Did you love Train to Busan? The high-paced, high-stakes, surprisingly emotional South Korean zombie thriller from director Yeon Sang-ho? If you haven’t seen it, you simply must: It’s streaming on Netflix right the hell now, and is an incredible contemporary horror film. If you have: Ooh, do I have good news for you. Per ScreenDaily, Yeon is preparing a spiritual sequel to the film, entitled: Peninsula.
While Yeon doesn’t consider the film “an official sequel,” there is an explicit connection made to Train to Busan:
It takes place four years after Train To Busan, in the same universe, but it doesn’t continue the story and has different characters. Government authority has been decimated after the zombie outbreak in Korea, and there is nothing left except the geographical traits of the location – which is why the film is called Peninsula.
That sounds like Yeon is following in the footsteps of maestros like George Romero to give his zombie narrative some wide-reaching geopolitical commentaries — this description reminds me of Romero’s underrated Land of the Dead cross-pollinated with some of the best South Korean politically-tinged genre thrillers. In fact, Land of the Dead was one of Yeon’s influences on the new film, alongside works like The Road, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Akira.
Peninsula stars Gang Dong-won (1987: When the Day Comes) as a soldier who escapes from the zombie-infected peninsula formerly known as South Korea. When he and a crew return home for a mission, they find a number of uninfected survivors, and a number of, well, zombie attacks. The film also stars Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, and Lee Ye Won. Yeon is also reuniting with Train to Busan team members like cinematographer Lee Hyung-deok, visual effects supervisor Jung Hwang-su, and art director Lee Mok-won.
At first, Yeon was worried about returning to the well after the smashing success of Train to Busan — until he found inspiration.
The idea of being able to build a post-apocalyptic world – which would be sort of savage but also in a way like ancient times, or like ruined modern times, with rules of its own – was interesting to me. There could be many stories that could keep coming out of that world. Destroyed, isolated, extreme, but with hope of escape and humanism, and the way world powers would look at this place. There could be a lot of material with a lot of greater significance.
Sounds borderline hopeful! Yeon also promises an expanded scope for Peninsula versus Train to Busan — sort of an Alien to Aliens situation: “The scale of Peninsula can’t compare to Train To Busan, it makes it look like an independent film. Train To Busan was a high-concept film shot in narrow spaces whereas Peninsula has a much wider scope of movement.” Given the level of craft and suspense in Yeon’s command of his tighter spaces, I can’t wait to see what he does on a broader canvas.
Yeon, whose own Train to Busan sparked part of the broader, global interest in South Korean cinema, also cited Bong Joon Ho‘s Oscar-winning Parasite as being vital to his ongoing works’ prolificness and visibility, hoping it can result in a more diverse marketplace:
Before, the way a Korean director would ‘go to the US’ would be to go make an American film with American actors in English. Now, with multiple platforms like Netflix burgeoning and the most recent effect of Parasite, everything has changed. I think the role of the films that come next will be very important. Just because Parasite was a success doesn’t mean we need another Parasite. We could see more diversified interest for, say, a Korean-style blockbuster or Korean independent films. It’s just breaking through a wall once that is difficult.
Peninsula has found an American distributor in Well Go USA — we’ll keep you updated once we know a release date.