A successful zombie twist in a high-school K-drama: “All of Us are Dead” review



ALL OF US ARE DEAD: What would you do if faced with a zombie virus epidemic at your school?

Lana Hwang, Accent Editor

If you’re a fan of K-dramas, zombies, Netflix or all of the above, you’ve probably heard of the hit TV show “All of Us are Dead.” The combination of thriller, romance and snippets of well-placed comedy combine to make it one of my best binges of 2022 thus far. 

The show tracks the course of a zombie epidemic, from the cause and development of the virus to the supposed end of it. A science teacher develops a drug that is meant to increase people’s fighting instincts during dangerous situations after his son was severely bullied and didn’t fight back. However, the underdeveloped drug turns into a zombie-esque virus that spreads rapidly through bloodstream infections, most often through bites. This virus originates at the main high school and spreads through the entire city of Hyosan. 

The show follows a group of high school students that gets slowly whittled down with each attempt at escape and rescue from their school, among other side adventures. 

Contrary to most zombie media, “All of Us are Dead” introduces different types of zombies. The first kind is your typical human-hungry zombie that knows no reason, and the second, labeled the infected “half-bies,” have the urge to eat humans with the super strength and hearing of a normal zombie with the added ability of retaining control over their mind or suppressing the urge to attack and eat others. 

Another unique point of this drama is its main focus on a zombie apocalypse situation in a high school. In other Korean zombie classics like “Train to Busan” or “Kingdom,” there is little room for romance or comedy with the adults focusing on protecting the people they are responsible for (children or their kingdom in the aforementioned examples) that takes up all of the characters’ attention. In the high school setting, there are more opportunities for romance and comedy, and “All of Us are Dead” does a great job of adding in scenes that perfectly release the built up tension. This allows for more opportunities to become attached to the characters and the couples that develop, making the unfortunate parting scenes even more tearful and emotional. 

While “All of Us are Deadhas the classic and somewhat cliche tropes of many K-dramas, such as love triangles, backstabbing and surprise twists and reveals, what makes it so compelling is the life-or-death situation the characters have been thrust into. Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to watch impulse decisions and spur-of-the-moment love confessions, but under the pretense of a zombie apocalypse and imminent death, it feels fitting and perhaps even more satisfying than the usual hours of slow burn that K-drama romances usually entail. 

Some squeamish watchers may want to exercise caution when approaching violent scenes. Though the gore isn’t especially realistic (as far as I can imagine, that is), there is still a significant amount of blood and raw flesh as one may expect.

In addition to the main plot, new props and strategies used to aid the main group brought novelty back into the occasionally repetitive scenes where the students move from one location to another in an attempt to get rescued or escape from their present danger. The classic metal baseball bats and sharpened mop handles as well as the unexpected window panes, bows and arrows and other miscellaneous objects around the school made for apprehensive and exciting confrontation scenes. 

Though there are some unrealistic escapes from death throughout the series, the realistically flawed characters that you might get a little too attached to for the 16 hours the drama lasts, and the creative use of props makes this new take on a high school K-drama definitely worth the watch, and most definitely worth the weekend binge.