Black Dog: Episode 10
Our college advisors face a dose of reality and are reminded once again that school is an organization. This means that some of the things they have to do are not ideal, which can be very discouraging. They’ll need to face these challenges head on and figure out how to navigate their environment and take control.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
On the day of the informational, Jae-hyun’s dad was on a call, defending Haneul’s status as a short-term teacher – it doesn’t matter as long as she gets Jae-hyun into a good school. This came as a surprise to Jae-hyun who’d overheard the conversation.
As he prepares for school one day, dad instructs him to get on Haneul’s good side. Jae-hyun’s student record hasn’t been submitted yet, so to prevent upsetting Haneul, she shouldn’t find out that he knows of her short-term status.
It’s now summer vacation and Yi-boon drafts an e-mail urging third year teachers in particular to complete an initial write-up of the student records before vacation ends. Once it’s over, students and parents will examine the records and many complaints are expected.
Vice Principal Lee takes over and before sending the mass e-mail, adds that teacher evaluations will take place when school resumes. It’s pretty much a warning to do a good job writing the student records because he’ll be watching.
Sung-soon reads an announcement about the upcoming vice principal promotion which all teachers are asked to complete a peer review for. She ignores Teacher Moon’s text inviting her to have a meal with him, likely to lay the groundwork for his promotion.
Summer passes in a flash and on the first day back, Haneul’s students are extra sweet, showering her with compliments. “You look like that actress, Seo Hyun-jin!” Hah! Though other teachers are just arriving, Sung-soon’s already working, deep in discussion with a parent. Myung-soo finds her job difficult, while Haneul gushes that she’s cool.
Principal Byun abruptly makes an announcement about teacher evaluations, heavily suggesting the students to give their teachers a perfect score. Similarly, Teacher Song sends an e-mail to all faculty, encouraging them to give each other full points. Myung-soo finds it pointless since not everyone will keep their promise.
Haneul’s shocked to learn that kids tend to write mean comments about teachers since the evaluations are anonymous, and is reassured that other teachers can’t view them. Yeon-woo and Sung-soon begin to receive a string of texts from different students who are clearly trying to earn brownie points by sharing that they gave them perfect scores.
Teacher Han gathers Haneul and a few other short-term teachers to discuss an issue with students who joined two clubs. The combined comments are too long, so one of the teachers will have to shorten their write-up.
Icarus is deemed more important as it gives students a better chance to get into college. The others are instructed to shorten their comments while Haneul is asked to write more. The new short-term teachers take offense to this and decide not to put as much effort into the student records going forward.
Jae-hyun’s friends are discouraged by the Creative Experience department only paying attention to the Icarus students. They spot Haneul taking out the trash and rush over to help her. She remembers them as the students who complained about her to Yi-boon, but they’re friendly now, offering her a drink. She smiles when even Jae-hyun gives her some mandarin oranges, and the boys promise to visit her later.
85 days until the CSAT: Yoo-ra interrupts Teacher Han’s math lesson to request self-study time. Teacher Han agrees on the condition that nobody falls asleep, but not even a second after she says this, Jae-hyun puts his head down and ruins it for the others. Although he apologizes (albeit half-heartedly), it’s too late and he’s called to the office after class.
Myung-soo finds Haneul obsessing over her gifts from the students (it’s adorable how the smiley face she drew on the mandarin looks exactly like her!). He’s about to give her advice on student records when students storm in to report that Jae-hyun’s in trouble.
Haneul rushes over to where Class 5 is anxiously watching Teacher Han lecture Jae-hyun for looking down on the teachers. She ushers the students away and they complain that Teacher Han always threatens them with their student records. When Jae-hyun comes out, his classmates surround him with concern.
Teacher Sohn learns from Yeon-woo that the Office of Education wanted increased parent participation, so Vice Principal Lee texted parents about teacher evaluations using the teachers’ phone numbers. Sung-soon is mainly offended that they have to beg for five points.
All the homeroom teachers for the third years agreed to speak to the vice principal during lunch. They plan to tell Haneul not to do anything considering that she’s new and would feel uncomfortable being put in that position. Sung-soon’s ready to “rip him a new one” and tells Teacher Sohn that he’d better show up.
Once it’s time to complain, only Yeon-woo and Sung-soon are in attendance. They awkwardly stand before the vice principal and when Teacher Ha arrives late, Sung-soon throws him a sad look as if to say, “Yep, this is everyone.”
