The Most Frightening Korean Zombie Series And Movies That’ll Keep You Up At Night

·6-min read
zombie k-dramas and movies
zombie k-dramas and movies

Replete with gory fight sequences and nail-biting chases — tales of the undead are a classic option if you’ve got a hankering for horror this weekend. Exploring class differences, historical themes, and modern-day settings — these best Korean zombie series and movies are a notch above the rest. We’ve curated a few titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime that are a must-watch.

The frenzy around grim survival, consumption of human brains, and supernatural viral infections has evolved over time — from Haitian folklore to the cult-classic The Walking Dead. Today, scores of zombie movies and TV series populate the horror sections of streaming platforms. However, few can match the production values and eclectic plotlines of Korean dramas. Led by the wildly popular All Of Us Are Dead, these shows are as binge-worthy as they come. Not to mention, they’re great guides to surviving a zombie apocalypse. If you don’t know where to begin, take a peek at our guide to the best titles that’ll get you acquainted with the living dead.

These Korean zombie series and movies will send shivers down your spine

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Train To Busan

Train To Busan follows a father-daughter duo as they board a KTX (fast train) to Busan (from Seoul). Soon, they find themselves in the centre of an endemic viral infection that causes humans to turn into flesh-eating zombies. As the outbreak advances, they battle for their lives against the undead and — eventually — each other. Exploring themes of class differences and human guilt while also presenting the audience with some of the best action sequences in Korean history — this one’s as entertaining as they come. Not to mention, there are some stellar acting performances that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Where to watch: Netflix and Amazon Prime
IMDB rating: 7.6

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Alive

The streets of Seoul see scores of zombie-like transformations while gamer Joon-woo remains holed up in his apartment alone. As the apocalypse of the living dead progresses, he struggles to survive — losing access to groceries, phone service, water, and the Internet one day at a time. Fortunately, he’s got his neighbour Yoo-bin working right alongside him to find resources and ways to be rescued by the military. The film touches upon themes of modern-day comforts and the importance of mental grit in times of distress. You’re bound to be on the edge of your seat with this one.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 6.3

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All Of Us Are Dead

Perhaps the most talked-about bit of zombie content to come from the Korean peninsula – All Of Us Are Dead follows a bunch of students going through the usual high-school experience until a student returns from the school science lab with an unusual infection. Based on a webtoon titled Now At Our School, the series sees the teenagers fight for survival as they look for escape routes. This involves careful planning, blood-soaked chase sequences, and the constant threat of being turned into a zombie looming over their heads. Besides, with talks of season 2 already underway, there’s plenty more to look forward to with this one.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 7.5

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Happiness

Unlike most others on this roundup, this series is set in the near future, where a defective cure for COVID-19 leads to a whole-new virus. Named “Rita,” the infection leads patients to experience extreme rage and bloodlust – much like zombies – for a certain amount of time. In the midst of this occurrence is a newly-constructed high-rise apartment. Placed under quarantine, the residents of said structure struggle to survive, all while harbouring deep mistrust, fear, and apprehension. Promising a rollercoaster of emotions, this Korean drama features stellar acting performances. Best part? It intersperses comedy into all the hair-raising drama – giving the audience some much-needed relief. If that doesn’t spell entertainment, we don’t know what does.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 7.9

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Zombie Detective

Kang Min-ho wakes up as a zombie with no recollection of how he transformed. As he grapples with amnesia and learns how to walk and talk like humans to blend in, he dons the detective coat to uncover his past. Along the way, he meets Kong Sun-ji, a former current affairs writer who quit her job after an attack on one of her clients. Seamlessly merging comedy with moments of poignancy and mystery — the drama is endearing. The characters, who have a strong moral compass, are a departure from the ones that feature in usual zombie series. This makes for a refreshing switch up from most other options on this list. That said, your mileage may vary.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 7.4

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Kingdom

This historical drama — an unusual genre for a zombie series — is reportedly one of Netflix’s first original Korean series. Set in the Joseon period, it looks into the life of the Crown Prince Lee Chang whose father falls ill with a mysterious illness that’s taken hold of his kingdom. While investigating this said disease, he gets caught up in a power struggle with a powerful clan that labels him a traitor and seeks to overthrow him. Spread over two seasons, the plague progresses as time passes, with themes of class conflict, politics, and power dynamics being explored. Expect plenty of plot twists, careful strategising, and political turmoil. This one’s highly favoured by critics and viewers alike — promising to be an engaging watch.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 8.3

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The Wailing

If dark thrillers are your idea of a binge-worthy show, this one’s right up your alley. Based in a quaint village — Goksung — in South Korea, The Wailing follows the life of police officer Jong-Goo who investigates a mysterious zombie-like viral infection that’s spread through the community. Believed to be caused by an evil Japanese spirit, the hunt for answers leads to gory clues, an attacking guard dog, and eerie memorabilia of people who’ve succumbed to the virus. At once profound and thrilling, this is one of the best Korean zombie series. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to take your eyes off the screen while watching this one.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime
IMDB rating: 7.4

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Sweet Home

This series follows Hyun, an introverted high school student who lost his family in a horrific accident. Now forced to move to an old apartment building and navigate life — he finds himself in the midst of a zombie-like apocalypse. As he struggles to survive, he finds himself trapped with other residents of the building. Although not strictly a zombie series, the creatures in the show are just as horrifying and eerie. Based on the eponymous webtoon, the drama features stellar acting performances and intriguing character backstories while exploring themes of human desires and societal sensibilities. And although the show often receives mixed reviews, it’s definitely worth the watch if you enjoy all things zombie.

Where to watch: Netflix
IMDB rating: 7.3

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(Featured and main images: Netflix)

This story first appeared on PrestigeOnline Singapore