While scenes with graphic violence in its initial portions are hard to watch, ‘The Glory’ leaves you angry at the injustice and subsequently gratified once the retribution begins
In a particularly disturbing scene from The Glory, Netflix’s latest original K-Drama, high school student Moon Dong-Eun (Jung Ji-So) asks her classmate and bully Park Yeon-Jin (Shin Ye-Eun) why she is being subjected to such extreme bullying. “Even if I do this, nothing will happen to me and nothing will change for you,” retorts Yeon-Jin, as she continues inflicting violence on Dong-Eun.
The Glory is not an easy watch, nor is it a run-of-the-mill revenge thriller. Queen Bee Yeon-Jin has nothing to fear. She is rich, entitled, and leads a clique comprising four others that picks on their underprivileged classmate Dong-Eun. The group is violent beyond measure and is confident of there being no repercussions for their actions. As Dong-Eun suffers at the hands of her bullies, she’s constantly reminded that no one will protect her. The school authorities, teachers, and her mother are all a part of a system that has wholly failed her. In some way or other, everyone around her is complicit in the horrors she is subject to.
Several K-Dramas have turned the spotlight on bullying in high schools, some more sensitively than others. In shows like the cult favourite Boys Over Flowers, the rich, entitled male lead is shown to lead a clique that often bullies their schoolmates, but we hardly delve further into this as the show progresses. Romance shows like True Beauty and My ID Is Gangnam Beauty both had their female leads bullied for their looks. More recently, gritty K-Dramas like Extracurricular, Revenge of the Others, Weak Hero Class 1, and even the zombie apocalypse thriller All of Us Are Dead, either centred around bullying or prominently featured it.
After being pushed to the edge, our protagonist in The Glory vows revenge. There’s no question of redemption here and through some extremely graphic scenes of violence and bullying, the show makes sure that the viewers are left rooting for and invested in every step of Dong-Eun’s carefully planned quest for revenge, one that has no boundaries.
The violence is not for the faint-hearted (viewer discretion is recommended), and there are potential triggers regarding suicide ideation, violence, and sexual assault.
Dong-Eun (Song Hye-Kyo) grows up clawing her way through physical, social, and economic hardships and positions herself at a place that she is most sure will strike fear in the heart of her chief tormentor from high school. She takes over as the homeroom teacher at Semyeng Elementary where Yeon Jin’s (Lim Ji-Yeong) young daughter is enrolled.
There’s little that has changed for the gang of bullies. If they were despicable and depraved as high schoolers, they are remorseless and unrepentant as adults. The hierarchy established within the clique owing to their social backgrounds, the ensuing jealousy, and distrust, is one of the major aspects that Dong-Eun mines while unravelling her elaborate scheme.