritten yet inescapable rules? That is the situation that Park Beom Gu found himself in.
Park Beom Gu had been working in the army for a while now, and through a careful mixture of subservience and defiance, he had found his place amidst it all. He was the person in charge of the D.P. unit, and we had to accept that he was a good leader. The man was strict and not really prone to smiling or joking with his subordinates, but he had the wisdom that enabled others to do a good job. When Jun Ho messed up with his first mission and the deserter was found dead, we felt that had there been anyone else in Park Beom Gu’s place, they would have lashed out far more, if only to protect themselves or show their power. But Beom Gu acted in a restrained manner.
The next time he surprised us and made sure that we had an accurate impression of him was the Heo Chi Do case. When Ho Yeol called to tell him that Chi Do had escaped, Beom Gu asked them to come back and let the case go, but once he cut the call, there was a smile on his face, as if he understood that Ho Yeol had let him go on purpose. It was a funny position for him and his team, where their job was to bring back the people who had left the army, but they saw the merit of them staying far away from the institution. While we absolutely abhor that they had to think like that, maybe it all came down to how they judged whether someone could withstand the abuse or not, or it could be that they consciously did not think about it. But there is always a price to pay for wilful ignorance, and we saw that with the cases of Hwang Jang Soo and Cho Suk Bong.
Jang Soo’s bullying ways were not a secret to anyone, and we may be wrong, but we suppose Park Beom Gu could have done something about it if he wanted to, considering that he was a senior himself and held some power. After all, he was able to put Lim Ji Seop in his place in D.P. Season 1 when his arrogance got a little out of hand. But like everyone else, Park Beom Gu had turned a blind eye to the victims of Hwang Jang Soo until Cho Suk Bong made a noise big enough that it couldn’t be ignored. When he attacked I Gang and escaped, he was not just another deserter that the army needed to find. He became a pawn in a game for greater power, and that is why the special forces were deployed to catch him, saying that he was a threat and a terrorist. At this moment, Park Beom Gu could not ignore Cho Suk Bong as just another runaway and had to see and understand his plight while fighting for him at the same time.
When Suk Bong questioned Jun Ho as to why he did not step forward to fight for him, that question applied to Beom Gu and Ho Yeol as well. What happened to Suk Bong brought back the years of resentment that Beom Gu had suppressed. He must have understood that silence was accepted but not preferable, and it certainly did more harm than good. When he joined the army, he used to get beaten up a lot, and he chose a different department only to escape that abuse himself. Beom Gu knew what it was like to be at the other end, and he had finally snapped out of wanting to be safe. When he was fighting for Suk Bong and then Ru Ri, he was also fighting for himself, especially after he saw the stubbornness of the people in power to keep enforcing the systems in place instead of doing something about them in a viable way.
When the matter went to court, Park Beom Gu was as desperate as Ho Yeol or Jun Ho to ensure that justice was delivered, but he found his hands tied due to the incriminating video where he was falsely implicated in bribery. When Jun Ho ran away with the USB drive, Beom Gu’s first instinct was to protect one of his own. Jun Ho and Ho Yeol had an entire future ahead of them, and Beom Gu knew that whether or not they won the case and changed things, he wanted to atone for his wrongs just as much as Jun Ho. This is the reason he led both Jun Ho and Ho Yeol astray and presented the USB to the court himself, so that the blame for leaking classified documents would fall upon him. It was a sacrifice on his part, but he needed to do it for himself, for Suk Bong, and also for Ru Ri.
When Beom Gu tells Jun Ho and Ho Yeol that despite them not getting a sweeping verdict, they hadn’t lost the case either, we suspect that he had predicted this outcome before he took the fall for it. His experience meant that the risks he took were much more calculated, and he had to know the extent to which things could change in the face of their idealistic ambition. Park Beom Gu was a smart man, and he was the anchor that kept Jun Ho grounded, which was crucial to them getting a fair verdict. We hope to see Park Beom Gu again in Season 3 of D.P., should it be made.