‘Train to Busan,’ a Korean horror film, takes place in a world newly under siege by a zombie virus that is turning the country’s population into mindless, bloodthirsty monsters. Within this rapidly deteriorating world, Seok-woo, a father, and his little girl, Soo-an, attempt to survive long enough to arrive at safety alongside a group of survivors aboard a train. Due to the fast-paced, survival-driven narrative, the story focuses on its cast of characters, including the father-daughter duo, a young pregnant couple, and a pair of high school sweethearts. While these characters form the film’s protagonist front, the zombies and YS Biotech, the company that caused the monstrous infection, take on the thematic role of an antagonist.
However, even though the film’s zombified world remains grounded in fictionality, viewers might wonder if the biotech company itself has any correlation with reality.
Train To Busan’s Biotech Company, YS, Is Fictional
No, YS Biotech, the company from ‘Train to Busan,’ is not an actual company. Like the other elements within the film’s narrative, fictionally crafted by Yeon Sang-ho and Joo-Suk Park, YS Biotech is also a work of fiction without any correlation to real-life instances or corporations. Thus, the company is solely a fictional addition to the film, which occupies a familiar spot within the zombie-plagued story.
A singular, powerful corporation is one of the most common tropes that zombie-based media often employs in order to explain the origin of the inciting infection that leads to a large-scale apocalypse. Therefore, YS Biotech becomes another component within the film, in line with genre conventions. Other similar examples of designated evil companies responsible for destruction can be seen in films like ‘Resident Evil,’ where “Umbrella Corporation” paves the way for the universe’s deathly infection. Likewise, “WCKD” from ‘Maze Runner’ also occupies a near-identical place within its narrative.
Furthermore, the idea of a biotech company’s involvement in the incitement of such a life-ending disease also came up in real life following the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The New York Times, in 2023, the US Energy Department came to a conclusion that backed up the infamous “lab leak hypothesis” by asserting that the worldwide pandemic was likely caused because of an accidental leak in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
China denied these conclusions, labeling them “entirely false,” “politically motivated,” and “[without] scientific basis.” Likewise, many U.S. democrats also remain unpersuaded by the Energy Department’s conclusions. Although these claims ended up remaining only theories and hypotheses as of yet, they showcase a compulsion to blame a singular entity for a destructive incident of such scale.
As such, it provides context to the existence of YS Biotech and why, despite its short-lived presence in the film, the company and its involvement in the zombie apocalypse doesn’t feel out of place. Nevertheless, outside of a sense of familiarity, the company doesn’t have any ties or basis to real life.