It is said that your arch nemesis is no one but yourself, on the opposite side of your ideological spectrum. That is what Yeon Jin and Dong Eun were in the Netflix revenge drama series “The Glory.” Their story started back in high school itself. We know that Yeon Jin was a thoughtless and cruel bully who was confident in the protection offered by her influential family. Even her friends’ families came from wealth, especially Sa Ra and Jae Joon, and though the same could not be said for Myeong Oh and Hye Jeong, they had made their place with the crowd regardless. Together, they were the ruling clique of the school, and Yeon Jin was their queen bee. But another aspect of Yeon Jin’s childhood that wasn’t explored much was that of her neglectful parents. She grew up without a father, and she constantly idolized her mother, Young Ae.
Yeon Jin constantly sought her mother’s approval and actually feared her. But all Young Ae ever cared about was maintaining the image of their family. She did not care what happened behind the scenes, as long as she could keep up the facade. Whenever she had to cover up for Yeon Jin, Young Ae reprimanded her for not doing a better job of handling the situation herself instead of asking why she did something like that in the first place. Yeon Jin was undoubtedly a born psychopath, and her upbringing taught her how to get away with it all. Her only dream had been to be a good wife and mother. While the jury is out on how good she was to her husband, Do Hyeong, it cannot be denied that she loved Ye Sol with all her heart. It was her one redeeming quality. She was a far better mother to Ye Sol than Young Ae was to her. In fact, the only time we saw some remorse or regret on Yeon Jin’s face was when her daughter told her that she wasn’t proud of her anymore, in Part 2 of “The Glory.” She doesn’t shed tears when Do Hyeong asks her for a divorce, but we can tell that her heart breaks when she realizes that she will never see or speak with her daughter again.
While Yeon Jin’s confidence came from the people around her, Dong Eun derived her strength from the lack of them. She never had anybody to lean on and had to go on in life, despite not having the will or a reason to do so. The one thing she shared with Yeon Jin was that she had an equally neglectful mother. While Young Ae still bailed out Yeon Jin to maintain their reputation in society, Dong Eun’s mother, Jung Mi Hee, did not even have to worry about that and threw her daughter under the bus for some cash. It was only in Part 2 of “The Glory” that we got a complete picture of Dong Eun’s home life. Dong Eun had likely been abused or at least targeted by her mother’s boyfriend, and instead of listening to her daughter, her mother had labeled her a homewrecker. Dong Eun certainly never had any support at home, and that is probably why she was an easy target for Yeon Jin. The most powerful person in the group targets the most powerless one. The fact of the matter is that it was just Dong Eun who took on the decades-long mission of revenge against her assailants. There were victims before and after her, but it was just Dong Eun who stood up. As for the others, though So Hee says that she isn’t scared of Yeon Jin anymore, she also says that she forgave her. There was no forgiveness in Dong Eun’s dictionary. Coming to Gyeong Ram, she did not have Dong Eun’s courage, or maybe she hadn’t been pushed over the edge as much as Dong Eun had, and that made them different.
As they grew up, Yeon Jin had everything she wanted, and Dong Eun had nothing. But this exact difference is what kept them going respectively, in their lives. When it came to their careers, both of them were successful. But while Dong Eun’s success was hard-earned, Yeon Jin’s success was another extension of her connections’ wealth and her own capacity to bully others. She was the only weather forecaster who did not write her own scripts, and the channel kept her on because her husband bought them a lot of ad revenue. A successful career mattered to both Dong Eun and Yeon Jin, but for wildly different reasons. For Yeon Jin, it was another building block in the facade of a perfect life. She did not need the money from the job, and we doubt it was her passion, but it brought her fame and allowed her to hold the mantle of an “independent woman.” As for Dong Eun, her pursuing a career in education was another step in her long-term revenge plans against Yeon Jin. They are so similar, yet so different.
But the one thing they really shared in common was their taste in men. Do Hyeong and Yeo Jeong were both good men who loved playing “Go”? Yeo Jeong helped Dong Eun in her revenge because he loved her, and Do Hyeong stood by Yeon Jin even after knowing her truth because he loved his daughter. Yeo Jeong gave his all to Dong Eun’s revenge, to the extent of taking care of So Hee’s mother. Do Hyeong was willing to protect Yeon Jin because he felt Ye Sol needed her mother, and he only divorced her when he realized that her presence was more harmful than beneficial for his daughter? He was always clear that Ye Sol was his daughter, even when he came to know that she wasn’t biologically his. In fact, he took the step of pushing Jae Joon off the building just so that nobody could take his daughter away from him.
Do Hyeong and Yeo Jeong were men who could do anything and everything for the people they loved, and Yeon Jin and Dong Eun recognized this and chose them accordingly. But the only difference here is that while Dong Eun and Yeo Jeong come to love each other, Yeon Jin never loves Do Hyeong. She played the part of the wife perfectly, but she loved the idea of marriage more than the man himself, and it was vice-versa for Do Hyeong.
“The Glory” showed us that Dong Eun was obsessed with Yeon Jin, despite others being equally guilty of torturing her. That was because she understood Yeon Jin in a way nobody else did. She knew Yeon Jin would never be sorry for what she did, and Dong Eun did not even need an apology. She targeted Yeon Jin just the way she had been targeted by her. Except that Yeon Jin’s method had been all-consuming in its cruelty while Dong Eun’s had been slower yet completely foolproof. What Dong Eun has known for years, Yeon Jin is going to start learning now, since she has spent plenty of time in jail.