Train To Busan in 2016 changed how we see zombies onscreen. Gone are the slow-moving walking corpses we’ve gotten used to in Western shows; it’s now all about fast-running, high-jumping, freshly rotting half-dead bodies. And yes, this new breed of zombies is unique to Asian zombie dramas, especially in recent K-dramas and films.
Gamer Oh Joon-Woo (Yoo Ah-In) is struggling to survive after being forced to lock himself in his apartment due to a zombie outbreak. He wanted to end his life after finding out his family has been killed by zombies, but he regains hope after meeting another survivor, Kim Yoo-Bin (Park Shin-Hye), in the same apartment complex. The two of them try to get help through the use of gadgets and social media.
Why you’ll love it: Aside from the usual jumpscares and heart-pumping scores we all love in zombie flicks, this film also realistically reimagines how it will be like to experience a zombie apocalypse in a technologically dependent world. Watch #Alive here.
Set in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty, this thrilling period drama all starts with the King (Yoo Se-Woong) suddenly catching an illness. The Queen (Kim Hye-Jun) and her father, Chief State Councilor Jo Hak-Joo (Ryoo Seung-Ryeong), have forbidden anyone, including the King’s son and the Queen’s stepson Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-Hoon), to see the King. Thinking that something more serious has happened to his father, Lee Chang tries to investigate. He ends up learning a sinister secret surrounding his father’s condition.
Why you’ll love it: A period drama with zombies? Talk about an intriguing concept! But aside from the unique take on the zombie genre, the political aspect of this series proves that sometimes, human greed is a lot scarier than any flesh-eating monster. Watch Kingdom here.
3. All Of Us Are Dead
A failed science experiment causes a zombie outbreak at Hyosan High School. Since the school became ground zero, all communications with the outside world were cut off by the government. This left the students fending for themselves as they find a way to survive without being infected.
Why you’ll love it: If you can’t choose between a high school coming-of-age drama and a zombie TV show, this will surely give you a taste of both. Plus, there are a lot of fresh faces in the cast (Park Ji-Hu, Yoon Chang-Young, Cho Yi-Hyun, and Park Solomon a.k.a. Lomon) who did so well in this series that you’ll surely watch out for them in more works. Watch All Of Us Are Dead here.
Led by a star-studded cast, Happiness is a Korean zombie TV show that will leave you feeling the opposite of the title (but, as weird as it sounds, in an entertaining manner). It’s about the residents of Forest Le Ciel Building 101, a high-rise apartment building that was locked down due to a zombie outbreak. Tensions rise when the tenants try to survive, with others being more morally compromised than the others.
Why you’ll love it: While a little bit more slow-paced story-wise compared to the others on this list, Happiness builds up its narrative effectively to keep the audience engaged all throughout. It also has a touch of family, romance, and friendship, making it a well-rounded series. Watch it here.
Wrapping up this list is the standalone Train To Busan sequel, Peninsula. This movie shows the lives of South Korean citizens four years after the initial outbreak happened. The story follows former South Korean Marine Corps Captain Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-Won) who gets hired by mobsters to retrieve a truck containing millions of US dollars. In exchange, he and his partner Chul-min (Kim Do-Yoon) will get half the money. However, both money-hungry humans and flesh-eating zombies get in their way.
Why you’ll love it: We wouldn’t spoil any of the juicy details. But trust us, this film has the same mix of post-apocalyptic thrill and melodrama that made its predecessor, Train To Busan, amazing. Watch Peninsula here.
(Cover photo from: Netflix)
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