‘Train to Busan’ by director Yeon Sang-ho is a 2016 South Korean horror-thriller that takes us on a riveting train ride through the zombie apocalypse. The plot centers on Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a workaholic and distant father, who boards a high-speed train with his daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an), to visit her mother in Busan. The seemingly routine journey takes a terrifying turn when a mysterious viral outbreak engulfs the country, turning people into violent zombies. As chaos ensues within the confines of the train, a disparate group of passengers must band together to fend off the relentless undead and navigate through the confined spaces.
The film masterfully combines heart-pounding action with themes of morality and class struggle in its undertones. The claustrophobic setting of the Busan-bound train intensifies the suspense, creating a unique and thrilling zombie narrative. Given its compelling setting and the increasingly chaotic landscape witnessed throughout the movie, some may find themselves inclined to investigate the filming spots behind the sensation.
Where Was Train to Busan Filmed?
‘Train to Busan’ was largely filmed on-location across railway stations in Seoul, Cheonan, Daejeon, and Daegu, with a few scenes filmed in a studio in South Korea. Principal photography was carried out between April 26, 2015, and August 18, 2015. Allow us to take you through the locations used for the creation of the zombie thriller flick.
Seoul, South Korea
The film starts at Seoul Station, where all the characters are introduced and their journey begins. Exterior shots of Souel and the station itself were used for the film. The high-speed KTX train and several others can be seen resting on the platforms of the busy transport hub. As the train is shown departing Seoul Station, the narrative kicks into gear with the proliferation of zombies throughout its coaches. A studio was utilized to create most of the scenes taking place inside the train. The railcar was constructed in the studio, and outside scenery during shots was simulated using an LED plate rear screen technique. Shooting for such pivotal sequences was carried out in the controlled environment of a studio, to allow simulation of lighting and varying surrounding environments.
Daejeon, South Korea
Situated in the heart of Daejeon, Daejeon Station serves as the first stop on the characters’ journey in the film, where they deboard the train but find the city overrun by undead hordes, which rush into the station. As a central transportation hub, Daejeon Station not only contributes to the efficient movement of people but also serves as a focal point for exploring the diverse attractions and cultural offerings in and around Daejeon.
Daegu, South Korea
When the train’s path is blocked with debris and the survivors have to switch locomotives, their backdrop is that of Dongdaegu Station in the Dong District of Daegu. While shooting was carried out on location, many elements of CGI were uses to simulate scenes of landscape destruction surrounding the station. The railway station is the site for some of the most suspenseful and thrilling sequences in the film, as well as its emotional moments.
Gong Yoo, who essays the protagonist, faced difficulty in shooting action scenes involving zombies. “I’ve filmed realistic action films before so I thought they were doable, but fighting with the zombies was extremely complicated,” he said. “Even if I try to match their movements, their bodies are always convulsing and their arms twisted, so when they attack it’s hard to take it from the receiving end. It’s also difficult to figure out where to hit them during fight scenes because zombies are always moving.”
Cheonan, South Korea
In the movie, the Cheonan-Asan Station, situated in Cheonan, is depicted as one of the stops along the train journey from Seoul to Busan. The city is known for its natural luster and cultural sites, home to the Gagwonsa Temple and the Independence Hall of Korea. The location provided a quieter and contrasting stop for the film in comparison to its densely urban first half.
Busan, South Korea
Located on the southeast coast of South Korea, the port city of Busan became the final destination for the survivors in the film. Besides exterior shots of the 2nd largest city in the country, The film crew made use of Bujeon Station in downtown Seomyeon to lens a few sequences.
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