Sung-soon requests an apology for sending the texts without consent. Vice Principal Lee doesn’t see any problem with asking parents to give them full points, but Sung-soon expresses that they didn’t work hard just to get a high score. Teacher Ha nods in support, but when confronted by the vice principal, he is too scared to back her up. Yeon-woo agreeing with Sung-soon sets off Vice Principal Lee and the three leave the office looking defeated.
Teacher Song who witnessed the events, appeals to the vice principal by calling Sung-soon disrespectful and Yeon-woo rigid. Vice Principal Lee decides to teach the college advisors a lesson.
As the day goes on, Vice Principal Lee harasses the College Advisory team with criticisms such as Myung-soo laughing too hard and therefore not being respected by students, Haneul not smiling enough, and Yeon-woo wearing a bracelet that is too flashy and will apparently set a bad precedence for students.
Teacher Sohn tells Sung-soon to think about the teachers that are under her wing before rebelling. The principal may have Sung-soon’s back, but nobody’s protecting the other three. She argues that these office politics are irrelevant and their teaching is what matters, but the reality is that when the higher-ups like you, you get things like performance bonuses and preferential assignments.
The school’s also about to decide on the permanent teacher next week; Teacher Sohn warns that Haneul will become a victim in her power struggle. He leaves Sung-soon with, “Don’t regret it again like you did that other time.”
At lunch, Yi-boon expresses her dislike for Jae-hyun and that it was a matter of time before he got in trouble. Teacher Han guesses based on her own experience (she taught Jae-hyun for two years) that Haneul must’ve had a hard time dealing with him and his dad.
The Jae-hyun talk continues outside by the soccer field. They don’t notice that Jae-hyun is nearby and overhears all the terrible things they have to say about him. Teacher Shim hated him and how his dad harassed her about student records, so she used vague wording on his student record, refusing to write anything nice.
Noticing Haneul’s expression, Teacher Han says that if kids badmouth teachers, then teachers should be allowed to do the same. They go as far as to attack Jae-hyun for his looks, but Haneul defends him saying that he has a nice, deep smile.
Myung-soo overhears Jae-hyun’s friends discussing how happy Haneul was just because they sucked up to her. They decide to ask her to write their student records instead of their own homeroom teachers.
Vice Principal Lee continues to complain about the College Advisory department while out at a restaurant, and Teacher Ha joins late. It seems like Teacher Song created this opportunity for Teacher Ha to apologize about taking part in the confrontation earlier, and he’s let off the hook with a warning to be more careful.
The topic changes to the appointment of the new vice principal, and although Teacher Moon taking that position is pretty much a done deal, he worries about the peer reviews. Any teacher that’s worked with him for three years must participate, and Teacher Song says that he’ll need pretty much all perfect scores due to a grading curve.
Teacher Ha assures Teacher Moon that anyone on their side will give him a rave review, but worries that any teachers who may harbor ill feelings towards them may affect his score. Teacher Moon calls Sung-soon’s mobile that night, but she refuses to pick up.
The current weather takes Teacher Moon back to a rainy day in the past when Sung-soon had confronted him. One teacher had resigned and another’s contract was not renewed, but all Teacher Moon had to say was, “That’s unfortunate.” She was clearly disappointed that he didn’t stand up for a teacher in his own department, but he responds that they shouldn’t have crossed the line.
After some thought, Myung-soo decides to take Haneul out for a serious chat. She’s been overwhelmed by the number of student records that she needs to write, so he explains that all teachers have their own processes.
Teacher Ha prioritizes those with the highest grades, and Teacher Song makes the students most likely to get into college write their own comments. Though it’s technically not allowed, it’s impossible for one teacher to write hundreds of student records and accurately capture each student’s personal story.
Myung-soo has to break it to Haneul that the students who’ve suddenly been acting nice to her have their own agenda. Though some of them may genuinely care about her, most are doing it for their student records. He urges her to take care of herself before helping others, and she needs to get back to her own work. After all, the permanent position will be decided on soon.
Disillusioned by Myung-soo’s words, she walks through school the next morning seeing all the smiles in a different light. The boys come to visit her and she hides their gifts that she’d been treasuring. Jae-hyun looks at his friends as they give Haneul some notes they’ve written that they’d like her to add to their student records.
