Zombies are quite a hot topic right now, or should we say cold considering their post-mortem status, and with zombie shows like The Last of Us filling the void left behind by The Walking Dead, we aren’t going to run out of undead villains anytime soon.
However, it’s not just Western television screens that enjoy a bit of zombified terror on the odd occasion, and K-drama producers are no strangers to this undead genre.
Whether an ancient plague on the rise or a science experiment on the loose, we were surprised to see the wide array of Korean zombie series available.
So check the windows, bar the doors, and make sure you’re ready to double tap as per rule #2 (bonus points if you got that reference) and settle in as we look into the best Korean zombie series out there.
Kingdom, Netflix (2019 – 2020)
Although we expect most zombie series to take place in the modern world, we start off strong with Kingdom, a period piece set in the 16th century, three years after the conclusion of the Imjin War.
Here we are thrust into the Joseon Dynasty, as we follow Crown Prince Lee Chang who uncovers an unnatural horror that far outweighs the gravitas of the political conspiracy he set out to uncover.
He comes to learn of a plague that resurrects the dead and as weather conditions shift in favor of the undead horde, so does the political tide.
Now labeled a traitor, he is not only tasked with finding out what illness afflicts the King but also the dreaded burden of stopping a plague of undead monsters from ravaging his country.
Zombie Detective, KBS2 (2020)
What do you do when you wake up as a semi-sentient zombie?
Kang Min-ho figures it out when he awakes with no memories and a certain unnatural urge. Not one to give up, he takes on the task to assimilate back into the human population.
First, he learns to talk and walk, and then he starts covering up his scars with makeup, and most surprisingly, he assumes the identity of a private detective to figure out who he is and why he ended up the way he did.
Under his new identity as Kim Moo-young, he teams up with ex-investigative journalist Gong Sun-ji to solve crimes together, and as she learns more about his secret identity, she sets out to help him find the truth about zombies.
All of Us Are Dead, Netflix (2022 – present)
As if high school isn’t traumatizing enough, imagine your alma mater being ground zero for the zombie apocalypse!
Following a science experiment gone awry at the hands of a psychotic science lab teacher, a high school in South Korea becomes a deadly battleground as swarms of living dead students turn on their classmates.
As a way of containing the outbreak, the government quarantines the school.
With no access to food, water, or even outside communication, the surviving students must use their cunning and the few resources they can find in the school to make it out alive, or risk joining their classmates as an undead high school student forever.
Happiness, TvN (2021)
In the zombie genre, there is a very pervasive idea that zombies are created by a disease, and in Happiness we are propelled to the very near future to investigate a new disease called “mad person disease” aka the Lytta Virus as a result of a failed drug called “Next”.
The virus turns people into bloodthirsty maniacs, who, once they burn through the adrenaline of their initial mania, revert to a zombie state.
As the government tries to stem the spread of the plague, we are taken into the investigation and quarantine measures they take as well as the opposition they face from human rights groups that believe these zombies are still people who can function as normal humans.
However, amid the chaos, we find a small beacon of hope as we follow Yoon Sae-bom, a trainee officer who after being infected demonstrates an immunity to the disease.
Could she be the cure? And what does she learn about life after exposure at the research facility she now calls home?
On The Way to the Gynecologist, TvN (2021)
Taking things in an unhinged but hilarious direction we meet up with our heavily pregnant protagonist who needs to get to the gynecologist to give birth.
Unfortunately, she lives in a world where extremely slow-moving zombies make a nuisance of themselves.
As she feverishly tries to outpace the fiendish followers she picks up, she struggles to keep herself and her baby safe and gets creative with her self-defense tactics.
It’s honestly a deep and moving story, with a very unhinged concept, that tells the story of one bad day On The Way to the Gynecologist.
Dark Hole, TvN (2021)
A mysterious sinkhole opens up in Mujishi and releases a cloud of billowing black smoke into the world. Any humans that come into contact with this smoke become mutated and monstrous – almost zombie-like.
Enter Lee Hwa Sun, a detective coming to terms with the murder of her husband, who is drawn into the mystery when a phone call from her husband’s murderer draws her back to her hometown – the currently plagued Mujishi!
Upon her arrival, she discovers a group of survivors trying to escape the nightmare that has been unleashed upon them, and although she still wants to solve the murder she also makes it her mission to face her fear and save the lives of those remaining.
Sweet Home, Netflix (2020)
High school student and perpetual loner, Hyun, is still reeling from the sudden loss of his parents when he is thrust into an absolutely terrifying situation: his new apartment building is being overrun with zombie-like monsters coming from outside.
Humanity is on the brink of disaster, and all Cha Hyun-Su wants is to grieve in peace.
He realizes however that it is up to him and the residents of his new home to protect themselves by barricading their building and waiting out the terror.
Will they make it? How long will the walls hold out the terror that waits outside?