Alive (2020 film)

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Alive 2020.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Revised RomanizationSaraitda
Directed byCho Il-hyung
Screenplay by
  • Cho Il-hyung
  • Matt Naylor
Based onAlone
by Matt Naylor
Produced by
  • Eugene Lee
  • Saemi Kim
  • Saerom Kim
CinematographyWon-ho Son
Edited byMin-kyeong Shin
Music byTae-seong Kim
  • ZIP Cinema
  • Perspective Pictures
Distributed byLotte Entertainment
Release date
  • June 24, 2020 (2020-06-24) (South Korea)
Running time
99 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
Box officeUSD$14.7 million[1]

#Alive (Korean#살아있다; RR#Saraitda) is a 2020 South Korean zombie film directed by Cho Il-hyung.[2] Starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye, it is based on the 2019 script Alone by Matt Naylor (itself becoming another film), who co-adapted his script with Cho. The film revolves around a video game live streamer's struggle for survival as he is forced to stay alone at his apartment in Seoul during a zombie apocalypse. It was released in South Korea on June 24, 2020,[3][4][5][6][7] and globally via Netflix on September 8, 2020.[8] Critics generally gave positive reviews.


Oh Joon-woo is alone in his family's apartment when zombies begin to attack and infect people outside. When he inspects the apartment hallway, a neighbour barges in. He begs to stay, but becomes a zombie and attacks Joon-woo. Joon-woo pushes him out and locks the door, then watches a large zombie attack his neighbour through the peephole. Joon-woo then receives messages from his parents telling him they are safe.

Joon-woo blocks his front door with the fridge and posts a rescue request on social media. By attaching his phone to a drone, he scouts his neighbourhood and realizes it is now overrun. Though the emergency power stays on, Joon-woo gradually loses access to phone networks, the internet, and running water.

One night, Joon-woo sees zombies taking down a police officer outside. He screams at them, leading a zombie to break into the apartment and knock over the fridge, destroying the food. Joon-woo lures it into falling off the balcony. He resorts to drinking liquor to survive, but hallucinates about his family due to hunger and thirst. When the phone network is momentarily restored, Joon-woo receives a voicemail from his family recording their refuge being overrun. His rage causes him to leave the apartment and attack zombies, but when a horde attacks, he flees and barely manages to sneak back inside.

Joon-woo attempts to hang himself, but stops when he sees a laser pointer's light. The signal comes from Kim Yoo-bin, a survivor living in the opposite apartment building. Yoo-bin tries to set up a zip line between their apartments by tying a cable to her table and throwing the other end to Joon-woo, but it lands in the street. Joon-woo uses his drone to set up another line successfully, but an infected firefighter pulls on the first cable, causing Yoo-bin's table to fly across her apartment, knock her out, and lodge into her balcony railing. The zombie starts climbing the cable. Joon-woo distracts him by sacrificing his drone, giving Yoo-bin enough time to wake up and kill the zombie.

Joon-woo raids his neighbour's unit for food, clothing, and walkie-talkies, narrowly avoiding his zombified neighbour. He sends a walkie-talkie to Yoo-bin, and the two talk and bond. Suddenly, the infected hordes become agitated and a nervous Yoo-bin accidentally knocks over a shelf. The noise causes zombies to converge at her door. Joon-woo distracts them by calling the unit adjacent to hers.

Yoo-bin says the 8th floor of Joon-woo's apartment looks empty. The pair gear up, rappel from their balconies, and fight their way to the 8th floor, but the doors are locked and the zombies have followed them. Suddenly, a stranger emerges from the last suite on the floor and saves them. He gives them food and water, but it is drugged, and Joon-woo falls asleep. The stranger binds the pair's wrists and locks Yoo-bin in a bedroom with his restrained, infected wife. Joon-woo wakes up and threatens the stranger, but he releases his wife's restraints from outside the bedroom. Once Yoo-bin goes silent, the stranger opens the bedroom door, only to find Yoo-bin managed to wrap the infected wife's head in fabric. The infected wife attacks her husband, and Yoo-bin shoots them both.

The gunshots attract more zombies. Yoo-bin asks Joon-woo to kill her before they get in. As he hesitates, they hear helicopters outside. The pair rush to the rooftop, chased by the infected. Just before they are overwhelmed, an army helicopter holds off the zombies and carries the pair to safety. A voiceover by an anchor explains wireless networks are being restored and the military is rescuing survivors who made social media posts. The film ends with Joon-woo's social media post's hashtag "#StayAlive" changing its wording to "#Alive".


