Showing posts with label The Glory (Kdrama) 4.7 || 4.5. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Glory (Kdrama) 4.7 || 4.5. Show all posts

21 March 2023

K Drama Review: The Glory (2022) 4.7 || 4.5

We were excited to hear that Song Hye Kyo, a member of Oppa's list, was doing another drama with a different genre this time. And it was a bonus that she will be with Lee Do Hyun, a guy who definitely deserves a spot on my list when I find the time to update it. And while this type of story won't be something Oppa and I usually watch, we gave it a try because we loved the main leads. 


The Glory is a 16-episode drama with each episode running close to an hour. The first eight episodes were released in December 2022, while the last eight episodes came out in March 2023. 

The Glory tells the revenge story of Moon Dong Eun (Song Hye Kyo), a woman who was bullied (abused physically, mentally, emotionally) by her classmates in high school. While Dong Eun tried to report the incident, her bullies were just way too rich and powerful. She had no choice but to drop out of school, abandon her mother (Park Ji Ah of Cleaning Up) who was paid to remain quiet about the bullying, and work odd jobs to send herself to college. 

Dong Eun is now a teacher who gets her revenge rolling by getting a job as the homeroom teacher of her main bully, Park Yeon Jin's (Lim Ji Yeon) daughter (Oh Ji Yul of Extraordinary Attorney Woo). From then on, Dong Eun starts threatening, blackmailing, and making her bullies' lives a living hell. The story takes us through how Dong Eun, with the help of a few trusted people, gets back at her tormentors and tries to regain the life she lost. 

Song Hye Kyo as Moon Dong Eun

I'm glad to finally see a Song Hye Kyo drama I loved after Descendants of the Sun. Yes, she was great in Full House and Worlds Within. But I didn't quite enjoy her in Encounter and Now, We are Breaking Up. It's refreshing to see her in a different genre and I'm hoping this will give her another hit drama she deserves. 

Song Hye Kyo did the creepy, scary, and vengeful parts of Moon Dong Eun really well. One of her highlights would have to be when she was clapping evilly as Yeon Jin received her alumni award from their high school. I'm pretty sure Yeon Jin was super freaked out. 

I loved Dong Eun's patience. Anyone abused like her would have probably wanted to get revenge right away. But not Dong Eun. She planned everything carefully - the jobs she did, the career path she took, etc. - were all brilliantly designed to help her claw her way back into the lives of her bullies. And that patience really paid off. Little by little, she successfully wrapped everyone around her fingers. She started with Yeon Jin's accomplices until she finally got to her husband, Ha Do Yeong (Jung Sung Il of Our Blues), by studying how to play Go. She always creatively found a connection to her bullies like how she befriended the future mother-in-law of Hye Jeong (Cha Joo Young). 

Like in her previous dramas, it was also evident here that drama is not one of Hye Kyo's strengths. I saw this during her breakdown scene when she discovered that her mom was bribing her students' parents. Fortunately, there were not a lot of dramatic moments here, which paved the way for Hye Kyo to really shine when she played the sinister Dong Eun. 

Lee Do Hyun as Joo Yeo Jeong 

I've always lamented how I've never watched a full Lee Do Hyun drama. So far, we've only seen him in Hotel Del Luna (where he was stuck in the past and featured very rarely) and Prison Playbook (where he played a young version of the second main lead). I'm glad that I finally had the chance to see him in a bigger role because he confirmed what I thought all along - he's not just a pretty face, he's a great actor too. 

Dr. Joo Yeo Jeong's family owns Joo General Hospital in Seoul. Although he appears to have it all, his life is also a living hell. His dad (Choi Kwang Il of 1987: When the Day Comes, Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, Vagabond, and Prison Playbook) was killed by a murderer (Lee Moo Saeng of Cleaning Up, Thirty Nine, The Silent Sea, One Spring Night, and Prison Playbook) he was treating in their hospital. Dr. Joo has this silent urge to avenge his father's death. And he's trying to do that vicariously by helping Dong Eun get her revenge. 

