All Of Us Are Dead: How The Jonas Virus Works

A virus is at the center of events in Netflix's Korean horror series "All of Us Are Dead." While this isn't necessarily true across the board for zombie stories (George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" and its sequels are all pretty vague about what exactly causes the dead to rise as flesh-hungry ghouls), it is certainly nothing new. The Season 1 finale of "The Walking Dead" explained the pathology of the Wildfire Virus. Other recent additions to this undying genre, such as "The Girl With All the Gifts" and "The Last of Us," take a slightly different route by presenting different versions of a mutated cordyceps fungal infection. 

In one way or another, all the fun stuff we've come to associate with the zombie infection — crazed bloodthirst and violence, the spread of the virus, the transformation of a public health crisis into society's collapse — follows. In "All of Us are Dead," the sickness that traps our protagonists in a high school and forces them to fight for their lives is known as the Jonas Virus. 

The Jonas Virus was created by Lee  (played by Kim Byung-chul), a researcher turned biology teacher at Hyosan High School. Byeong-chan hoped to help his bullied son, Lee Jin-su (Lee Min-goo), by finding a way to remove fear from human psychology so that he might stand up to his tormentors at school.

The virus makes its hosts crazed and violent

Lee Byeong-chan created the Jonas Virus by isolating a hormone from mice. However, as we learn in "All of Us Are Dead," when Byeong-chan injected his son with the virus, it removed not only Jin-su's fear and sense of self-preservation but also all traces of human intelligence. Unlike other zombie viruses, the Jonas Virus doesn't kill its victim and revive them as the undead but overwhelms any vestige of humanity with an unhinged, feral rage. It's not unlike the infection in the classic "28 Days Later." 

After Jin-su infects his mother, Byeong-chan locks both of them up while he tries to work on a cure. Unfortunately, one of the hamsters at the school is also infected. When it bites another student (Jung Yi-seo), Byeong-chan cannot keep the virus contained. The student collapses in class and is sent to the nurse (Ahn Si-ha). He promptly bites her. The nurse then attacks several students, and pretty soon, Hyosan High School is overrun with crazed, feral teenagers, who then spread the virus to the rest of the city.

However, this isn't the whole story. It's discovered later in the series that not everyone who is bitten contracts the Jonas Virus in the same way. Some retain their human intelligence but develop superhuman strength and sight. Though they crave human flesh, they are better able to control their impulses. Those who develop these symptoms are referred to as "Hambies." Why some people become zombies but others become Hambies isn't clear, though it is speculated that this far more preferable outcome is the result of being bitten when the victim is in a fearless state.