Flash Review: The School Nurse Files

Let me be the first to say that I’m not sure I “get” this show, so this review will only be my best attempt at understanding this show.

I just.. was too curious about this one, after seeing the quirky trailers and posters, to pass it up.

To help us gain more insight and understanding into this show, Dame Holly, metaphor whisperer extraordinaire, who recently brought us a guest review of Greasy Melo, will be back to give us her take on this very different snowflake of a drama, probably in the next week or two. Stay tuned for that!

(Update: Dame Holly’s guest post is here!)

In the meantime, allow me to share my (probably mostly) half-baked thoughts on this show with you guys. πŸ˜…


Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review. The OST is as quirky and offbeat as the show itself, so I’d say it’s on point and well-matched.

I didn’t love nor hate this show, and I feel the same way about its OST. I didn’t love nor hate it; it worked well for what it was supposed to do.

Still, I do have more affection for the first track in this playlist – λ„λ§κ°€μž – because it’s got a fun, lightheartedly quirky sort of vibe.

I also rather like that slightly badass feel of the 3rd track on this list, 보건ꡐ사 μ•ˆμ€μ˜.


I feel like there are two main things that would be helpful to know, going into this show, and two potential lenses you could choose from, for your watch.

1. Logic need not apply

This show does not employ a straightforward storytelling sort of approach, and as a result, there’s no clear cause and effect between plot points.

Sometimes, the different plot points just seem to exist side-by-side as almost unrelated vignettes that just happen to sit in the same drama world.

I learned that it’s best not to try too hard, to apply a logical lens to this drama world. It’s not built for that logical lens, and so trying to use one, honestly mostly feels like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole: effortful and sweaty work, but ultimately fruitless.

2. This leans dark

From the quirky promos, and from Jung Yu Mi’s colorful toy sword, I’d expected this show to lean tongue-in-cheek, light and nonsensical, but surprisingly, it actually leans dark and rather serious.

I was a little thrown to realize – right away in episode 1 – that Show touches on darker, somber themes like suicide, death and rejection. There is no tongue-in-cheek in this – that I could pick up on, anyway.

I think it’s helpful to know that right off the bat.

3. Your choice of lens

I conclude that there are two main choices when it comes to the viewing lens that best works for this show.

The first one, which I think is the easier one, is to just let go of all need for logic, along with any desire to actually understand what Show is trying to say, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The second one, which I attempted to use, is a metaphorical lens.

I went into this watch putting aside my usual modus operandi for understanding a drama, and tried to keep a much more open, fluid sort of mindset instead, while attempting to think in terms of symbols, metaphors and themes.

This yielded some.. interesting results, which I’ll share with you in a bit.

A somewhat related tangent

On a tangent, with my brain on metaphorical / thematic mode, it occurred to me that this show appearing lighthearted and fun in its trailers, but having darker themes once you get to know it, is kinda-sorta similar to those instances of people who appear to be happy and lighthearted on the surface, but struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide, on the inside.

This thought makes me take back any flippant regrets about this show not being as light as I’d hoped for.


For the record, I won’t be listing the things I didn’t like about this show, because most of those things are odd narrative decisions and unanswered questions, and those don’t quite apply in this very different drama world, because it just doesn’t play by the same rules.

Show’s general look and feel

If you’re tired of kdrama worlds where everything and everyone looks airbrushed and perfect, then this show’s aesthetic could really work for you.

There is no airbrushing in this drama world. Everyone looks like normal people, and possesses things like skin imperfections and frizzy hair.

Some of the jellies that our school nurse fights are extra cute, which is tonally dissonant because the jellies are supposed to represent negative emotions and human desires.

I found this contrast interesting and a rather refreshing change.

Jung Yu Mi as Eun Young

I generally feel pretty neutral towards Jung Yu Mi, mostly because I struggled to like her character in I Need Romance 2012, but I have to admit that she is pitch perfect as our reluctant jelly fighter superhero Eun Young.

