Standing outside Seoul’s central subway station, two young men are having a nice liberal chat. “I think there should be universal welfare,” one says to the other. As if on cue, an old homeless man who is covered in blood comes staggering by. Concerned, one of the two men run to check on him but is quickly recoils from the smell. “I thought he was bleeding but he was just homeless,” he tells his friend.
So begins Seoul station, the first Korean animated zombie movie that I’ve ever seen. Though I was unsure of what to expect at first, it became immediately clear that this hilarious yet disturbing picture would have a lot more to say than the average episode of The Walking Dead. Because acclaimed director Sang-ho Yeon’s version of the zombie apocalypse seems to start with those who rely on the Seoul Station subway tunnels as a place to sleep, no one really seems to care at first and the infection is allowed to spread quickly. Unlike most zombie movies I’ve seen, we see the fall of civilization entirely through the eyes of pimps, prostitutes, and the homeless.
There aren’t many Zombie Kills of the Week in Seoul Station but the animation alone- surreal enough to be unique but realistic enough to keep it grounded when it counts- makes it stand out. As much as it has to say about the struggles of Seoul’s marginalized, this is not a movie without it’s guilty pleasures. There are enough close calls, creatively claustrophobic suspense, and hilariously over-the-top voice acting to work as a fun popcorn movie. It’s only unsettling once you let it sink in.