The Rise of Zombies in China: A Cultural Phenomenon

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In recent years, China has witnessed a peculiar and unexpected phenomenon: the emergence of zombies in popular culture. While zombies have been a staple of Western horror lore for decades, their presence in China has taken on a unique and culturally nuanced form. This article explores the rise of zombies in China and the factors contributing to their popularity.

Origins of Zombies in China

The concept of reanimated corpses has ancient roots in Chinese folklore and mythology. Tales of Jiangshi, a type of undead creature similar to zombies, date back centuries. Jiangshi are often depicted as stiff, pale figures that move by hopping and feed on the life force of the living. These legends have laid the groundwork for the contemporary fascination with zombies in China.

Western Influence

The introduction of Western zombie films and television series to China has played a significant role in the rise of zombies in Chinese pop culture. Movies like “Resident Evil” and “World War Z” have garnered substantial Chinese audiences, exposing them to the Western interpretation of zombies as flesh-eating, relentless monsters. This infusion of Western influence has led to a blending of zombie characteristics in Chinese media.

Unique Chinese Characteristics

Despite their Western origins, zombies in China have taken on unique characteristics and symbolism. In many Chinese zombie-themed films and series, the creatures are often imbued with supernatural abilities or connections to traditional Chinese folklore. For instance, some Chinese zombies are depicted with long, prehensile tongues or the ability to control other supernatural entities, such as ghosts.

Social Commentary

Chinese zombie narratives often serve as a form of social commentary. These stories frequently address contemporary issues, such as consumerism, societal pressures, and the struggle for individuality within a conformist society. Zombies in Chinese media can symbolize the mindless pursuit of materialism or the dehumanizing effects of a rigid social structure.

Video Games and Entertainment

The popularity of video games featuring zombies has also contributed to their rise in China. Titles like “Plants vs. Zombies” and “Resident Evil” have gained large followings among Chinese gamers. These games offer players a chance to confront and strategize against hordes of the undead, tapping into the thrill of survival and problem-solving.

Zombie-Themed Tourism

China has embraced the zombie theme beyond just movies and video games. Some cities have capitalized on the trend by offering zombie-themed attractions, including immersive escape rooms and zombie runs. These experiences allow participants to step into a post-apocalyptic world and test their survival skills.

Educational Opportunities

Oddly enough, zombies have even made their way into the realm of education in China. Some educators have used zombie-themed content to engage students in subjects like mathematics and science. This creative approach to teaching has garnered attention for its ability to make learning fun and relatable.

Globalization and Streaming Platforms

The proliferation of streaming platforms in China has made it easier for international zombie content to reach Chinese audiences. This globalization of media has further fueled the interest in zombies. Chinese viewers now have access to a wide array of zombie-related content from around the world, allowing them to explore different interpretations of the genre.


The rise of zombies in China is a fascinating example of how global and local influences can shape popular culture. While the concept of zombies may have originated in the West, China has embraced and adapted these creatures to reflect its unique cultural and social landscape. From folklore to film, from video games to education, zombies have found their place in the hearts and minds of the Chinese people, serving as both entertainment and a mirror to contemporary society. Whether as a form of escapism or a means of exploring complex issues, zombies have firmly established themselves in the fabric of modern Chinese culture.

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