Duty After School – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Calm Before The Storm

Duty After School episode 1 starts with some high school students playing football while others are studying. The children belong to Sungjin High School. After class, we meet Kim Chi-yeol and Kim Deok-joong who are discussing the strange alien spheres that have been in the sky for about a year. Deok-joong points out that when the spheres first appeared he was waiting for something bad to happen but Chi-yeol tells him that nothing ever changes for high school students.

As they walk away, Chi-yeol tries to have a conversation with Yeong-hoon, the school’s top student who gets bullied a lot but is still resilient. Unfortunately, Yeong-hoon ignores him and takes the bus home. On the way, he watches a YouTube show on the spheres and the rumours surrounding them.

Later, Chi-yeol and Deok-joong meet Yeong-hoon at a game cafe but Yeong-hoon still ignores them. Chi-yeol and Deok-joong enjoy their game while talking about whether they can get into college.

Elsewhere, the military prepares to inspect a sphere that fell that morning. Among the soldiers present is Lee Choon-Ho. Their company commander, Choi Yong-sik soon arrives and in his frustration shoots at the sphere but the bullets don’t destroy it. They upgrade to a panzer, the sphere remained intact and that was when all hell broke loose.

The students report to school four weeks later as usual, carrying on with their antics and common rivalry. We meet Yeon Bo-Ra who is bullying No Ae-Seol. There is also Kwon Il-Ha who is bullying Yeong-hoon. Their homeroom teacher, Park Eun-young, gives them their report card before being called away. She comes back seeming uneasy and tells that early admissions for colleges have been cancelled. The top students in the class are confused and worried while the others are happy and relieved.

The teacher continues on but the students ignore her and keep mumbling among themselves. She turns on the TV in the classroom and they watch the Minister of Defense address the nation. The minister clarifies that the government has issued a national mobilization requiring even third-grade high school students to be drafted. The students are shocked by what that means for them and their future. He goes on to say that education will still be prioritized and that the students will receive extra credit for college admission.

The teacher turns off the TV  and asks the student to keep calm, she doesn’t have the answers for them but they will find out in due time. She gives out military agreement forms and asks the students to get their parents to sign them. The teacher clarifies that only the students who take part in the training will get extra credits.

After the teacher leaves, a fight ensues between Kwon Il-Ha and Yeong-hoon. The military also arrives at the school and starts their preparations. Chi-Yeol later checks on Yeong-hoon who pushes him away.

Later, the students take the consent forms home and after discussion, most of the parents sign the form. Each student chose to go for the training for different reasons, some pushed by their parents. Others willingly for the sake of the extra points and some because they didn’t want to be bored at home.

The next morning they arrive at school and cheerfully tease each other. As expected, they packed their favourite things, makeup and non-essentials that they thought they can’t live without.  Soon, the teacher introduces the students to First Lieutenant Lee Choon-ho who will be the Class 3-2 platoon leader.

He explains that training will happen after regular classes and appoints the class leader as a senior trainee. He also asks Chi-Yeol to be in charge of recording videos for their parents after Yeong-hoon refused. Chi-Yeol was not feeling up to it but Lieutenant Lee informs him that he will get three points. He also shares that there is a reward point system separate from CSAT extra credits, ten reward points make one CSAT extra credit and 30 demerits lead to a discharge.

He orders the students to head to their barracks but they’re confused by what he means. It turns out they converted the school to look like a military base. The students head to the barracks, playing along and generally being clueless about the danger ahead. The male students meet soldier Kim Won-Bin in their barracks. Lieutenant Lee asks them to quickly unpack and meet at the field for personal firearms handling.

At the girls’ barrack, they meet soldier Seo Ja-yoon who quickly orders them to get rid of their non-essentials such as make-up. It was at this point that Park So-yoon and Hong Joon-hee started contemplating withdrawing their consent agreement.

On the field, Chi-Yeol tries to make good with Yeong-hoon by offering him the record-keeper position. Yeong-hoon is strict about his education but Kwon Il-ha interrupts and insists Chi-Yeol keeps the position. The soldiers give the students gun and some of the students question why they are being trusted to handle firearms.

Others try to use their online games experience to look cool and they soon start playing around with firearms. Soldier Kim Won-Bin tries to stop them and is offended when they refer to him as an ajhussi as he is only 21 years old.

Soon Lieutenant Lee and Soldier Seo Ja-yoon arrive and get the kids in order. Lieutenant Lee gives them a lecture on why they should take care of their firearm as it is the only thing they can rely on when in the face of war. He makes the kids run until they are ready to pass out from exhaustion. Even now, Cha So-yeon, a female student, falls for Lieutenant Lee’s charms.

The kids return to their barracks complaining about how hard the training was and lamenting their fate. They leave messages for their parents, some feel scammed. Others can only cry for their mom and for  So-yeon love has blinded her to thinking she can persevere. Lastly, there is student No Ae-Seol who worries about her grandmother and reminds her to take medication.

Later, the boys watch a leaked video of military personnel shooting at something and wonder why the military is killing animals. Of course, they start theorizing that war is breaking out and Kim Deok-Joong shares his hilarious theory.

The boys start teasingly beating him and  Lieutenant Lee interrupts them. Yeong-hoon tries to leave but Lieutenant Lee warns him that personal activities are banned. Yeong-hoon gets angry and snitches that Kwon Il-Ha has a phone.

The phone is confiscated and Kwon Il-Ha tries to start a fight with Yeong-hoon. This forces Lieutenant Lee to call them outside and gives them an errand to run. While running the errand, they get into another argument and Chi-yeol tries to stop them.

As they talk,  a sphere drops from the sky. The three boys are mesmerized to see it up close and Kwon Il-Ha is frustrated that his phone was taken so he can’t upload a picture. This starts another fight with Yeong-hoon.

Kwon Il-ha pushes Yeong-hoon against the sphere and suddenly it opens up and its tentacles grab Yeong-hoon. He tries to fight it off but he is swallowed whole as the other boys stay rooted to the spot in fear.

The episode ends with Yeong-hoon’s recording his video message. He and Chi-yeol were childhood friends and they reminisce about the times they played games together at a cyber.  They promise to play games later after the CSAT.

The Episode Review

I was shocked when Yeong-hoon was swallowed by the sphere, I didn’t expect him to be the first character to die. He was turning out to be one of my favourites because he always stood up against his bully and he seemed like a driven student. It is so sad that his story ends here. It was heartwarming to watch his final video with him and Chi-yeol making up.

The spheres look terrifying, these kids better train hard if they are to fight against these monsters. Unfortunately, they are still living in their blissful world unaware of the danger ahead.

This is only the first episode but the intrigue to know more is overwhelming and the twist in the end only adds to the tension. I also like the students, they are nailing their characters perfectly.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next, I am literally on the edge of my seat. What did you enjoy the most in this episode?

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Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
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