Is Hellbound Based on an Anime, Comic, or Manga?

Hellbound has an interesting story history, as the world of the supernatural horror series appeared in two previous incarnations prior to its birth as a six-part Netflix series: an animated short film released in two parts and a Naver webtoon. The former does not follow the same story as the Netflix series, but the webtoon does, with some frames from the online comic recreated almost exactly as is in the drama. It’s cool to see creator Yeon Sang-ho revisit this story-world at different points in his career. Let’s talk about the inspiration for and earlier incarnations of Hellbound

Where to Watch the Hellbound Animated Short Film

Sang-ho first visited the world of Hellbound in his early-naughts animated short film 지옥: 두개의 삶, or The Hell (Two Kinds of Life). (Part I was made in 2003 and Part II was made in 2006.) The 11-minute rotoscope short follows two different people who are visited by angels, who tell them of their impending deaths and where they will end up afterwards. One character is bound for hell, and the other for heaven; the two separate parts follow their struggles with their respective death sentences. Like Hellbound, the animation includes some gruesome imagery, though interestingly the monsters in the short are much more human-like (though still very terrifying) as compared to their Hulk-like forms in the recently released live-action version.

Thus far, there isn’t a great way to watch the naughts-era animation. At the time of this writing, the short film is available to watch on YouTube (don’t forget to click on the “CC” button to turn on English subtitles) in four parts. (It is not an official upload, but Yeon Sang-ho mentions it in this interview as the only place he knows of to view the short, so…)

Where to Read the Hellbound Webtoon

The more well-known previous incarnation of Hellbound is a webtoon, a form of online comic that is very popular in Korea. If you watch K-dramas, you’ve probably watched multiple series that were adapted from webtoon source material. Hellbound is one such drama, and if you’re very into the drama, then it is more than worth reading the source material for comparison’s sake.

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