Netflix’s latest South Korean zombie apocalyptic series All Of Us Are Dead has already become one of the streamer’s biggest releases, dominating charts ever since its premiere on January 28th, 2022. Created by Lee Jae-gyu, the series is based on a 130-episode webtoon titled Now At Our School by Joo Dong-geun.
The story is based in Hyosan High School where a mysterious virus causes a rapid zombie outbreak, alienating a group of high schoolers from the outside world with hordes of ravenous zombies threatening to attack them.
Amidst growing tension, anxiety, friendship, love and betrayal, they must struggle to survive this unimaginable chaos. The series also touches upon important aspects of bullying, sexual assault, suicide, revenge porn, peer and academic pressure and other issues that plague modern-day society. With 12 hour-long episodes, Lee manages to recreate the paranoia brilliantly, showing how South Korean filmmakers have the innate ability to deftly infuse terror and tension within the sub-genres of horror.
While the characters and the setting have remained the same, the director has explained that “ the show is different from the original as far as the specific situations that happen to some of the kids as well as what each of the characters are like.” Starring Park Solomon, Yoon Chan-young, Cho Yi-hyun, Park Ji-hoo, Kim Byung-chul, Yoo In-soo and others, the show is gory and gruesome while being equally moving and heartbreaking.
Here are the five key differences between the Netflix series and the original webtoon:
‘All of Us Are Dead’: The 5 key differences between the Netflix series and the webtoon
The origin of the virus is different
Although both the stories see Byeong-chan at the origin of the virus’ attack, the webtoon spins it in a different way to the series. The series makes it grimmer, showing how the science teacher was tired of seeing his son haplessly be bullied by the ruthless Gwi-nam and his group.
So he creates the disease using mutated hormones from mice, planning to infect them into Jin-su to give him the strength to fend himself against the bullies. Byeong-chan is unsure of his moral standing in the cause and even sacrifices himself to stop the Detective from getting bitten. The series shows a father’s vengeance to be the root cause of the creation of the virus.
However, in the webtoon, Jin-su and Byeong-chan are out fishing when the son mysteriously contracts the virus. In the webtoon, although he is interrogated by the police, he ends up taking his own life. The ending of the webtoon, however, shows how the worms surrounding the fish might be the carrier of the virus. From Jin-su getting infected mysteriously to the Japanese fishermen getting bitten by an infected fish, leading to the start of a possible epidemic in Japan, the exact origin of the virus is unknown.
The class spreads a different rumour about Mr. Lee
In the webtoon, after Hyeon-ju leaves for the nurse’s room, the students talk about how Lee Byeong-chan’s family, consisting of his wife and son, have gone missing. Since Mr. Lee smells of a rotten carcass, the students think that the science teacher is a cannibal who has feasted on them.
However, the series begins with Byeong-chan’s son, Jin-su being mercilessly bullied by a group of students. In the classroom, the students speculate that since Jin-su perhaps committed suicide to escape from the incessant bullying he was subjected to by Yoon Gwi-nam and his group of delinquents, Mr. Lee was out to take revenge on his son’s bullies and would murder them.
The rate of infection is slower in the webtoon
In the series, the process of zombification happens fairly quickly. After Hyeon-ju is bitten by a hamster in the science lab and Byeong-chan injects a mysterious fluid in her body, she hardly speaks before writhing uncontrollably and changing into a zombie with a bleeding nose. As soon as she attacks those around her, the rate of infection spreads at a meteoric rate, turning the school as well as the town of Hyosan into a war ground.
However, in the webtoon, the rate of infection is way slower. Hyeon-ju is able to describe to the teacher the atrocities meted out to her by Mr. Lee who kept her captive inside the science lab. Hyeon-ju is originally bitten by three hamsters and it is not until she reaches the nurse room (and subsequently bites I-sak) that she begins to show symptoms of zombification.
The webtoon has a slightly brighter ending for Nam-ra
In the webtoon, Nam-ra is infected when she contracts the virus via an eye injury. She slowly becomes immune to the virus and is taken to a government facility before being returned to a normal existence. Although the ending is not completely positive as the virus crosses borders, Nam-ra has a relatively brighter and more hopeful ending.
In the series, Nam-ra starts off as the pariah who, despite being the class president, does not have any friends. However, the struggle for survival and the shared trauma brings the group closer. Nam-ra is infected by Gwi-nam’s vengeful bite but does not transform into a zombie fully, existing as a unique mutation between the two. All Of Us Are Dead ends with the survivors meeting the half-human-half-zombie Nam-ra on the school terrace wherein she talks about how she is hiding from the military.
Vulnerable and on the run, her story might, however, be the starting point for the sequel, if there is one.
The Netflix series has a lot of romance
The Netflix series All Of Us Are Dead sees a love triangle play out at the very beginning when it turns out that Cheong-san has feelings for his best friend On-jo who likes Su-hyeok instead. However, Su-hyeok and class president, Nam-ra have a budding, delicate romance and it is not until the very end that On-jo realises her hidden feelings for her best friend. It is too late for Cheong-san, however, bitten by Gwi-nam, gives On-jo a brief farewell hug before disappearing into the school and distracting other zombies to help his friends escape.
In the webtoon, Nam-ra and Su-hyeok are just close friends. The only tinge of romance within the webtoon is that of Cheong-san and On-jo’s which honestly left a lot of people heartbroken and weeping at the fate of the star-crossed lovers in both the webtoon and the series.