Train to Busan (2016) Ending Explained – Does Seok-woo make it to Busan?

Train To Busan Plot Summary

Train to Busan is one of the best horror movies of all time. This 2016 South Korean action horror film stars the handsome and talented Gong Yoo and the highly acclaimed actor Ma Dong-seok. Choi Woo-sik is also part of the cast, along with Jung Yu-mi and Sohee. The film was directed by Yeon Sang-ho. Most people don’t know that Train to Busan is the sequel to the 2016 horror film Seoul Station. Train to Busan packs more punch compared to its predecessor as it follows the story of a father and a daughter travelling to Busan to celebrate the mom’s birthday. However, things go awry during the trip due to a zombie outbreak in South Korea.

How does Train to Busan start?

Train to Busan starts with a truck approaching a tollbooth where several workers wearing safety suits and masks stop it and sanitize the truck. The truck driver complains about his animals dying, and one of the workers tells him that it is nothing serious but just a tiny leak from a nearby factory. The driver does not sound convinced and continues complaining on his way past the booth. A phone call distracts the driver from the road, and he accidentally hits something while trying to reach for his phone.

The driver stops the truck and steps out to look, and a deer is seen lying seemingly dead in the middle of the road. Since he can do nothing, the driver returns to the truck and drives off. Suddenly, the seemingly dead deer staggers to its feet, and as the scene zooms in on the animal, its eyes and skin suggest that it is infected. 

Who is Seok-woo, and why was he on the train?

Seok-woo is a fund manager in an investment company in Seoul. A client calls him anxious about his investment because of strange happenings in the country. Seok-woo tries to convince the client that they are just rumours, but he is adamant, which forces Seok-woo to ask his assistant to sell everything in their fund. The assistant is reluctant, but Seok-woo insists. Later, we learn that Seok-woo is separated from his wife, and he has a daughter, So-an, and lives with his mother. Seok-woo barely has time for his daughter since he accidentally buys her the same gift for her birthday that he had bought her during Children’s Day.

So-an wants to visit her mother in Busan for her birthday, and she makes a fuss about it. Seok-woo, initially reluctant due to work commitments, is forced to when his mother shows her a video of So-an at a school recital, which he failed to attend due to work. To make it up to So-an, Seok-woo takes So-an to Busan the next morning before returning to the office in the afternoon. 

On the way to the train station, Seok-woo nearly crashes into ambulances and fire trucks as they suddenly rush through an intersection. They can see smoke indicating a fire outbreak from a distance, and So-an rolls down the window and catches an ember. Seok-woo comments that something must be happening but continues to head to the train station. 

After boarding the train, Seok-woo and So-an run into a myriad of fellow passengers, including Sang-hwa and his pregnant wife Sung-gyeong, the elderly sisters In-gil and Jon-gil, a team of high school baseball among them Jin-hee and Young-gook, the seemingly wealthy and arrogant Young-suk, and the train attendant Ki-chul. Amidst them is a stowaway who seems to be the only one aware of what is happening outside, while everyone else is oblivious. 

What caused the Zombie Outbreak?

The film does not delve into the cause of the Zombie outbreak, but towards the end, Seok-woo’s assistant calls him and says that a company known as YS Biotech is responsible. The assistant adds that the company was crucial to his and Seok-woo’s plan. The assistant feels guilty and asks if they are to blame for the apocalypse, and even though Seok-woo comforts him, he cannot help but break down after the call. 

What Happens at the end of Train to Busan?

The train approaches the final tunnel leading into Busan, but the tracks are blocked with dead bodies and metal gates. So-an and Sung-gyeong exit the cockpit and start to walk towards the tunnel. On the other side, the military is armed and watching their approach, and when they are unable to verify if they are infected or not, the superiors order that they be killed. However, before the sniper shoots, So-an starts singing the song she had practised for the recital, Aloha’ Oe, to encourage an exhausted Sung-gyeong to keep going. The soldiers hear her song, realize they are survivors, and rush to their rescue.

Train to Busan is so much more than just a group of people trying to survive a rapid group of blood-sucking zombies. It has an emotional and compelling story amid the exhilarating, action-filled sequences. It also embeds a tale about the greed and selfishness of the wealthy, seen within the selfish and manipulative nature of Yong-suk. Consequently, the story touches on the impact of humanity and kindness even in the face of danger as several characters selflessly sacrifice themselves for the sake of strangers they just met on a train.

There is also a hint of transformation and character development as Seok-woo turns from the self-absorbed fund manager at the movie’s beginning to a person willing to keep promises and keep a stranger and his daughter safe at the expense of his own life. Unlike other zombie movies, it focuses on morality and does not waste time understanding the reasons behind the outbreak. Thus, Train to Busan is a thrilling must-watch movie for fans of zombie movies since it brings a fresh, unique, and exciting twist to the zombie genre. 

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