Duty After School | Korean Drama Sci-Fi Series Based a Webtoon
Duty After School is a Korean drama sci-fi series based on a webtoon by Ha Il-Kwon. It’s 10 episodes, released in 2023, and currently streaming on Rakuten Viki. High school seniors are lured into military service with the promise of extra credit for college if they participate in duty after school. Ultimately, they discover that they had been recruited to fight aliens.
High School Seniors Earn Credits for College
Seongjin High is a typical high school with a typical graduating senior class of boys and girls. There’s the girl that all the guys like, the besties who always stick together, the nerds, the outcast, the loner, the class clown, the bully, etc.
One day the homeroom teacher for Grade 3 Class 2 comes into the classroom and announces that early admissions to college or university have been canceled. In place of early admissions, students will serve in the military, and their service will be translated into credits that will count toward their future education. But the teacher said nothing about dangerous alien creatures who eat humans. Was her omission intentional?
For about a year there have been some strange-looking spheres floating in the skies. Were they dangerous? Did they pose a threat? Nobody knew. Nothing ever happened, according to the news that was reported to the general public. The homeroom teacher is part of the general public and didn’t say anything because she didn’t know.
The military recruiter is Platoon Leader Lee Choon-Ho (played by Shin Hyun-Soo) and he does know about the aliens. No doubt, the higher-ups told him to only share information on a “need-to-know” basis. Just feed them the “extra credit carrot”, get their parents to sign the form, and have them report for duty. Silly immature high school seniors don’t need to know that:
- a high percentage of real troops have already been decimated by alien creatures;
- they are being trained as troop replacements to fight in a REAL WAR; and
- it is very possible ALL of them could get KILLED BY ALIENS!
The First Casualty of War Must Be Kept Secret
If you didn’t like each other in high school, why would you start getting along just because you’re in the same platoon? One night three students are outside on the school grounds and two of them get into a fight. During the altercation, one of the spheres falls to earth and opens up. Paralyzed with fear, the two students watch in horror as their fellow student is devoured by an alien creature. The teacher and the platoon leader concoct a “cover-up story” and instruct them not to tell the other students about what really happened. Say the student was badly injured and had to return home. Everybody else must carry on with their training.
What??? They just witnessed the scariest thing they have ever seen in their lives and they have to LIE ABOUT IT! In their minds, there’s growing fear and confusion and now they have to add in guilt?
- Why do they have to lie and cover up what happened?
- Why can’t they tell the others that one of them is dead and an alien killed them?
- Why must they keep this horrifying matter a secret?
The Field Trip That Turns Deadly
One day the platoon leader and their teacher accompany the students off school grounds on a field trip. Happy to have a little bit of freedom, two mischievous students sneak away from the group. The platoon leader makes everyone responsible for finding them. Before they can find the missing students, the aliens find them. Students witness firsthand their teacher’s deadly encounter with the creatures. When she dies trying to protect them, they react to this shocking reality the way typical students would react. THEY WANT TO GO HOME!
- HOME? NEWS FLASH! There is no home. All of their families have been evacuated, hopefully to a safe place. Like it or not, they’re soldiers now and their duty is to defend their families and the country.
Viewership and Rating
Each episode of Duty After School poses a new challenge for these high school seniors to overcome. The characters are very diverse and the differences in personalities often cause clashes. Some students are selfish and immature, their fear makes them think only of themselves, and they only stick with the team because it’s safer. By contrast, other students are brave and loyal, their virtue makes them team leaders who can make crucial decisions, and if a personal sacrifice is necessary to save the team, they step up. My favorite characters are:
- Among the female students: Choi Moon-Hee, Kwon Eun-Bin, and Lee Yeon, who played Lee Na-Ra, Yeon Bo-Ra, and No Ae-Seol.
- Among the male students: Kim Ki-Hae, Moon Sang-Min, and Woo Min-Kyu, who played Kim Chi-Yeol, Wang Tae-Man, and Kim Deok-Joong.
Some viewers gave this series a low rating (e.g. 3.2 out of 5 stars) because they were very upset with the ending. However, Viki viewers gave Duty After School a rating of 9 out of 10 stars. I agree. Even though the last episode was disappointing, the rating should not be lowered.
US President Reagan once said that the most terrifying words a citizen can hear are:
- “We’re from the government and we’re here to help”.
Putting a spin on that expression, one could say the most terrifying words for citizens who are abled-bodied and can be called to duty are:
- “We’re from the military and request your service to the country. It will not be in vain. Be sure to tell your parents there’s a bonus in it for you.”
It was cruel what the Defense officials did to those kids. High school seniors are not puppets to be used. In many wars, in many countries, young people have actually volunteered to serve. The current war in Ukraine is an example. But in the series, none of these students underwent a psychological assessment. Were the students even “mentally” fit for combat? Why were the students and their parents not fully informed of the danger? It’s a relief that those events were fiction and not fact.
- Duty After School | WEBTOON Entertainment Inc.
- “Duty After School” concludes with a controversial ending, netizens expressed frustration | KBIZoom
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