The 2016 Korean zombie movie Train to Busan stunned audiences upon release, with the movie being one of the most intense horror experiences of modern times and going on to be an international hit. Unsurprisingly, a sequel was announced entitled Peninsula and now we have our first look at the upcoming thriller, as well as a few more details about what to expect from director Yeon Sang-ho himself.
"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."
The much-anticipated follow-up stars Gang Dong-won, who you may or may not know from the 2017 drama 1987: When the Day Comes, as Jung-Seok. His character is a former soldier who manages to escape from the Korean peninsula, which has become a zombie-infested wasteland turned into a ghetto by other nations trying to stop the spread of the virus. Jung-Seok is sent back with a crew on a mission to retrieve something. He goes back in through the port of Incheon to reach Seoul and comes under attack, discovering there are more non-infected survivors left on the peninsula.
Peninsula also features The Battleship Island actress Lee Jung-Hyun who will play one of the survivors. Alongside her stars Lee Re, a child actress who director Yeon Sang-ho believes will become"more [popular] than Ma Dong-Seok [aka Don Lee] in Train To Busan".
The rest of the cast includes Kwon Hae-Hyo, who has worked with Yeon before as a voice actor for his award-winning animation The Fake back in 2013, as well as Kim Min-Jae, who has also worked with Yeon in the past having appeared in his 2018 action comedy Psychokinesis, along with indie filmmaker and actor Koo Kyo-hwan, and child actress Lee Ye Won.
There are also several Train to Busan alumni working on Peninsula, including cinematographer Lee Hyung-deok, visual effects supervisor Jung Hwang-su and art director Lee Mok-won. The sequel will reportedly have a budget double that of its small-scale predecessor.
"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."
It is also very possible, should Peninsula prove to be as much of a smash-hit as Train to Busan, that this won't be the last time we revisit this zombie-riddled world.
"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."
But, don't expect the upcoming sequel, or even the sequel after that, to necessarily answer the burning question of how the zombie outbreak started.
"I've thought about dealing with that question in another film, which probably I won't direct myself. There are a lot of interesting questions you could answer, issue by issue, with other films."
The director has also noticed that things he had only imagined prior to the arrival of Covid-19 were now showing up in real international news headlines.
"Of course I never dreamt of anything like the new coronavirus. But recently I have been learning news about the collective selfishness that you do see facets of in Train To Busan and in Peninsula, that brings about tragedy."