I loved how Lee Do Hyun may be younger than Song Hye Kyo but I find him a better fit than other younger actors she was paired with in the past. Maybe he's just a better actor over-all? And what made Dong Eun and Dr. Joo likable was how they never forced themselves to get into a relationship right away. They didn't even bother getting to know each other really well. They took things slow. And I found myself pleased with their short but sweet moments together and whatever little information they cared to share with each other. 

I was greatly relieved when Dr. Joo finally heard Dong Eun's full story and when he saw her scars, which made him agree to join the hunt and be her executioner. The crazy thing about that is while Dr. Joo might have been partly motivated by love, I knew part of the reason was also how he needed to release his angst about what happened to his dad. There were times when he shocked me. I didn't know where his boldness was coming from, his willingness to do anything and risk everything for Dong Eun. He used his clinic to hypnotize Yeon Jin and to get skin samples from her. He even bought a funeral home where one of Yeon Jin's victims, fellow bully Myeong Oh (Kim Gun Woo of Record of Youth and Fight for My Way) was kept. 

And another proof of how great Lee Do Hyun is as an actor is how well he handled his dramatic scenes. He did them with so much restraint yet you can still feel his pain. My favorite was scene after he visited his dad's killer who guilt tripped him into thinking that he caused his father's death. That was so heavy. 

Now I definitely can't get enough of Lee Do Hyun and hopefully, I can convince Oppa to check out his other dramas.

The Bullies

Dong Eun's bullies were such great actors that you can't help but hate them too. Young Yeon Jin (Shin Ye Eun) was so good especially with her transformation from her sweet character in More than Friends to someone who's so dark and evil here. 

The older version was just as good. Although I wasn't a fan in High Society, my admiration grew after watching her in Money Heist Korea Part 2. And I'm now a fan after seeing her here too. Yeon Jin was scarier in the second half. She was mostly scared and outwitted during the first part. But she was definitely game on in the latter half, especially after finding out who Dong Eun's accomplices were. She was so good in handling transitions too like from a scared murderer in one scene to an overconfident and entitled brat in the next one. 

The only thing lovable about Yeon Jin was her family, her husband and her daughter. She was lucky to have a level-headed husband who wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself instead of leaving her right away. But when Yeon Jin showed no remorse at all, he divorced her immediately, even going to the point of delivering the divorce papers to her in jail. And I loved how he took care of Yeon Jin's daughter as if she were his own. Loved that scene when he picked her up from a football game and she just ran to him and hugged him as she cried. 

The rest of the bullies were good too. Jae Joon (Park Sung Hoon) was great as the arrogant, violent, and temperamental guy who was at Yeon Jin's beck and call, helping her with her alibis to cover up for her crimes. Myeong Oh was perfect as the idiot driver of Jae Joon who thought he could get ahead of the others, only to find himself dying before all of them. Sa Ra (Kim Hi Eora of Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Forecasting Love and Weather, and Hospital Playlist 2) was credible as the seemingly angelic pastor's daughter who was actually an addict. And Hye Jeong, although probably the least evil of them all, was easily swayed, which made her a very easy target for everyone. 

Yeom Hye Ran as Kang Hyeon Nam

Although a lot of people helped Dong Eun get her perfect revenge, my favorite helper (aside from Dr. Joo of course) would have to be this Ahjumma (Yeom Hye Ran of Hospital Playlist, Prison Playbook, and Guardian). They started out suspicious of each other. Ahjumma caught Dong Eun rummaging through the trash of her employer. When Ahjumma realized Dong Eun wanted to blackmail her boss, she agreed to help her as long as she kills Ahjumma's husband (Ryu Seong Hyun of A Taxi Driver and Mr. Sunshine), who was physically abusing Ahjumma and her daughter (Choi Soo In). With that pact, Dong Eun and Ahjumma's relationship was sealed. 

