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We are still just a few weeks removed from Bong Joon-ho taking home four Oscars at the 92nd Academy Awards, and it seems like more and more people are starting to pay attention to what South Korean cinema has to offer. Interested parties won’t have to wait too long to get another taste of Korean horror this year, as it looks like Peninsula, the follow-up to the massive 2016 zombie action movie, Train To Busan will be hitting theaters this summer, and better yet, it will be showing in American theaters.
It isn’t a secret around here, but we absolutely love Train To Busan, and we cannot encourage everyone enough to watch this refreshingly simple, yet uber-bloody zombie movie. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the film follows a group of passengers stuck on a bullet train while the world crumbles under the growing masses of zombies in the world around them. The film was able to tie a heartbreaking story about the meaning of fatherhood in with a biting social commentary the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days of George A. Romero’s prime. Combine those narrative elements with amazing visuals and insane action sequences, and you have yourself one of the best zombie movies released in years. And since it has been four years since Train To Busan was first released to audiences across the globe, it’s only fitting that Yeon Sang-ho would have his followup be set four years after the events the film.
During an interview with ScreenDaily, Yeon Sang-ho said the film would not be a continuation of the story from Train To Busan, but would take place in the same universe. According to the outlet, Peninsula will take place four years after the events of the first film and will follow a solder by the name of Jung-seok as he is sent back to the Korean Peninsula to rescue survivors who remain trapped in the devastated region.
All that being said, it doesn’t look like we’ll be jumping right back where we left off at the end of Train To Busan, and instead getting an entirely new adventure. Now that we know what Peninsula is about, here are some things we hope to see when the movie hits theaters this summer. (SPOILER ALERT! This article contains spoilers from Train to Busan. Proceed with caution!)
The Origins Of The Outbreak
One of the first things we would like for Peninsula to address is how the zombie outbreak started in the first place. We don’t get too much information on the source of the epidemic aside from a mention of a leak at a chemical plant and then a brief phone call between Seok-Woo and one of his coworkers in Train To Busan, where the employee mentioned that their company was at fault after saving a biological company from bankruptcy. Besides that, we don’t know if the chemical agent was intentionally released, if it was an accident, or if something else was going on entirely.
I know that the first film wasn’t really about finding out the answers and instead more about finding a way to survive and protect your family from unescapable death, but having an answer to the question of “how did this start?” could really add to the world building of the franchise.
How The Outbreak Spread Throughout The Korean Peninsula
Now that four years have passed (both in the movie franchise and the real world), hopefully we’re offered a few more answers as to what is actually happening here. In the time since the events of the first film, the entire Korean Peninsula has been shut off from the outside world. There are some questions here to ponder, like how the outbreak spread throughout the region, if the governments of the region were able to prevent the zombie outbreak from spreading to other countries, and how long it took to isolate Korea from the rest of civilization.
With Peninsula focusing on a small group of survivors entering the Korean Peninsula to rescue survivors trapped in “no man’s land,” we should be getting a nice look at the world that was left behind, what is left of it, and how dire the zombie situation has become in the years following the initial outbreak.
How The New Characters Tie To Those From The First
We already know that instead of picking up right after the events of Train To Busan, Peninsula will pick up with entirely new characters telling a different story in the same world. As of right now, we don’t know much about the film’s protagonist, Jung-seok or if he has any relation whatsoever to any of the characters from the first film, but it would be interesting to see if anyone from Train To Busan shows up at some point.
Not too many people survived the events of Train To Busan, but of the characters that did make it to “safety” at the film’s conclusion, we are left with some major questions. Seek-woo’s young daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an) and the very pregnant Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi) seemed to have seen another day while so many others perished on the doomed train, so it would be nice to see how they ended up, or if they survived at all. It doesn’t have to be much, but a brief callback to those characters could go a long way.
More Of The Social Commentary
One of best aspects of Train To Busan was the biting social commentary. By touching on topics such as wealth inequality, class warfare, and the haphazard nature of some circles of the financial market, these issues affecting the real world sometimes took a larger chunk out of the audiences than the zombies did with their victims in the movie. One character in particular, Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung) is essentially the embodiment of the 1% and his actions all but doom every single person on the train throughout the movie. By playing into fears of the zombies (the economically depressed members of society) against the other passengers in the first-class cabin, Yon-suk continually plays the villain at every turn. Hopefully we see more of that same commentary in Peninsula, as the film’s director, Yeon Sang-ho, continues to build the world around his zombie outbreak.
The Zombies And Everything About Them
The zombies in Train To Busan were some of the best we have seen in years, mainly because they embodied a lot of the characteristics of the different types of zombies from cinema. There were the rage-filled zombies barreling towards the front of the train like we saw in 28 Days Later, and there was the slow, almost dormant zombie behavior like you’d see in George A. Romero’s Dead anthology. And while most movies give you one or the other, Train To Busan gave audiences both types, which made for some very clever scenes (especially when the survivors had to sneak past the zombies while the train sped through tunnels).
How great would it be for Peninsula to pick up where Train To Busan left off in that regard? Just imagine our main characters having to sneak through the zombie wasteland at night while an army of the undead stumble around in near blindness. Knowing what happens when the zombies awake from their dormant state is enough to make me tense just writing this out. If you thought the scenes on the train were intense, just imagine an entire city of infected zombies chasing after you.
With a larger budget than Train To Busan, it looks like Yeon Sang-ho will be afforded the opportunity to tell a larger scale story with more sophisticated special effects and action set pieces this time around. We can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve. How about you?