Learn All About "The Glory" Kdrama!

Learn All About "The Glory" Kdrama!

We’ve had many great k-dramas this past year, but none as exciting as "The Glory" (2022-2023). Today, we’ll be looking at the intentions and themes behind "The Glory" kdrama and why you should watch it!

"The Glory" Season 2 poster

Image Credits: Netflix via allkpop

Warning: This article discusses bullying and other sensitive topics. There are also mild spoilers.

What Inspired "The Glory"?

Some of the ideas behind the best shows and movies come from real-life events. That's the case with "The Glory," which was written by "Goblin" and "Descendants of the Sun" screenwriter Kim Eun-sook.

During a press conference in January 2023, screenwriter Kim shared a conversation she'd had with her teenaged daughter. The daughter asked whether she'd be sadder if the girl beat someone or was beaten to death. Shocked by the question, Kim was inspired to write "The Glory."

Kim Eun-sook speaking at press conference

ÔĽŅImage Credits:¬†ÔĽŅCourtesy of SPOTV

"The Glory" takes inspiration from several actual incidents. The bullying scene from Episode 1 was based on a real-life case from Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province. In May 2006, middle school students beat and burned a girl’s body with a hair curler, similar to what the bullies did to Moon Dong-eun.

Three students bullying a schoolgirl

Image Credits: Netflix via Koreaboo

The Cheongju District Court launched an investigation, leading to an arrest warrant for one of the students and administrative measures against the teachers and school. Unlike young Dong-eun, the bullying victim saw some justice done.

In another real-life twist, a Japanese boy was bullied relentlessly in junior high. In high school and college, he planned his revenge by taking chemistry so he could poison his former classmates and teachers at a class reunion. However, he was discovered and arrested before anyone was killed.

And while many of the bullying scenes may seem exaggerated, a school commissioner shared in an interview that there were many real-life cases worse than those shown on "The Glory".

Themes and Messages in "The Glory"

Under the stunning cinematography and engaging performances, "The Glory" also contains harsh messages related to social issues that Koreans and global audiences need to be aware of.

School Bullying

If you’ve read our previous blog on Korean schools, then you’ll remember that bullying is a huge problem. According to the Ministry of Education, there were almost 20,000 bullying cases in Korea in 2022.

A male student bullying another male student

Image Credits: OCN via Dramabeans

Punishments for bullying are inadequate or unenforced. In cases where the bullies are from wealthy backgrounds, the incident is hushed up and victims are silenced.

Young Dong-eun being reprimanded by a teacher

Image Credits: Netflix via Koreaboo

Special school committees were set up in 2004 to deal with bullying. However, they have various weaknesses, including lack of legal authority. The culprits’ families can drag the dispute out long enough that the bullying history isn’t added to students' school records.

Young Dong-eun talking to terrible teacher

Image Credits: Netflix via KBIZoom

As of 2021, the special committees have been relocated. Victims can now only take their cases to the school authorities, who will decide which are the most serious ones to handle. The move makes an already difficult system even harder to navigate.

Justice for Victims

In the interview mentioned earlier for "The Glory",¬†Kim Eun-sook¬†shared why she chose that title.¬†She stated, "The moment violence occurs, human dignity, honor, and glory are lost. However, when a victim receives an apology from the perpetrator, they are able to start their lives over. I chose the title ‚ÄėThe Glory‚Äô because I want to support the victims in this state of ‚Äėreturning to the beginning.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Dong-eun showing Jae-joon her arm

Image Credits: Netflix via Tudum

Instead of being ignored or blamed for their experiences, bullying victims need help and messages of encouragement and comfort. Kim hopes that her show helps to do just that.A woman wearing a black trench coat and sunglasses standing next to a white cake

Image Credits: Netflix via Dramabeans

The Cost of Personal Revenge

If there’s one thing viewers can take away from this series, it’s that resolving bullying cases using violence should not be an option. 

Kim said that she‚Äôd rather have her daughter be a bullying victim instead of a bully, since she had the means to pursue the perps. However, she acknowledged there were other ‚ÄúDong-euns‚ÄĚ in the world who didn‚Äôt have that option, and this series was a way for them to carry out their revenge.

Dong-eun comforting a crying Hyeon-nam

ÔĽŅImage Credits:¬†ÔĽŅNetflix via Spot.ph

As mentioned earlier, victims have a harder time getting justice if the bullies come from stellar backgrounds. School authorities and law enforcement take bribes and hide evidence to help people like Park Yeon-jin go on to lead successful lives.

Two gorgeous women laughing and relaxing on sofas

Park Yeon-jin (centre) as an adult / Netflix via Dramabeans

While Dong-eun is able to succeed with her revenge, it takes its toll on her mental well-being and personal relationships. It also has negative effects on her allies, including the loss of their jobs and threats to their loved ones. 

A woman in black drinking coffee in a car

Image Credits: Netflix via Insider

Although Yeon-jin's actions are reprehensible, Dong-eun and her associates also commit atrocious acts to achieve their goals. While their motivations are good, it's easy to see how revenge can blind them, turning them into the kinds of people they're trying to destroy.

