Train To Busan (2016 Zombie Film)

I decided instead of reaching and fudging some points, I’m going to leave them open for other folks to suggest ideas or until I can rewatch.


Domain (Universe) -

  • Sang-hwa is an expecting father.
  • Su-an is Seok-woo’s daughter
    Concern (Future) -
  • Sang-hwa has a baby on the way, which makes him try to be a great father/husband.
  • Seok-woo’s mother tells him he should fix his marriage for Su-an’s sake, concerned about how having divorced parents will affect her life.
    Problem (Help) - Both Sang-hwa and Su-an are driven to help others.
  • Sang-hwa is super doting and attentive to his wife and always jumps in to help everyone
  • Su-an helps the old woman by giving up her seat. As a child she’s generally helpless in the film, which forces Seok-woo to help her.
    Solution (Hinder) - Early in the film, Su-an tells her dad she’ll not be a burden on him, and go on the train herself. If she got her way, it would end all influence she has on him the rest of the film, and he would never meet Co-IC Sang-hwa.
    Symptom (Uncontrolled) - Need examples
    Response (Control) - Sang-hwa exerts control by controlling the environment for his wife, holding doors closed, punching out zombies with his bare hands, and finally becoming a human barricade.

Benchmark (Progress) - Need examples
Unique Ability (Openness) - Su-an and Sang-hwa have a lack of openness when it comes to their beliefs. Unlike everyone else in Seok-woo’s life (analyst Kim/his mother) who seem to roll over for him, their unwillingness to re-evaluate makes them uniquely able to influence him.
Critical Flaw (Denial) - Need examples


Present - Su-an is extremely unhappy living with her father. She wants to leave to see her mother immediately. Seok-woo agrees to take her to Busan, forcing him to miss work.
Past - Sang-hwa demands that Seok-woo apologize for what he did, but he insists he was in the right to lock them out.
Progress - After being bit, and now turning into a zombie, Sang-hwa gives his life to slow the advancing zombies and buy everyone time to break into the next car.
Future - Seok-woo’s final act of sacrifice is so that Su-an and Sang-hwa’s wife can live on. Knowing they won’t have future if he doesn’t act drives everything he does in the last act.

This one is a doozy. i have ideas for some of the empty spots, but it’s hard to frame them in terms of the relationship and not the people in the relationship. Also need to clear up how some of these story points actually play out in the throughline theoretically.


Domain (Psychology)
Concern (Becoming) -

  • The cheerleader/baseball player relationship struggles with becoming something more.
  • Seok-woo / Sang-hwa’s relationship struggles with becoming a functioning team.
  • The father/daughter relationship struggles to become something more than an afterthought.
    Issue (Commitment) - Seok-woo is not committed to being a father. He breaks his commitment to be at Su-an’s recital.
    Problem (Temptation)
    *The cheerleader waltzing into the car with her skirt, and snuggling up next to the baseball player creates conflict in the relationship.
  • The father’s attempts to take the easy way out of things creates conflict in the father/daughter relationship.
    Solution (Conscience)
  • The cheerleader/baseball player relationship is resolved when he stays with her in her final moments leading to them both becoming zombies.
  • Sang-hwa/Seok-woo’s relationship is resolved with Sang-wha sacrificing himself, and Seok-woo agreeing to protect Sang-hwa’s wife.
  • The Father/Daughter relationship is resolved by Seok-woo making the hard decision to sacrifice himself to save everyone else.
    Symptom (Uncontrolled) - Need examples
    Response (Control) - Need examples

Benchmark (Being) - The relationships are all measured in terms of being there for each other.

  • The father being there for the daughter.
  • Seok-woo / Sang-hwa having each other’s backs.
  • The cheerleader choosing to be with the baseball player when he’s kicked out of the CEO’s car.
    Catalyst (Rationalization) - Need examples
    Inhibitor (Attitude) - Need examples


Becoming - The father / daughter relationship is stagnant, an afterthought, and they are growing apart.
Conceptualizing - The father/daughter relationship is pushed apart by the scheme to ditch everyone else on the train.
Being - All the relationships grow closer together when they’re finally reunited after being separated.
Conceiving - The father/daughter relationship finally gets the idea that it’s always there even if they’re not together.

Yes, it’s about how Seok-woo looks at his daughter’s future.

