Seen in Jeonju

A Schoolmistress (1972)

8th October 2009

schoolmistressOriginally posted October 1, 2007–Back in July, I wrote of a horror movie called The Woman With Half A Soul starring the Hong Kong star Li Ching.  At that time, I mentioned that she appeared in several other Korean productions that were made in the early 1970s.  Last night I had the chance to view another of them, her 1972 film A Schoolmistress directed by Lee Hyeong-pyo.  Lee directed more than 80 films between 1961 and 1986.  Depsite the speed at which he was required to make films to meet production quotas, his movies were often enjoyable if not necessarily creative.  His 1975 film A Beauty remains memorable to me because of the dreamworld that the main character lives in comprised of scenes from old Hollywood movies and Farewell 2 which starred singer Patty Kim in the superior musical follow-up (not really a sequel) to Shin Sang-ok’s 1973 film Farewell.

A Schoolmistress is pure melodrama.  Li Ching plays Miss Yang Chae-hwa, who is Chinese-Korean.  She spent the first 12 years of her life in Korea but then moved to Hong Kong with her mother after her parents had separated.  Now, 13 years later, she’s back in Seoul having taken a job at a girl’s school as an English teacher.  On her first day she meets Park Ho-cheol, the art teacher played by Shin Seong-il, with whom she will fall in love, the middle-aged, prudish Miss Oh, the teacher who supervises the girls’ dorm where Yang will be staying, and perky student Eun-ok played with over-the-top abandon by Ahn In-sook.

Eun-sook is determined to become best friends with the new teacher, giving her presents, showing her around Seoul but starts to become jealous when she realizes that her favorite teacher, Park Ho-cheol, has developed feelings for the exotic newcomer.  The situation goes from a light rivalry for Ho-cheol’s attention to all out war when Eun-sook learns that Chae-hwa is actually her half-sister!  You see, after Chae-hwa and her mother left for Hong Kong Eun-ok’s father remarried.  This proabably would not be a problem except he never divorced Chae-hwa’s mother who is now on her way to Seoul to meet her husband.

Fearing that her family is about to be torn apart, Eun-ok decides to take revenge on the new teacher and her former crush whom she feels has betrayed her.  During a rage-spawned hysteria where she struggles with Ho-cheol, the sleeve of her blouse is torn and her hair disheveled. Eun-ok makes her way to Miss Oh’s room where she spins a tale about Ho-cheol saying that the teacher attacked and tried to rape her.

What happens to Ho-cheol, Chae-hwa, Eun-ok and her family? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out.  But a warning…this one is hard to get through.  Not because of the story which is quite an effective melodrama (I admit to sheading a tear by the end).’s difficult to watch because of Ahn In-sook’s performance. Even when she is not causing trouble, the character of Eun-ok is annoying because of her overactions.  Everything is done in excess by her whether its happiness, rage or saddness it I found her to be completely unsympathetic even before her lies that threaten to destroy several lives.

One Response to “A Schoolmistress (1972)”

  1. Seen in Jeonju » Blog Archive » A Woman with Half a Soul (1973) Says:

    [...] films but in the early 70’s she did made a handful of Korean films. One was the melodramatic A School Mistress. Another was this competent horror [...]