[Short Film Review] Sense & Sensibility: In a State of the Limbo
Directed by Sang-ho Yeon, Peninsula is the sequel to Train to Busan (2016). Four years have passed since Korea was devoured by a horrific zombie virus. Now the entire country is in lockdown. The protagonist, Jung Seok (Dong Won Gang), who escaped the peninsula, returns from Hong Kong along with three other survivors who have been given a mission to retrieve money from Korea for a share of it.
Throughout the film, Jung Seok is unattended and unmotivated in lost-morality kind of way. This behavior is a continuation of the past, when he left behind a woman with two young daughters who asked him for help to get a ride on a ship that routed to Japan (and eventually to Hong Kong). Later, these same daughters save his life from a pack of zombies. Yet Jung Seok remains passive to save lives and help other survivors saying that he acts only upon what is most “sensible” at the moment. He represents a logical and disengaged person who uses that excuse to remain uninvolved.
When the team retrieving the money are separated, Jung Seok’s brother is captured by survivors who live in a militia called Unit 631 which Jung Seok only finds out later. They make a sport of throwing other survivors to the zombies to be attacked. In that setting, logic has no meaning because the militia has degenerated into cruelty and murder. The world has given into chaos.
The film is deeper than those that provide us only with traditional cannibalistic scenes of meaningless brutality of a typical zombie movie. Instead Peninsula gives a sense of utter humanism raising philosophical questions about the future, hope and ethics. These concepts compel us to search for logic in the world we live in today. We ask ourselves: Yes, the virus, the pandemic. But until when? What afterwards? What next? What is left of it all? In a way, like Jung Seok, we are all simply trying to make sense of it all.