Prophecy or Coincidence – Movies that predicted “COVID-19-like” outbreaks

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The Novel Coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19) has been striking fear and raising panic levels around the world (more so in Asia) since January 2020. The virus is so widespread in China, that it’s already an epidemic. Who would have been able to predict an epidemic like this, or could we?

As much as I don’t believe in prophecies, it’s hard to ignore these movies that seem to have “predicted” the Coronavirus epidemic happening. Some of which seems ridiculously similar to the current COVID-19 situation around the world.

CONTAGION (2011)

Beth Emhoff (Gwenyth Paltrow) returns from a business trip to Hong Kong with a stop over at the Chicago airport, where she has sex with her former lover. Beth feels ill, but thinks the problem is jet leg. She travels back home to Minneapolis and spreads the virus to her son Clark and her husband, Mitch. When Beth and Clark die, Mitch goes in quarantine where the doctors realise he is immune to the mysterious virus. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, London and in a small province, cases of the mystery illness are cropping up, as the American CDC and the World Health Organization give their best effort researching the virus. A race against the clock begins, as the virus is spreading in a geometric progression, and if no solution is found – very fast – humanity will cease to be.

The similarity of this to the Coronavirus situation compared to the other movies is quite scary, and you may want to watch it under broad daylight.

Deranged 연가시 (2012)

Jae-hyuk is an ordinary man in his 40s. He works as a medical supplies salesman and is hassled by doctors all day. His brother Jae-pil is a detective that is not all that interested in public safety and spends most of his time moaning about the stock market. The discovery of a series of floating, gruesomely skeletal bodies around the country sparks hysteria. The police commissioner is disturbed to see CCTV footage of people jumping into water as if they were possessed, and drowning themselves. Time passes and hundreds of similar cases are reported, leaving officials stumped as to the cause of the deaths. The government declares a national emergency. Jae-pil joins the massive investigation and meets the mayor of a small town who claims he witnessed several men in work uniforms dumping infected dogs into the streams and realizes that there is a conspiracy behind the outbreak. Meanwhile, Jae-hyuk’s wife and children are showing the same symptoms as the victims, leading to a frantic search for medicine. Through Jae-pil he learns of a warehouse containing a potential cure in thousands and thousands of doses and heads there with no idea of what he’s heading into.

The Flu (감기) (2013)

The worst epidemic ever seen is sweeping through Bundang, the suburb of Seoul. After smuggling illegal immigrants into the country, Byung-woo dies from an unknown virus. Soon after that, the same symptoms are plaguing scores of residents in Bundang. People are helpless against the airborne disease and the number of infected increases quickly, spreading chaos. As the worst-case scenario precaution, the city of half a million people, just 19 kilometers from Seoul, is about to be sealed off. The government orders a complete shutdown. Meanwhile, infectious disease specialist In-hye and rescue worker Ji-goo go into the closed city to find the blood serum of the index case, a crucial part of developing the vaccine.

Train to Busan (2016)

Life-or-death survival in train bound to Busan. A divorced man, Seok-woo is always caught up at work, leaving him no time to spare with his daughter Su-an. He offers to take her on the train to see her mother in Busan. As the train departs, an abnormal virus spreads from a girl who is infected, and people start to transform to zombies. Will Seok-woo and Su-an make it out alive? Train to Busan is director Yeon Sang-ho’s debut feature film, who is loved by Cannes with his edgy animation.

Parasite 기생충 (2019)

A little far-fetched of an epidemic movie, but that was what we thought it was (some kind of epidemic horror film) when we first saw the title. The movie has made waves across the world, and recently winning series of awards including Best Picture and Best Director at the 92nd Academy Awards (Oscars). As much as the movie is not about an actual virus, I think discrimination and social divide spreads worst than an actual epidemic.

A poor family, the Kims, con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks. But their easy life gets complicated when their deception is threatened with exposure.

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