Why Should You Watch "The Glory"?

We've discussed the inspirations and messages behind "The Glory." Here are more reasons why you should watch the show.

Amazing Acting

Fans and critics have praised "The Glory's" cast members, with Song Hye-kyo getting rave reviews for her performance as Moon Dong-eun.

In interviews, Song talked about how intense some of the scenes were to act. She also shared that the makeup for her scars took 4-5 hours and that she went on an extreme diet for one heartbreaking scene.

Another outstanding performance was Lim Ji-yeon¬†as¬†Park Yeon-jin. In an interview following Part 2‚Äôs release, Lim shared that she'd struggled portraying Yeon-jin: ‚ÄúI had hoped that everyone in the world would hate me‚ĶOnly then can I say that I did a good job.‚ÄĚ She did so well that even old friends asked if she‚Äôd once been a bully!

Finally, we can‚Äôt forget Park Ji-ah, who plays Dong-eun‚Äôs mother Jung Mi-hee. She electrified viewers with¬†her unhinged performance, especially in one scene that netizens have dubbed the ‚Äúcreepiest‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúbest‚ÄĚ in the entire show.

Even though we've singled out these three actresses, everyone did a fantastic job. If you’re a person who watches shows for the acting, then "The Glory" won’t disappoint you.

A Thrilling Plot and Cast

2023 is set to be a year of revenge series with strong heroines and anti-heros. And "The Glory" (Parts 1 and 2) is already claiming first place!

Two women in white and a man in black facing each other

ÔĽŅÔĽŅImage Credits:¬†ÔĽŅNetflix via TMDB

Part 1 sets up the show, introducing the characters and their backstories. Dong-eun has been preparing her revenge against Yeon-jin and her friends, including becoming a teacher at Yeon-jin’s daughter's school. 

A handsome young man with a coffee cup looking offscreen at a womanAn older woman holding grocery items in a car

Image Credits: Netflix via Tudum

She also gains two allies: Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun), a plastic surgeon who teaches Dong-eun Go; and Kang Hyeon-nam (Yeom Hye-ran), a housekeeper and mother suffering from domestic violence. 

Myeong-oh listening to Dong-eun's whisperJae-joon confronting a woman with her back to the camera

Image Credits: Netflix via Tudum

Dong-eun later enlists help from two of the bullies: Son Myeong-oh (Kim Gun-woo, L), who goes missing at the end of Season 1, and Jeon Jae-joon (Park Sung-hoon, R). 

Two schoolgirls facing off against each other

L-R: Yoon So-hee and young Park Yeon-jin / Netflix via Showbiz CheatSheet

Part 2 sees Dong-eun put her plan in motion. The other bullies begin to suspect Yeon-jin of murdering Myeong-oh and another bullying victim, Yoon So-hee (Lee So-ee), who had died under mysterious circumstances.

A man in a suit looking over his shoulder at a person out of frame

Image Credits: Netflix via Tudum

Yeon-jin enters into a game of cat-and-mouse with Dong-eun. Her husband Ha Do-yeong (Jung Sung-il) discovers Dong-eun’s identity and helps her search for Myeong-oh’s and So-hee’s bodies.

A man and a woman walking to a police officer, backs to the camera

Image Credits: Netflix via Film Trim

The final episodes reveal a tangled web of deception and trauma. Part 2 ends with the main mystery solved and the characters getting their just deserts. However, the finale teases one final heist, which could lead to another season.

“'The Glory' Effect"

One of "The Glory’s" intentions is to show that the effects of childhood bullying are long-lasting. Since the show’s release, several celebrities have been exposed as bullies, in what is being called "'The Glory' Effect."

Thai actor Ohm Pawat, famous for "Bad Buddy" (2021), was outed as a bully in early 2023 through tweets by former classmates. A week later, he issued an apology, although fans criticized it for being insincere. 

Ohm Pawat actor headshot

Image Credits: Courtesy of Drama Wikia

Not long after, netizens spoke out against "Fire Trot" contestant Hwang Young-woong, claiming he’d bullied disabled classmates to impress his friends, similar to "The Glory's" Myeong-oh. Hwang issued an apology and stepped down from the show, despite being a favorite to win.

Man singing into a mic in front of a blue and fuschia background

Image Credits: MBN via Fann Star 

And just before the release of ‚ÄúPart 2,‚ÄĚ bullying allegations circulated online¬†surrounding director Ahn Gil-ho. Before initially denying them, he¬†issued an apology¬†for his past actions. Fans¬†were outraged by the revelations, especially since the actors had been screened for a¬†history of bullying.¬†

Ahn Gil-ho sitting in front of "The Glory" banner

Image Credits: Courtesy of Rappler

The controversy hasn’t stopped the show's success. "The Glory: Part 1" became the 9th most-watched non-English series on Netflix. As of March 19, 2023, "The Glory" is Netflix’s 2nd most-watched non-English show worldwide.

"The Glory" is a series that is both engaging to watch and carries an important message. We hope you add this show to your watchlist - it's worth it!

You can stream all 16 episodes of "The Glory" on Netflix. Please note that the show carries a TV-MA rating.

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