Review: KBS’ White Christmas – A Dark Mystery in the Snow


KBS’ Jungle Fish was an interesting look at everyday high school life in Korea with a little mystery and conspiracy thrown in.

KBS decides to take it to the next level with their 8-part drama special White Christmas.

Don’t let the cheery title fool you, if Jungle Fish was a mix of mystery and drama with lots of realism, White Christmas is a darker, mature and more straight forward suspense thriller.

And I thought Jungle Fish was mature!

White Christmas is set at Susin High, a secluded and exclusive school hidden away in the snow capped mountains. Open to only the top 0.1% of the nation’s students, Susin High is considered more a prison by the students than a prestigious institution.

Students study all year with only an eight-day break for the Christmas holiday when most students and faculty go home, happy at the chance to escape for even just a little over a week.

But this year, seven students stay behind after each receives a mysterious letter. The P.E. teacher is their chaperone during break.

On the night of Christmas Eve, a doctor has an accident on the icy roads near the school and the students take him in. They call for an ambulance, but since he appears to only have some minor cuts and bruises, they are told to call again if his conditions changes for the worse.

But the new arrival is the least of their worries as the teens try to figure out and piece together who could have sent them the letter, which seems to list eight “sins” and an ominous warning about the end of the break.

Three episodes in and the mystery is in full swing. Secrets are already unraveling and we are slowly learning about each of the characters just as they are discovering things about each other.

The suspense itself has slowly started to build and episode three ends with what appears to be an event that propels the mystery and danger forward.

The cast is made up of fresh-faced young actors and all seem to fit well into their respectively quiet and brooding characters. If Jungle Fish was emo, I don’t even know what to call White Christmas.

Both are very different series. White Christmas forges down a path of straight forward suspense, taking a more mature tone than Jungle Fish ever did. The melodrama is exchanged for typical mystery suspense, but the film like quality is here.

The darkness of the story is interestingly balanced with the bright, white setting. Snow is everywhere, they are basically snowed in, but the school is huge, almost a community in of itself. The bright atmosphere is undercut by dark tension and a sense of danger.

White Christmas has been very intriguing so far. A solemn, understated, but increasingly suspenseful mystery.

Here’s the Korean trailer…

4 thoughts on “Review: KBS’ White Christmas – A Dark Mystery in the Snow

  1. I’ve only started to watch White Christmas (amidst the studying), but there’s something decidedly Japanese about it to me. Perhaps it’s the bluntness of the characters, or the seeming emotional disconnect that I sometimes get from suspense shows like Atami no Sousakan (but without the random slapstick humour, or random humour in general), but it doesn’t feel typically Korean to me.

    I may just be blabbering haha. I am quite intrigued though 🙂

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