Korean zombie movies and dramas are all the rage now, with numerous titles being released in recent years. The mixture of thrill, action, barbarity, suspense and occasionally humour has proven to be a concoction that fans from across the globe can’t seem to get enough of!
As it stands, Korean zombie movies are globally recognised for their ability to win over the hearts of audiences.
Here’s our top 15 best Korean zombie movies and TV shows that will keep you up at night!
Train To Busan
We still have to credit the most well-known Korean zombie movie Train To Busan, with many rave reviews for its brilliant screenplay, captivating plot and stellar acting.
The movie follows Seok-Woo (played by Gong Yoo) and his daughter Soo-An (played by Kim Soo-Ahn) who board a KTX train from Seoul to Busan.
Just as the train departs Seoul Station, a girl infected with a zombie-like virus board and it soon begins to spread to all the commuters. Soo-An, Gong Yoo and their fellow passengers are now in a desperate race against time to save their lives.
This film is full of heart-stopping action sequences and some serious gore. However, it also ties in the values of love, sacrifice and selflessness in an all-encompassing package that makes it one of the best Korean zombie movies.
Watch Train To Busan on Netflix.
In this film, police officer Jong-goo (played by Kwak Do-won) investigates a string of inexplicable killings in Gokseong village, which appear to be caused by an infectious disease.
All fingers point to a mysterious Japanese man who recently arrived at the town, but just as Jong-goo tries to get hold of him, his daughter is infected with the deadly disease and things take a turn for the worse.
This movie is more than 2 hours long, but it manages to keep viewers captivated for the entire duration. It depicts supernatural elements like black magic, demons, shamans, zombies, and exorcisms and will please true horror fans with its bone-chilling scenes representative of traditional folklore.
The plot is deep and is designed to throw viewers off at many points. The Wailing ties the genres of horror and mystery together, and is full of twists and turns that has won it praise from critics and audiences alike.
Four years after the catastrophic incident in Train To Busan, the Korean peninsula is left in shambles. A group of Koreans travel from Hong Kong to the zombie-infested land to find a truck full of money and bring back the cash.
This movie received its fair share of criticism for being a disappointing sequel to Train To Busan. However, it was a tall order for Peninsula to meet the high expectations, especially since Train to Busan was so well-received.
However, when viewed as a standalone sequel to the movie, the narrative of the movie is quite interesting, as it combines a heist and a zombie film together. The acting from cast members like Gang Dong-won and Lee Jung-hyun also makes it worth the watch!
#Alive centres around Oh Joon-woo (played by Yoo Ah-in), a video game live streamer who finds himself helplessly stuck in his family’s apartment during a zombie apocalypse. He makes a post on social media with the hashtag #stayalive, pleading for help.
He tries to leave his house but is soon forced to take refuge to stay safe from the zombies, and has to survive on limited food and resources while being confined within his home.
#Alive was released during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many were also forced to quarantine themselves at home, subjecting themselves to the anxiety and uncertainty of being stuck in the midst of a global crisis. Thus, this movie resonated with many and was an instant hit.
It features a simple yet captivating plot, and the actors certainly did justice to their characters. Subtle humour, bursts of action and suspense leaves viewers more than entertained.
Watch #Alive on Netflix.
If you are a fan of the K-drama Kingdom, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy watching Rampant as the plots for both are very similar.
Lee Chung (played by Hyun Bin) is the royal prince and the rightful heir to the throne. He is ousted from his kingdom by evil conspirators who staged a coup to overthrow the crown prince.
Lee Chung then has to team up and regain control of Joseon, which is now plagued by a zombie virus, from the antagonist Kim Ja-joon. (played by Jang Dong-gun)
The characters in Rampant are all adorned in elaborate costumes reminiscent of the Joseon era. The movie is also laced with majestic displays of swordsmanship and battle sequences of epic proportions.
Kingdom is Netflix’s first original Korean series to debut, premiering in 2019. The story revolves around crown prince Lee Chang (played by Ju Ji-hoon), whose kingdom is in jeopardy due to an infectious epidemic that has taken the Kingdom of Joseon by storm. As he attempts to save his homeland, he also has to deal with dissidents that are attempting to overthrow the King’s rule.
Kingdom was released shortly after another Korean film, Rampant, based around the same plot.
Kingdom received high praise for being more well-paced out than the movie – it had more action and gore that lasted throughout the entire season, satisfying viewers who craved for the violence and action that typically permeate shows from this genre. It also has a second season you can binge on!
Watch Kingdom on Netflix.
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale offers a refreshingly different take from the usual zombie movies.
After a botched diabetes medicine trial, the Park family stumbles upon a zombie (played by Jung Ga-ram) that the head of the family, Park Man-duk (played by Park In-hwan) manages to capture. Eventually, they figure out a way to use the zombie’s abilities to make a profit for themselves.
Unlike some of the other titles in this genre, The Odd Family does not feature extreme gore or supernatural phenomenon. It comes across as more of a family friendly light-hearted film. It combines romance, comedy and horror in a unique fashion – which is hard to come across especially within this genre.
The 8th Night
The 8th Night tells the tale of an evil spirit that is capable of jumping from one body to the next. A group of strangers come together to stop the destructive spirit and its effects on the world.
Two monks Chong-seok (played by Nam Da-reum) and Seon-hwa or Jin-su (played by Lee Sung-min) are at the forefront of the efforts, doing everything in their power to stop the spirit.