Yes, they tried to be all business in the beginning. But they couldn't help but show their compassion for each other, knowing they have a shared experience of being abused. Dong Eun tutored her daughter and gave her a car. When things got really tough, she even found a way to send the daughter to the US to live with a foster family and study there. 

I loved their tender moments when they didn't talk about the depressing missions they had to accomplish. Like when they shared a meal in the park. Or when Ahjumma took Dong Eun's photo. The random notes they exchanged. Or when they made each other laugh. And how Ahjumma tried so hard to break Dong Eun's walls - showing her that she deserved the help and love she was getting from the people around her. 

Ahjumma did really well in her breakdown scenes. Like when she wrote that heartfelt message for her daughter's foster family about how she was sharing her joy with them. And how she managed to look happy and relieved despite her bloodied face after getting her daughter's message that she safely landed in the US. At that point, I knew that whatever happened, she would be at peace because her daughter was in good hands. 

Ahjumma's final scene with Dong Eun was bittersweet. She wished her well and and she wanted her to smile more. While Dong Eun wanted her to live the life she wanted freely. Theirs was a very precious relationship that humanized the show for me. 


The pilot episode, which was set when the characters were still in high school then moving forward to the present day, was quite confusing. I wasn't so familiar with everyone yet in the high school setting then I had to remember who was who in the present setting. I wish the show retained the high school actors or it could have also used the adult versions in the high school setting, to make it easier for us to recognize them. 

While most of the actors did really well, I was not too happy with Dong Eun's mom and Yeon Jin's mom (Yoon Da Kyung) who tended to be over the top and whose ideas of looking scary entailed making their eyes look bigger all the time. 

Aside from those things, I was pretty pleased with this show. It managed to make something so dark and evil still watchable. Does bullying in Korea really reach that extreme level? With grown-ups turning a blind eye? I also couldn't understand the motivation behind the bullies. Were they really just mean without any reason? It was heartbreaking to hear Dong Eun say that bullies always picked on the broken ones because they were probably easier to break. 

The thing that really worked well for the show was how intricate Dong Eun's revenge plan was. It was so creepy and clever at the same time. And the patience to execute it over a long period of time. I super loved Yeon Jin and Dong Eun's confrontation scenes and how Yeon Jin always ends up agitated when she realized that Dong Eun's slowly ruining her life. 

I also enjoyed the Go analogies and how Dong Eun used it to get to Yeon Jin's husband. Her description of Go as a game where you build your house and break in to destroy your opponent's house is so fitting for what she's doing to Yeon Jin's life. 

And while this was a full 16-episode drama, I liked how the show didn't drag things, revealing right away in the first part important details like Dong Eun's real motive, the dad of Yeon Jin's daughter, etc.

Ending the first part with the scene where Yeon Jin's husband discovered her past was nicely done. That definitely left viewers looking forward to what awaits Yeon Jin in the second part. 

The second part started out slow because it was basically a recap of what the bullies have been doing, vis-a-vis Myeong Oh's death. But it picks up right away when Yeon Jin discovers Ahjumma was helping Dong Eun and how Yeon Jin launches her counter attack like using Dong Eun's mom to get her removed from the school. Of course, that was counterproductive because without the school, Dong Eun had no reason to hold back and act decent.  And then Dr. Joo does his part by obtaining Yeon Jin's confession about Myeong Oh and getting her skin samples to finally link her to Myeong Oh's death. 

And the thing I probably enjoyed the most about this show was how Dong Eun didn't even have to lift a finger to hurt anyone physically. She just tortured them mentally to push them to kill and/or hurt each other. She pitted them against each other. Like the bullies among themselves, which led Yeon Jin to assault Myeong Oh and Sa Ra to stab Hye Jeong. Or having Ahjumma's husband stalk Yeon Jin's mom so that the latter would kill him herself. Then there's Jae Joon who was killed by Yeon Jin's husband. And Yeon Jin's mom against the police (Lee Hae Young of Confidential Assignment and At Eighteen) who was her accomplice in covering up for Yeon Jin's crimes. And the police against his minions who ended up killing him. And Dong Eun baiting her mom to burn her house so she can be committed to a facility where she can no longer mess up with Dong Eun's life. Then you have Yeon Jin and her mom, with the latter giving up evidence to help indict her daughter, thinking it would save herself. That was a great way to get back at Yeon Jin for using Dong Eun's mom. And of course, Yeon Jin's greatest karma, her own daughter saying she was no longer proud of her mom. 

