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Self-sacrifice in Train to Busan (2016)

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In order to recognize and calibrate the two parts to its structure, self-sacrifice in zombie cinema will be examined in terms of survival-based and emotion-based motivational frameworks. The interaction of these frameworks will be unpacked and their properties, differences and similarities will be appraised and questioned. Examinations of this kind require three different analytical methods that therefore determine the structure of this article. The first section will outline how the survival and emotional-based motivational frameworks exist within the same sequence in Train to Busan (2016). The implications of this will be addressed in relation to the organization of modern neo-liberalism and what Paul Verhaeghe coins the neoliberal meritocracy. The second section examines the temporal projections of the characters in the sequence (specifically how the sequence depicts a character’s understanding of the future and how their present situation fits into that). These projections are cross-referenced with the specific example of the neo-liberal South Korean economic climate to add credence to the proposition that the need (or fetishization) of survival is a neo-liberal symptom and a hangover from the pressures that are ceaselessly exerted to keep its hierarchies in place. The final section of this article examines abjection and identity in relation to the chosen sequence in Train to Busan. It explores the generation of identity in relation to self-sacrifice and concludes that self-sacrifice is a necessary enforcer of a specifically neo-liberal competition.
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Keywords: Korean cinema; abjection; competition; neo-liberalism; self-sacrifice; zombies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419367486University of Birmingham

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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