The movie is packed with suspense and some unexpected twists and turns. Superb cinematography and special effects bring life to the scenes, keeping viewers engaged at each juncture. Overall, this film borders more on the mystery thriller genre rather than pure horror. If you are into mythology, you may find some of the themes interesting as well!
All Of Us Are Dead
Remaining on Netflix’s Top 10 chart for almost 11 weeks following its release, All of Us Are Dead was an instant hit amongst the audience.
A series of events leads to a zombie outbreak at Hyosan High School. The students have to fight for their lives and figure out a way to escape, or risk being infected. Beyond the zombie-themed action, this K-drama also touches on some deeper topics, like society’s failure to look out for the well-being of youth.
This movie was also released amidst the backdrop of a number of calamities like the crowd crush in Itaewon, building on the already thought-provoking nature of this show’s storyline.
This show is super binge-worthy with its gruesome visuals and thrilling plot that leaves viewers anxiously awaiting what happens next. Season 2 is already in the pipelines, set to release in mid 2023.
Watch All Of Us Are Dead on Netflix.
Happiness is another drama that has a storyline revolving around the outbreak of a pandemic. A new drug initially developed to treat pneumonia is administered to patients, but its severe side effects only rear their ugly heads after repeated use.
Special Operations officer Sae Bom (played by Han Hyo-joo) and detective Yi-hyun (played by Park Hyung-sik) are stuck in the same apartment building, isolated from the rest of the city due to the deadly virus.
The residents have to overcome feelings of suspicion and work with one another to make it out alive. This K-drama also has a romantic element between the two lead protagonists, and the on-screen chemistry between both actors is on point.
What Happiness lacks in outright bloodshed and killing of zombies, it makes up with great acting and a well-thought-out story with a moral dilemma.
Watch Happiness on Netflix.
If you are looking for a feel-good series without an overly sombre theme, Zombie Detective is a great movie. Kang Min-ho (played by Choi Jin-hyuk) is reborn as a zombie with no memory of his past after a medical mishap.
In pursuit of his past, he takes on the identity of a private detective. He crosses paths with a writer Kong Sun-ji, (played by Park Joo-hyun) who ends up working under him after quitting her previous job. Together, they work together to try and unravel the mystery behind Min-ho’s death.
The acting of the cast, especially by Choi Jin-hyuk, was on point – the writers of the show also did a good job mixing humour with the elements of the plot. Zombie Detective has equal parts comedy, romance and mystery – making it well worth the watch!
Watch Zombie Detective on Netflix.
Sweet Home follows the life of Cha Hyun-su, a high school student who lost his family in a tragic series of events. Following the death of his family, he moves into an apartment complex called Green Home and lives there alone.
However, his life takes another sharp turn as the city is suddenly taken over by a zombie invasion that sparks chaos. One of the best aspects of this K-drama are the visuals.
The sets are designed in a way that conveys the apocalyptic environment after the zombie outbreak. The grotesque-looking monsters also send shivers down your spine. Sweet Home is actually based on a webtoon comic with the same name, and its popularity has led it to being set for a premiere of the second season, to be released later in 2023.
Watch Sweet Home on Netflix.
The Cursed: Dead Man’s Prey
This movie is actually an extended universe of the series ‘The Cursed’. The main characters are Im Jin-hee, (played by Um Ji-won) a fearless reporter and Baek So-jin (played by Jung Ji-so), a teenage shaman with special abilities.
A strange death occurs when the murderer is found to have been already deceased for three months. The perpetrator reveals to Jin-hee that more deaths are to come that will be carried out in the same fashion, which drags her back into the world of crime.
The type of horror featured in this movie, “Jaechaui”, is a jarringly scary ancient tale of bringing dead bodies back to life to commit murder. The action sequences in this movie were most highly raved about, featuring visuals that would not be typically seen in a horror movie.
Moreover, it was great to see how the characters have aged since the TV series premiered three years ago, especially for So-jin who has matured from a student to an adult.
The Cursed is a horror-mystery K-drama that revolves around Im Jin-Hee, a passionate journalist who wishes to uncover the dark truths behind IT conglomerate ‘Forest’.
The CEO of Forest, Jin Jong-hyun (played by Sung Dong-Il) is a big believer in shamanism and uses it to exploit others in his business. Jin-Hee meets a high school student, Baek So-jin (played by Jung Ji-so) who has powerful special abilities that can help in Jin-Hee’s quest.
This drama is packed with intense twists and turns and high levels of suspense that will have you hooked until the end of the season. The background score also adds to the tension in each scene, making it every bit as thrilling as you would expect! As you go along, you will also find various elements of Japanese shamanism that are really interesting and shed light on ancient Japanese culture and heritage.
Watch The Cursed on Netflix.
In this sci-fi horror series, the inhabitants of a village develop strange symptoms when they inhale a dark gas coming from a sinkhole.
The virus spreads and the villagers become mutated, transforming into cannibalistic creatures. Lee Hwa-sun (played by Kim Ok-bin) is a detective grieving the death of her husband, and she gets a hint that there might be a connection between this strange phenomenon and her husband’s murder.
She then works with Yoo Tae-han (played by Lee Joon-hyuk), a former police officer who is now a reporter to uncover the truth.
One of the highlights of this series is how it shows people in society leverage on the fear and gullible tendencies of people in desperate situations. The fast-paced action and solid performances by the cast make for an exciting watch!
Watch Dark Hole on Viu.