I also liked how the drama showed us how far-reaching the consequences of abuse are. The physical scars might go away. But the emotional trauma never does. Like how Dong Eun, being abused and disrespected and looked down on all her life, was grateful when Yeon Jin's husband removed his shoes when he went to her house. That was the bare minimum yet Dong Eun was so grateful for it. She probably feels like she's not entitled to it after being treated like trash all her life. 

And how anger and the need for revenge from abuse does not exempt anyone. It might be easy to see why Dong Eun wanted revenge. After all, she's had a poor and difficult life. But it might have been surprising for some to see someone like Dr. Joo who was raised well and who lives a comfortable life, still itching to avenge his dad's death and unwilling to forgive his murderer. 

And then you have Ahjumma, who despite being treated like her husband's punching bag, still felt a tinge of guilt and pain after he died. I'm sure she was relieved more than anything but I still felt her sorrow. 

I loved the very, very satisfying ending. How Dong Eun paid it forward by helping those who helped her - the school nurse, her former colleague, Ahjumma, the mom of her classmate who committed suicide because of bullying, and even the bullied girl who came after her who actually killed Myeong Oh. 

And I enjoyed seeing Dong Eun use the antagonists' weaknesses to get her revenge - with Myeong Oh killed by the girl he bullied, Jae Joon killed by Yeon Jin's wife, the police by his underlings, and Ahjumma's husband by Yeon Jin's mom. 

Then we have Sa Ra, Yeon Jin, and her mom in jail. Yeon Jin is also showing signs of mental health issues. I loved her final confrontation scene with Dong Eun where the latter told her there's something she should regret. 

Hye Jeong lost her voice but she got the chance to make Jae Joon blind, which became immaterial because he was killed anyway. 

Yeon Jin's husband and daughter migrate to the UK to finally get out of the messy life they had. And the detective investigating the case being lenient with Dong Eun, probably out of guilt that the police didn't listen to her in the past. 

I super loved that back story about Dong Eun's landlady (Son Sook of Suits and My Mister) and how she kept on looking after Dong Eun because the latter saved her in the past. That was so touching and I'm glad they met again. 

I'm usually against ghosting in K dramas. But this was one instance when I was fine with it. Dong Eun ghosting Dr. Joo after she completed her revenge was understandable. She probably wanted to close that chapter in her life. While she appreciated everyone's help, she probably wanted a clean slate where no one would remind her of her past. Yes, she wanted that slate to be too clean that she almost committed suicide. And while I'm not sure how Dr. Joo's mom (Kim Jung Young of Summer Strike, Now We are Breaking Up, Jirisan, and One Spring Night) found her and while mom wasn't too convincing, I'm happy that she was able to persuade Dong Eun to stay alive. 

And how Dong Eun began living her life again after that. How she visited dead classmate in the columbarium and told her the clock was ticking again. And how her and Dr. Joo's roles were reversed this time with Dong Eun as the executioner. She's probably the best person to teach Dr. Joo how to plan the perfect revenge - knowing its intricacies, the careful planning it needs, her keen attention to detail, and her creativity in finding connections. For a while there, I thought the show was actually teasing me with a second season that will focus on Dr. Joo's revenge. But then again, the show's closed up pretty well already. Dragging it even longer might make it lose its charm. And in the end, I'm good, as long as I see Dr. Joo and especially Dong Eun happy. 

Oppa says...4.7.

Noona says...4.5.