Zombieverse (L to R) Ro Hong-chul, Yiombi Patricia, Lee Si-young, DinDin in Zombieverse

As a Former Haunted House Zombie, I Can’t Believe ‘Zombieverse’ Did This

The hordes are coming to get you, Seoul!
Zombieverse (L to R) Ro Hong-chul, Yiombi Patricia, Lee Si-young, DinDin in Zombieverse
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It’s nonfiction science-fiction. In the new Netflix series Zombieverse, Seoul has been overrun by an undead horde, and a group of famous contestants must work together to complete difficult quests for survival after they become unwitting prey in the zombie apocalypse.

Zombieverse‘s premise is like another Netflix favorite, Too Hot To Handle, in which contestants are told that they are signing up to appear in one type of reality series, only to discover in the first episode that they are embarking on a much different journey. Likewise, in the new series, a group of unsuspecting celebrities congregate behind the scenes of what they believe is a dating show—Love Hunter—only to discover they’ve been dropped into a world where zombies are real. 

When one of the Love Hunter contestants devours her date in the first episode, the bitten man quickly turns into a zombie—and he’s not just any ol’ shambler, but a fast-moving zombie (yes, the contestants do have to figure out slow versus fast zombies to survive). The worst! As the Love Hunter production team runs to tell the BTS onlookers they must exit the set, the just-turned-male zombie bites the crew person’s neck, causing the celebrities to scramble for the exit. As the Zombieverse celebrity participants run into the streets, an on-screen narration alerts viewers that the series is unscripted: “The quest begins. First quest: escape the area where the zombies appeared. Watch how these five act in an unscripted situation.”

As a former haunted house zombie actor, I can tell you that the show’s set is basically Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights on steroids. And to be honest, I’m surprised anyone survived a Halloween Horror Nights experience that they did not agree to. From my years of shambling and haunt sliding, I have seen people’s varied reactions to haunted house scares—from laughing to sobbing to urinating to vomiting—all of which occurred with people’s consent. However, the celebrities cast in Zombieverse are unwitting contestants, which gives me pause. I hope the contestants were seriously vetted before being cast in the show so that the showrunners knew they could handle the surprise scares without harming themselves.

Who are all the contestants in Zombieverse?

Zombieverse zombies

According to Netflix, “Zombieverse sets itself apart from traditional shows by placing its participants in the midst of a real-life zombie apocalypse, where every move, decision, and survival tactic is unscripted. This fresh approach to the genre guarantees an exhilarating and unpredictable viewing experience, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. As the cast navigates the post-apocalyptic world, viewers will be enthralled by the authentic reactions and genuine emotions, making Zombieverse a true test of survival instincts.”

Beyond the thrilling action, Zombieverse delves deep into the human psyche, allowing viewers to witness each contestant’s unique characteristics and personalities unfold while they react to the challenges of living through a zombie apocalypse. While no one goes full-on Lord of the Flies, the cast displays some classic us-versus-them behavior any amateur social psychologist would predict.

Starring in Zombieverse is a formidable lineup of Korea’s most sought-after variety show stars, including:

  • Lee Si-young, a South Korean amateur boxer and actor in Sweet Home
  • Ro Hong-chul, a co-host of the variety show Talents for Sale
  • Dex, a participant in Single’s Inferno
  • Park Na-rae, a comedian and DJ
  • DinDin, a rapper, radio personality, and regular reality show contestant
  • Tsuki, a member of the girl group Billlie and a former member of the Japanese girl group 7+ME LINK and its sub-unit MAGICOUR
  • Yoo Hee-kwan, a starting pitcher for the Doosan Bears of the KBO League
  • Yiombi Jonathan, the second son of Patrick Thona Yiombi, a former politician and diplomat of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and King of Mask Singer contestant
  • Yiombi Patricia, an actress and Jonathan’s sister
  • Kwachu Hyung (a.k.a. Hong Seong-woo, a YouTube-famous urologist)

As mentioned above, despite being filled to the brim with famous Korean personalities, Zombieverse is mostly not fictionalized. Although the show’s apocalypse takes place on a haunted house-like set in Seoul and the action is staged, the contestants’ reactions are not.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rebecca Oliver Kaplan
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he) is a comics critic and entertainment writer, who's dipping her toes into new types of reporting at The Mary Sue and is stoked. In 2023, he was part of the PanelxPanel comics criticism team honored with an Eisner Award. You can find some more of his writing at Prism Comics, StarTrek.com, Comics Beat, Geek Girl Authority, and in Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority, which she co-authored with her wife, Avery Kaplan. Rebecca and her wife live in the California mountains with a herd of cats.