Posted by: asianfilmreviews | February 23, 2009

Sexy Teacher (2006)

Sexy TeacherSexy Teacher (aka Hot for Teacher, Who Slept With Her?) – 누가 그녀와 잤을까?

Director: Kim Yoo-Seong (김유성)

Cast: Kim Sa-Rang (김사랑), Park Joon-Gyoo (박준규), Ha Dong-Hoon (하동훈), Ha Seok-Jin (하석진), Lee Hyeok-Jae (이혁재)

Sexy Teacher is the kind of film for which sexual innuendos and double entendres were tailor-made. While it has more than its fair share of pantsings, body humor jokes, and suggestive posturing, I give the filmmakers credit for actually crafting a rather tame sex comedy. There are no gag-inducing and, frankly, banal and unfunny sex jokes as you would find in Sex is Zero (색즉시공) or the American Pie films, but that does not mean this film is totally harmless. Sexy and fun, yes, but also dangerous in its depiction of women as little more than anthropomorphic trophies.

Kim Sa-Rang plays the teacher in question, Ji-Young, who is actually a student teacher of French at a Catholic all boys high school. Coming in to this environment looking like she does (tight, short skirts, commercial-perfect hair and make-up, and tight, revealing tops and blouses) immediately leads to trouble as students and teachers alike quickly become obsessed with her, including the Dean of Students (Lee Hyeok-Jae). After the school’s concert performance, the Dean follows a woman (whom he believes to be Ji-Young) and one of the students to another part of the school, only to spot a sillhouette of said couple engaged in sex. Barging in, he finds just a single, red, high-heeled shoe. Believing that one of three students defiled Ji-Young and feeling pangs of jealousy, his accusations become public. While all this occurs at the beginning, the majority of the film is told in flashback form as Ji-Young first comes to the school to teach and recruits three students to perform with her at the school concert.

The film’s basic story at first resembles that of Shinobu Yaguchi’s (矢口史靖) excellent feel good comedy, Waterboys (ウォーターボーイズ), where a sexy young teacher (played in that film by swimsuit model Kaori Manabe, 眞鍋 かをり) joins a high school as the new swimming instructor and recruits students for a synchronized swimming performance. Naturally, male students initially join up in droves only to leave when they learn what they would be doing. But whereas Waterboys used the sexy teacher model as narrative bait to get the boys to succeed on their own, Sexy Teacher uses the character of Ji-Young as an impetus for unending sexual gags with no real payoff. Take a look at this clip for a good idea of what to expect for the film’s 110 minute running time.

Visually, this is as risque as the film gets, but ideologically, it exemplifies the attention that is given to a certain definition of beauty. When I teach media courses, I always make sure my students leave with at least understanding the relationship between a culture and its popular texts, such as movies – that a movie is never just a movie. With Sexy Teacher, Ji-Young is the only female in the film who is lusted after by men. She is portrayed as perfect, physically and mentally, but she is also depicted as not wanting to engage in sex, as though she is completely ignorant not only of natural biological urges but also of the power she has over men in the film. This accounts for the film’s endless pursuits of Ji-Young by the men, which she never seems to understand. In fact, at the end of the film, her character is almost de-sexualized as the filmmakers use her to advance the film’s moral, which involves respect for others and the danger of rumors. The other prominent females in the film are either hyper-sexualized (such as the staff worker who forces herself on Ha Seok-Jin’s character during the film’s closing montage) or they aren’t even considered femine (such as the teacher who becomes sexualized only after drinking some love potion). Regardless of how the filmmakers try to subjectify Ji-Young, the fact of the matter is that no other woman in the film looks like her or acts like her. She is essentially an inhuman fantasy figure.

Kim Sa-Rang

As she is the only woman in the film whom men pay attention to, it suggests that her body shape (which you can see in the publicity photo above), which is impossible for a vast majority of women to achieve without surgical enhancement, photo manipulation, or unhealthy eating habits, is the ideal female form and indeed the only actual female form, personality be damned. To be fair, her character does support two-way relationships, in which love and respect are mutual, but this sentiment is basically sidelined for the sake of comedy. Though the men know very little about her and though she has all the common sense and worldly understanding of a fairy tale princess, that doesn’t seem to matter because of the way she looks and dresses.


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