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All Of Us Are Dead is the third worldwide blockbuster K-drama TV series from Netflix topping the charts in all regions, after last year’s Squid Game; and their second highly successful zombie production, after the Kingdom series. This is another take into Korea’s zombie apocalypse genre and this show ranks with Train to Busan (by Next Entertainment World), Kingdom, and #Alive.
In a typical zombie story, a group of random strangers finds each other and try to survive the walking dead for eleven years … with all the adult drama that comes with it. Forget it all, we do not need another typical zombie show. Netflix’s’ All Of Us Are Dead (지금 우리 학교는 [literally: Our School Now]) is a live-action adaptation of the Korean webtoon of the same name by Joo Dong Geun (주동근). It follows the story of 3rd year Hyosan High School classmates as they try to find a way to survive the zombie virus outbreak.
Think of it this way: we can all agree that our junior and senior high school years were the best periods of our lives, go back to that time and throw in a zombie virus outbreak right in the middle of your school filled with 12 to 16 year old students. What would you and your classmates do?
How would you think? What and who would you prioritised? Would you take the lead in protecting your classmates, friends, and enemies? Or, would you take the lead in sacrificing them to save your own skin? But your crush … you need to confess first before everything is too late!
If you can not honestly answer those questions, then you better watch All Of Us Are Dead because this post is a major spoiler from this point; and I can not stress this enough:
What is a hambie?
Hambie was coined by Yang Dae Soo to explain the situation of their quiet class president, Choi Nam Ra. According to Dae Soo, it is the shortened form of half-zombie (so a half-elf is helf and a half-vulcan is a halcan—okay, the last two are lame jokes). But Prez Nam Ra have something more to say:
As explained by Choi Nam Ra, a hambie herself, a hambie is
neither a human nor a monster just as how students of their age are no longer children yet are not adults either. The show’s director also explained what a hambie is but we will get to that later because he also revealed something most of us missed.
For the most part of the show, everything was explained. It was the ending where audiences have the most questions. Let’s go through each question and see if we can give a satisfactory explanation.
Why did they cut phone lines, mobile signals, and the Internet?
When the zombie outbreak started, the first people who called emergency hotlines were the students. As zombies are considered fiction, the calls were treated as pranks. However, when another outbreak started in a hospital, adults started calling as well, this finally prompted the call center and emergency response to take it seriously. Still, no one believed about the zombie part.
There were also those who posted a call for help and uploaded videos in social media. To make matters worse, vloggers who want more views created fake content like the scene in the train car. There were also the likes of vlogger Orangibberish (played by Lee Si Hoon) who entered the city and live streamed his adventures (in fairness, he came prepared). As expected, most of his viewers thought he hired actors.
These did not sit well with the National Government of the Republic of Korea. They treated the videos as fake news, and the calls an exaggeration of the situation. Zombies? Seriously? To curb the spread of unconfirmed news and to stop people from Hyosan calling their family and relatives elsewhere and panic about being chased by zombies, the national government decided to declare martial law in the city. They used mit to immediately cut phone lines, mobile signals, and Internet connection.
Was it a good decision or a bad one? 👇🏽 Share your opinions below. 👇🏽
Why did they bomb the city of Hyosan?
According to the “men-in-black” report to Jin Seon Mu, the Commander of martial law, all it takes for the virus to overwhelm Korea is for one infected to infect another outside of the quarantined zone. Just one. The commander knew there will be more than one, they can not possibly contain it.
As if hades was listening, Hyosan zombies were already in another city and the spread was only slowed down because the city was evacuated early. To make matters worse, they learned that there are asymptomatic cases and there is no way it can be detected other than to wait for it to manifest … or to get hungry.
The apocalyptic report and the new developments, or lack thereof, in understanding the virus has placed Commander Jin Seon Mu in a very tight situation and he knew time is of the essence. In the end, to borrow from Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Kill the thousands of unaccounted survivors to save millions of Koreans (and the rest of humanity) or continue the rescue effort and hope a vaccine can be discovered in time and the military intervention is more than enough.
He chose the former and bombed the city of Hyosan.
Did the commander make the right decision? 👇🏽 Share your thoughts below! 👇🏽
Was martial law necessary?
South Korea was under multiple martial law regimes and it was bloody. 1 2 3 4 5 But martial law by itself is not bad or evil, what makes it such is the person granted with absolute authority or power, and the people he or she surrounds themselves with (or control to submission in this case).
While they did not believe it was a zombie virus outbreak they showed how any government would treat any new virus in a post-COVID19 pandemic world—swift and stringent action because no one wants another pandemic if it can be avoided. A limited martial law, in this case, demonstrated that it can be used for good.
But that is the question, was martial law necessary? Can’t the response of the government be achieved without declaring it, limited or otherwise?
It should also be noted that the Commander of martial law rejected all calls by his officers for him to use his authority granted under martial law. He reminded them that they are still a democratic country, and in a way he told them that the people is not their enemy, they are trying to rescue them. But as the first line of defense, Commander Jin Seon Mu had to make a very hard decision, bomb the city of Hyosan … without consulting anyone. He used the authority granted to him under martial law without anyone reminding him of it again.
Was it abuse of power? If martial law was not declared, the Commander can not make a decision by himself, only the national government can. The checks and balances in the government means that what must be done can and will be delayed, when it is too late. But are governments that tied up when there is an obvious and dangerous situation?
What do you think? Was martial law necessary? 👇🏽 Share those opinions in the comments below. 👇🏽
Why did Commander Jin Seon Mu committed suicide?
