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KajoPicks: 5 Asian pandemic movies you should watch

On March 11, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

This was after there were over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries.

WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world and most people do not have immunity.

Looking at the past, the viruses that have caused past pandemics originated from animal influenza viruses.

Pandemics have been an inspiration for many disaster movies out there. One of the popular ones is Hollywood movie Contagion (2011).

The real-life epidemics such as the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak and the 2009 flu pandemic have been inspirations and influences in Contagion.

Meanwhile, the chain of contagion in the movie is similar to the trail of Nipah virus that originated in Malaysia in 1997.

Another Hollywood movie that went viral during this Covid-19 virus pandemic was Outbreak (1995).

The movie’s screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns actually conducted months of in-depth research studying pandemics.

Besides that, he recruited several well-established epidemiologists to develop a realistic plot.

The result? A medical disaster film focusing on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like Motaba virus.

It also speculates how far military and civilian agencies might go to contain the spread of a deadly and contagious disease.

If you are looking for Asian pandemic movies, check out this list:

1.The Flu (2013)

This Korean pandemic movie explores the realistic response of humankind in the face of a pandemic.

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The main character Kim In-hae (Soo Ae) is a single mother who works as a doctor in the infectious diseases.

When there is an outbreak of a mutated strain of H5N1 that kills its victims within 36 hours, the district of Bundang which has a population of nearly half a million people goes into chaos.

It also explores the worst case scenarios of what happens when rumours and fake news spread during a pandemic.

At the same time, The Flu also showcases how the lack of competency in governance could worsen the situation.

While most outbreaks start from an animal, the fictional outbreak in this movie derived from a group of illegal immigrants who died in a shipping container.

2.Infection (2004)

When a disaster movie meets a horror film, we have ourselves a Japanese flick called Infection (2004).

It was adapted from director Masayuki Ochiai’s earlier screenplay from the Tales of the Unusual.

Infection (2014) is set at a run-down and understaffed hospital.

When a patient with a strange black rash shows up, Dr Akiba (Koichi Sato) refuses to admit him.

The patient is left in the hallway. Then Dr Kiyoshi Akai (Shiro Sano) comes along to study his symptoms.

Things get creepy when that patient’s body mass starts to liquefy into green goo.

3.Pandemic (2009)

When the Covid-19 virus first started to break out in China, the doctors there dismissed it as pneumonia.

In this Japanese pandemic movie, Dr Tsuyoshi Matsuoka (Satoshi Tsumabuki) misdiagnoses a patient’s disease as a common flu.

Only after the patient’s sudden death, then he realises the disease is way more serious than he initially thought.

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When he finds out that the newfound disease could possibly make a population extinct, Dr Tsuyoshi tries to find the cause of it.

4.Virus (2019)

Set against the backdrop of the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, this Indian medical thriller was a major box office success.

It follows a man named Zakariya Mohammed who is infected and is brought to the Government Medical College, Kozhikode.

There he is diagnosed to be infected with an unknown virus and dies a few hours later.

Before he dies, Zakariya passes on the virus to 18 other people.

Critics mostly sung praise of this movie, saying it “a well-crafted movie,” and a compassionate, gripping medical thriller.”

5.Deranged (2012)

What could be the reason for people to jump into a river in a strange epidemic of drownings?

Jae Hyuk (Kim Myung-min) has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is a former professor.

Now, he works as a pharmaceutical sales representative after losing his life savings in bad stock investments arranged by his brother, police detective Jae Pil (Kim Dong-wan).

Suddenly, the country is in shock as a series of dead bodies are found floating in the Han River.

Jae Hyuk is caught up in a wave of fear that grips the country after a series of dead bodies are found floating in the Han River.

Subsequently, it is found that the deaths are caused by an outbreak of virus-infected mutant parasitic horsehair worms known as yeongasi.

Once the worms infect the human brain, the infected people start to develop excessive hunger that turns to excessive thirst.

This results In the patient jumping into the river to quench their thirst.

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When Jae Hyuk’s own family starts to exhibit symptoms of the infection, can he or Jae Pil save them?

Basically, Deranged (2012) plays around the conspiracy theory of what if the pharmaceutical industry purposely create a pandemic in order to gain profits.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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