Eun Young is unabashedly weird, and is too busy fighting off jellies and protecting students to care that she comes off as very, very strange to the world at large.

I really like that unapologetic quality about her.

Nam Joo Hyuk as In Pyo

I was admittedly rather taken aback to realize that Nam Joo Hyuk’s character has a bit of a disability.

I’ve seen him play sporty jocks several times now, like in Who Are You: School 2015 and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, so in my head, he’s this fit, strong, sporty guy, and to see him walk with a labored limp was a little startling.

I think it’s great that he’s trying out a different type of character, though, and I also think it’s a good thing for diversity.

Not only do we have a character with a disability, he’s a main character, and young and handsome too. That’s something you don’t often see in kdrama.

I really enjoyed Nam Joo Hyuk as In Pyo. In Pyo can’t see the jelly monsters that Eun Young can, but it isn’t long before he’s on board as her wingman-assistant.

I rather like how unfazed he tends to be, by the jelly world that he can’t see, as well as Eun Young’s bizarre behavior and outlandish explanations.

In fact, he even gets to a point where he embraces Eun Young’s weirdness as a positive thing – better than being average, he says – and I kinda love that open-mindedness about him.

The burgeoning connection between Eun Young and In Pyo

I really enjoy the growing connection between Eun Young and In Pyo, as they try to make sense of the battle that they need to fight.

They feel like reluctant partners-in-crime, who can’t help but be drawn together by the fact that In Pyo’s possesses a special aura that is able to supercharge Eun Young’s jelly-fighting powers.

Show doesn’t try to turn their relationship romantic, even though there are shades of interest and hyper-awareness from time to time, and I’m perfectly happy with that.

Who has time to fall in love when you’re grappling with the responsibility of saving the world from jelly invasion, right?

I just like that these two learn to work together, in spite of their reservations, and ultimately choose to stand by each other, even when the going gets tough.


For the record, I watched this show with my friend Michele, and after each episode, we mostly felt rather confused and stumped, unsure of what had just transpired on our screens, ha.

And then we’d start rehashing the episode, and bouncing ideas off each other.

A good chunk of these ideas that I’m sharing here, would’ve probably never taken shape, if Michele hadn’t said something that triggered me to think a new thought.

Thank you, dear Michele! ❀️

Here’s an episode-by-episode rundown of my (still half-baked) thoughts on Show’s metaphors.


Episode 2

The Monster

It all started with the pond where all the young people with unrequited love and feelings of rejected jumped in and committed suicide.

Left over time to fester, those negative feelings have turned into a monster, and that monster is huge and powerful, and it’s easy for the weak to be sucked into the monster’s roar.

But, when you’re able to destroy the monster instead of allowing the monster to destroy you, that’s when the negative feelings give way to positive ones – and that’s why the monster explodes into colorful jelly hearts (something that I was not expecting, at all).

Also, when you’re facing the monster alone, it’s easy to lose your strength, which will then put you in danger of being consumed by the monster.

But when you have someone on your side, who’s able to lend you their strength, like In Pyo lends Eun Young his strength, you will be able to stand firm in the face of the monster (of negative feelings), and destroy it, and come out victorious.

The jelly connection

The two students are connected by a jelly of negative emotions, and they feed off each other.

She eggs him on to do criminal things like steal test papers and cheat on exams, thus feeding him negative emotions and motivations, and as he gives in to her goading, he indirectly feeds her too, because it just encourages her to do badder and bolder things.

Kinda like how two people with the same bad habit who live together, would feed each other’s bad habit, whether it’s drugs, or theft, or something like poor self esteem.

This is why the jelly between them gets fatter and fatter, the more bad things they get into, together. I don’t think the growing jelly has anything to do with the boy’s haircut.

And Eun Young learning to tie different knots from In Pyo, is perhaps because once she cuts the jelly that joins them, she’ll need to tie the ends and cut off their food source, thereby killing the jelly.

