All of Us are Dead spreads like the plague


Paul Moon, Managing Editor

The Korean Netflix show “All of Us are Dead” was released on Jan. 28 and it immediately took the world by storm, becoming the most-watched show of the week in the non-English TV show category within a few days. The show portrays a dramatic tale of a group of high schoolers and their struggles for survival amidst a zombie apocalypse. The plot is full of tales of betrayals, romance, and heaps of violence. Beyond that, it also touches on social issues in Korean society such as inequality, corruption, and bullying.

The beginning of the show is quite explosive, opening on a dark rainy rooftop where a boy named Lee Jin-soo is beaten up by bullies. However, Jin-soo develops a sudden surge of strength, and enraged, he attempts to fight back. Exhibiting non-human behavior with odd jerky movements, he becomes the first zombie. It is later revealed that the boy’s father, a master biologist, injected him with a virus that gives him a violent rage and enhanced physical abilities. But, the virus mutated out of control and turned infected individuals into zombies.

Back at Hyosan high school, students and teachers go about their day when a rat infected with the virus bites a female student, who happens to be one of the bullies. The disease quickly spreads until all but a dozen students become zombies. During the chaos, the students hide by locking themselves up in rooms for survival.

The pull of this show hinges on the blend of various genres and the visuals of the zombies. The computer-generated effects of the show, which were used to make the gore realistic, amplified the horror and thrill. The sheer number of zombies also contributed to the terror, with the CGI causing the massive horde to look like an ocean of zombies.

But the show prevents itself from becoming too heavy by mixing comedy with tragedy effectively. For example, once the zombie outbreak began, a group of a dozen students locked themselves in a room, struggling to survive. Trying to stay upbeat, they joked about what they would do when the outbreak ended, giving viewers a brief, light-hearted break. Then, this sweet moment was immediately interrupted by tragedy, as the female protagonist’s best friend turned into a zombie, and the group was forced to throw their friend out the window.

Other plot points such as the romance also enhance the story, with Choi Nam-Ra and Lee Su-Hyeok admitting their love for each other while surrounded by zombies. Dread fills the viewers as the group realizes Nam-Ra has been infected with the virus and attempt to force her outside. Yet for an unknown reason, Nam-Ra was able to resist turning, and instead stayed as a human-zombie hybrid—with normal human mental capabilities but enhanced physical strength, perception, and speed.

The ending of the show was unexpected because the protagonists of the story did not “win”, even though the plot seemed to be leading up to a discovery for the cure. Instead, tens of thousands of zombies were terminated by the South Korean military after the situation was deemed to be hopeless. The scenes were very emotional as the cameras showed the familiar faces of zombified characters, all while slow music played in the background. 

The show leaves many questions unanswered such as the fate of the male protagonist Lee Cheong-san, as he was last seen caught in an explosion. Other ambiguities such as the reason some people are able to resist turning are also left vague. However, these decisions are likely intentional, as plans for season two are being discussed, though nothing has been confirmed as of yet. 

Regardless of the future, the show ended on a positive note that would leave most viewers satisfied even without a season two. However, many still are waiting with the hope that a new season for this great show will be released to once again cause a cultural phenomenon.