The Glory review: A brutal and gripping story about how high school bullying can mentally and physically scar a person for life

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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The Glory

The Glory starring Song Hye-Kyo makes you empathise with her trauma and also root for her revenge-driven goals!

We have often seen high school bullying in K-dramas like True Beauty, The Penthouse, and while bullying in general is uncomfortable and triggering to watch on-screen, The Glory really surpasses everything that you’ve seen till now. It’s so graphic that honestly calling it bullying feels like an understatement. This show isn't that kinda gore where there's a blood bath or a series of murders, instead, it mentally breaks down all its characters!

Moon Dong-Eun (Song Hye-Kyo) is the center of the story. She was a high school student who had pretty much no money and a mother with zero maternal instincts. But still she dared to have a dream. She wanted to become an architect one day. But after she became a victim of bullying, her perpetrators took that dream away from her little by little each day. They injured her to the point where her body was now scarred forever and every time she looked at them she was reminded of the mere turmoil she'd been through. And it was not just during school hours, they wouldn’t leave her alone at home as well. Hot burns, punches, even sexual abuse, they put her through every kind of torture possible in a lifetime. All of this led to her eventually dropping out of school and spending the rest of her life doing menial jobs. 

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But she still has a dream! While she doesn't want to become an architect anymore, her dream is ruining Park Yeon-Jin (Lim Ji-Yeon), the leader amongst the gang who bullied her everyday. Moon Dong-Eun waited all her life, meticulously planning her revenge to the day when Yeon-Jin gets married and has a child. She waited to become this child’s teacher in school and have Yeon-Jin at the palm of her hands. Yeon-Jin has so much to lose now that she’s a mother compared to when she could cover her tracks back in high school. Her malicious deeds are now catching up with her and she is shuddering by the thought of her husband and daughter uncovering the monster she really is.

Moon Dong-Eun of course has plans for the rest of these bullies as well. She manipulates and plays her game with each one of them. Be it Cha Joo-Young (Choi Hye-Jeong) who is now a flight attendant but her greed for wealth and fame has grown more than ever. Or Lee Sa-Ra (Kim Hieora) who is still the rich spoilt brat on drugs 24/7. And the arrogant Jeon Jae-Jun (Park Sung-Hoon) whose temper knows no limits and has only vulgarity on his mind. While all of them are guilty of doing really vicious things in their lives, they have their weaknesses too and that’s what Moon Dong-Eun targets to drive them crazy. These people don’t feel worthy enough to be punished by God later in life, and Moon Dong-Eun takes it upon herself to decide their fate.

She has been a lone wolf all her life but during her journey of seeking revenge she meets two people who become very important to her. Hyeon Nam (Yeom Hye-Ran) a house help who strikes a deal to work for her in exchange for Moon Dong-Eun to kill her abusive husband. She learns so much while working for Moon Dong-Eun and the two form a thick acquaintanceship. Also let’s not forget this is a K-drama and love can blossom in the darkest of stories here. Jo Yeo-Jeong (Lee Do-Hyun), a doctor who she co-incidentally meets at a hospital, falls instantly in love with her and often finds excuses to be around her. When he is exposed to her whole past in the scene where she drops her jacket and he can see every injury on her body, he immediately agrees to be her executioner on this hunt. He also has an extremely disturbing past of his own but he keeps that aside and tries to lead a more normal life than she does. Their love is definitely not a cliché and yet the unity of these two wounded souls gives you the all the feels from time to time.

The character of Moon Dong-Eun is so well written by Kim Eun-Sook. Her savage one liners make such an impact on you. Her flashbacks from her bullying days are always difficult to watch and they always hurt but her development as a character from someone who couldn’t stand up for herself to the one who's pulling all the strings now is simply phenomenal. This for sure is Song Hye-Kyo's best performance. I longed for her scenes throughout the series. The fact that she only wears black shows how she no longer sees any colour in her life. Her not wanting to laugh so that she doesn’t forget the main motive behind doing all of this portrays how she is depriving herself of the simple fun of youth that all of us have. 

The casting of the show hits on point as well. From the younger version of Moon Dong-Eun played by Jung Ji-So (who looks just like Song Hye-Kyo) to all her bullies, these characters manage to bring out the emotion that they want from you. Park Yeon-Jin in particular should be added to the best villains of all time list. The way she has zero remorse for what she does and that predator-like smile she has on her face before she is about to do something wrong does come across as intimidating. 

The duration and the number of episodes also fit perfectly for me. K-dramas are known to be very long but The Glory has 8 episodes with a 47-50 minute duration per episode. Director Ahn Gil-Ho weaves the whole story together seamlessly without having any dragged or unnecessary scenes. It definitely makes you want to binge-watch the whole thing in one go. The plot of The Glory is like the game of Go she plays throughout the series. Moon Dong-Eun is slowly and steadily taking over Park Yeon-Jin’s life and I am very intrigued to see how she fulfils her revenge in season 2!

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