In Pyo and Jellyfish suddenly becoming Eun Young’s allies

I do find it weird that In Pyo and Jellyfish become Eun Young’s allies so suddenly, especially since In Pyo had just recently been asking Eun Young to leave him alone.

But maybe it’s Show’s way of saying that it’s good for us to be open about the things that we think makes us weird and different; that the people around us might be weirder than we think, and be able to accept us more easily than we think, too.

It’s when we’re open about our weirdness, that we can then find the support group that we need.

Episode 3

You can get better at facing your monsters

The giant jelly girl ghost felt like a weird pitstop, because in form, it looked pretty epic, because we get another jelly monster, and Eun Young saves the kids from being sucked into the jelly monster by destroying it with her toy sword, and jelly hearts float everywhere, in the aftermath.

This is so reminiscent of the big monster from episode 2, and yet, Show’s treatment of it is anything but epic. Instead, this time, it barely blips on our screen.

Does this mean that as Eun Young learns to fight the monsters, the things that used to be monumental challenges for her become like a walk in the park?

Your desires can destroy you

The girl jelly ghost’s desire to get into Seoul National University likely killed her, and then continued to haunt her even in death, where the desires in her turn her into a monster (as it feeds on the desires of the other kids?), and it ultimately destroys her.

And once that root is destroyed, the jelly hearts are released, and the other kids are set free from the agony of their desires to get into SNU?

Be careful what you wish for

I’m not clear on Mackenzie (Yoo Teo) and what he’s supposed to represent, but it does seem that he uses the desires of the 4 bullies against them.

It seems to me that the jellies in the pods supercharge whatever desires are present in the human, and that’s how the bullies’ negative desires result in their injuries – which then prevent them from playing on the team.

If this true, then could the jellies be neutral rather than negative entities?

Ji Hyeong’s desire to play basketball isn’t a negative thing, but admittedly, the jelly is used to give him an unfair advantage that he wouldn’t otherwise have.

So I guess it’s not good either way.

Episode 4

The question of whether you can rebel against your destiny

Eun Young saying that she hates the word destiny, and saying that she won’t live as she’s destined to.

I think this is echoed by the experience of Mite-eating Girl Hye Min (Song Hee Jun), who says that she’s a being that just keeps getting created to eat mites and die, each time there’s a mite infestation, and who has a jurisdiction that’s a 5.38km radius around the school.

By the end of the episode, she seems wistful about wanting to live beyond her set age of 20, and about wanting to see a bigger world outside of the small area that she’s known for multiple lifetimes. Can she escape her destiny?


This was a surprisingly affecting episode. I was not prepared for how much I would care for Eun Young’s ghost friend Kang Sun (Choi Joon Young). Because of the emotional hook of this arc, this episode feels the most accessible and relatable.

I love the origin story of their friendship, mostly because they were both outcasts in their own way, and yet, when they were thrown together by their classmates’ desire to avoid them, they accepted each other without judging each other, and became friends.

Kang Sun couldn’t see the jellies that Eun Young could, but he never doubted her, when she told him that she could see them.

It is so poignant to me that he would seek her out in death; it shows how much their friendship had meant to him. And it’s also meaningful to me, that he’d been the one who had suggested weapons to Eun Young.

He’s been the one to draw her using a sword and gun, in her fight against the jellies. It’s so poignant that the first thing Kang Sun does, when he realizes that he can interact with the iPad, is to draw Eun Young.

In that moment when Kang Sun is in a lot of pain, and Eun Young is preparing to possibly put him out of his misery, it’s so painfully ironic that the weapon she wields, that could put an end to his existence, is the weapon he had drawn into her hands to begin with.

Which makes me question whether Kang Sun had done more than simply draw Eun Young with weapons. Had he imparted those weapons to her, by drawing them?

Did his drawings have magic in them?