Myung-soo had told Haneul the night before that Jae-hyun’s probably aware that she’s a short-term teacher because his father knows. She thinks to herself that Jae-hyun’s been looking down on her this whole time, which is why he must be here now…but he actually has no requests for her. He even seems wary of his friends and drags them away when they suggest giving Haneul a perfect score in exchange for writing their records – a win-win situation in their eyes.
Teacher Moon enters the Third Years’ office and addresses Hae-won directly to dispel the hiring nepotism rumors, not wanting it to affect his candidacy to be promoted. Hae-won admits that he’d thought it was unfair when he heard the rumors, but tells Teacher Moon not to worry because he knows they’re not true.
Vice Principal Lee scolds Yeon-woo in front of the other teachers for using a microphone to teach his classes. Teacher Shim defends Yeon-woo – his broadcasts and regular classes are doing a number on his throat – but that gives the vice principal more reason to criticize him.
Seeing Yeon-woo apologize meekly, Sung-soon openly retorts that other teachers use mics too and accuses the vice principal for picking on Yeon-woo. This leads to the two having a long, private discussion while Yeon-woo nervously waits outside.
Haneul looks at the materials the boys dropped off for their student records and mutters that this isn’t fun. Myung-soo advises her to just write them briefly and curse the students on the inside. Sung-soon suggests they head to karaoke to relieve some stress.
While Myung-soo performs a sad ballad alone, the other three fill up on beer. Sung-soon cuts him off when the song reaches its climax and changes it to an upbeat one. She’s joined by Yeon-woo and Haneul who absolutely kill it with their robotic tambourine dances, and the three of them belt out the lyrics, leaving their worries behind.
Haneul supervises the Icarus study hall and when Jae-hyun greets her, she can only think about the fact that Jae-hyun knows about her short-term status. She recalls his dismissive behavior from the beginning of the year, but she’s not aware that he didn’t know at the time.
The teacher evaluations are in, and teachers check their reviews. Teacher Song’s average of 4.33 hangs over his head as he claims that there’s a traitor amongst them that scored him poorly. Teacher Han reads her students’ comments which consists of complaints about her teaching, and one even cursed her out. She scoffs that they have no respect, and wonders to herself, “Was it him?”
The advisors discuss the evaluations; Yeon-woo coughs as he humble-brags that he has never received any bad comments (which hurts Teacher Han’s pride, as she’s standing nearby). Haneul hands him a spray for his sore throat, and Myung-soo jokingly complains, “Why do you only care about him? I’m totally hurt right now.”
An Icarus student unlocks the study hall doors, shocked to find it completely destroyed. He reports this to Haneul and all four teachers make their way there. Everything’s completely soaked, books are damaged and strewn over the floor, and the lockers have been vandalized with the words “Die, Icarus.” Jae-hyun was the one in charge of locking up and with an obvious preconceived bias against him, Teacher Han blames him.
Yeon-woo diffuses the situation, asking Teacher Han to step outside with him after giving Jae-hyun a reassuring rub on the shoulder. Myung-soo also gives him a brief pat on the back, but Haneul just watches Jae-hyun expressionlessly.
Teacher Han accuses Yeon-woo for butting into her business, but he did it because it wasn’t Jae-hyun’s fault. She attacks him for thinking he’s a hot shot because the students all like him. She attributes that to his young age, implying that it’s the reason why students don’t like her. He suggests her to think about why students act like that – he’d overheard Jae-hyun’s friends discussing the Creative Experience department’s favoritism towards Icarus kids.
Myung-soo and Haneul sort the trash and he recalls the same thing happening to the advanced class three years ago. He tells Haneul it’s not her fault, and he can’t believe that Teacher Han would blame a kid.
Hae-won looks over his completed student records and locks them up. He completes the survey for Teacher Moon, scoring him highly and leaving good comments. Teacher Moon calls Sung-soon using the school phone this time, but Yeon-woo picks up instead.
Sung-soon overhears Vice Principal Lee telling Principal Byun that Yeon-woo should quit the EBC job next year, feigning concern and claiming that Yeon-woo is overwhelmed. She doesn’t speak up about it, but seems to be bothered. When she sees Yeon-woo coughing in the office, Teacher Sohn’s advice to think about the teachers under her pushes her to consider Teacher Moon’s invite to have a meal.
