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The Symbol of Zombies: What Do Zombies Represent In Popular Culture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1541 words Published: 18th Oct 2021

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When did zombies become a trend? What does zombie represent in popular culture? Unlike the old days, zombies are very familiar to us. Zombie definition that a zombie (Haitian French: zombi, Habitian Creole: zonbi) is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a nose ("Zombie," n.d.). In modern society, zombies are shown in various ways.
In the past, if he was described as a walking monster, a corpse, or a fear, he is now considered a movie, an advertisement, and a person. So, what does zombie represent in this society? In this essay, I will talk about various symbols of zombie. For example, the symbol of zombie that shows emotions and culture that only they have in Korea, And I want to discuss the social and cultural impact of the media through zombies.

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The History of the Zombie in Pop Culture

Zombie myths can be found in the 17th and 18th centuries. Zombies were perceived as slaves and described as walking dead rather than human beings. As time went by, I believed that the dead body had risen. In the late 1960s, the meaning of zombies began to change as a trend in American pop culture. We could easily meet changed zombies through movies, TV, and books. 
The easiest approach is that people can meet zombies through movies. A common eye can see zombies as violent and cruel. Generally, visual elements through the media cannot be ignored, but the implications within them vary widely. As an element of popular culture, zombies have often expressed the general fear or anxiety that the nation was harboring at the time (The History of the Zombie in Popular Culture, n.d., para. 3). As a representative example, I can watch the movie 28 days later in the movie, the virus-induced contagion was introduced into zombies.

With issues including AID reaching their peak in the early 2000s, fears of a global epidemic were very real, and many other films covered the same subject matter (The History of the Zombie in Popular Culture, n.d., para. 6). For the decades, the symbol of zombie has become more modern, and can be seen as a kind of personality on behalf of the present society. These days zombies have become very familiar friends. We can get close to zombies in movies, cartoons, advertisement and even costumes and makeup.

Korean sentiment 'Han'

What is zombie in Korean society? What do you express through zombies?

In general, zombies represent monsters In the West. But zombies in Korea approached things a little differently. In Korea, the concept of zombie evolved into the "ghost" concept of ‘Han’, a unique emotional concept of Korean culture stemming from the country's historical and geopolitical situations (Chung, 2017, page.1). In other words, it is a zombie expression of human life through one's heart If you are a Western zombie, you attack human beings and their families unconditionally, but in Korea, zombies do not kill human families. Here we can see han, the sentiment of Korea. In other words, it shows typical ghosts in Korea. They also introduce the love and sacrifice of their families to zombies. Through this form, Korean zombies have human nature and contain human emotions. These examples show that zombies in every moment of your life are not only capable of being human but also feeling the deepest human emotions, as evidenced by their personal sacrifices to protect their loved ones (Chung, 2017, page.6). Zombies in Korea describe their attachment to human beings, memories of each other and affection, even though they are dead.

Zombies social impact

If zombies have traditionally expressed themselves as immortal or as visual beings who overwhelm fear, in the 21st century they focus on groups or communities, not on one entity. Such characteristics are common in movies, TV and culture. Most of the main characters represent survival stories that struggle to avoid infection. They can not express their feelings, they don't have them. But through infection, they become a group and also a society. And most of the survivors are in a special social position. That is, talk about social position, social class and social network access through him. For example, we can watch two kinds of movies. The latest film, World War Z, describes zombies as social zombies. Because zombie characteristics are less sociable traits of individuals, and because they are coupled with incidental personality suspensions, zombie social structures are defined as "other" humans other than humans (Wonser & Boyns, 2016, page. 634). We can also find it in Kingdom Korean movies. Here zombies show social class and discrimination. The clothes of the nobles determine their position. The nobility decides that it is the best course of action to distinguish the nobility from the peasant by the basis of their clothing, and that those who wear silk clothes are the nobility, and those who wear rags are the peasants. Those dressed in ragged clothes will disappear, or those dressed in silk will still be alive despite their safety (Vandenberg, 2019, page.2) This is a typical example of a problem that appears in the current society by inserting it into a subject called zombie.

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Zombies cultural symbol

Zombies represent the culture of a society in popular culture. For example, students play online zombie games, dead body play to relieve stress and the media is developing zombie products or advertisements. In other words, you can commercialize anything through an object called zombies. Because the living dead resonate so strongly in the current cultural Zeitgeist, it should not be surprising that various provocateurs and policy entrepreneurs use the living dead as a hook for their own ideas and interests (Drezner, 2014, page. 829). This phenomenon can be seen, especially in American society. For example, actors and politicians refer to their political messages by comparing zombies, and even post social media messages on Instagram, SNS and Facebook. The government and certain agencies also send zombies their messages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an example of what is said above ("CDC," n.d.). They achieved success by faking the campaign they wanted with zombies. CDC is learning that zombie themes and viral, social-media marketing are effective. The zombie post marked the first time CDC used Facebook and Twitter to launch a preparedness campaign (Good, 2011, para. 4). As such, many public periods collect interesting ideas, hold campaigns, and deliver messages through zombie content. Because it is familiar to the public and easy to accept.


There are many different symbols of zombies.  Sometimes it can give positive and sometimes inappropriate results. And competition, survival, fighting with each other can be like seeing yourself through a zombie. as mentioned in the body, social problems may become more serious in the 21st century and portray zombies as negative factors such as social ambivalence, inequality, discrimination, and mutual relations. But on the other hand, I can express myself freely and also be of educational help. Also, complicated political and social issues can be delivered through zombies with interesting satire. As time goes by, the interpretation of zombies in the mass media will become more diverse and will continue to change.


  • The History of the Zombie in Popular Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved from         https://u.osu.edu/abel118eng4563/the-history-of-the-zombie-in-popular-culture/.
  • Good, C. (2011, May 23). Why Did the CDC Develop a Plan for a Zombie Apocalypse? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/why-did-the-cdc-  develop-a-plan-for-a-zombie-apocalypse/239246/.
  • Drezner, D. W. (2014). Metaphor of the living dead: Or, the effect of the zombie apocalypse on public policy discourse. Social Research, 81(4), 825-849,980. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/docview/1653104021?accountid=3455
  • Wonser, R., & Boyns, D. (2016). Between the Living and Undead: How Zombie Cinema Reflects the Social Construction of Risk, the Anxious Self, and Disease Pandemic. Sociological Quarterly57(4), 628–653. https://doi-org.library.sheridanc.on.ca/10.1111/tsq.12150
  • Vandenberg, L. (2019, Jul 12). Rise of the korean zombie thriller. The Diplomat, Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/docview/2314072759?accountid=3455
  • Chung, M.-Y. (2017). The Humanity of the Zombie: A Case Study of a Korean Zombie Comic. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 7(1). Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/apps/doc/A506867415/AONE?u=ko_acd_shc&sid= AONE&xid=a554136e
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, November 5). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centers_for_Disease_Control_and_Prevention.
  • Zombie. (2019, December 6). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie


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