By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

Tv Review
All of Us are Dead
Directed by Lee JQ and Kim Nam-su

THERE is a good reason behind every bold decision, and often there are unforeseen consequences — and in the world of science fiction, these consequences can be horrendous. In the Korean series All of Us are Dead, a father only hoped that his son would develop self-defense skills and stand up to his bullies. But the son, and soon everyone else, became a monster instead.

Directed by Lee JQ and Kim Nam-su, All of Us are Dead is based on a webtoon of the same title written by Joo Dong-geun.

In both series and webtoon, Hyosan high school is ground zero of a mysterious and highly contagious virus that turns the infected into zombies. As it spreads throughout the city, the authorities declare a state of emergency, placing the city under lockdown. A group of students — On-jo (played by Park Ji-hu), Cheong-san (Yoon Chan-young), Nam-ra (Cho Yi-hyun), Su-hyeok (Lomon) — are trapped in school and struggle to remain alive.

According to Netflix’s website,, as of Feb. 2, the Korean zombie show recorded approximately 124.79 million viewing hours within three days of its release on Jan. 28. The series ranked in Netflix’s Top 10 in 62 countries including the USA, Canada, Brazil, Greece, Russia, Spain, and Italy.

This writer’s exposure to the zombie genre is, admittedly, limited. I have seen Marc Forster’s film adaptation of World War Z (2013), Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan (2016), and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead (2021). All of Us are Dead is my introduction to a full zombie series, and despite its violence and goriness, it was an enjoyable binge-watch.

The series opens on a rainy evening at a rooftop where a group of male high school students are violently bullying another student. When he fights back, he accidentally falls off the building. He should have died, but in the next scene he regains consciousness — he is a zombie.

Over the series’ 12 episodes, the audience learns that Lee Byeong-chan (Kim Byung-chul), a former researcher at a pharmaceutical company, is now a science teacher at Hyosan High school where his son, Lee Jin-su (Lee Min-goo) is a student.

Because his son is constantly bullied and the faculty is complacent about the situation, Byeon-chan created a strength-developing virus which he injected into his son. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a zombie virus with the infected taking two forms: monstrous flesh-eating corpses and the conscious, physically stronger, and insatiably hungry type.

As the virus spreads in the school, the audience follows a group of students navigating the zombie-surrounded corridors in search of safe spaces.

There is a bigger problem: the zombie virus spreads throughout the city after an infected student was taken for an autopsy. The student wakes up and begins attacking the nurses, patients run for their lives, and the infected break out from the hospital.

The outbreak in the series happens within three days. The one hour running time of the majority of the episodes and the various storylines make it feel like it has been ongoing for weeks.

Aside from following the plight of the students in school, other storylines involve the military and the commander in a quarantine facility, an assemblywoman held in quarantine, a firefighter trying to rescue his daughter at the school, and a policeman who interrogates the science teacher and ends up rescuing the children and the injured. The various storylines outside those at the school made it quite hard to keep up with developments.

The series is packed with adrenaline-pumping scenes — like a chase atop the bookshelves in the library — and true nail-biters.

Despite the series setting in a high school, all the scenes of bullying, violence, and killing are not suitable for a young audience. The show is also not recommended for the faint-hearted as there are very heartbreaking scenes and deaths. I would tear up every time an emotional scene between parents and child would come up.

The story paints a picture of society in terms of the struggle for survival, where the decisions on what must be prioritized in a crisis can challenge morals.

It also presents themes of selfless love and sacrifice, mainly through the teachers and parents. It is also a coming-of-age story as the children are left to carry on with their lives.

Science fiction is littered with tales of unintended consequences, when a creation intended for good can grow into something destructive. All of Us are Dead is another addition to the extensive list that includes everything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to HBO’s Westworld. Despite efforts to mitigate its negative effects, the damage is done.

All of Us are Dead is streaming on Netflix.