With Parasite and Squid Game, the South Korean entertainment industry has positioned itself as a giant to be reckoned with. Even American audiences, who are usually quite conservative in their viewing habits, are starting to actively look for Korean films that they might have missed, hoping to find something as exciting and groundbreaking as Boon Joon-ho’s best films.
So, what will you find if you venture into the Korean side of Netflix?
A few clever comedies, some interesting dramas, very strange horror flicks, but above all, Korean zombie movies. Lots of Korean zombie movies. In fact, there are so many of them that it might be difficult for you to know where to start. Below, you’ll find a list of the most thrilling Korean zombie movies to watch in 2021 according to thousands of viewers.
1. #Alive (2020)
The story of #Alive is as old as time. The rapid spread of an unknown virus has left an entire city in ungovernable chaos, and the weight of the world lies on the shoulders of one survivor who must remain in isolation while trying to come up with a solution to save mankind.
If you enjoyed World War Z, you will love #Alive. Both stories tell the journey of a regular man as he tries to survive a zombie apocalypse with limited to no skills. The difference between the Brad Pitt-helmed blockbuster and #Alive is that the online gamer who serves as the relatable hero of the story in the Korean movie truly feels like a normal person you could meet in the street.
With more than one million viewers in the first few weeks, this is the first movie to make a big opening in South Korea since COVID-19. Since then, it has been picked by Netflix and continues to enjoy well-deserved success.
Like most Korean zombie films, #Alive will teach you lots of vocabulary related to infections, diseases and horrific deaths. Let’s see a few examples:
- pibu yeomjjeung
2. Rampant (2018)
Korean zombie movies do not have to be always set in a dystopic, dim world. With this film, Sung-Hoon Kim has proven that you can make a great zombie movie set in dynastic Korea.
Rampant is the story of Lee Chung, the young but determined Prince of Joseon, who is taken hostage by the ruthless Qing family while the country finds itself under attack from a legion of blood-thirsty demons who threaten to wipe out the entire region.
Although the movie didn’t do as well at the box office as you would expect from such an ambitious production, it is still an admirable example of how South Korean filmmakers are willing to take risks and take the zombie genre to the next level.
Watch the trailer for Rampant and learn Korean words such as 괴물 - goemul (monster), and 물다 - mulda (bite).
3. The Odd Family (2019)
If you thought our list of Korean zombie movies would only feature horror and suffering, you’re up for a surprise. The Odd Family is one of the best entries into the “zom-com” genre to come out of South Korea in recent years.
”What on Earth is a zom-com?”, you might be wondering. Also called zomedies, zombie comedies are movies that blend zombie horror narratives with slapstick comedy and morbid jokes.
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale, adds an engaging degree of quirk into the mix with the story of the Parks, a family who find out that a pharmaceutical company's illegal experiments accidentally created a zombie, and plot a strategy to find it and try to profit from it.
Want to learn Korean with The Odd Family? Watch it with your friends and look out for words and phrases such as:
- Manyak jombi gonggyeogi itdamyeon eodiro gal geoyeyo?
만약 좀비 공격이 있다면 어디로 갈 거예요?
If there was a zombie attack, where would you go?
4. The Wailing (2016)
A list of the best Korean zombie movies wouldn’t be complete without the genius of Hong-jin Na. In The Wailing, the masterful South Korean director has put together a thriller that has many more ingredients than zombie movie motifs. In fact, international audiences are comparing this movie to classic cop thrillers such as Se7en rather than zombie flicks like Doomsday Book.
The Wailing follows a series of paranormal happenings that afflict a small village after the arrival of an enigmatic stranger. As a lethal virus begins to plague the town like a curse, people start to suspect that this man has brought something far more terrible and evil than a mysterious past to the village.
To say that The Wailing makes for a more interesting viewing experience than most generic Korean zombie movies on Netflix is an understatement. It would be fair to say that, with this film, Hong-jin Na has elevated the standards for horror films in general.
Watch the trailer below and learn Korean expressions such as 증상 - jeungsang (symptoms), and 피 - pi (blood).
5. Train to Busan (2016)
Even if you’re not an expert on Korean zombie movies, you must have heard about Train to Busan, the best-reviewed zombie movie to have come out of South Korea in the last decade. This smashing hit boasts a stellar IMDb rating and a Certified Fresh status on Rotten Tomatoes, with 94% positive reviews.
The film tells the story of a father who tries to protect his daughter on an overrun train as a zombie epidemic unfolds. Three-dimensional characters, superb performances, and breakneck action sequences made Train to Busan an instant success when it hit the big screen 5 years ago, and it continues to garner praise and fans every time it’s picked for by an international streaming platform. Right now, you can find it on Hulu and Tubi.
Watch the movie with English or Korean subtitles (the choice will depend on your current level), and learn Korean words like the ones below:
- haegol meori
So, which of these awesome films will you see first?
Once you are done with our list of Korean zombie movies, you will see how South Korea is finally being recognized as one of the most important countries when it comes to creating groundbreaking stories for both the big and the small screens.
If, after watching all the Korean zombie movies on Netflix you feel inspired to learn the Korean language, don’t hesitate to contact us. No matter what your level is, we can pair you up with an excellent native teacher so you can start working on your fluency right away! Learn with the contents that you love the most, from K-Pop to Korean zombie movies, thanks to our custom-made curriculum. Contact us and get your first trial class for free!