- FILM & PEOPLE
- K-Cinema Library
Aug 28, 2018
- Writerby Pierce Conran
1998｜107 MIN | Horror, Thriller
DIRECTOR PARK Ki-
Gyu- KIM , LEE Mi- ri , yeon Gang-hee, CHOI Jin-hee PARK
RELEASE DATE May
Tel : +82 2 2001 8800
Fax : +82 2 2001 8899
Email : email@example.com
The K-horror genre may have fallen out of favor in recent years, but for much of the early part of the millennium, it was one of the strongest exports for the Korean film industry. The film that surely kicked off the trend in the country, while also launching a five-film series that would each introduce new filmmakers to the scene, was Whispering Corridors (1998). This summer, the Korean Film Archive hosted a special 20-year retrospective of the horror series, which began with
PARK Ki- hyung ’s original in 1998.
At the fiercely competitive Jookran High School for Girls, a strict teacher dies and her body, hanging from the end of a rope, is discovered by three new students. As more bizarre occurrences take place at the school rumors abound that they are being caused by the ghost of Jin-ju, a student who committed suicide at the school following her harsh treatment at the hands of the teachers.
The bloody genre stylings of Korea’s new wave of filmmakers was already taking shape in the late 1990s but was largely dominated by violent male characters. With Whispering Corridors, the dark impulses and desires of young women were also afforded an outlet in the psychological stylings of the vengeful ghost, a common device throughout Korean lore and legends. Rather than physically aggressive, these characters hold on to their anger and seek out vengeance through less direct and often supernatural means.
Whispering Corridors, which became the second most successful Korean film of 1998, despite its low budget, was an early example of a genre film with a social message directly connecting with local viewers. In this case, Director PARK Ki-
hyung takes aim at the harsh education system, which sees students in Korea study from early morning until late at night with almost no breaks, while teachers treat children differently, often based on their social backgrounds.
PARK would go on to make the mystery The Secret (2000), Acacia (2003), another horror film, and Gangster High (2006), another exploration of Korea’s crash education system. Most recently, PARK premiered the South Korea-Hong Kong co-production Encroach in the midnight lineup of this year’s Jeonju International Film Festival
Whispering Corridors kicked off a long trend of films featuring supernatural antagonists terrorizing the living world until their souls can move on to the afterlife. Notably, the film
spanned four sequels, each with a high school setting but the completely different cast and always a new director at the helm, including the acclaimed Memento Mori (1999), which was co-directed by MIN Kyu-dong and KIM Tae- yong.