  • Yoo Ah-in as Oh Joon-woo, a gamer who struggles to survive a zombie outbreak. He almost hangs himself after hearing his family killed by zombies, but he finds new hope after knowing there is another survivor called Yoo-bin.
  • Park Shin-hye as Kim Yoo-bin, a mysterious lady who helps Joon-woo survive. She frequently kills zombies who trespass her house using her hand axe and booby-trapped door.
  • Jeon Bae-soo as a masked man who saves Joon-woo and Yoo-bin but wants to feed them to his zombified wife.
  • Lee Hyun-wook as Lee Sang-chul, the infected tenant whom Joon-woo lets in.
  • Oh Hye-won as the policewoman who is turned into a zombie by the infected.
  • Jin So-yeon as Elena Kim
  • Lee Chae-kyung as the zombified wife of the masked man



#Alive is a zombie thriller[9] based on the original script "#Alone" of Hollywood screenwriter Matt Naylor, who worked on the American documentary series Small Business Revolution: Main Street and the short film What It’s Like. Director Cho Il-hyung (also known as Il Cho) and Naylor adapted the screenplay together for the Korean market.[10][3] In 2019, ZIP Cinema and U.S producer, Perspective Pictures, joined the production with Lotte Entertainment distributing the film.


On July 11, 2019, Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye joined the cast,[11] followed by Lee Hyun-wook on September 16.[12] The read-through of the script occurred on September 27, 2019.


Principal photography began on October 1, 2019. Filming took place in Gunsan and wrapped up on December 12, 2019.[13]


The full musical score was composed by Kim Tae-sung which he co-arranged with Choi Jung-in, Shin Hyun-pil, Park Sang-woo and Yoo Chae-young.[14]

Songs not featured on the official soundtrack:[15]

  • Break by Beenzino
  • Sail by Inni
  • #Alive by Inni


The film was released in South Korea on June 24, 2020.[16][17][18] In May, an Instagram account for the character Oh Joon-woo was created to promote the film.[19] In August, Netflix acquired the international distribution rights to the film, which was later released worldwide on September 8, 2020.[20][8]


Box office[edit]

On its opening day in South Korea, #Alive drew in a total of 204,071 viewers and took 62% of the box office, marking the highest first-day viewership of any film since February 2020 after the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea.[21][22][23] It held the highest number of first-day admissions next to The Man Standing Next.[24][25]

On the fifth day of its release, #Alive surpassed 1 million admissions, and during the first weekend of its release, it garnered 1,001,802 viewers, securing the first place at the box office for its first weekend. It became the first film to surpass 1 million since February 2020.[26] It also ranked first at the box office for the first three weekends, and has achieved over 1,903,992 admissions in South Korea as of December 2020.[27][28][29]

The film premiered on Netflix on 8 September 2020, and two days after release, it achieved global first place on the platform. #Alive topped the Netflix daily chart in 35 countries, including the United States, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia, Australia, Pakistan, and Canada. It became the first Korean film to top Netflix Movies Worldwide chart.[30][31] By December 2020, #Alive was in the top 10 list in 90 countries, making it one of the most-loved titles globally on Netflix in 2020 and also the most popular horror title of 2020 across Asia.[32][33][34]

Critical response[edit]

On Korean review aggregator Naver Movie Database, the film holds an approval rating of 7.09 from critic reviews.[35] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 88% and an average rating of 6.6/10, based on 24 reviews. The consensus says "Well-acted, genuinely unsettling, and occasionally even funny, #Alive proves the crowded zombie genre still has fresh stories to tell."[36]

