Written and Directed by Kim Sung-su
Flu is a film set in Budang, Seonganam, South Korea, present time. This film chronicles the outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu, H5N1. Budang is a densely populated city with a population of nearly half a million people. So as one can predict, chaos ensues.
The film begins with two men standing in front of a shipping container filled with illegal immigrants headed for South Korea. During this scene, it becomes very clear that its one of the immigrants onboard the shipping container who is patient zero. Several scenes, that don’t necessarily move the story forward, follow…Once the container makes it on land, two more men, brothers, go to the container to deliver the immigrants to their next destination. The brothers open the container, speak out into it, looking for a response, but none is provided. They slowly creep into the container, still no response. One of the brothers pulls out his phone to light up the container and film what’s inside, and a gruesome scene unfolds. All of the people inside the container are bloodied all over, and all appear to be dead. Until, the sole survivor of this scene, Monsai, grabs one of their foot The brother drops the phone, and clumsily attempts to grab it from the atop the bloody bodies. Monsai takes this opportunity to run away.
The following scenes show the brothers trying to find Monsai, and one of the brothers; spreading the virus to everyone he comes in contact with. The number of infected people grows exponentially as the search for Monsai grows after doctors discovered he was the sole survivor from the shipping container. As more and more people get infected, the government has to make more and more impossible decisions.
This film is very much like the Hollywood-made films of the same genre, such as Contagion. During my lesson, I will be showing students parts of this film and asking them to look at it from a scientist and citizen’s perspective. I will provide students with a film viewing handout that will help guide their thinking as they watch the movie. Some questions I will ask include: Why do you think the virus spread so quickly? What are some things the infected brother could have done to decrease the number of people he infected? Why do you think only 50% of people were at risk of becoming infected? Do you think the government made the right decision by placing the citizens of Budang in camps? What is the right moral decision?
In a different lesson, it might also be a good idea to compare similar scenes from this film and Contagion and have students compare.