“Happiness” may be the first K-drama that alludes to the ongoing health crisis while hinting that another pandemic is just in our midst. While we’ve seen the zombie apocalypse scenario in various productions before, “Happiness” interjects social commentary on inequality that makes for a more interesting watch.
‘Happiness’: Not Your Typical Zombie Apocalypse K-Drama
An infectious zombie-like disease is secretly spreading in “Happiness.” Park Hyung-sik is Jung Yi-hyun, a detective who investigates a murder case related to the rabies-like disease. Once infected, the person gets an insatiable thirst to devour another person. However, unlike the typical zombie infection, the person gets periods of remission before the condition eventually worsens. Jung Yi-hyun suspects that the disease might have something to do with an experimental pneumonia drug he discovers in the crime scene.
Meanwhile, Han Hyo-joo is Yoon Sae-bom, a police officer under the special operations unit, and Jung Yi-hyun’s former schoolmate. Sae-bom gets a scratch while trying to pacify one of her colleagues who gets infected. Luckily, she tests negative for the disease and is allowed to go home.
Together with Han Tae-sok (Jo Woo-jin) of the health service command, Yi-hyun and Hyo-joo try to learn more about the disease.
‘Happiness’ Tackles Inequality and Class Discrimination
Perhaps there is no other time in history where inequality and class discrimination is more glaring than during a health crisis. Those with no means for hospitalization or any treatment are left to fend for themselves.
In “Happiness,” class discrimination is shown through the housing arrangement in a new apartment building. Those who avail of government housing live below those who are able to afford the more upscale floors. Public housing means no access to the gym or even the upper floors. It’s incredibly unfair but no one seems to challenge or even question the system. It would be interesting to see if the system will remain once the infection spreads throughout the apartment building, which seems to be inevitable given the hints. Will the public housing residents survive? We’ll have to find out.