Whispering Corridors (1998) by Park Ki - hyung

A teacher returning to the girls' school that she attended as a teenager, opens doors to the past in this supernatural thriller

I am not sure if this movie is a classic or a hidden gem,  as it's not well known in the west, but it was very popular in Korea and helped usher in the new wave of South Korean cinema, and launched four sequels. Indeed, its influence can be seen in K-horror to this day.  If the plot and tropes seem familiar from other Asian horror films, then you should be aware that this is the film that they copied  from.


Hur Eun-young (Lee Mi-yeon) is a new teacher returning to the all girls school that she attended in high school. Hur, along with three students, Yoon Jae-yi (Choi Se-yeon), Lim Ju-oh ( Kim Gyur-ri) and Kim Jung-sook (Yoon Ji-hye) find the body of a teacher hanging from a tree, the victim of an apparent suicide. The four of them discover that the school is haunted by the ghost of Jin-ju, Hur's best friend who died in the school.


But the film's theme is a lot stronger than its plot. And that theme is oppression. On one level, the film is a critique on South Korea's education system. But this is a reflection of the oppression created by the South Korean government during the previous regime. The trope of an angry ghost of a teenage girl is a common one in Asian horror. The idea is that girls experience a lot of oppression in Asian culture and have no outlet against it. They take the resulting anger to the grave and express it on the living.

Director Park Ki-hyung gives the empty, sunless hallways a creepy sense. An oppressive atmosphere which mirrors the oppression of the students by the teachers. In the end there is hope, but there is a chance that the same thing may start again.

While the film's atmosphere is its strength, the film's weakness is its pace. It may move a little too slow for some audiences. There is not a lot of gore or jump-scares, which is not necessarily a bad thing. That kind of thing can be easily  overdone.

"Whispering Corridors" is worth watching as an atmospheric horror movie and as a primer for K-horror


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Asian Film Vault: Whispering Corridors (1998) by Park Ki - hyung
Whispering Corridors (1998) by Park Ki - hyung
A teacher returning to the girls' school that she attended as a teenager, opens doors to the past in this supernatural thriller
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