February 22, 2024

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for The Glory, Part 2.


“Revenge is bad,” say revenge movies. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and violent entertainment should not encourage imitation, should represent revenge as self-defeating. These are the rules. However, the glory it’s a revenge movie Kim Eun-sook, as a 16-episode K-drama. Despite the graphic violence and adult themes, there is a generosity of character in the latest genre. Characters talk out loud to themselves, coincidences make the whole of South Korea a dozen acquaintances, and the hero Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) is a major K-drama star due to her ability to effortlessly charm any man she meets. And so Kim Eun-sook’s attempt to combine these two genres, with the end of their diametrical story, leaves the glory with an unusual revenge that satisfies the avenger, leaves him unharmed and gives him a bright future. The lesson?

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‘The Glory’ Part 2 It’s an exciting but rocky finale

Song Hye-kyo and Lee Do-Hyun in episode 11 of The Glory.
Image via Netflix

After a rough first half, the glory it shows some cracks in the series of second episodes, which premiered three months later. The omission may have muddied an already complicated story, told out of order and with important roles played by relatively ordinary characters. The police, for example, is embodied by a detective in the last episode given a single dramatic moment. Who is this guy, and what does he say about law enforcement? What about those free agent fixers or shamans, or arguably Dong-eun’s mother? It might be the problem with the mystery box’s telling, which front-loads access to Dong-eun’s headspace and then throws us out, all the better for surprise when all of her unknowable machinations fall into place. Unfortunately, this is not consistent to be consistent; we are also left in the dark with the parallel plot of male lead Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun). A big revelation about his relationship with Dong-eun marks the final episode’s cliffhanger, and it doesn’t help that he stands out as the stereotypical K-drama protagonist, being six feet tall and handsome.

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Most idiosyncratic, however, Dong-eun’s revenge is increasingly based on others. In the prototypical revenge thriller Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance — at the threshold of the Korean New Wave and Park Chan-wook’s career — it is the failure of institutions that leaves our protagonists with no other choice than their own independence. Can’t go to the police? The law is yours. In the glory, teenager Dong-eun asks the authorities within her school for help, which leads to more abuse. The police can’t help, the mother can’t help. He leaves school. His quest for revenge begins on that familiar track at first, manipulating people into their own downfalls and even death. At the end of Part 1, viewers theorized about the horror Dong-eun had in store for Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon), maybe something to do with plastic surgery. In the end, though, it’s a far less creative payoff.

The Keeper of ‘The Glory’ plays by the Rules

glory netflix
Image via Netflix

Yeon-jin finds herself inside the prison walls, and she’s not the first. Dong-eun uses a hidden camera to catch Sa-ra masturbating in front of a statue of Jesus, which lands her in jail. Dong-eun also contrives to have her mother Jung Mi-hee set fire to an apartment. Another hidden camera later, and he’s off to a mental institution. Are these institutions given tacit approval now, or are they just tools in Dong-eun’s toolbox? The very last scene of Detective Choi Dong-kyu—the police—is a lament for Dong-eun for not being there 18 years ago. Although he barely responds, Dong-eun is leaving this world in a better place than when he entered it, which is far from the fiery ruins. Mr. Revenge or I saw the devil.

In fact, Dong-eun can literally walk away, as he does by walking out of the police station, because his crimes are as easily forgotten as they are proven. Jae-joon and Hye-jong’s destinies are carried out by different hands, leaving Dong-eun’s clear. In a particularly devious stroke of strategic genius, Yeon-jin’s mother manages to kill Hyeon-nam’s abusive husband in order to turn her mother on Yeon-jin. Two birds, and all he has to do is pop in and out of these people’s lives to see his work and smile. There is no internal reckoning with his actions, no despair at the cycle of violence.

Song Hye-Kyo’s revenge is a communal exercise

Lee Do-Hyun as Joo Yeo-jeong in The Glory
Image via Netflix

That’s one of the ways the glory The amorality of revenge mitigates mission creep. Yes, Dong-eun is avenging his scars, but the bullies also victimized others, including Kim Kyung-ran and the now-dead Lee So-hee, who was murdered by Yeon-jin, who also killed her traitorous “friend” Son Myeong – oh ; Unambiguously, Yeon-jin is a threat to society. Then there’s fixer Shin, a corrupt cop who doesn’t contribute anything positive to the world. And about the elementary school teacher who antagonizes Dong-eun and becomes a child predator? How can custodial violence be morally gray if it is so palatable? Dong-eun’s revenge also empowers others who are similarly disempowered, most notably housekeeper Kang Hyeon-nam (Yeom Hye-ran), a victim of domestic abuse, whose work for Dong-eun unlocks unknown talents.

