Lovely Rivals (Yeoseonsaeng Vs. Yeojeja)
"Yeoseonsaeng Vs. Yeojeja" literally means "Female Teacher Vs. Female Student". It is a comedy drama about the rivalry between a student named Mi-nam and her homeroom teacher. Most of the hilarious acts is very well provided by the clumsy, cunning, flirtatious, and pretentious fifth-grade teacher Ms Yeo mi-oak. Both are vying for the attention of the art teacher Mr. Kwon.
I thought this film looks like another movie that provides just a few laughs and nothing more. As I followed the story I realized it has several lessons to impart, especially to working parents, to students, and teachers. This story also touched the subject of the convenience and the perils of modern gadgets as mobile phones, the importance of communication and care that parents provide, and bullying done in school.
Ms Yeo arrived late on her first day when homeroom teachers are being introduced to their class. The kids sighed and frowned when they saw their teacher, and they were even overheard saying "This sucks!" Well, they tasted their first punishment.. They were made to kneel on top of their seats .
"Don't think this is harsh for your first day (Is she kidding?). You have to behave first for me to behave. Also, just because I came late today doesn't mean you can, got it?"
And Mi-nam came in while her classmates ongoing punishment (what an entrance).
Mi-nam is a loner. Her being silent is being equated as playing tough by some of her female classmates. They wanted to tame her but they're no match to this unshakable little lady. She must be strong. She had to take care of herself as her mother is working. She is left alone at home most of the time. She tried to talk to her teacher for advice and unburden her predicament, but several times she's being brushed aside by Ms Yeo.
A new teacher came to this rural school, an art teacher named Mr Kwon. He ruffled some feathers, from the female faculty members to the female students. Including, of course, our two main characters, Ms Yeo and Mi-nam. A bittersweet rivalry then ensued.
To Ms Yeo, he represents hope, a hope to end the state of being an old single female. To Mi-nam, someone who's attentive, appreciative,and someone who's always ready to lend an ear . And to the others, Mr Kwon is heaven sent, as the school do not have a male teacher as sweet, and congenial, and good-looking as he is (or could it be just my opinion..?).
More scenes showing Ms Yeo's awkwardly funny antics to get the attention of the Art teacher, and to snatch him from Mi-nam's youthful charm and innocence.
Ms Yeo, reports to her mother (who happens to be a retired teacher) her activities in school including her having "crush" on Mr. Kwon, like a lovesick high school girl, and worse. And in return, she receives a "loving" spank from her mother despite her age. It would make you wish you have a mother like Ms Yeo does.
Mi-nam's closeness to the art teacher is making Ms Yeo uneasy and insecure. It is even clear in the dream sequences. To discourage Mi-nam and to show her that she, Ms yeo, is Mr. Kwon's match, she had Mi-nam and another classmate named Gyun-soo (who happens to have a crush on Ms Yeo) come together to meet her. She gave them books to study with (but of course it was just an excuse), and then left the two kids to meet Mr. Kwon who's waiting just a few steps away. But before the two adults could enter an entertainment establishment, Mr. Kwon received a text message from Mi-nam threatening them to spread rumor about the two faculty members going to a motel. You guessed it, Mi-nam won.
There were instances that Mi-nam talks back to her homeroom teacher. The other girls were blown away by her guts. She openly showed her dislike, or should it be disgust, for her homeroom teacher, while her female classmates showed Mi-nam their admiration. Mi-nam is not impressed either. Ms Yeo, on the other hand, met Mi-nam's mother to report to her about Mi-nam's unruly behavior.This act angered Mi-nam the more as she received scolding from her mother instead of loving words after a long day of not seeing each other.
Everything got out of hand when special guests came to their classroom to observe Ms Yeo's class while having their lessons. Their lesson was about expressing one's self in poetry. After Gyun-soo presented his poem, and before the visitors, with the school principal,made their exit, Mi-nam asked to present her poem. The principal allowed Mi-nam to let her read her poem despite Ms Yeo's apparent reluctance. Mi-nam's poem:
Title: The Old Single Female
Your heart is like a summer weather forecast
No one knows when it'll rain or shine
You make everyone nervous around you
Yes, the Old Single Female.
You're like a solitary speck in the sky
Afraid of spending the long night alone
Yes, The Old Single Female.
Be born as a day-fly in your next life
Since you'll only last a day
The older you get the harder marriage is
Yes, you are our homeroom teacher.
Ms Yeo was stupefied, while the class applauded. She was summoned to the principal's office for more verbal assault. She was told to quit her post if she can't even control one child. Back to her room, she punished all her students for the humiliation she received, by making them kneel atop their seats. After realizing her misdeed, Mi-nam protested. She confronted her teacher, told her to punish her alone but Ms Yeo wouldn't budge. When Mi-nam started to be hysterical, Ms Yeo, blinded with rage, slapped her hard on the face. Unfortunately, what happened that moment was captured on a mobile cam by one of the students and uploaded it on the internet. Thought they did it for fun, not realizing it would cause a holy mess from and among the parents. The parents, teachers, and students resorted to an unconventional method of resolving the chaos. The kids voted if Mi-nam deserved to be slapped by her homeroom teacher or not. All voted "yes" except one. Although Ms Yeo is off the hook she felt so guilty and sad for Mi-nam. After talking to her own mother, she went to see Mi-nam's mother to clarify things. She was told that Mi-nam is fatherless (like she is), and that her father died two years ago. And when she saw Mi-nam she apologized and told her she's leaving the school, and that she has nothing to do with her decision to quit. She advised Mi-nam to make friends in school.
This event seems to change the course of the lives of our major characters. Gradually they came to realize they missed their homeroom teacher. They have their old principal as substitute teacher. They couldn't bear his singing. They wanted Ms Yeo back. They did a text barrage to let her know how they missed her. That includes Mi-nam.
While driving her car, Ms Yeo bumped into a police patrol car. One of the patrolman recognized her as one of his homeroom teachers and give her the respect due her. He let her off the hook, too. She realized she is not that bad after all. Somehow she had made a good impression from her past students. Well then...
The fifth grade homeroom teacher is back, with her usual sharp tongue. This time it seems to be music to their ears.
And wait.. why is Ms Yeo running after Mi-nam, while Mr. Kwon is watching them? Do you think they're not yet over their silly battle..?
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