"Train to Busan" as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film

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"Train to Busan" as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film essay
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Once treated as a minority of manipulative pleasures, zombies have expanded their territory in popular culture. Now in present days, many people are familiar with zombies through various entertaining sources including cartoons, novels, and movies. However, not all zombie tales are necessarily the same, as well as the message imbedded inside them. Train to Busan is one particular zombie film that successfully used zombie as an ingredient to deliver a larger message to community. Before talking about the film, it is important to know what exactly are zombies.

Zombie is an unidentified corpse made in the 20th century that comes back to life from its death. According to Zombie Culture written by Shawn McIntosh, zombies are one of the few monsters that originate from a non-Gothic, non-European tradition that have passed directly from folk culture into popular culture without first being established in literature. In the lands near Caribbean Sea, voodoo is said to have a way of putting people through death, through drugs or curses, as if they were dead, and then waking up again, losing consciousness and enslaving them like slaves. The zombie, which has never been proved but wandered like a ghost story, is embodied as a modern nightmare through Hollywood's White Zombie in 1932 and I Walked with a Zombies in 1943. Some are Voodoo slave zombies; others are mad scientist experiments. The idea of flesh eating, hostile zombies does not exist until George A. Romero's The Zombie Trilogy, The Night of the Living Dead in 1968, The Dawn of the Bodies in 1978, The Day of the Dead in 1985. Dead bodies awake for unknown reasons, zombies wandering around in search of flesh, sneaky and greedy, zombies become bitter zombies, grief and fear when loved ones become zombies All of the zombies were contained in the zombie trilogy, including metaphors for modern people who were brainwashed and lost their ability to think, despair for humans who are more savage and cruel than zombies.

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In the zombie movie such as Train to Busan, the bodies of the tombs woke up, and the people who struggled in the vicious cycle of being zombie once they were bitten by the zombies were terrible horrors. It was the fear of the 'invasion from outer space,' which was popular in the 1950s, turned into internal fear. The terror of the 1950s was a nuclear war, fearing aliens and monsters or 'communists' who attacked or infiltrated a peaceful society from the outside. Zombies start in cemeteries all over the world. Or if you are infected with an invisible virus, anyone near you can become a zombie. Zombies are irrational groups where no conversation is possible. A cruel killer who eats the flesh of a living person without a word. It cannot be defeated by a cross or replaced by an offering. Zombies don't give up unless they even eat the last human.

It was thanks to Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later in 2002 that the zombies, which were so cruel and terrible, dominated by sub-jumbo horror movies, became popular horrors in the 21st century. Excluding the supernatural setting, and depicting the horror of those who turned into monsters due to the 'anger virus,' 28 Days Later was an action film that confronted 'zombies' who run like wild beasts. In addition, Dawn of the Dead in 2004, which is a remake of The Dawn of the Bodies, was a huge success, and the zombie film provided a bridgehead for the 21st century. And 2013 proved that zombie movies can also be blockbusters. While vampires and werewolves are transformed into romantic semi-periods loved by girls, zombies have expanded into the nightmares most modern people fear. The zombie movie has become a genre in itself. Among the horror films, “zombie”, which remained in manipulative territory because of cruel and dirty description, became a new icon of popular culture in the 21st century.

With zombies becoming popular topic, it started to provide a room to be used for deeper meaning. With various countries coming up with new zombie tales, Yeon Sang-ho, a movie director in South Korea, filmed the most recent zombie film, Train to Busan in 2016. It is a story that takes place inside KTX to Busan, where the unidentified virus covers the world. Train to Busan is South Korea's first zombie blockbuster. This film is similar yet very different from other western zombie films as it contains South Korean cultures and history as well as present social conflicts. According to Korean Horror Cinema written by Daniel Martin, Korean horror revels “a rich history of culturally specific fears played out on screen in the form of ghosts and monsters, tales of treachery, revenge, and redemption” (423) which deeply influence Train to Busan as well.