Did the things he drew come to life after he’d drawn them? Because it’s only after he shatters into pieces and leaves, that her ability to see jellies disappears. And, his drawings do look like the uncanny likeness of the jellies that Eun Young sees.

The monster from episode 1 is in his drawing.

There’s also the idea of trying to fight your destiny.

Eun Young has said more than once that she hates her destiny and wishes she could quit everything. And there’s also Hye Min, who wishes she could be a human and live beyond 20 years old.

The thing about Hye Min needing a stomach removal in order to change her fate is decidedly bizarre.Β Is this some kind of metaphor for removing one’s desires? I know that in Korean, being jealous can be expressed as having stomach pains. If you remove your stomach, you won’t have stomach pains?

The scene where Eun Young grabs onto In Pyo’s hand in the car, is a pretty interesting depiction of how humans and their desires work.

At first, he is all casual and noncommittal when Eun Young asks if she can still hold his hand (for charging purposes) and he says it’s perfectly ok.

Then, when she grabs onto his hand, her expression soon becomes one of satisfied bliss, as she revels in the charge that she’s getting from his hand.

That observation, that he’s having some kind of sublime effect on Eun Young, makes In Pyo bashful, and he starts giving me shy boyfriend vibes.

He’d had no charged reaction to Eun Young before, but it was his perception of her reaction to him, that stirred up what appears to be new feelings and desires in him.

I feel like there’s some kind of thematic significance to the little girl ghost (Lee Hae On). She’s casually steady and noncommittal, but I think that has a lot to do with how she’s losing track of time and meaning.

Over time, she can’t remember well how much time has passed, or if she’s seen her mother recently.

And as she loses track of time and meaning, she seems so at peace – in contrast to Kang Sun, who remembered everything before he shattered, and seemed to be in pain. It makes me wonder if he’d have still experienced pain, if he’d managed to leave his cares and memories behind.

There’s also how Eun Young dreams of her own death, and how she then tells Hwa Su that it was freeing, because nothing seemed to matter, when she was dead.


I think the main question that Show addresses this episode, is whether or not you can move on from your destiny, and I think the answer is, you can only move on from your destiny, if your mission is complete.

Hye Min’s stomach removal is successful and she is shown moving on from her heretofore destined life cycles of eating mites.

I think this is only possible because she’s eaten all of the mites there were to eat. Eun Young had picked all the mites for her, and Hye Min had eaten them before her surgery. And afterwards, we don’t see any more mites lingering around the school.

In contrast, even though Eun Young momentarily loses her ability to see the jellies, she is unable to leave her destiny behind. Even though Eun Young and In Pyo join forces to destroy the entire school and the jellies with it, there are hints that jellies are still threatening to terrorize the school.

And since jellies represent human desires, it doesn’t seem like they will ever cease to exist. Therefore, it appears that Eun Young’s job will never be fully done.

On that note, I kinda think that the school being rebuilt on the same exact site, and life going on as before, is possibly a statement about how human desires will always exist and threaten to get in the way, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from living life..?

Importantly, by the end of our story, Eun Young’s come to terms with her destiny. She’s not crazy about it, just like she never was before, but now, she’s come to accept it, and therefore even embrace it, to a moderate extent, in that she finally finds meaning in what she does.

Even though we don’t see In Pyo in Show’s final minutes, I assume that he continues to teach as well, and continues to be Eun Young’s supercharger sidekick, using his super special aura.

In the end, I may not have been able to fully understand Show, but I do like that I feel I can comprehend and digest this idea, that we all have things in life that only we can do, and choosing to rise to the occasion to accomplish those things, is part of what gives our lives meaning.


Dark, wacky and weird. Your mileage is likely to vary, depending on your appetite for weirdness &/or metaphors.




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2 years ago

This is another one I’ve been unsure of. The trailers looked fun but didn’t quite sell me on it. The dark and quirky aspects really appeal to me, but I do tend to like a very solid and coherent overarching story, and I’m not sure if this has that. I have had a few people suggest this one to me though, so I have been curious. Maybe….🀣

Prashil Prakash
Prashil Prakash
2 years ago

I’m so glad you wrote on this show.

