Since mega-hit movie Train To Busan dominated screens in 2016, the Korean drama and movie scene has exploded with themes centred around the horror and zombie genre.
Can’t get enough of zombie shows? From intense action-packed series to spine-tingling moments, here are some of the best that’ll get your heart rate up and on the edge of your seat.
What it’s about: : This one’s not a drama per se, but rather, it’s billed as a “hybrid immersive reality series”. Zombieverse is the newest show to join Netflix’s growing collection of Korean unscripted content.
10 contestants on the show, ranging from celebrity hosts to viral YouTubers, find themselves immersed in a world grappling with an ongoing zombie apocalypse. To survive the unrelenting tide of zombies, they must work together and form alliances. Their ultimate goal? Reaching safety on Wolmi Island, situated 35 kilometers away from Seoul, where an evacuation ship awaits. However, a single zombie bite results in transformation into one of the undead, leading to elimination from this high-stakes game.
Zombieverse is now on Netflix.
What it’s about: Based on the popular webtoon Now At Our School, the drama revolves around a group of high school students trapped at their school during a zombie virus crisis. The students desperately try to avoid becoming zombies and escape from their school.
What sets this show apart from the other Zombie shows is that the focus is on the group of students and how they make decisions in perilous situations, that are sure to keep you at the edge of your seat.
After having topped the charts for many weeks on Netflix, across more than 50 countries worldwide, it’s clear that this new K-drama series is not one to be missed.
The cast includes Yoon Chan-yeong, Park Ji-hu, Cho Yi-hyun, Lomon and Yoo In-soo.
Now on Netflix.
What it’s about: Set in the near future, this upbeat Korean horror series a group of residents in an apartment block that’s infested with zombies during a government quarantine. This was a result of a failed treatment drug which instead caused a pandemic known as the Rita Virus, or as many like to call it, mad person disease. Here, the residents must now band together to survive the deadly virus that’s spreading throughout the city.
Happiness is now on Viu and iQiyi.
What it’s about: If you’re looking for something refreshing besides zombies feasting on human flesh, consider binge-watching Zombie Detective. Here, the comedy crime drama centers around a new zombie, that’s played by Choi Jin Hyuk, who has lost his memories. He’s then presented the opportunity to take on the identity of a detective, even as he struggles to survive and find out who he really is.
Zombie Detective is now on Viu
What it’s about: Adapted from the webcomic series The Kingdom of the Gods, this is Netflix’s first original Korean series, which has run for two seasons.
Set in the medieval Joseon Dynasty, a zombie plague has swept across the nation. Crown Prince Lee-Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) doesn’t just get embroiled in a political conspiracy but also has to deal with the hordes of zombies that are threatening to take over the land.
The series has also spawned a special episode, Kingdom: Ashin of the North that delves into the backstory of the plague, as we eagerly await the third season. Starring Gianna Jun as the mysterious Ashin, it reveals the origin of the resurrection plant, and how it caused the zombie outbreak.
Available on Netflix.
What it’s about: Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho is on a roll. After the success of his previous films, he is now behind the screenplay of The Cursed: Dead Man’s Prey, which is directed by Kim Yong-wan.
In this spin-off from 2020 K-drama series The Cursed, bizarre serial murder cases are taking place, and the suspects are corpses that have been brought alive and manipulated. Who’s manipulating them? This suspense film combines a crime thriller together with shamanism and rampaging zombies.
Now in cinemas.
What it’s about: This series deviates from the zombie genre a little, and instead, focuses on humans that mysteriously start to turn into gruesome monsters.
Song Kang plays depressed teenager Cha Hyun-soo, who moves into an old apartment called Green Home after his family is killed in a car accident.
Soon, however, monsters start to unexpectedly show up, but Hyun-soo and his neighbours are stuck inside. They hole up inside the apartment in hopes of surviving the monster apocalypse as they can – but what they soon realise is that the “monsters” are really people who have turned into these creatures when they give in to their desires, and they could so become one themselves, too.
Available on Netflix.
What it’s about: Billed the sequel to Train to Busan, it picks up from where the first film left off.
Former soldier Jung-seok (Gang Dong) is in Hong Kong and safe from the zombies, but subsequently gets assigned to retrieve a truck full of money back from Seoul. As he and his team navigate through the shattered wasteland that is the Korean Peninsula, they don’t just have to deal with zombies, but also rogue militia. They also stumble across a family of survivors.
What it’s about: Gamer Joon-woo (played by Yoo Ah-in) wakes up one day to find out his family has left him alone in the apartment. But when he turns on the news, he discovers that a mysterious disease — and zombies have overrun his neighborhood.
He quickly barricades himself in his apartment, but as the days go by, he runs low on food and water, and the Internet gets cut out. Just as he’s about to give up hope and hang himself, he realises that there’s another resident (Park Shin-hye) in the opposite building who is still alive. The duo team up to try and get to safety. Laced with the usual jump scares and fast-action scenes, the movie also weaves in plenty of millennial culture, including the use of a drone to combat the terrifying undead.
Available on Netflix.
Before Kingdom, there was 2018’s Rampant. This movie also follows an outbreak of the undead in the Joseon Dynasty.
Crash Landing on You‘s Hyun Bin stars as exiled prince Lee Chung, who is able to return to his homeland with the help of his brother and heir to the throne, Prince Lee Young. But with his return home, he doesn’t just have to face a political coup headed by war minister Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-gun), but a plague of monsters that run rampant at night.
Available on Viu.
What it’s about: Yeon Sang-ho’s 2016 massive hit, Train to Busan has been credited with the renewed interest in zombie flicks. The plot follows work-obsessed fund manager Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo), who boards a train with his estranged daughter to visit his wife, from whom he is separated from.
What they don’t realise, is that an infected woman has boarded a train. She later turns into a zombie and starts attacking, and infecting others on the train. Trapped in a zombie-infested high-speed train, Seok-Woo and the rest of the travellers must fight to stay alive.
What makes it so compelling isn’t just the intense situations and very realistic zombies, but also emotional scenes of sacrifice, with characters you both root for and loathe.
Available on Amazon Prime Video.
What it’s about: As if a zombie apocalypse wasn’t enough, the world risks coming to an end three times in this sci-fi anthology film.
Divided into three short stories of human self-destruction in the modern high-tech era, A Brave New World follows research scientist Yoon Seok-woo (Ryoo Seung-bum), who disposes of accumulated rubbish in the family flat, which includes a rotten apple. The apple goes through the waste disposal system and winds up as recycled feed for cows. Ironically, Seok-woo and his date, Kim Yoo-min (Go Joon-hee), end up eating the contaminated beef on a date, and end up becoming flesh-eating zombies, together with the rest of the population.
In Heavenly Creature, a robot reaches enlightenment on its own while working at a temple, and is deemed a threat to mankind. Meanwhile, Happy Birthday shows South Korea threatened by an asteroid hurtling towards the Earth.