While most advocates forgiving our enemies, for some vengeance can be a cathartic experience. Had it not been one of the strongest human instincts, the world would not have produced countless shows and films driven by revenge. The world of superheroes would have been bleak without the constant need to seek revenge for the unforgivable violence they had to endure. But can revenge always be the answer to dealing with pain? For Moon Dong-eun, it was the answer; vengeance was what she lived for and punishing those who wronged her was her only purpose in life. She was fighting against systematic injustice and forgiveness was never on the cards. “The Glory” is a Korean revenge drama that revolves around Moon Dong-eun and how she dedicated her life to getting back at those who tortured her in her childhood years.
The protagonist, Moon Dong-eun, was a victim of intense bullying during her school years. The fact that she was poor and ignored made her an easy target for her elite classmates. The series uses mostly cool, grim tones to denote the mental state of Moon Dong-eun. She is lonely at present, but to understand the reason behind her loneliness, it is important to explore her past. “The Glory” shifts between the past and present, introducing the audience to the bullies and how the pain they inflicted years ago continued to bring back traumatic memories. In the sepia-toned past, Moon Dong-eun was a shaky teenager who was horrified by her elite classmates, who sought entertainment from torturing her. She tried to complain to the police and left a note accusing her bullies of being the reason for her decision to transfer schools, but she soon realized that the world only catered to the influential. She was slapped and ridiculed for daring to take a stand against them. While there were days when the pain became unbearable, and she simply wanted to give up on her life, she chose to fight back instead. She was determined not to give up on her education. She managed to work a job in the morning and study late into the night. She cleared her examinations and got accepted into college. It was not that Moon Dong Eun never wanted to get over her past, but the scars on her body reminded her that her purpose in life was far greater than the petty human emotions her heart often wanted to indulge in. She had to prove to herself that she worked on her sole dream of crushing those who once dared to humiliate her.
Moon Dong-eun realized early that to seek revenge, she had to become powerful. She cleared the qualifying examination to become a schoolteacher. She always had her bullies in mind with every step she took, and becoming a teacher was always a part of that plan. She confronted the gang before leaving school and stated that meeting Park Yeon Jin was her only dream from then on. Park Yeon-jin was the head of the gang. Bullying amused her, and she would frequently devise the most painful punishments. Torture was her way of affirming her position as someone from the privileged class who would never face punishment for her actions. Throughout the series, most of Moon Dong-eun’s monologues were addressed to Park Yeon jin. She stayed in the apartment next to hers and looked from a distance, hoping to destroy all that she loved and possessed. “The Glory” is focused on the revenge story and thankfully does not deviate at all. While Song Hye-kyo as Moon Dong-eun brings seriousness and intensity, Yeom Hye-ran as Kang Hyeon-nam adds the necessary comic relief, making it perfectly balanced. The antagonist of the series Park Yeon-jin, played by Lim Ji-yeon is equally impressive and convincing.
One of the most striking scenes in “The Glory” is when Moon Dong-eun stands on the edge of the terrace, gathering up her courage to jump off the building. She had been enduring the constant torture for a long time now, and the pain from the burn wounds and bruises had become intolerable. She wanted to give up on life, but it was not as easy as she thought it would be. She stood there, between life and death, and broke down, realizing that even death would not relieve her of the pain. It was snowing that night, and she felt better when the snow settled on her wound. It was almost a divine indication for her to not give up on life, to stay strong, and to fight for her justice. She was now desperate to be better and aggressively rubbed the snow on her bruises. She removed her clothes and laid on the snow. The terrace was the place she imagined she would breathe one last time, but instead, she received comfort and relief unexpectedly. As a seventeen-year-old who did not have any adults to look up to or someone to protect her from the unjust world, the terrace scene was reassuring.
“The Glory” has quite the typical Netflix polish and a few instances of unremarkable visual effects along with the overly dramatic recap edits, but at the same time, it is an entertaining revenge drama. For fans of Korean dramas and revenge series in general, “The Glory” will possibly be an engaging watch. It is an emotional as well as a powerful two-part series. Even though the protagonist is plotting to seek bloody revenge, the audience will tend to root for her after all the injustice she had to tolerate. Though she is standing on a thin line, she can either be a heroic revenge seeker or an antagonist who has no boundaries.
Note: The review of “The Glory” Season 1 is based on the first six episodes provided by Netflix.