‘All of Us Are Dead’ Review: K-Drama Tackles Overwhelming Societal Issues as Students Battle Friends Turned Zombies

Netflix‘s newest zombie Korean drama, All of Us Are Dead, takes on the popular genre but with a twist. Instead of adults fighting for their lives, the K-drama focuses on a gory coming-of-age story as teenagers are forced to survive at any means necessary. All of Us Are Dead K-drama takes a deadly virus and uses it to flesh out the societal issues the world faces from bullying, social classes, and who gets the final say.

Character Chung-san in 'All of Us Are Dead' K-drama wearing school uniform fighting zombies.
Character Chung-san in ‘All of Us Are Dead’ K-drama | via Netflix

Teenagers face the cruelty of what it means to live in ‘All of Us Are Dead’ K-drama

Netflix has developed zombie dramas before with Sweet Home and Kingdom. But All of Us Are Dead is one of the first times the main characters are teenagers. In other works in the genre, adults are the driving force for people’s survival and decision-making. But the K-drama pushes the teenage characters to no longer confide in adults and only rely on each other.

As the high school students are trapped inside, they face an even bigger moral dilema. Their closest friends become their worst enemies. While the concept is not new to the genre, All of Us Are Dead takes it to a different emotional plane. After all, the main characters and students are just children.

A majority of them have known each other since they were in preschool. In the drama, some main characters sacrifice themselves to save their friends. The K-drama also adds in the plotline element of certain characters having a crush on each other. The viral outbreak forces them to admit their feelings in fear of never seeing each other again.

While the characters do everything in their power to survive, they also realize holding onto morals and humanity is just as important. The concept allows the K-drama to develop a divide between innately evil or put aside their morals and sacrifice when necessary.

‘All of Us Are Dead’ is seeped in societal issues from teen pregnancy, bullying, and misuse of power

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Audiences will find that the K-drama is not just about a virus that turns people into zombies, but how people’s responses are tied to broken societal expectations and issues. All of Us Are Dead K-drama results from a father’s guilt and need to help his son in an evil world. The storyline begins with a student being horribly bullied by his peers.

In the end, the bullies are not punished and are allowed to continue their reign of terror. The father and science teacher of the school explains the world’s social order allows for evil and chaos. All of Us Are Dead tackles societal issues from taboos, authorities mishandling, and social status.

Audiences will understand the use of a young female student’s story of hiding her pregnancy in fear of ridicule. That is not all. At the K-drama’s core, it raises the question of morality. Some of the main characters develop a superiority complex and believe certain people deserve to live and die. As the students face it, so do the adults. Neighboring towns unaffected by the virus shun away survivors out of fear.

All of Us Are Dead K-drama also tackles how adults handle the situation through logic instead of the heart. Director Lee Jae-kyoo uses real-life epidemic events like coronavirus (COVID-19) and instances of martial law to draw a parallel. Government officials follow protocol and turn off their humanity switch.

At the end of the day, the K-drama follows the same pattern seen in most zombie series and movies. It’s a lesson of light versus dark, logic versus moral, and a study of what a person is willing to do when facing death in a world that was broken from the start.

The main casts’s acting was superb and each character has a story

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What made the K-drama enjoyable to watch is how its leading actors brought to life the emotion and drama needed to make it work. Other zombie content has just as much emotion, but seeing as the actors are still young and playing teenagers, there is a new level of fear. The actors had to portray the strength of their characters to survive paralleled with their fear of being mundane students.

Each character played a role in the drama. Much like Squid Game K-drama, All of Us Are Dead is meant to show how each character evolves, what they are willing to become, and how they face the unknown. Is the K-drama worth watching? Yes. The genre may seem redundant, but All of Us Are Dead tackles much more than gore, action, and monsters.

All of Us Are Dead is available to stream on Netflix.