I even wrote in the ‘full list of shows’ column asking you to check this one out.

I had been waiting for the release even it was announced as the trailer looked quite sick.

The trailers gave me a vibe similar to the movie “I kill giants” with the quirky lead in a quirky world only she can see.

It really was a series which created more questions than answers.
“I’m not entirely sure what I’m watching, but I think it’s pretty cool” lol

I love Jung Yumi because of LIVE and ‘Train to Busan’ but this show definitely takes the cake in terms of her character as the Weird School Nurse

And seriously you’re right about the Nam Joo hyuk’s character, it did feel a lil weird seeing him in this role But I really liked it. That slight ‘defeated but not really’ look on his face was pretty new. He was a character which you cannot really have a read on.

I love the dynamic between these 2 and specially scenes with Jung Yumi frustrated and swearing when she thinks about him or gets jealous of the English teacher.

To sum it up. It was a great show(probably) which I couldn’t comprehend well πŸ˜‚
And I’m ok with that.
Hopefully more people talk about this one!

And Thanks for the review!😊😊

Lee Tennant
Lee Tennant
2 years ago

Well I loved it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Oops, sorry. I’m supposed to be writing… (nice review).

2 years ago

Well, I liked a lot this one. It was short, quirky and fun. What I liked the most is the main pair, the nurse and the professor. Jung Yu Mi and Nam Joo Hyuk did an amazing job here. I love how how they are weird, but also charismatic and interesting, and their semi-romantic interactions. It’s fun to see them becoming partners in this mission of saving the school and the students, and it’s also heartwarming to see them together because both seem to be quite alone.
I didn’t try too hard to find the meaning in everything, since it didn’t seem that the show wanted us to know everything. The connection between the jellies and bad feelings seemed clear, and how they can become dangerous.

Erin Osen
Erin Osen
2 years ago

Dear Fangirl,

Thanks for this ! I was looking forward to reading your review, I want to take my time πŸ˜‰
From my end, I developed an obsession for this k-drama. Everything was so unexpected and so refreshing. It was still my beloved Korean language, Korean actors, Korean codes, but in the most colorful unpredictable way.
It took me a second watch to understand the story. The first time, I felt like I was trying to swim upstreams and trying to maintain my head out of the water. The story made little sense, getting used to see sweating kids with awkward face expressions, and the ducks (?). Then the second time, knowing what I was visually expecting, I focused on the story. Keeping in mind that it is an adapted version on the novel, so we have probably lost a lot of context.

In summary, it was quite extraordinary, compared to the other formatted kdramas. My problem now… I don’t feel like I will be able to go back to chaebols, annoying mother-in-law and awkward wrist grabbing πŸ˜… !

2 years ago

I was eagerly waiting for this show to air ever since I heard about it in the spring. I just knew this was a show for me with its female lead, quirky premise and Teo Yoo. Pure fantasy dramas are not my thing, but I have come to really like this kind of mix of harsh reality and wild imaginary things. This being on Netflix, I also expected it to be dark and somewhat philosophical.

So I had high expectations and they were met like 90%, but I can’t really point out what made me slightly disappointed. Maybe I would have liked a little more closure at the end. Not everything has to be neat and tidy, but this show felt more like a circle instead of a line from A to B. Also there were so many characters, it was hard to remember who is who. Still a really good drama and I’ll probably watch it again just to see if I missed something.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Thanks for the link! It seems that my disappointment with the ending was justified, because it was not really the ending. I just assumed that this was the usual one season drama, because nothing indicated otherwise at the time of the premiere.

