Director Yeon Sang-ho’s sequel to Train to Busan, Peninsula, delivers an emotional gut-punch in its ending, much like its predecessor, but leaves audiences with more than a few questions about the ending and the franchise’s future.
Peninsula may not release on streaming until 2021, but the highly-anticipated sequel to Train to Busan released on VOD platforms on October 27, 2020, after limited theatrical engagements in the United States. Originally released on July 15, 2020 in South Korea, Peninsula follows a group of people who have agreed to take on the dangerous mission of retrieving $20 million that’s on an abandoned truck on the Korean peninsula, which is completely overrun by zombies. After the outbreak that was depicted in Train to Busan continued, both North and South Korea were completely taken over, leaving few survivors behind to contend with massive zombie hoards that remained as a harrowing reminder of the fallen civilization. Set four years after the events of the first movie, Peninsula‘s connection to the original movie isn’t a direct one, but rather a continuation of the event itself and how the zombie virus has spread. None of the characters from Train to Busan return for the sequel, but the spirit of it is felt throughout, and especially in the movie’s ending.
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Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won) leads the charge as the movie’s hero, a man who is haunted by the tragic loss he experienced four years before when he was trying to safely lead members of his family – his nephew, sister, and brother-in-law – to safety in Hong Kong. Only Jung-Seok and his brother-in-law, Chul-min, survived of their immediate group after the zombie virus infected several passengers on board their ship. After Chul-min and Jung-Seok sign up for the money retrieval mission, they get swept up in the civilization that has developed there. The peninsula is run by a lawless militia who see outsiders as “wild dogs” to be hunted and pitted against zombies for entertainment, proving zombies aren’t the only threat now. They end up in a fight for their lives – and the cash. Here’s what happens in Peninsula‘s ending, and what it means for the prospect of Train to Busan 3.
What Happened In Train To Busan: Peninsula’s Ending
Jung-Seok and his new companions, Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun), Joon-i (Lee Re), and Yu-jin (Lee Ye-won) make a final attempt to escape the zombie hoard after they see a UN medic helicopter trying to make a landing on the Korean peninsula. At first, Min-jung begs Jung-Seok to repay her daughters’ kindness – they saved his life earlier in the movie – by ensuring that they made it to the helicopter, no matter what. Since Min-jung got injured in a shootout with Captain Seo, (Koo Kyo-hwan) she wasn’t able to move as efficiently or run as fast — it was more important to her that her daughters survived and got off the peninsula. In fact, Min-jung caused a diversion by getting into a truck and blaring the horn, as the zombies are easily distracted by and drawn to both noise and light, which is an interesting take on the traditional zombie lore. Her intention was to distract the zombies, then kill herself.
Jung-Seok realized what she was attempting to do, and risked his own life to get them all to safety, together. Because he had experienced so much familial loss, Jung-Seok knew that it was his duty to keep a family together at all costs, even if he died and ended up joining his own as a result. It was a final act of heroism that finally allowed Jung-Seok to save someone he cared for: he couldn’t save his sister and nephew, couldn’t save his brother-in-law, and couldn’t save Elder Kim. However, he could finally put himself in a position to ensure no more people had to suffer the same profound losses.
Most importantly, the survivors ended up getting rescued by a woman named Jane (Bella Rahim). This was a fun twist, as Major Jane had been referred to by Elder Kim (Kwon Hae-ho), Min-jung’s father and the girls’ grandfather, who succumbed to his wounds and died just before the rest of the group made their final attempt escape. Jane’s appearance was confirmation that Elder Kim had been speaking to a real person the whole time rather than suffering delusions due to age, stress, or even PTSD. Her appearance was a bittersweet moment that opened up the chance at a hopeful future for those who made it off the peninsula.
Where Are The Survivors Heading Next?
Since the helicopter was a UN CH-47 from Malaysia, it can be assumed that the survivors are heading back there. Min-jung, Joon-i, and Yu-jin are likely Korean natives – either from North or South Korea – just like Jung-Seok, but they were never taken to a secondary location after the outbreak. Therefore, they’re most certainly refugees, and homeless, since they left everything they once knew behind for a chance at a new life. Jung-Seok was part of the military during the initial outbreak, and ended up in Hong Kong with his brother-in-law, but wouldn’t have necessarily stayed in the service after being moved. Since he was looking for work and volunteered for the mission to obtain the $20 million, he likely needed something to start over somewhere else; that was what he had discussed with Chul-min. Both men wanted to put the past behind them and use their share of the money to finally rebuild and try to work past everything they’d lost.
However, Jung-Seok and Chul-min were both clearly struggling in Hong Kong to make ends meet — they were living a refugee lifestyle there, and were essentially homeless as well. Being displaced is never easy, and it’s difficult to think of never being able to return home again, which seems to be the case. As far as the world seems to be concerned, Korea is a lost cause and the entire peninsula is to be abandoned and, in time, forgotten as a wasteland. It’s unclear whether the zombies will ever naturally die out or decompose completely — both Train to Busan and Peninsula don’t spend much time explaining the various inner workings of the zombie virus, how it spreads, or what happens to zombies over time.
However, since it’s been four years since the initial outbreak, and – as depicted by Peninsula‘s trailer – full societal collapse happened quickly, it’s possible that the zombies could continue to survive and pose a threat for years to come. Therefore, it’s likely the survivors will have to start over again in Malaysia, where hopefully they’ll find more accommodating surroundings than what was available for other refugees. The $20 million was left behind on the truck and went unclaimed so, whatever future the survivors are planning to start, they’ll have to carve out for themselves without that financial boost. While it’s certainly disappointing, especially what Jung-Seok lost in order to obtain the money, the survivors seemed to feel that family is all the wealth one truly needs to be rich.
How Peninsula’s Ending Mirrors Train To Busan’s
In Train to Busan‘s ending, Su-an (Kim Su-an) and a pregnant Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi) are the only two survivors — Su-an lost her father and Seong-kyeong lost her husband. All they had was each other, and the chance to rebuild for a better future. Due to Su-an’s singing, the military forces that were set up and prepared to unload on any zombies that came out of the tunnel recognized them as humans and not a threat, so they were rescued. This ending mirrors Peninsula‘s in a few ways. First, the survivors are recognized by military forces and taken to the safety of an unknown future. Second, the ending is bittersweet because everyone has lost people who are dear to them and are grateful, though slightly torn, about their own survival. Finally, the fact that children survived the unspeakable horrors in both zombie movies presents an ongoing theme — the next generation will save the current, and a culture or society’s youth are the future, no matter how bad or dire the past has been.
Korea will have to rebuild, or be left to decompose completely, but the survivors will carve out potential for whatever life they want for themselves. While the ending of Peninsula does mirror Train to Busan‘s, it finishes on a much more optimistic note. Both families have experienced separation from their loved ones, but it’s possible that they’ll end up forming a family unit of their own to honor that loss. Trauma and hardship tends to bond people, and in cases where a group of strangers would sacrifice themselves to see someone else to safety, it’s clear there’s already a bond building, which might strengthen once they get settled in their new location and get the chance to distance themselves from the past enough to start over. As of this writing, there’s no word on a possible Train to Busan 3, but given how mysterious the zombie virus is after two movies, perhaps a prequel would be the best future approach.
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