As it contains many influences from other zombie movies, Train to Busan has many similar aspects with western zombie films. First, the zombies in Train to Busan adopts an evolved idea of fast and strong zombies first introduced in 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. While Suh Seok-woo (a protagonist) tries to catch the moving train, hundreds of zombies also run to catch the living. The zombies also almost stopped the train by clinging on to it hard. Similarly, the movie World War Z also presents aggressive running zombies which allowed the creation of the shocking scene of zombie climbing on top of each other to go over the high wall. Not only the zombies, Train to Busan also holds the theme of family within the movie similar to World War Z and Dawn of the Dead. In all three films, the lead character of family is a father, and all of them focuses on safety of family members. In Train to Busan, one of the main point is Seok-Woo’s change in relationship with his daughter and his struggle to keep her safe. In World War Z, Gerry accepts a mission to find a cure in order to keep his family under military protection. Although not a main protagonist, Andre in Dawn of the Dead also continues to protect his wife and baby until he dies.

There are also different aspects in Train to Busan that makes the movie unique among all zombie movies. Train to Busan shows a large class warfare throughout the entire movie. This idea holds a purpose of sending message to South Korean community, as it critiques on conflicts in South Korea. As a wealthy white collar, Seok-Woo, in the beginning of the film, cares more about his safety. As a manager of the fund, he was a man overwhelmed by work and have less care about family. Far worse than Seok-Woo, Yong Suk, a wealthy chief executive, shows the extreme frame of a selfish character but at the same time, most realistic characteristic. Throughout the film, he does not show any hesitation in sacrificing others for his own safety. Although Seok-Woo changes to be more caring for others in an influence of his daughter Su-an and Yoon Sang-hwa, a working-class man, Yong Suk stays the same, even in his death. The film Train to Busan was evaluated as a masterpiece that pinched the individual selfishness created by an excessively competitive society based on the conflict between groups and individuals in a social crisis situation. In addition, the situation in which the government and social leaders failed to come up with measures to resolve the conflict between the class just before the explosion was amplifying public distrust. In particular, the film reminded many South Koreans of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The widespread spread of MERS outbreaks increased the number of victims, but the government failed to quarantine infected patients and misrepresented social confusion due to insufficient disclosure of MERS information to the public. It also reminded on South Korea’s ferry disaster, where about 300 people were killed due to crew members including captain of the ferry fleeing after telling passengers to stay indoors. Although western zombie movies also do contain meanings behind the films such as Dawn of the Dead commenting on mall obsession and World War Z pointing out disappointment of government and relationships between countries, being able to show clear critique on severe, on-going conflict like Train to Busan is perhaps what allows the uniqueness among popular culture.

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This essay delves into the evolving role of zombies in popular culture, focusing on the Korean film "Train to Busan" as a vehicle for delivering deeper social messages. The writer effectively introduces the topic, providing historical context for zombies and their transition from Gothic and European traditions to modern popular culture. The essay explores the evolution of zombies in film, referencing key works such as George A. Romero's trilogy and Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later." The analysis of "Train to Busan" is well-structured, highlighting its unique aspects compared to Western zombie films. The incorporation of South Korean culture and the movie's exploration of class warfare provide insightful observations. However, some parts could benefit from more extensive analysis, especially regarding the specific social conflicts and their reflection in the film. Overall, the essay presents a thoughtful exploration of zombies' cultural significance and their ability to convey social critiques.
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What can be improved
Deeper Analysis of Social Critique: Provide a more detailed exploration of the specific social conflicts highlighted in "Train to Busan" and how they are reflected in the film's narrative and characters. Clarity on Western Zombie Films: Clarify the connections between the essay's analysis of "Train to Busan" and the earlier discussion of Western zombie films to ensure seamless transitions. Stronger Conclusion: Strengthen the conclusion by summarizing the main arguments and reinforcing the significance of "Train to Busan" as a unique contribution to the zombie genre and social commentary. Further Elaboration on Cultural Influences: Expand on the influence of Korean culture and history on "Train to Busan" to provide a richer understanding of how these elements contribute to the film's unique message.
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“Train to Busan” as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 May 29]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/train-to-busan-and-exemplary-zombie-films/
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"Train to Busan" as a Perfect Example of Zombie Film essay

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