More to the point about Sang-hwa is that he helps EVERYONE. He is the one trying to lock the door, for instance.

You actually don’t need examples here. This is not a change character, so you don’t see this.

Because this is a horror movie, the storyform/meaning is not really the priority. So these may not even be in there.

I think it’s as simple as “Seok-woo is not a committed father.”

This feels like a stretch to me. But I think that’s relevant because that is how they ended this relationship—and it felt like a dumb moment. He would have run, and didn’t. Totally broke me out of the story when this happened. But the filmmakers didn’t have many other options. He couldn’t sacrifice himself—the homeless guy does, and Sang-hwa does too. This would have been one moment of Conscious too far.

I think it’s like Anti-Becoming: they recognize the breakdown in the family.

And Seok-woo finally gives over to being a father, and makes the heartfelt promise to get her to her mother.

Very true. Will add that.

Absolutely. i was trying to think of examples of hinder stopping the influence on Seok-woo, but couldn’t pull anything from memory. It’s probably not encoded at all.

Right. Also, the cheerleader wants the baseball player to commit to the relationship / baseball player doesn’t want to commit to it.

I agree. I think it could’ve been stronger if he was tempted to leave her, but she begged him to stay. The relationship isn’t developed to the point where you feel like he’d decide to stay with her on his own.

Great examples. Will add these.

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I actually realized there is an example of this.

Early in the movie when Su-an wants to leave, she makes a big deal about how she doesn’t want to be a bother, she can go by herself.

If she went alone, so as not to be a burden, then no more Su-an, no meeting Sang-head and no movie. :smile:

I don’t think so. If hinder worked here, then Seok-woo would not have said, “I’ll take you.”

Sorry you missed the convo.


Quite alright. The day it got rolling was also the day that my family was dealing with stomach bugs and a several hours long wait at the ER to get a 4 yr old stitched up. We’re all good now and I enjoyed catching up on it afterward.


Yikes! Glad to hear everyone is better now.

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How would this apply to something like Silence of the Lambs where the OS Universe is ‘killer on the loose’? I suppose the strict border there would just be the cell walls? Or is there maybe something in the movie that suggests the killer is only operating in a particular city?

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In some OS Universe stories, there is just something wrong (stuck) with the universe without it being specific to any location. So yeah, killer on the loose, or innocent man found guilty (The Fugitive).

I think Mike’s comment was referring to this story.


He was referring to this story specifically. That said, I could see a strong argument for the OS Physics and RS Psychology domains in Silence of the Lambs. (Clarice and Hannibal’s mind games go both ways.)

I think it’s an older analysis and there’s no way to see that thought process that went into those choices.

Anyone up for a rewatch and a new thread to see how we feel about the analysis?

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In that case the question would be why does this story need a border? Couldn’t ‘killer on the loose’ be translated into ‘zombies on the loose’? Or even just ‘zombies exist’?

I suppose for this story the answer would be ‘yes, but that’s not this story’ and it’s not that moving zombies mean it can’t be Universe, but rather that moving zombies is part of the context that puts this in Physics instead of Universe. Fair enough. Just thought there might potentially be some deeper Understanding lurking in the corners I could try to chase down.

My question wasn’t about this movie, by the way, just the nature of a border requirement.

I think the “border” distinction in this case is the conflict isn’t from zombies existing, it’s that they’re actively spreading. The transmission of the infection is an out of control process. Does that help at all?

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For this movie, I get Physics. Zombies attacking is a problem and crossing cars full of zombies is a problem, but when the zombies get locked out, everyone gets a chance to breathe. I’m just thinking of a hypothetical movie where the OS might have roaming zombies as Universe regardless of whether the Concern is Progress or otherwise.

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Me too glad everything turned around.

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That comment was really meant to apply specifically to this movie, since the outbreak is geographic.

The reason many of us prefer Universe over Situation (though Situation is a great way to start wrestling with the concept) is because a killer on the loose is something being off with the Universe.

In that case, being able to shift one thing–capturing the killer–puts the Universe right again.

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Zombies as OS Situation is easily within grasp. It can even be done with a spreading border if you plan for it that way.

I would guess that the book version of I am Legend is OS Situation (though, it’s vampires).

Living in a world where becoming a zombie worked more like a familiar virus (like Polio or the Flu) would be a Situation too.

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Thanks again @MWollaeger. You were super helpful and I learned a lot.