When Jae-hyun sees Haneul at a convenience store, he puts on the teensiest little smile and makes himself presentable before greeting her. So cute. She’s not exactly ecstatic to see him and Jae-hyun seems to understand why. He explains that he didn’t visit her office to talk about his student record. He really just wanted to see her, and he doesn’t usally visit teachers because they all hate him – this gets Haneul to soften up a bit.
He parts way with Haneul with a full smile on his face. Jae-hyun shares that the students discussed visiting her next year after they graduate, which reminds her of when her friends had asked Young-ha if he would teach them next year. She narrates, “That was probably foreshadowing what will happen in my life.” Jae-hyun promises to visit with the others and bids her farewell, leaving Haneul emotional. “I should stay here,” she thinks.
That night, she reads her overwhelmingly positive feedback from both parents and students. She sees the comment that says “I’ll visit after I graduate,” and tears up. Haneul looks at the smiley little orange that Jae-hyun gave her and decides that she needs to be at Daechi High next year as well.
Sung-soon finally has that meal with Teacher Moon. At home, Hae-won scrolls through the open recruitment page for the permanent positions – they’re hiring one permanent teacher for Korean, Math, English, and Physical Education each. With more than enough reason to stay, Haneul also pulls up the recruitment page. Later that night, Hae-won stumbles upon something unexpected: the new recruit Teacher Jang is with the Chief of Administration, and calls him “uncle.”
The traitor that betrayed Teacher Song was none other than…Teacher Ha. He’d given Teacher Song the lowest possible score on every category and then turned around and suggested that they go on a coffee break, with Teacher Song none the wiser.
Despite not a lot happening in terms of plot, I really enjoyed this episode. I appreciate how they handled Jae-hyun’s arc, and I now am very invested in him and need Haneul to protect him forever. Teacher Han’s argument that “students talk behind their backs so teachers can too” is invalid, in my opinion. Teachers are role models and need to be careful with how they act. They are oftentimes a pillar that shapes a student’s life and should lead by example rather than acting out of pettiness. Teacher Han assumes that students hate her because of her age, but she needs to re-evaluate how she treats others with blatant favorism and bias. It was really upsetting to hear the teachers attacking him for his looks, it’s just so inappropriate! If you want to criticize a student, you should at least do it privately, not on school property. This show has so many expository moments where characters are always overhearing things; everyone should really check their surroundings before discussing anything important in public.
I’m glad that Jae-hyun overheard Haneul defending him. He’s usually a passive guy who doesn’t take action into his own hands. It’s no wonder Jae-hyun is disinterested in school, with how much his dad pressures him and how every teacher seems to hate and not take the time to understand him. Once he realized that a teacher actually cared, he tentatively reached out first which must have been a huge step for him to take. He’s really just a young boy seeking acceptance and guidance. Teachers are quick to write students off based on the experiences of other, but it’s really important for them to form their own judgements. Though Haneul was momentarily influenced by the information she was given about Jae-hyun, I’m glad that she isn’t stubborn and was won over by his sincerity at the end. With Haneul and a solid group of classmates, Jae-hyun’s final term of high school could be his best one yet.
This episode really highlighted the fact that school really is an organization. From top to bottom, everybody is engaging in some sort of business relationship with give-and-take involved. Sung-soon realizes that she can’t always do things her way and has to build relationships to protect those who are important to her. It seems like she and Teacher Moon have a huge scar to mend, and I’m proud of her for being able to put her differences aside to speak to him. Myung-soo had the tough job of making Haneul aware of the calculated relationships at school. Haneul needed that splash of harsh reality, even if it was just to understand how desperate everybody is to take their success into their own hands.
You can’t even fault the students for acting the way that they do. Jae-hyun’s friends feel like they don’t have teachers that pay special attention to them because they’re not in Icarus. All they can do is find another way to increase their own chances at getting into college – and getting on Haneul’s good side was a smart move. She’s the teacher who cares the most, and gave them the best chance at showcasing their accomplishments on their student record. Although them offering to give a high score in exchange for this favor may have hurt Haneul, the students are just following what they’re seeing by example. There are teachers like Teacher Han who use student records as leverage, and Principal Byun very blatantly told students to keep their student records in mind when conducting the teacher evaluations. It just goes to show how important it is for teachers to act appropriately so that the students can follow suit. Haneul seems to be doing that really well, and that’s evident in how much her students trust and love her!
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