Maybe they were waiting to see the response before telling, that they actually have plans for multiple seasons. Netflix cancels the underperforming quite fast, so understandably they did not want to give false hope or seem overly confident. Still, I won’t believe there is another season before they officially start filming it πŸ˜€ I thought my yearly cancellation anxiety would be gone when I changed to kdramas, but apparently not.

2 years ago

Nice review kfangurl.
When I saw the trailers I assumed it would be fun and quirky but I always had this feeling it might be dark that is why I haven’t watched it yet.
After reading your review I feel like not watching it was a good choice for me. I mean throwing out all logic sounds hard. Logic is the juice I live on πŸ˜€
what I hate the most are misleading trailers. Last time that happened to me was World of the married. When they promoted a sexy, intriguing show but It turned out to be a psycho thriller.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I mean the point of a trailer is that it shows what the show is about and the overall mood. But you tell me that most trailers are like that? Damn… I usually don’t watch trailers I just dive in.
That means I have to avoid them thanks for the insight ^^

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Ah that seems logical.
I think you are doing a good job in picking vids and trailers for the page ^^

2 years ago

To be honest, from the start, the fact that negativity and evil is represented by jellies, it never quite ‘jelled’ with me. It’s just something that can’t be reconciled in my mind. So I felt a just bit irritated from the start. It wasn’t all bad though, I watched the whole show and that says something.

Annette Chung
2 years ago

Weird is an understatement. I watched one episode and just can’t get onboard. But to those who loves something different and unique, it might be for them. I just felt a bit cheated because like you, the promo makes it look like something light and whimsical, but instead it was a bit dark and depressive.

2 years ago

Hi Kfangurl,

I have to say that I felt a little unfulfilled after watching this one. It was just too weird and I think I am rather good at adjusting my lense to most things. I love Nam Ju-Hyuk, so I stuck it out to the end, but definitely not something I would rewatch somewhere down the line.

2 years ago

I have to be honest, I bailed on this after the second episode. Its rendition of “quirky” just wasn’t hitting the right groove for me. I think you’re on to something when you say to set logic aside, because I think that probably removes an impediment to enjoyment, here.

I’d only seen Jung Yu-mi before in Train to Busan (oh, and I think she had a quick cameo in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?), which was a pretty different role. As for Nam Ju-hyuk, I’m enjoying him so far (10 episodes in) as the ML in Start-up, a role that I think he’s handling pretty well; but also pretty different from the role here (I agree with you though, in that I appreciate the representation of disability through his character here).

Lady G.
2 years ago

Cool review! I almost had trouble following it, so I can understand your confusion. lol. I haven’t seen this, but it makes sense about the metaphors. You know I like dark, sci-fi/fantasy genres but I am not sure if this one is for me. I may give it a try eventually. It almost seems like a Japanese Manga. Now I remember seeing one quick advert for this when she was swinging around her light up sword. I thought maybe this takes place in a mental institution and was similar to a film like – I’m a Cyborg but that’s okay.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Oh indeed, I really enjoyed I’m a Cyborg and generally have an affinity towards the strange and unusual. If not for our post-episode hash outs, I am not sure I would have followed this one as easily as I did Cyborg and yes, there were many head scratching moments in this compact and wacky tale. I will corroborate that it did end up being far darker than the trailer put forth. In fact, the trailer made it all feel quite whimsical. Jellies and a retractable light up sword would seem to insinuate some kind of light and playful shenanigans, right? Nevertheless, I did actually appreciate the darker undertone especially in the idea of pushing through a destiny or mission that you simply don’t want to do yet fulfill it for the good of humanity, even when the weight of it feels absolutely debilitating. Through it all it really helped to have a bit of a rag tag team to see our resilient nurse through it, especially In Pyo. And even though it seems as if the HSP only wanted to harness In Pyo’s aura/power, I still feel they were a cult, and a creepy one at that!

Well done in thinking this one out. I would be willing to navigate another strange and usual one with you in the future, if you are game of course.~😜

Lady G.
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I am still trying to figure out my moods, I will wait on this one for a little while. lol