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The Midnight Romance in Hagwon 졸업 [2024]


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Synopsis by AsianWiki

Seo Hye-Jin (Jung Ryeo-Won) has worked as a Korean language teacher at a private educational institute in the Daechi-neighborhood of Gangnam for the past 14 years. The neighborhood is known as the most competitive private education area in the nation. Recently, Seo Hye-Jin has agonized over her future post-teaching career and her past dream. At that time, her ex-student Lee Joon-Ho (Wi Ha-Joon) appears in front of her for the first time in 10 years. When Seo Hye-Jin taught him, she did her best to teach him and he made it into a prestigious university. That helped give her fame as an instructor. Lee Joon-Ho quit working for a big company and begins work as a rookie instructor at the same private educational where Seo Hye-Jin teaches.



Director: An Pan-Seok
( PD for Something in the Rain, One Spring Night , My Secret Love Affair)

Writer: Park Kyung-Hwa

Network: tvN

Episodes: 16

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  • 5 months later...

 A bit more about the synopsis:


 The plot centers around an instructor who tirelessly assists a student named Lee Joon Ho (Wi Ha Joon) in gaining admission to a prestigious university. In a twist of fate, Lee Joon Ho later returns to the academy as a rookie instructor after resigning from a large company because he remains fixated on his first love, his academy teacher Seo Hye Jin (Jung Ryeo Won), even after becoming an adult.


Jung Ryeo Won will play Seo Hye Jin, a star lecturer who has been working in the field for 14 years. Seo Hye Jin is a character who doesn’t know defeat. Just as she was worrying about life and thinking about past regrets, Lee Joon Ho—the cheeky student she helped send to a prestigious university—brings unexpected changes to her life.


Wi Ha Joon will play rookie instructor Lee Joon Ho who shakes up the everyday life and feelings of his past instructor Seo Hye Jin. Leaving behind the opportunity of working at a large company where his future would be guaranteed, Lee Joon Ho returns to hagwon (private educational institution), where his life was dramatically turned around. Although Seo Hye Jin vehemently opposes this, Lee Joon Ho continues to approach Seo Hye Jin.





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3 hours ago, abs-oluteM said:

This kind of former student - former teacher storyline always concerns me. 

PD Ahn likes these kinds of storylines. I will sit out on this one because I didn't like One Spring Night and Something in the Rain.


I just hope they don't have anymore toxic boyfriend/girlfriend or parents.

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16 minutes ago, mademoiselle said:

PD Ahn likes these kinds of storylines. I will sit out on this one because I didn't like One Spring Night and Something in the Rain.


I just hope they don't have anymore toxic boyfriend/girlfriend or parents.

This is my worry. SITR was a torture - I have no idea how I managed to watch it then. So draggy towards the end. Incidentally WHJ was the brother there , so am not surprised the PD casted him here. But anyhow, I will do my best to survive this. Hahahahah....see how I am persevering through The Impossible Heir despite the mess of a storyline. :laugh:


Some translations from the script reading



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I like how close their interactions are....JunHo is cheeky. He asked her to call him teacher towards the end since it would make him feel good :laugh:

Hye Jin has always been very proud of JunHo being her star student. It's the dream of every teacher to have their students graduate from the best universities & land themselves in the big companies . The ultimate South Korean dream. So it's hard for her to grasp why he would give all that up to teach. While I love teaching , I don't know if it's really the best career choice for everyone especially in academies like that where the pressure to produce the best students is crazy. Plus you really have to love teaching to do it well. I would like to know why JH chose to do this. While perhaps HyeJin could be a factor but I hope it is more than that. 


I love their chemistry . Think they look great together


Preview ep 2


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As expected JunHo’s parents were not happy with his decision to switch to teaching . I can understand the logic of all East Asian parents who still glorify the idea of working in a big company since it spells job security & social prestige.  But I agree with JunHo that times are changing & that there’s a ceiling to what he can earn & how far he can go. Plus as we all know no one is indispensable in any organisation. So for me you shouts do what makes you happy . 

Hye Jin too  for similar reasons felt it was a waste for him to quit. I appreciate her concerns since I know first hand the world of private education isn’t any easier & not everyone makes it to the top like her.  What I didn’t like was she overstepped her boundaries in discouraging him to the extent she voted against his employment with the academy despite him having a lot of potential. Anyway her boss called her out on it, and she realised she was crossing some lines she shouldn’t have & apologised to JH. Though she did tell him not to be too naive thinking this industry is a piece of cake. She wanted him to go in with his eyes open - which I appreciated


Anyway JH is now hired & the boss sees this  as an interesting opportunity to promote thr academy given that JH is their former star student who’s now back here to teach . I do look forward to more interactions between the leads as they have great chemistry. 





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Eps 3 

JunHo is truly a smart cookie - yes raised by Hye Jin! It's not only book smarts but he's very strategic in his thinking. He knows it isn't easy to break into this industry as a teacher since he's yet to build a reputation. I won't go as far as to say he's using HyeJin but proposing a joint lecture is sure a great way to leverage on her reputation and her expertise. Of course I expected their boss to agree since this is an interesting proposition and as expected HyeJin didn't agree to it. Not at first. For one, being the head teacher she'd look like she's showing favoritism since she's never done this for the other teachers.  Secondly, the pie in this industry is getting smaller and smaller what with SK's low birth rates that in time to come JH would be her competitor. Why would she want to pass on her trade secrets? I concur since it is unlikely for me to so as well.