These are the reasons why he ended his own life:
- Guilt. He had to make a call for the benefit of the majority and kill thousands of unaccounted survivors.
- Remorse. He had to use the authority granted to him under martial law, the very power he refused to use when his officers reminded him of it.
- Dignity and honour. When the dust settles, the government and the public—not just in Korea but all over the world—will condemn him for his actions. For him, it is better to die on his own terms, with his dignity and honour intact, and knowing he made the right decision to save billions of people.
If you were the Commander of martial law, how would you handle the situation? And if all it takes is just one infected to escape the quarantined area to decimate the world population, would you bomb ground zero? 👇🏽 Share your views in the comments below! 👇🏽
Why are they still in quarantine after four months?
This is because the scientists thought asymptomatic infections can not be detected. Unfortunately, the anger the Hyosan students feels against the adults stopped them from sharing this critical information: the virus in an aysmptomatic manifests when its existence is threatened—anger, being attacked, fear for their life and their friends, and hunger.
It was also reported in the news that the even after four months, the national health agency of Korea can not identify the virus which made it impossible to know the incubation period. This led to the agency’s stance on opposing the lifting of the quarantine for Hyosan survivors.
It was a good decision. If hambies are like Nam Ra who was able to push down the urge to feed for a week, then there is a possibility that there are undetected hambies. Let’s not forget Min Eun Ji who can also push down the urge to feed for long a few days, she even reached the quarantine camp, unfortunately for her, her anger and desire to take revenge was an opportunity for the virus to take control of her.
Not ending their quarantine is, unfortunately, the only way to ensure not a single asymptomatic is elsewhere in the country.
Why did Choi Nam Ra jump from the rooftop?
When On Jo told Nam Ra she can come with them, Nam Ra said she still has things to do in Hyosan. She explained that there are a few more like her, a hambie—some fled outside of the school but there are still a few left. Then she said,
they’re back and jumped from the rooftop.
The next scene, Nam Ra’s human friends stared from the rooftop. It wasn’t so much because they were surprised with Nam Ra jumping, they were, but it was because of what they saw in the distance. Our best guess? The other hambies of Hyosan High School returned … probably from scouting the area for other survivors … or fighting the evil hambies (more on this below).
Noticed how Nam Ra said “they’re back”? She was expecting them. Four months since the bombing was a very long time and Nam Ra possibly found Hyosan hambies in hiding, and they now live together. Also, Lee Soo Hyeok smiled slightly. Did he like what he saw? Could it be … ?
Then the camera panned and settled on On Jo, who was without any emotions, but I think we can assume a delayed shock. She can not believe what she’s seeing?
Are Chung San and Gwi Nam dead?
Yes. As far the scenes at the end of episode 11 and the beginning of episode 12 are concerned, both Chung San and Gwi Nam died due to the bombing of Hyosan High School.
Where is Lee Byung Chan?
Doctor Lee Byung Chan, the creator of the Jonas virus, himself turned into a zombie but a different one. Remember the scene wherein he was walking like any other zombie? A few seconds later he straightened his back, turned, and walked what we can assume was towards the exit. His eyes also showed an intelligence belonging to a scientist.
Also consider this: when the bomb was about to land, they showed the faces of each important character who turned into a zombie. They were On Jo’s father Nam So Ju, Soo Hyeok’s mother (not named) and his best friend Han Gyeong Su, On Jo’s best friend Kim Ji Min, their teacher Jung Yong Nam, archer Jung Min Jae, and their other classmates. Not one of them was their teacher Byung Chan.
The question we should ask, is Byung Chan plotting his vengeance against humanity? He did change his mind when he saved the detective and told him to get his laptop as it may help with the development of a cure. But he also had a strong resentment against the society. If he is back, then what he said earlier,
if this virus manages to learn the human mind, a new breed of human will be born, could lead him to ensure the new breed is the next evolution of mankind.
BONUS: Two types of hambies
In a Netflix interview, director Lee Jae Gyoo (이재규) and screenwriter Chun Sung Il (천성일) revealed that there are two types of hambies. The first are the immunes and the second are the immortals.
Can you guess which of the two Nam Ra belongs? Based on how director Lee Jae Gyoo explained it, the immues are like Nam Ra. She did not die. She did not turn into a zombie. Yet she still have seizures or episodes of intense hunger. She also demonstrated improved hearing, increase in strength, faster movements, and I would not be surprised if she can also heal faster.
On the other hand, Yoon Gwi Nam, Min Eun Ji, and their teacher Lee Byung Chan, are what the director described as the “immortals”. They turned into zombies yet their hearts are still beating. Since there is flow of blood to the brain, they can think for themselves. I noticed a catch, they are easily blinded by their desire to get revenge, the last emotion and thoughts they had before they were turned will always reassert itself as their primary goal in existence. We have Gwi Nam who wants to take the eye of Chung San; and there is Eun Ji who wants to take revenge against all Hyosan High School students and teachers.
The ending of All Of Us Are Dead, and the other clues in the other episodes, points to the possibility of a second season. There is a story they can pick up and continue, and the theories I presented above can be starting points. In season 2, the hambies will eventually be discovered, and no doubt the immortals too. Lee Byung Chan’s status is unknown, he could very well be plotting. Then there is Nam Ra and her army of hambies, the national government and the rest of the world will surely not be comfortable with hambies around but at the same time, they can not just send another bomb or a cleaning brigade.
The title of the next season could be The Rise of Hambies or The Army of Hambies with Nam Ra the “class” President, for real this time. It could also be The
Walking Dead Running Hambies or The Planet of the Hambies, okay, maybe that last one is season 6.