Dr Khusi Pattanayak
Dostoevsky says if there is crime there must be punishment. The Glory (Korean) revolves around a similar premise. The web-series came out in 2 seasons -season 1 in 2022 and season 2 in 2023. This revenge drama based on real life incidents is an unsettling but a wonderful watch.
The Glory is not easy to watch. This is probably because each one of us at some point of time (in various degrees) have either been bullied or have been a bully. There is no respite to this vicious circle, irrespective of the society or class one belongs to. And that realization is unnerving and frightening.
Numerous studies and reports in last two decades have highlighted how bullying (mental, physical, cyber, sexual) has become a global challenge. Both UNICEF and UNESCO have raised concerns about the unfortunate impact bullying has on individuals. What is even more alarming is that the socioeconomic status of the prey and the predator decides the course of justice.
Sometimes environmental factors make the situation worse: voiceless teachers who cannot fight the system; over worked counselors who fail to intervene at the right time; timid victims who are scared to report etc. Each of which has been underlined by the series and the impact it has on victims and perpetrators as they grow into adulthood.
The series marries two popular social elements – bullying and revenge – to dish out an entertaining thriller about school violence. The story revolves around a girl named Moon Dong-eun who takes revenge from her schoolmates 16 years after she was bullied in high school. Her journey filled with agony and misery is unnerving, brutal, gory and unpredictable.
As audience we know there will be redemption and catharsis but how that will shape remains unpredictable (credits to the writers for keeping the surprise intact).
It is interesting how the series demonstrates that even though bullies function as a unified front while harassing someone they share their own power dynamics and not everyone is equal in the team. The more powerful in the group preys on the less powerful and with passage of time, such relationships become malicious and evil.
The screenplay is well crafted ensuring that the audiences’ empathy remains with the protagonist and her supporters. You look forward to seeing the bad guys being punished for their wickedness. There is no effort to bring peace. When skeletons from the past are unearthed, many innocent lives are on line of fire. But there are no guilt trips because of that. It is a good-must-conquer-the-evil world; the makers make no secret of it.
The production design is really impressive and so is the cinematography. The frozen-in-time-pain narrative is brought out beautifully on screen. The music works well especially while building tension and establishing the mood of the scene. The casting is good. Each actor manages to be the character s/he is playing.
The subplot involving a woman facing domestic violence and her daughter feels too much. The other usual problem that I have with web series in general is the pace. This too was slow burner.
Though with all fairness, the series makers might have deliberately used the pace to bring attention to the stillness of a suffered life, yet it does not feel like a creative enough decision. It could have been easily released as a single season.
There will be a season 3 (but of course!). But that is okay. If K-dramas and social issues are your thing and you don’t mind a slow-paced intricate story line then The Glory is available on Netflix.
(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal)