‘Train to Busan’ needs no introduction. It is one of the first South Korean zombie movies but it is also one of the most successful zombie movies in the world. Another thing that needs no introduction is Yong-suk, who is the most hated character in the movie.
But what if I tell you that he did nothing wrong? In fact, you might be doing the same thing in his situation.
Yong-suk is actually applying a philosophical concept known as ‘utilitarianism’. Utilitarianism is a belief that states an action is considered right if it benefits most people. In other words, the more people gain the benefits, the more likely an action is considered to be correct.
In the movie, we can see that a group of survivors just experienced one of the most horrifying events of their lives. Just when they settled in one of the train’s cars, a character named Jin-hee states that her friends, along with other survivors are coming to the same car. This is when Yong-suk steps in and influences everyone should stop Jin-hee’s friends from entering the car.
In the next heartbreaking scene, Seok-Woo and other survivors try to enter the car. The people from Yong-suk’s car are trying to stop them. Sang-Hwa sacrifices himself, stalling the zombies long enough for them to get into the car.
This scene was so well-directed. It manages to invoke so many emotions. The tension and the stakes can be felt. We desperately want Yong-suk and Sang-Hwa to survive, scared of the incoming zombies, and also hate the people from Yong-Suk’s car for prohibiting them from entering. And lastly, Sang-Hwa’s death is sorrowful.
As heartbreaking as this scene is, Yong-suk’s action is justifiable.
What is the guarantee that Seok-Woo and other survivors could go through all of the cars filled with zombies without being bitten?
Of course, from the audience’s perspective, we know that Seok-Woo and the other survivors are not bitten, but the people in Yong-Suk’s car, can’t risk everything by letting them in.
There are six people in Seok-Woo’s team. And there are more than 30 people in Yong-Suk’s car. By applying utilitarianism, the best decision is to stop Seok-Woo’s team from entering the car. We can’t save everyone in this situation. Risking 30 lives is not worth saving 6 lives.
If we fail at convincing you, then the real person who wins this situation is the director, Yeon Sang-Ho. This guy is so talented in directing scenes and making us completely attached to the characters that it invokes the audience’s emotions so much that we tend to disregard utilitarianism.
The only reason we were rooting for Seok-Woo’s survivorship was because he is the main character. If we were in Seok-Woo’s situation, after witnessing many deaths, we might be doing the same thing, if not worse. We need to understand, that in a zombie apocalypse like this, people are left with two options; to be a saint or to survive.