Korean movies

“Zombie Detective”: The Korean Drama Review

Original name: 좀비탐정

Amount of episodes: 12

Genre: detective, comedy, fantasy, drama

Starring: Choi Jin-hyuk, Park Ju-hyun

Director: Shim Jae-hyun

Screenwriter: Baek Eun-jin

When it comes to the zombie topic in Korean cinematography, the first thing that comes to mind to the dedicated Korean film fans is the movie: “Train to Busan”. Bloody and scary pictures and painful deaths start appearing in the imagination. In this case, if you aren’t a fan of this genre, it’s probably better if you refuse to watch “Zombie Detective”. However, the movies of this genre don’t have a “thriller” component because it is more like a comedy. Of course, there are still some personal tragedies of the main characters and some bad guys. However, most of the screen time, viewers will be bursting into laughter. I want to warn you as the article contains spoilers!

About the K-drama

The first minutes of the series are filmed in the best horror traditions of the resurrected dead. A zombie attacks a girl, and suspicious people do dirty business under cover of the night. It’s done on purpose to make the viewer doubt whether the genres mentioned in the description are correct.

Next, the zombie effectively disengages his hand from the pile of garbage to catch the crow, which is trying to poke his eye out. The poor main character lights a cigarette and tries to understand who he is and how he got to this point in his life. And then slowly limps away from the dump where he woke up. Here is an example of a non-standard way of filming demonstrating the reality through zombies’ eyes!

It’s terrible to be a zombie

A constant hunger, body’s slowness, faint moaning instead of ordinary speaking. People will definitely, be afraid of you and eager to kill you. Therefore, in the first episode, the viewer sees how just in one year, you can adapt to do everyday things as if you were an ordinary person.

While hiding in the mountain and eating animals, the zombie learns to control his dead body and does exercises on a found treadmill in an abandoned house to move faster than a turtle. At the same time, he watches all the possible movies about zombies and trembles with horror, watching people ruthlessly breaking zombies’ heads, not giving them any time to say something in their defense.

K-drama «Zombie Detective» / Photo: Kateryna Polishchuk

The zombie would have lived in the mountain for some time, improving his skills of beating birds’ nests with eggs, but he witnessed the murder. The main character buries the victim without even biting a finger! Although, it was tough for him to resist. He frisks the victim’s clothes and the backpack and finds out that the man is a detective. The zombie realizes that this is an excellent chance to move to the city and start looking for clues about his identity, so he takes the detective’s belongings and settles in his office.

When he comes to the office, it turns out that there is nothing for zombies to eat. Also, he has no money, and there aren’t many places where you can work with the face of “rising from the grave”. However, God’s grace descends on the hero in the form of a BB cream, which allows him to finally go out on the city’s streets in daylight. As a result, neighbors, rivals, and the journalist Gong Sun-ji from the house opposite the road believe that the zombie is a detective Kim Moo-young, and from that moment on, the main sequence of events begins.

Gong Sun-ji makes the plot fast-paced: she kicks the main character, then worries that she killed him because the zombie’s heart does not beat! After he returns to consciousness, she is afraid of possible huge compensation and tries to mollify him. Eventually, interesting and experienced in sniffing out mysterious cases, Sun-ji starts working in a detective agency.

Since Moo-young turned out to be a well-known detective with established customers, the hero receives a big order with a generous payment right after the beginning of work. The hungry zombie doesn’t intend to give up a lot of money because he needs money to buy fried chicken, and the landlord threatens to evict him from the house. At that moment, quick-witted Ms. Gong provides the new detective with the first service – she takes an advanced payment from the customer and actively develops a plan to search for the customer’s missing daughter.

Along with unraveling various cases and finding the truth about himself, the zombie participates in a dance show in honor of the restaurant’s opening, causes nervous breakdowns in his competitors, buys up BB creams, and captures the hearts of local children. He even makes Sun-ji’s sisters like him. At the same time, the sisters dream about Gong Sun-ji getting married as soon as possible and stopping her from sponging on her family. The main zombie’s task is not to get caught by people, although by the rules of the genre and the first episode’s spoiler, the viewer already knows that at least one person will see what they should not. You decide whether the following events will be funny and exciting to observe after the reveal.

Of course, the killer who made the main hero a zombie will appear at the end of the TV show. However, you’d better watch this moment yourself if you haven’t seen this K-drama.

In conclusion

The drama was shot very well, especially in terms of ridiculing various K-dramas clichés and stamps. Choi Jin-hyuk’s acting is at the highest level in this TV series as it’s not so easy to act as a slow dead man who doesn’t feel pain. The plot is intriguing and full of twists. Hence, the viewer starts guessing who is involved in the zombies’ issues in the last episodes. At the same time, there are around 70% of witty scenes with the participation of both the main and minor characters. A couple of detectives from competing agencies, police officers, and a failed screenwriter obsessed with zombie plots, won’t let you become bored, even if the main characters aren’t in the frame.

Author Kateryna Polishchuk, English translation by Anastasiia Malakhova

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