More of an equal than a prequel or sequel, the events it depicts occurring simultaneously, Sang-ho Yeon’s gritty animation Seoul Station charts at ground-level the runaway brushfire of the zombie apocalypse that burns across Korea in his propulsive, live-action, runaway hit Train To Busan.

When her sleazy nerd boyfriend Ki-woong (Lee Joon) tries to pimp out runaway teenager Hye-sun (Shim Eun-kyung) to cover the rent money, they violently row and she takes refuge amongst the homeless and dispossessed sheltering in and around Seoul’s major rail terminus. The place where one could, say, catch the train to Busan.

When an elderly homeless man dies unnoticed and is reanimated as a ravenous zombie, savagely attacking and infecting his fellow rough sleepers, commuters and bourgeois middle class salarymen alike, Hye-sun is trapped at ground zero of the zombie apocalypse as the government uses the chaos as an excuse to cordon off the city centre, deploying the army with water cannons and machine guns in an attempt to subdue the already disgruntled underclass.

With time running out and violence engulfing the city, Ki-woong and her stern father (Ryu Seong-ryong) must fight their way through the mayhem in their search for Hye-sun…

Darker and angrier than his Train To Busan and sharing the same gritty, drab look as his earlier animation The King Of Pigs, Sang-ho Yeon’s Seoul Station is a bleak, remorseless dissection of South Korean society. Zombie movies have always been political, a canvas for social commentary, a metaphor for the now, but they’re rarely this furious or this pitiless.

Cartoonishly graphic, Seoul Station’s class warfare seems particularly relevant in light of the recent political turmoil that’s engulfed Korea and the widening chasm between haves and haven’t-got-a-hopes in the developed nations, Yeon throwing his protagonists into a relentless meat grinder from which there is no escape, eschewing subversion and satire, instead declaring it’s time we eat the rich, quite literally, as the poor and disenfranchised rise up and storm the barricades of the privileged.

As with Train To Busan, the fractured relationship between a seemingly estranged father and daughter drives the narrative but this time there’ll be no redemption, no salvation, Yeon showing absolutely no mercy towards his characters, his final hopeless, horrible twist leaving a scaldingly bitter taste in the mouth that simply feels right.

More Studio Gibber than Studio Ghibli, Seoul Station is a zombie movie with real bite.

Movie Review: Seoul Station
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