Netflix‘s All of Us Are Dead is one of the latest Korean dramas about zombies to gain attention. In the world of zombies, the movie Train to Busan and the K-drama Kingdom reigned supreme. The coming-of-age horror drama gave a new outlook to zombies with its Jonas virus backstory. Fans of the genre will realize Korean zombies have a different look than what is commonly seen in American or foreign content.
All of Us Are Dead’s makeup artist explains why zombie K-dramas break the expected image of the flesh-eating monsters. Compared to soulless zombies in The Walking Dead, All of Us Are Dead is based on realism.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for All of Us Are Dead.]
The zombies in ‘All of Us Are Dead’ are infected high school students
The standout Netflix K-drama had fans shedding tears, afraid for the main characters, and intrigued by the overall concept of a viral infection. In All of Us Are Dead, the students turn when another zombie bites them. According to storyline details, the virus is only transited through the saliva or blood of the infected.
There are a few tricks to the virus. A student or person can be scratched by a zombie but not turn. This was proven when Gyeong-su was scratched by a zombie and remained human. Only when Na-yeon wiped his wound with zombie blood did he start to become a zombie.
Ongoing theories about the Jonas virus suggest a person bitten by a zombie can still survive. The theory suggests a person’s emotions when bit plays a role. All of Us Are Dead’s director also confirmed there are halfbies and immune mutations of the virus. Besides the K-drama’s twist on monsters, Korean zombies also have a unique look.
South Korean and ‘All of Us Are Dead’ zombies still resemble humans
The concept of zombies is not new to the small-screen. But South Korea has developed a fresh take on the popular monster through K-dramas and movies. This is largely due to how zombies look compared to American TV. Special effects makeup artist Shin Ji-hae breaks down why Korean zombies are unique.
Having worked on All of Us Are Dead and other well-known K-dramas, she was a guest on Jaejae‘s MMTG show to discuss zombies. Jaejae read fan comments on how the K-drama’s zombies look like rotting corpses with scars. The comment mentioned foreign zombies look “pale, bloodless, and evil-looking.”
Shin explains, “I did a lot of research for All of Us Are Dead. In the cases of foreign zombies, there’s a lot of emphasis on the skull…? The bone structure of the zombie. But for Korean zombies, we veer toward something more realistic, as if the zombie has died recently.”
The concept makes sense as the events in the K-drama, and the infection spread rapidly. After being bitten, the virus takes over almost immediately and attacks the body’s cells, and mutates.
Shin Ji-hae looked up medical wounds for inspiration
The zombies in All of Us Are Dead and other Korean content focus heavily on a realistic rotting body. Shin had to do some research. JaeJae asked what helped inspire the makeup for the K-drama. To get a better idea of open wounds, Shin looked up aortic arch anomalies, also known as congenital heart conditions.
She also explains blisters and sores come in different shapes. “I also looked up words like necrosis. Actually, there aren’t that many data. So I had to look up pictures of dog-bitten scars and things like that,” said Shin. JaeJae then asked why Korean zombies are fast-paced. Shin explains people would complain if they were slow but admits fast-paced zombies create a level of intensity.