Nightmare Teacher
Naver TV Cast (2016), Grade: C+
Supernatural Melodrama, 12 Short Episodes
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
"Don't Go Into The Conference Room!"

This web drama Nightmare Teacher (2016) had an interesting supernatural premise and a good cast and I enjoyed it ... until the uninspiring, cliched "it was all a dream" ending, which dropped my grade for this show from a B to a C+ in a heartbeat. Nightmares are dreams (although sometimes reality can seem more of a nightmare than dreams), so I should have suspected that was how they would wrap things up in this story that's primarily aimed at teenagers, but still I was hoping for something different and unique, a great, surprising twist that would not have essentially negated all that came before and summed it up as the imaginary dream of an insecure high school student, played by Kim So Hyun (The Suspicious Housekeeper, I Hear Your Voice). To me, during the whole program, she looked like the most capable and intelligent student in the whole school, which was why she was made Class President, so why should she have been insecure? It didn't ring true to me as an explanation. Personally I didn't see anything wrong with her character being deemed a "goody two shoes"; it's far better to be good than to be bad, no matter who says otherwise!

Lee Min Hyuk and Kim So Hyun

The Story: At a Korean school named Yosan High, a regular high school homeroom teacher has an accident and so a new Teacher is hired (or was he hired? he seems to exit from a spooky mirror and then the mirror disappears behind him). His name is Han Bong Goo (Uhm Ki Joon from Dream High, Scent Of A Woman, and Masked Prosecutor), who is quite the mystery.

He seems to be able to read the kids' minds, including the unpopular, sullen girl student Kim Seul Gi (Seo Shin Ae from Thank You) whose secret wish is to have everyone at school fawn over her - and it comes true and then she decides she doesn't like it;
a frequently bullied boy who is afraid to fight back, named Oh Ki Cheol (Baek Seung Do from Dear My Friends and It's Okay That's Love) who wants to win just one fight match against the top bully at school but who gets roped into fighting him over and over again until he's exhausted; a female student named Ahn Si Yun (Kim Da Ye) who is an imaginative liar and invents a boyfriend in Boston for herself, to impress her fellow students, whose secret wish is to have all her lies come true -- and they DO but the 'boyfriend' ends up being less than ideal!; the school nerd who seems to ace every test but who secretly cheats, named Chun Jae Soo (Jang Kyung Up), the Teacher gives him access to a weird energy drink so that he never fails a test, but he becomes addicted to the drink and drinks it all day long until he can't remember who he is; a vain student who is morbidly obsessed about being pretty all the time, named Do Do Hee (Kim Ji Ahn), and she gets access to a special cell phone app from Teacher that makes her look beautiful 24/7 - until the phone starts to fail after she drops it and her face starts cracking!; finally we have our most savvy and likable students, Class President Kang Ye Rim (Kim So Hyun) and her good natured best male friend Seo Sang Woo (Lee Min Hyuk from Heirs) who calls Ye Rim his "wife" and loves to take pictures with his camera, a useful skill that comes in handy as the story progresses.

One by one the students' weaknesses are pegged by the secretive Teacher and he invites them into his private consultation room for supposed advice on how to handle their problems. Only to get what they think they want he ropes them into agreeing to contracts which they have to sign in blood!

As each child's weakness is addressed, and at first supposedly fixed, there is always a downside by the end of the process and each student disappears into the magic mystery mirror and the rest of the students in the class forget about their very existence! (In some weird way I kept getting flashbacks to the classic Twilight Zone episode where little Billy Mumy makes people he doesn't like disappear into the cornfield! LOL).

The only problem for the Teacher is that Class President Ye Rim and her camera loving buddy Sang Woo discover pictures remaining in the camera of students they no longer remember, and warning messages left behind on desks, like "Don't go into the conference room!", and they wonder how they got there. Ignoring the warning, they secretly enter his consultation room when he's not there and discover evidence of all the contracts signed in blood, testifying to the prior existence of these students. Ye Rim tries to think of a way to rescue the kids stuck inside the alternate existence behind the mirror. She feels responsible for them.

The Students Who Disappear Behind The Mirror

When it finally comes to our pretty Class President's turn to enter the conference room with Teacher, she signs a contract in blood to go into the mirror dimension to see her prior fellow classmates whom she has expressed concern about. She obviously feels confident she can rescue them but at what cost? Once there she meets herself as a child and little Ye Rim points through the window of a classroom to the students frozen to their seats. It turns out if she has any hope to rescue them she needs to rescue herself first.

The show builds to a pretty good crescendo and then we see Ye Rim awake from a dream and she is told by Teacher that her classmates are all okay. A class picture is taken with the Teacher and then he suddenly disappears.

I'm sorry to folks who might have liked that ending but to me it was totally lame. They pranced gingerly about the whole time suggesting this Teacher was the Devil, but the real intensity and background of his evil is never really explored or explained. A GOOD teacher could have privately counseled the students in more constructive ways to deal with their personal issues and problems, rather than to isolate them in another dimension. It was like a weird preschool or elementary school teacher technique of using "time out" as a disciplinary tool, instead of teaching them constructive, intelligent ways to think through and deal with their problems, without lies, violence, cheating, gimmicks, etc. Time Out Doesn't Teach. Hey, I like my own slogan. ;)

Somehow I think we ARE going to get a season two out of this one! (I'd rather have a season two of Missing Noir M instead!!!).




"Don't Go Into The Conference Room!"