|Directed by||Park Ki-hyung|
|Produced by||Lee Choon-yeon|
|Written by||In Jung-ok
|Distributed by||Cinema Service|
Whispering Corridors (Hangul: 여고괴담; RR: Yeogogoedam) is a 1998 South Korean horror film. It was part of the explosion in Korean cinema following the liberalization of censorship in the aftermath of the end of the country's military dictatorship, and makes a strong social commentary on authoritarianism and conformity in the harsh South Korean education system.
This film is the first installment of the Whispering Corridors film series, and was followed by four sequels (Memento Mori, Wishing Stairs, Voice, and A Blood Pledge), though none of the sequels share a continuing plot or characters with each other.
In an all-female high school in South Korea, the Jookran High School for Girls, teacher Mrs. Park, nicknamed "Old Fox" due to her sadistic method of teaching, circles several points in the students' yearbooks and calls her former student turned new fellow teacher, Hur Eun-young, that "Jin-ju, is definitely dead, but still attending school". Moments later, she is strangled with a noose by an unknown figure, her body later discovered the next day by three new senior students: the talented artist but superstitious Lim Ji-oh; the timid outsider, Yoon Jae-yi; and the weird, sullen, and deeply unpopular Kim Jung-sook. Ji-Oh and Jae-yi arrive early as they are the new class monitors, while Jung-sook has always been a die-hard studious student. Their form teacher position is now held by Mr. Oh, nicknamed "Mad Dog", who likes to give corporal punishments to his students, in particular Ji-oh due to her superstitions, as well as harassing and overly praising the class' top scorer, Park So-young.
The discovery of Mrs. Park's body deeply impacts Ji-oh that she creates a painting of her body, which earns her a horrible punishment by Mr. Oh. Seeing Ji-oh dispirited, Jae-yi, a former artist before she decided to abandon her goals, agrees to teach her painting at the storage room, which used to be an art room before being abandoned and is rumored to be haunted. Ji-oh sees that So-young has been inhabiting the room for quite a while to hide her smoking habit. So-young, in the meantime, befriends Eun-young at the library.
Eun-young suspects that Ji-oh may have been Jin-ju's ghost since she carries bells that Jin-ju, her friend from high school, gave for her, though Ji-oh tells her that they were given by Jae-yi. This is puzzling as Ji-oh occupies Jin-ju's former seat in Form 3-3 and is interested in arts, like Jin-ju. One night, Mr. Oh, while patrolling the school, is terrorized by Jin-ju and killed by stabbing while wrapped in curtain. His post is replaced by a more manageable teacher. The next night, Ji-oh visits the storage room to paint but finds Jung-sook and So-young bickering, ending with So-young storming out after criticizing Jung-sook and calling her jaded. Jung-sook commits suicide in a manner similar to Mrs. Park's: hanging herself by a noose from a bridge.
So-young is tearful and reveals to Eun-young that she is involved in a situation similar to Eun-young and Jin-ju once were: she used to be close to Jung-sook, but the teachers started comparing them and they drifted apart, with Jung-sook growing bitter as time went on and becoming withdrawn. While Ji-oh is painting she notices a floorboard that is broken and coming apart. Ji-oh discovers a statue created by Eun-young for Jin-ju beneath the plank and also discovers Mr. Oh's body when she shifts something in the dirt and finds a hand with a ring which he wears. Jin-ju died in the storeroom while trying to save the statue as it fell she tripped and with it everything came down, including the sculpting knives which ultimately killed her. Eun-young meanwhile learns from the yearbooks that Jin-ju had entered the school from year after year posing as false students and is currently posing as Jae-yi. Eun-young is confronted by Jae-yi/Jin-ju, the latter angry and accusing Eun-young that she is becoming more like Mrs. Park. Eun-young escapes with a cut to her arm as Jin-ju is distracted by Jioh screaming. Eun-young is chased by Jin-ju but is cornered into room 3-3, their homeroom and Jae-yi/Jin-ju's current homeroom.
Before Jin-ju can kill her, Ji-oh comes into the homeroom and asks her to stop her terror and to rest in peace since she is not even human. Jin-ju says that all she wanted was to live a normal high school life and she wanted someone who would love her fearlessly as Eun-young couldn't. Jin-ju disappears after Ji-oh and Eun-young plead with her that they will correct the misgivings that happened to them at a teacher and student level and that they will never forget her. After Jin-ju disappears, the walls and the school all bleed blood while Eun-young and Ji-oh, tired by the ordeals, sit in the room resting. Ji-oh rests her head in Eun-young's lap as she gently strokes her hair.
Eun-young and Ji-oh are still in the classroom when they are visited by a student the next day. The student leaves upon seeing the two and walks down the corridor, and as the student turns around, it is revealed that she is Jung-sook's ghost.
- Choi Se-yeon ... Yoon Jae-yi
- Kim Gyu-ri ... Lim Ji-oh
- Lee Mi-yeon ... Hur Eun-young
- Yoon Ji-hye ... Kim Jung-sook
- Park Yong-soo
- Kim Yu-seok ... Art teacher
- Park Jin-hee ... Park So-young
With the rise of Korean film industry, a demand for commercially oriented films was made. Horror films were generally absent from South Korea throughout the 1980s and due to the genres low production costs, it led to independent companies such as Cine 2000 to work in the genre. Whispering Corridors cost US $600,000 to make and was completed with only 28 set-ups.
Whispering Corridors was released in May 1998 in South Korea. It was a surprise hit in South Korea, where it ranked third in the highest grossing domestically produced films of the year. The film was only beaten by A Promise and The Letter. The film was followed by four sequels: Memento Mori (1999), Wishing Stairs (2003), Voice (2005), and A Blood Pledge (2009).
In October 2015, it was announced that a Chinese-language remake of Whispering Corridors was in development and to be directed by Zhen Qin. Production is set to be handled by Beijing-based Beautiful Creative Force Culture Media, October Pictures’ Seoul branch, and the original franchise’s production house Cine2000. The film is currently set for a 2016 release.
- "여름 특집! 여고괴담, 학교에서는 무슨 일이 있었나". Daum (in Korean). 25 June 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- Conran, Pierce (5 October 2015). "WHISPERING CORRIDORS Scares Up Chinese Remake". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- Choi 2009, p. 40.
- Choi 2009, p. 41.
- Choi 2009, p. 39.
- Elley, Derek (August 25, 2009). "Review: ‘Blood Pledge’". Variety. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- Kil, Sonia (October 4, 2015). "Busan: Chinese to Remake Korean Horror Classic ‘Whispering Corridor’". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2015.