The Red Teacher

빨간 선생님
KBS2 Drama Special (2016)
Theme: Coming Of Age
Grade: A+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
Video Special Embedded Below
(Some Spoilers)


As I have often suggested to fellow Korean drama fans, it's a superb idea to fill in your time in-between new episodes of the ongoing longer dramas you are watching to sample the plentiful number of short Korean Drama Specials (most just around one hour long!) that are free to watch on media sites like YouTube. Many feature your favorite Korean stars, often when their careers were just beginning. It's so much fun to watch them in stories that are just as interesting as many of the longer K-dramas we watch and enjoy.

Such was the case with this unique, involving, award-winning story, The Red Teacher (2016), with over 28 million views on YouTube, starring beautiful, talented actress Jung So Min, whom I had loved so much in outstanding K-dramas such as Because This Is Your First Life, Fix You, D-Day, Playful Kiss, The Sound Of Your Heart, Can We Get Married?, and Bad Guy. The male lead I wasn't as familiar with, but it was a challenging role for him, playing a man in his thirties whose character had troubles understanding women. The actor's name is Donghwi Lee, and he won a Best Actor Award In A Special Drama Category for this role at the 2016 KBS Drama Award Show. I didn't even bother reading a synopsis first before I began watching The Red Teacher, but just dove in because of my fondness for the leading actress.

The Story: Our story takes place in the mid-1980's in South Korea when their government was under the control of a hard right-wing military dictatorship. We are introduced to a high school group of girl students in 10th grade in Gyongsang Province. They aren't too fond of their high school teacher, named Kim Taenam (Donghwi Lee), because he is a very strict bachelor, has no understanding of teenage girls, and will sometimes even resort to corporal punishment against them, hitting their behinds with a rod. Hence, their private nickname for him is "Pervert". The bravest girl in the class, named Jang Sundeok (Jung So Min), often glares at the teacher with distaste, flustering him, and spiking his ire on occasion. (We find out later that they are also nearby neighbors, but even so he has very little understanding of this defiant girl, and why she behaves the way she does with him). She likes to wear her hair long while the other girls are not allowed to, so he insists she have her hair cut short, too. Even when they drive home together on the same bus there is friction between them.

This teacher enjoys the special respect and patronage of the strict high school Vice Principal (with the emphasis on the word vice!) played by veteran actor Jo Young Jin. The teacher rarely dates women; his teaching career seems to be his life. However, one day he visits a bookstore owned by a male friend and discovers a rare risque novel with a bright red cover, about a military general's wife who has an affair with a soldier. However, the novel is cut short, and the back of the book states Part Two will be published later. "To Be Continued!". Taenam steals the book from the store and becomes totally engrossed in its flaming romance.

However, an act of fate brings this half-novel to the attention of the high school girls in his class, and eventually Sundeok offers to write a Part Two for it since no one can track it down in any bookstore or library in town. The girls are thrilled, but very impatient. They expect to learn a lot about sex from Sundeok's imagination! They know so little about sex because discussions about it at home or school are not encouraged. One girl didn't even know what a condom was!

Taenam finds out that his student Sundeok is writing the sequel to that risque novel, but unexpectedly he chooses to overlook her clandestine project, for he discovers a secret about the girl that finally gives him some sympathy for her.

When Part Two is finished the girls all love it, but then the Vice Principal finds out about all the ruckus over the book. Being heavily involved with the extreme right wing dictatorship and its inherent censorship he demands to know who wrote the Part Two? Which student dared to defy school morality protocol? The entire school body becomes under investigation and eventually Sundeok is accused of being the writer and may risk expulsion from the school. Will teacher Taenam expose her secret, or keep mum to protect her? How will the risque Red Book Scandal be resolved?

Enjoy this Drama Special right here on this page! It is fantastic!