We often wonder why people seek out love as much as they do. There are so many other emotions out there that are equally necessary for human survival, yet love wears the crown. It cannot be argued that love alone does not form the foundation of a relationship. That has to be respect, understanding, and communication. Love is the beautiful canopy that gives purpose to the foundation. So maybe that is why we chase love so much—so that the effort that goes into a relationship is actually worth it and you are with someone who makes you happy by just being. And they are also the people with whom you can truly be yourself. Human beings are complex beings, and we present parts of ourselves to the people around us. There are also those who see a side of us that nobody else does or ever will. We treasure these relationships because once that person goes, they take that part of us with them forever. This is why it hurts so much to lose a person because we also lose a bit of ourselves with them. Love is selfish, as is pain, and Yeo Jeong of “The Glory” knows that.
Yeo Jeong’s character was written with some gaps, and to be honest, he should have had more screen time. In fact, the way his backstory was resolved gave us the feeling that it was just an afterthought to justify his love and support for Dong Eun and why he is the apt “executioner” for her. But when we saw the scene where he confronts his father’s killer and promises him his own brand of justice, we knew that we had missed out on something truly remarkable. Because at that moment, he was far more menacing than Dong Eun had ever managed to be in the entirety of the 16 episodes of “The Glory.”
We mentioned in a previous article how Kim Eun Sook, the writer of the series, did not really match our expectations with this drama, to the point that we could not believe that it was the same writer who had given us “Descendants of the Sun,” “Goblin” and “Gentleman’s Dignity,” the last of which was the drama that had gotten us hooked to the Hallyu waved all those years ago. But that one conversation between Yeo Jeong and Yeong Cheon, two people connected by the murder of the former’s father at the hands of the latter, had us hooked on Yeo Jeong as a character independent of Dong Eun. It was the conversation where we finally understood that love wasn’t the only reason Yeo Jeong was ready to risk it all for Dong Eun. This is the kind of conversation Dong Eun should have had with one of her culprits; this is the demeanor she should have carried; this is how she should have let out her sinister side, hidden beneath the quiet and withdrawn exterior, for “The Glory” to justify being about Dong Eun. This one scene not only piqued our interest in Yeo Jeong, played by Lee Do Hyun, but he ended up overshadowing Song Hye Kyo’s entire performance with it.
For the most part of “The Glory,” Yeo Jeong is Dong Eun’s patient lover. He liked her the moment he saw her or was at least intrigued by her. He did everything she asked, sometimes by going out of his way. Why would anyone bother spending months teaching someone how to play “Go” when they don’t even bring a good conversation to the table, much less a friendship? When Dong Eun disappeared from his life, he moved on as well, even though he could never forget her. Finally, when she came back, asking him to be her executioner, he promised her that he would be by her side. When we had first seen the scene where Dong Eun bares her scars to him, we assumed that it was the horror of what she had faced that made Yeo Jeong side with her. Yet, we wondered why he did not try to talk to her even once about making peace with things. All our doubts always circle back to “the conversation”.
Yeo Jeong’s father had been killed by a serial killer, Yeong Cheon. He was the only doctor who was willing to treat an injured Yeong Cheon; therefore, the reason for his choosing to kill his own doctor baffled everyone. Yeong Cheon was sentenced to death, but he did not stop tormenting Yeo Jeong. He kept sending him letters from prison, taunting him every time. Yeo Jeong’s mental health suffered, yet he discontinued therapy. We are not going to get into how wrong Korean dramas get therapy, but the bottom line is that the death of his father left a permanent scar on Yeo Jeong.
As much as he was baffled by Yeong Cheon’s reason, it was undeniable that it was an act of utmost cruelty, and revenge was always on the cards for Yeo Jeong. When Yeong Cheon finally tells him that he killed the doctor because he was worried about his son when treating him, it is a revelation of his depths of insanity. Yeo Jeong makes it clear that he doesn’t consider him human enough to allow his Hippocrates oath to stop him from taking revenge. This was his exact sentiment when he saw Dong Eun’s scars. The person who was capable of inflicting such cruelty was not human, according to Yeo Jeong, and that was the decision that sealed the deal for him. Dong Eun had only ever lived for her revenge, and we believe that the same applied to Yeo Jeong. He lived for his mother and to be able to avenge his father one day. But meeting Dong Eun was the first time he felt some untroubled happiness. That is why his mother requests that she not give up her life, for the sake of Yeo Jeong.
When Dong Eun disappears again, Yeo Jeong waits for her, and when she comes back, this time for good, they plot his revenge against Yeong Cheon. It is only when these two put their troubled souls to rest with their revenge that they can truly move on in life to find happiness with each other and beyond.