Marian Phillips from Screen Rant wrote, "#Alive accurately captures the same panic, fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and isolation experienced by many during the pandemic's early days. [...] By taking a concept unfamiliar to the sub-genre, #Alive transforms how zombie movies can be handled as well as providing an exploration of the different circumstances individuals find themselves when dealing with the apocalypse."[37] Anthony Kao from Cinema Escapist suggested, "#Alive is an entertaining zombie flick that seems tailor-made for the time of coronavirus. [...] On top of its empathetic and socially relevant depiction of the Korean millennial condition, #Alive presents a narrative that feels unpretentious and accessibly entertaining."[38] The New York Times' Elisabeth Vincentelli concluded, "#Alive is a nifty little thriller that proves that you can always find signs of life in the most undead of genres. And the finale, far-fetched as it is, suggests that even a society atomized by isolation can find a connection".[39]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards Category Recipient Result Ref.
2020 Cine 21 Awards Best Actor Yoo Ah-in Won [40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "#ALIVE (2020)". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  2. ^ Choi, Ji-won (May 27, 2020). "Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-hye team up in zombie horror film '#Alive'". The Korea Herald. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "충무로 배급사들 신작 개봉 시기 놓고 저울질". Sports Khan (in Korean). May 7, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  4. ^ "유아인X박신혜 '#살아있다' 6월 말 개봉확정…런칭포스터 2종 공개". The Korea Herald (in Korean). May 18, 2020.
  5. ^ "Despite appearances, #Alive is most definitely not a zombie movie". Korea JoongAng Daily. May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ "Korean zombies will make you feel '#Alive'". Korea Herald. June 16, 2020.
  7. ^ "In '#Alive,' two survivors struggle to escape zombie-hit homes". Korea Times. June 16, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "#Alive Starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye, Confirmed for September 8 Release on Netflix". Netflix Media Center. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "유아인X박신혜 '#살아있다' 6월 말 개봉확정…런칭포스터 2종 공개". Korea Herald (in Korean). May 18, 2020.
  10. ^ "#ALONE". Perspective Pictures. 2019.
  11. ^ Conran, Pierce (July 18, 2019). "Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye Sign on to #Alone". Korean Film Council. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  12. ^ "[단독]'타인은 지옥이다' 이현욱, '#ALONE' 캐스팅..유아인X박신혜 호흡". Asiae (in Korean). September 15, 2019. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  13. ^ "박신혜, 영화 얼론(ALONE) 촬영 모습 공개… "군산에 사랑가득했던"". Newswork (in Korean). January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  14. ^ "#살아있다 - 한국영화데이터베이스". (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  15. ^ "#살아있다 크레디트 - 한국영화데이터베이스". (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  16. ^ "코로나19 이후 '얼론' '반도' 재난 영화 몰려온다". Yonhap (in Korean). April 15, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  17. ^ "Zombie Thriller Starring Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-hye Due out Next Month". The Chosun Ilbo. May 20, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  18. ^ Kim, Ji-hye (May 27, 2020). "유아인X박신혜 '#살아있다', 6월 24일 개봉 확정". SBS Fune (in Korean). Archived from the original on July 10, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  19. ^ Schwartz, William. ""#ALIVE" Character Receives his Own Social Media Account in Marketing Push". HanCinema. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  20. ^ Fox, Sarah (August 25, 2020). "Park Shin-hye's Zombie Thriller '#Alive' Sets Netflix Premiere". The Slanted. Archived from the original on August 28, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  21. ^ "'유아인 원맨쇼 통했나' #살아있다 개봉 첫날 20만…코로나 극장가 활기" (in Korean). Hankyung. June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  22. ^ Liem, Vivien (June 26, 2020). "Ahead of 'Peninsula', another zombie thriller dominates South Korean box office". The Star.
  23. ^ "Zombie flick '#ALIVE' sells more than 200,000 tickets on opening day". The Korea Times. June 25, 2020.
  24. ^ "#살아있다, 개봉 첫날 20만 동원…코로나19 사태 후 최고 오프닝" (in Korean). Aju News. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Movie lovers start to return to theaters thanks to '#Alive'". Joongang Daily. June 25, 2020.
  26. ^ "[공식] '#살아있다', 코로나19 속 개봉 5일만 100만 돌파…'유아인X박신혜 특별한 감사 인사'" (in Korean). My Daily. June 28, 2020.
  27. ^ "유아인X박신혜 '#살아있다', 손익분기점 돌파…VOD 서비스 1위" (in Korean). Joy News24. August 4, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  28. ^ "#ALIVE (2020)". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  29. ^ "[HanCinema's News] "#ALIVE" Opens on South Korean VOD Services". HanCinema. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  30. ^ Yeon-soo, Kwak (September 11, 2020). "Zombie thriller '#Alive' becomes Netflix's most popular film". Korea Times. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  31. ^ "'#살아있다' 넷플릭스 글로벌 차트 1위 '돌풍' 韓영화 최초". Newsen. September 11, 2020. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  32. ^ "What Asia Watched in 2020" (Press release). Netflix. December 9, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  33. ^ Kay, Jeremy (December 10, 2020). "Viewing of foreign-language content on Netflix leaps 50% in 2020". Screen Daily. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  34. ^ Grater, Tom (December 10, 2020). "Netflix Unveils Its Most-Watched International Series & Films In America: 'The Platform' & 'Barbarians' Top Lists Also Featuring 'Cuties', 'Money Heist', 'Dark'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  35. ^ "#살아있다". Naver 영화.
  36. ^ "#Alive (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  37. ^ Marian, Phillips (September 11, 2020). "#Alive: Why This Korean Zombie Movie Is Number One On Netflix Worldwide". Screen Rant. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  38. ^ Anthony, Kao (September 8, 2020). "Review: Korea's "#Alive" Is a Perfect Zombie Movie for the Coronavirus Era". Cinema Escapist. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  39. ^ Elisabeth, Vincentelli (September 11, 2020). "'#Alive' Review: From Great Graphics, to Graphic". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  40. ^ "[스페셜] '씨네21'이 선정한 올해의 영화인①". Cine 21 (in Korean). 31 December 2020.

External links[edit]