But JH is not one to give up easily -  I appreciate that determination which I feel will come in very handy when the going gets tough be it at the work place or parental objections to the romance in the future ( I can see that coming). So he got her to agree to it if he could come up with good reason. And he did. As good and as popular as HyeJin is, there are also plenty of great Korean language tutors out there. Her Achilles heel comes in the form of a white hair lady who is also the Director (Choi)  of a rival academy. HyeJin has never been able to recruit students from one of the top boys' school because of this lady. They all went to her. She's pretty much at the top of the food chain where Korean language tutors are concerned.


So with Director Choi also going on the offensive to recruit students who usually would have taken HyeJin's classes, HJ decided that JH's propositon wasn't so bad. It would make a great story for marketing with how a successful student now comes full circle to teach with his former teacher. Once HJ okayed on this, then we had all the cute scenes of them preparing for the class together without being caught. From a romance development perspective , I like it since it gives them plenty of moments together. I like how much JunHo makes her smile. A lot of unintended flirting is already going on though I don't think HyeJin quite realises it yet.


As expected, once the promotions of their joint class went out, there was a buzz within the academy. Colleagues aren't too pleased but HyeJin promises them that if she brings in student from the schools that they have yet to conquer, it benefits everyone too. I think am abit concerned with the other new teacher - Miss Nam who may spell trouble as I think she will feel this being unfair as she has more experience. 


For JH it does come with a cost as these classes are offered for free ( so am not sure if he will be paid) but I suppose sample classes are needed for someone who is unknown in the industry. For HyeJin, this will be at the cost of her reputation. JH is not proven as a teacher if you ask me even if he did well in the interview plus it will be interesting to see if such a marketing tactic would work. 


Regardless, I am excited to see them work together. Plus this lil competition or war of nerves between two rival tutors is fun to watch. 




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Ep 4

The joint lecture didn't go down well with Ms Nam. She felt that being in Hye Jin's team, it was unfair that she wasn't offered something similar since she and JunHo were recruited on the same day. Plus Nam is an experienced tutor who had taught in another academy. She decided to take things in her own hands and wanted to offer classes for students from one of the schools - this school is somewhat HyeJin's territory since most of the students there attend HJ's class. Nam told HJ her intention and even approached the management . Nam's secret weapon is that she was a former colleague of the Korean language teacher there (the same guy who has a personal vendetta against HJ). I don't think the VP of the centre agreed to it immediately , but I think they will consider. Plus HJ knows she really can't stop Nam from doing so as she didn't want to come across as being unfair and showing JH favour.


The joint class created a buzz and there were a lot students who had registered - these are all from White Hair lady's academy. HJ and JH were hyped and prepared in earnest. But HyeJin was clearly quite stressed and micro managing to the point she'd dictate what JH should or should not say. She was also focusing so much on spotting exam questions which Jun Ho was against. He told her this wasn't how she used to teach. In the past she instilled the love of the language in him and that was how he rose from the bottom of the class to become the top student. She wasn't happy he went against her but anyhow he had no choice but to follow her instructions.


Day of the free (sample) lecture came. No one turned up except for one boy. He had been sent by the admin from the other academy to spy on the class. This boy is the top student in his school. The others had signed up didn't turn up cause White Hair lady decided to go on the offensive and had an extra class where only those who came could receive some free material. So these students had no choice but to go. Clearly White Hair lady felt threatened. 


The no show of those registered was a big hit on HJ and the academy. HJ was about to send that lone boy who came home but JH insisted that they should teach no matter what. She pulled herself together and realised what Jun Ho told her was right. Instead of a boring lecture where they talk exam questions, she changed her style and taught that boy the way she taught JunHo. JH as he watched her , smiled and remembered what a good teacher she was when she first started. Then she had tutored him alone since the academy just started and pretty much got him to the best uni. 

Though the class was a bust but not all is lost . The boy who went for the class really liked it and told his friends he may consider switching. Plus there was grumbling from the other boys who felt that White Hair lady's class that day was a snooze fest. 


In the preview , they will take down the joint lecture and it seems like white hair lady is trying to recruit someone from HJ's academy. HJ? And is HJ getting kicked out from her own academy? I doubt if of course





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@abs-oluteM I’m finding this show so boring aim just reading your summaries. 😅


Just thinking though - the Hagwon industry seems so vicious. If you’re focusing on the number of students as opposed to the teaching and learning, all will go down the drain. At least, that’s my perspective of teaching. So easy to get caught up in the rat race, and parents really contribute significantly to it.


I remember years ago I was given the opportunity to join such an education centre locally. The founders seemed nice, and the philosophy of the organisation seemed sound, but I couldn’t bring myself to teach in a hagwon-type “school”. Hot housing students academically is just so against my own educational philosophy.

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I will do a recap for eps 5 later but oh my ...our boy could no longer hold it in. Confessed that she was his first love and kissed her. What took me by surprise was that she didn't push him away & kissed back. 



Preview eps 7...I like you...can't you see me as man? 


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