As Part 2 begins, one question is given more and more voice, including Yeo-jeong and Yeon-jin’s husband Ha Do-yeong: when this is all over, will Dong-eun be able to live happily ever after? It’s an old line inspired by Nietzsche’s infamous quote, also staring into the abyss. It is central to Korea’s most famous revenge story, old boy, with a quote of his own: “Even though I’m only a beast, don’t I have the right to live?”. Kim Eun-sook admits that she is completely consumed by revenge, which is why Dong-eun runs away from her. This is where the beautiful K-drama protagonist comes in.

Yeo-jeong promises to get Dong-eun back so she can start her life where she left off, at 19. Unfortunately, it needs a little restoration. Recently, his father was killed by an illness, and he vowed revenge. Well, there’s that saying about family that plays together, and indeed, Dong-eun and Yeo-jeong combine their revenge projects like a CD collection. In patching up the cracks in the legal system, rather than abandoning it entirely, Dong-eun’s revenge is to make things right, to make things whole: herself, others. So if he loses hope, what is he doing?

Revenge gives ‘The Glory’ purpose

Song Hye-kyo holding a flower in a scene from The Glory.
Image via Netflix

In prison, Yeon-jin faces poetic justice as bullied inmates report the weather in cruel mockery of her former life. Of course, Dong-eun doesn’t witness this, and in fact, much of the final episode suggests that a prison sentence isn’t “enough,” as in the case of Yeo-jeong’s revenge. Her father’s killer is behind bars, but he continues to terrorize her and her mother. And so Yeon-jin’s last move is almost an afterthought the glory, the real climactic issue being Dong-eun and Yeo-jeong’s relationship. Yeo-jeong’s revenge is what gives Dong-eun purpose when she nearly ends her life.

Looking at the story in more direct ways than its non-linear narrative allows, Park Yeon-jin is a teenager who killed a student, became a killer as an adult, and was eventually exposed and convicted. The only thing Dong-eun’s intervention did was remove the protection. As Yeon-jin also admits, otherwise she would run away. So, floating above the abyss, Dong-eun’s revenge is not to wipe out people but to wipe out privileges. the glory it becomes more of an examination of power than a straightforward revenge thriller, where moments of personal deconstruction are as devastating as physical destruction. After Yeon-jin’s harassment is revealed and rumors of divorce begin, her friends turn against her. Threats and menacing looks are no longer protected by money. And seeing the powerful disintegrate is a unique, and increasingly popular, thrill the glory it sticks to its genres—even if they are plural—than attempts like satire the parasite or Triangle Triangle.

‘The Glory’ is another totally imperfect K-Drama

Of course, the glory remains a sprawling and confusing saga textured by thematic contradictions. If Dong-eun is really seeking revenge for privileges, why is his main ally a rich prince from a big hospital? The trick with K-dramas is that they offer absurd situations and predictable plots, and it doesn’t matter at all. The price of admission is some suspension of disbelief, or storytelling logic, but the rewards pay off tenfold. When character A says “I love you” to character B, it’s the most important thing in the world, not something intrinsic to romance. Without giving up on storytelling, the excellent quality of K-dramas adds to the richness of the experience. The cityscapes sparkle, the food is mouth-watering, and all the villains are brought up from the fiery depths of hell to call the hero a loser (even though everyone likes it).

The acidity of this is excellent Chae Soo-bin in the year Cheer up!, or the pure evil on Lim Ji-yeon’s lips as Park Yeon-jin, offering a deeply studied sociopathy papered over an explosive rage. It helps that he and his monstrous cohorts are so unsubtle. When they get angry, they scream. They break things. Glass shatters around them, clothes are torn. It’s a cacophony that registers as collective madness, the end zone of so many Korean revenge movies. We saved the energy of Oh Dae-su’s crazy eyes while he’s about to get his teeth, or something By Lee Byung-hun enter the doomed hero I saw the devil pounding the cannibal’s skull until it cracked. After the chaos and bloodshed, Moon Dong-eun shuffles into the credits with quiet dignity. He has not removed his scars, but used them again, suggesting that perhaps the solution to the problem of revenge is as individual as the quest itself. He can’t break the cycle, but he can say “I love you.”

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