‘All of Us Are Dead’: Whistle Between Cheong-san and Gyeong-su Has a Deeper Meaning

The director and writer of Netflix‘s All of Us Are Dead have interwoven subtle nuances throughout its Korean drama storyline. Fans have already seen the small details concerning On-jo’s storyline. At first watch, fans might not have noticed the emotional backstory behind the whistle tune played by Cheong-san and Gyeong-su in All of Us Are Dead. Once knowing the backstory behind the tune, fans will find certain death scenes in the K-drama even more heartbreaking.

Gyeong-su and Cheong-san from 'All of Us Are Dead' outside of school.
Gyeong-su and Cheong-san from ‘All of Us Are Dead’ | via Netflix

Cheong-san and Gyeong-su whistle to each other in ‘All of Us Are Dead’

In the hit Netflix K-drama, Cheong-san and Gyeong-su are best friends who have likely grown up together over the years. Like any pair of best friends, they have their own secret messages, interests, and inside jokes. In All of Us Are Dead when Cheong-san and Gyeong-su are leaving school in episode 1, Gyeong-su whistles a familiar tune.

Fans might not think anything of it until episode 3. Gyeong-su is accused by Na-yeong of being infected and self quarantines in the music room. Cheong-san goes to check on him and whistles the same tune. Gyeong-su realizes what he is doing and whistles in unison. They share a knowing smile between friends.

The scene becomes tragic when Na-yeon is proven wrong when Gyeong-su does not turn. She pretends to apologize and infects him with zombie blood. When he starts to turn, the characters have no choice. To get Gyeong-su’s attention, Cheong-san whistles their tune and forces Gyeong-su to fall out the window.

The tune the characters whistle in ‘All of Us Are Dead’ is ‘Auld Lang Syne’

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The rhythm and tune of the whistle Cheong-san and Gyeong-su use would sound familiar to many viewers. According to Classic FM, the whistle is Auld Lang Syne of Scottish origins. The tune is often sung during New Year’s to symbolize never forgetting old friends. Kowing this, the whistles scene in All of Us Are Dead Episode 3 is more emotional.

Cheong-san whistled the tune to Gyeong-su when he was ostracized for possibly being infected. In his final moments with his best friend, Cheong-san whistled the tune. He knows he would likely lose his friend forever. According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, Auld Lang Syne has a different meaning in Korea.

The whistle or tune is known as “Aegukga.” It is part of South Korea’s national anthem. Korean composer Ahn Eak-tai changed the melody while studying abroad in the 1930s. “In Korea, the lyrics continued to be sung to the Scottish folk song until the Korean government was established in 1948 following the nation’s independence from Japan,” explains the site.

The site explains the tune has “been part of the people’s destiny both in good times and bad, they are reminded of the love that their forefathers held for the nation.” Fans can interpret the whistle for Cheong-san, and Gyeong-su meant standing by each other through the good and bad in All of Us Are Dead.

‘All of Us Are Dead’ soundtrack has another deeper meaning

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Accorsing to Classic FM, audiences can hear Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere mei, Deus.” Once again, viewers might not think anything of it. The All of Us Are Dead director used the song for a reason. The song first appears in episode 1 as the students participate in after-school activities and cleaning. Viewers see a video recording of the school choir singing “Miserere mei, Deus.”

The song continues to play for a short while as the scene changes. The scene shows patient zero getting infected by the mouse. It all makes sense when knowing the English translation of the song means “Have mercy on me, O God.” Viewers will get a chill when realizing the song foreshadows the horrid reality all the students will soon face.

When the main characters hatch a plan to use sound to create a diversion to escape, they also use the choir’s recording of them singing “Miserere mei, Deus.”