In 2021, the Korean survival drama squid game shattered all expectations when it won over global Netflix audiences. Its shocking plot and relatable themes have made the series a must-watch. Corn squid game had a significant problem – it often treated its female characters as passives. The concept, while somewhat realistic, left a sour taste in the mouths of many viewers, especially after the gruesome death of fan-favorite Kang Sae-byeok.
In this sense, the latest Korean hit, we are all dead is an improvement over squid game. While many male characters act as protectors of the group, female characters are real assets in their own right and often provide the solution to seemingly inescapable predicaments. Without them, the students of Hyosan High probably wouldn’t have survived.
ten Hyo-Ryung survives until the end thanks to a stroke of luck
If one had to describe Seo Hyo-ryung in one word, it would be “normal.” Hyo-ryung has no special talents or exceptional qualities. Her reactions to a zombie apocalypse are in line with what an ordinary teenager would do in this situation.
In a group filled with much more dynamic personalities, she doesn’t particularly stand out, though she does her best to support her friends in her own way. Ironically, she survives the entire ordeal, which helps her grow as a character and gives her strength.
9 Ji-Min watches her parents die and leaves her friend behind
Some of the series’ saddest moments involve the students having to deal with their transformed loved ones. One such example is Kim Ji-min. When the high schoolers send in a drone to investigate the outside world, Ji-min notices her parents’ truck right outside the school gates.
After seeing them as zombies, she attempts suicide. Her friends stop her and she continues to fight. Unfortunately, as they escape from school, a tragedy occurs. The group is separated in the dark. When Hyo-rung trips and falls, Ji-min leaves her friend in a panic. She is then ambushed by a zombie and killed.
8 Na-Yeon doesn’t really have a chance to redeem herself
Originally a member of the survivor group, Lee Na-Yeon is a privileged wealthy girl who looks down on others for their social and financial status. A favorite target of her vitriol is Han Gyeong-su, whom she calls a “welfie”. When the outbreak begins, she accuses him of being bitten by a zombie. As this turns out to be wrong, she infects him herself with zombie blood. Once her actions are discovered, she leaves the group.
Despite the fact that Na-yeon is a murderess, the character is much more complex than it seems. Actress Lee Yoo-mi’s brilliant portrayal shows Na-yeon as a vulnerable and lonely girl who ultimately tries to reach out to the remaining survivors. It’s her depth that elevates Na-yeon as a character, even if she’s killed before she can have a real chance to redeem herself.
seven Park Sun-Hwa is the only teacher at Hyosan High School who cares about the students
The teachers at Hyosan High exemplify the biggest problems in Korean society and education, including academic pressure and bullying. As a result, most are indifferent and practically abusive characters. One of the only exceptions is English teacher Park Sun-hwa. She survives the first wave of infections and the first thing she does is reach out to students and encourage them to find shelter.
Her affection for the children in her care makes her an almost maternal figure. This impression is reinforced when, after Na-yeon leaves the group of survivors, Sun-hwa follows him. She saves the distressed young woman, at the cost of her own life, and with her last words, tells Na-yeon not to blame herself.
6 Hee-Su is a brief but memorable presence
Park Hee-su doesn’t play much of a role in the show’s biggest arc, but his presence, however brief, is incredibly memorable. She left school shortly before the start of the epidemic and gave birth in a public toilet. She leaves the baby there but when she goes out, she finds herself surrounded by zombies. Quickly returning to pick up her baby, she does her best to protect the newborn despite the chaos.
Inevitably, she is bitten, but despite realizing her fate, it is for the child that she worries. His last consistent action is to take refuge in the restaurant owned by the protagonist Cheong-san’s family and tie himself up against the door. He saves the baby’s life. Even after turning into a zombie, she cannot harm him, and her presence keeps other creatures out.
5 Eun-Ji illustrates the consequences of bullying and abuse
The Jonas virus that is the basis of the series is actually caused by a very real problem that plagues Korea, and probably most of the world: bullying. Min Eun-ji is a great example of this. Sexually assaulted and constantly harassed, she is on the verge of committing suicide before the outbreak. When she learns that a pornographic video of her is about to be posted on social media, she braves school, desperate to keep her shame from being exposed.
As she is bitten, she ends up turning into a half-zombie. Her anger becomes an even more dangerous form of instability, and she attempts to burn down the school. Later, she assaults and kills the only person who cared about her. His fate is very sad and illustrates the consequences of bullying and abuse.
4 Mi-Jin’s brutal behavior quickly becomes endearing
An older student who takes refuge in the bathroom, Park Mi-jin embraces the zombie outbreak with a candor and aplomb that quickly becomes endearing. She is among the first students to accept the need to cause mortal harm to their fellow students, despite having once been their friends.
She originally clashes with fellow survivor and archery club member Jang Ha-ri, but the two later form a real bond. Mi-jin likes to comment that final exams are worse than the zombie apocalypse, but underneath her gruff exterior, she is very fond of her friends. When some of them inevitably fall into the hands of the zombies, her emotional outbursts exemplify her good heart.
3 Ha-Ri’s skill and level head make her an incredible addition to the group
Like Mi-jin, Ha-ri is an older student. Incredibly passionate about archery, she wants to join the national archery team but fails, crumbling under the pressure. Faced with the crowd of zombies, however, she takes the threat head on.
His arrows still hit home and save many of his friends. Her composure is admirable, and the only time she really falters is when she has to watch her brother Wu-jin turn into a zombie and die.
2 On-Jo is the pillar of support for the group of survivors
The series’ female protagonist, Nam On-jo may not excel at schoolwork, but proves to be a true ace in every other way. Having learned survival tricks from her firefighter father, she puts them to good use for the benefit of the group.
She’s also an incredibly caring person, and it’s in this emotional area that she really shines. Whenever someone experiences a loss, she tries to reassure and comfort them. This makes her the general pillar of support for the group and extremely important to both their morale and survival.
1 Nam-Ra resists a Hambie’s impulses to save his friends
Class President Choi Nam-ra has one of the strongest character arcs in the series. Originally cold and aloof, she gradually begins to bond with others and forms a particularly deep bond with reformed bully Lee Su-hyeok. When Su-hyeok is attacked by antagonist Yoon Gwi-nam, Nam-ra comes to his aid and is bitten. She transforms into a half-zombie like Eun-ji, but despite her often bloodthirsty impulses, she resists them.
She even resorts to harming herself in hopes of not hurting others. His physical strength and intelligence are both key to fighting zombies. But it’s her incredible capacity for growth and affection, as well as her chemistry with Su-hyeok, that makes her the best female character in the series. As she is ultimately forced to leave her friends behind, viewers are really hoping she returns, perhaps as the leader of the hambies.
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