The School Nurse Files is based on the 2015 award-winning novel School Nurse Ahn Eun-Young by author Chung Serang, who also wrote the drama. If you love unusual, quirky fantasies there’s a good chance you may find this drama entertaining.
There are strange things happening at the high school whose motto is “Laughing Will Bring Good Fortune.” Although Ahn Eun-Young has been working there as the nurse for less than a month, she’s already noticed the school has “jellies” (traces of people’s desires) only she can see. One day, Eun-Young sees “jellies” oozing up the stairs and, curious to discover from where they are coming, finds she can go no further than the locked basement door. Unable to explore the “jellies” origins, she asks the school guard if he could loan her the basement key and is told no one is allowed down there. However, that doesn’t stop Nurse Ahn from investigating. Using her trusty plastic, glowing sword she breaks the lock, begins her search, and discovers the place is filled with “jellies.” As she begins to whack them with her sword to get rid of them, Teacher Han hears noises coming from the basement and, noticing the lock broken, goes in to check things out. Finding Nurse Ahn there, the two wander deeper into the eerie, dark basement and discover an APJI STONE. Unfortunately, once they lift it from its resting place, all hell breaks loose!
Ever since she was a young child, Ahn Eun-Young could see things other people couldn’t. Realizing she was destined from birth to help others in secret, as she grew up she developed the knowledge and skills she needed to fight the troublesome invisible creatures. Although Eun-Young is tired of battling these things seen only by her, and just wants to be normal, she perseveres in helping others break free of the “jellies” that might be keeping them from a better life. Eun-Young used to work at a hospital, but is now a school nurse. When she meets Teacher Hang she is surprised to see he has an aura, a kind of force field that protects him from being influenced by “jellies.” She’s also thrilled when she discovers simple physical contact with him renews her “jelly”-fighting powers.
Mr. Hong In-Pyo is the grandson of the founder of the school which opened its doors in 1976. At first, it was an all-girls’ school but became co-ed the year In-Pyo was admitted, which makes him an alumnus of the school where he is employed as the Chinese Characters teacher. In-Pyo’s father died when he was a boy so, while growing up, he was very close to his grandfather and has felt lonely since the old man’s passing. When he was younger, In-Pyo was very athletic but a motorcycle accident left him with a crippled leg and he now walks with a limp. There’s something mysterious about the school’s basement and, although he’s the only person with a key, he had never been down there. In-Pyo quickly comes to like Nurse Ahn and enjoys the fact that her strange abilities have made his own life much more exciting.
There’s an 11 year age difference between 37-year-old Jung Yu-Mi (the actress who plays Nurse Ahn Eun-Young) and her costar, Nam Joo-Hyuk. He was just nine years old when she began her entertainment career by way of the short film Tell Her I Love Her. She appeared in another short film the following year and then was in her first full-length movie in 2005. She was lucky enough to be cast in the two blockbuster movies The Crucible (aka Silenced) and Train to Busan, both times opposite actor Gong Yoo. Over her 17-year acting career she has earned several awards, including seven for Best Actress. I wasn’t thrilled with her character in Que Sera, Sera but I loved her in the dramas I Need Romance 2 and Discovery of Romance, as well as the movie Train to Busan (a superbly fantastic film just right for watching on Halloween night).
Twenty-six-year-old Nam Joo-Hyuk is the actor who brought the character Hong In-Pyo alive. Author/screenwriter Chung Serang said Nam Joo-Hyuk brought more depth and dimension to the character of In-Pyo than was originally in her novel, so much so that the author said he made her want to know more about In-Pyo’s untold stories. So, will she give him more air/page time if she writes about him in the future? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. If you’re interested in reading a bit about Nam Joo-Hyuk you can go to my Bride of the Water God review.
See, this is exactly why Heart & Seoul exists – I wasted five hours of my Kdrama viewing time so you wouldn’t have to. I will admit, the story is uniquely original, well-acted, skillfully directed, and has amazing CGI special effects, but I felt like I was watching a Saturday morning special Halloween episode of a TV show aimed at pre-teens (like Goosebumps). In all honesty, I didn’t like the show. But, as I said in my opening paragraph, those of you who have read and enjoyed the novel the drama was based on won’t want to miss The School Nurse Files and will, undoubtedly, find it entertaining. However, the novel was not told in its entirety. Things that would have been too difficult (like getting animals to act) and stories that were too long or too short were left out of the drama. So there’s a possibility you might find your favorite part of the book missing in the drama.
You may be wondering, why is this school infested with “jellies?” Well, I’ll let Teacher Hong explain that one to you but I’ll give you a hint… it has something to do with a pond and lovers.
The “jellies” in The School Nurse Files are quite imaginative, and some could even be considered cute. However, even though I knew it was all just CGI, I was still grossed out in certain parts. I know movies/TV isn’t real. Very rarely have I been bothered with violent scenes in shows because in school I was in the drama club and, as the assistant director and stage manager of our productions, I saw how things are made to look real even though they aren’t. So, seeing blood doesn’t affect me all that much. However, in this drama, I had to close my eyes when the mite eater was chewing the plump, little, orange creatures. And the crunching sounds made it even worse. Yuck!
Some fans of the show have been speculating on whether a season two has been considered. Well, to put your curiosity to rest, I’ll let you know that nothing has been planned as of yet. But that doesn’t mean the producers won’t change their minds at a later date. The whole story wasn’t completely resolved but it was wrapped up enough to not really need another season. It’s not like Kingdom and Love Alarm. I’ve seen the first season of both those dramas but I’ve refrained from reviewing them because I could tell they were going to need a continuation. (Once they are completely done I’ll re-watch the first season of each before I finish the rest and review them.) Would I watch a part two of The School Nurse Files? Hummmmmm, probably not. But you never know.
As I began to write this paragraph, I wasn’t able to recall any of the show’s music so I went to YouTube in hopes of jogging my memory but there wasn’t much there. The drama has a short, fast-paced song that sounds like rock-‘n’-roll from the early 1960s, a pretty ballad, some instrumental stuff, and one song that has a very strong, slow beat with chant-like singing. Sorry to say this but I think the soundtrack is very unimpressive.
About 90% of the show takes place in the school. The most eye-catching thing about this drama is, of course, the “jellies.” There’s a giant-sized one that’s supposed to be a mutated frog-sort-of-salamander type monster but actually looks more like that man-eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors. We see darling little mites, and brightly-colored hearts come falling in a shower when some “jellies” are destroyed. It’s definitely a fanciful-looking show.
If you’re one of those folks who read and liked the novel, you shouldn’t miss The School Nurse Files. However, if (like me) the story is completely foreign to you, there’s a strong possibility it will be a bit too weird to sincerely enjoy. After reading this review, if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to watch The School Nurse Files, I suggest you skip it and check out Secret Garden instead, which happens to be a MUCH BETTER fantasy drama. In fact, Secret Garden is perfect.
Great CGI aesthetics
Only six episodes
Main characters are interesting
A few different “jelly” stories
Too childishly weird for me to enjoy
We don’t get to see enough of Jung Yu-Mi’s darling smile
Not enough back story for Nurse Ahn and Teacher Hong
Not a lot of character development