Hit drama The Glory, which has captured a global audience with its blend of K-drama cliches and unpredictable revenge plot, has reached its brutal conclusion.
Part 1 ended with Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) finally gearing up to unleash her revenge in earnest, but two questions loomed as we headed into the home straight: would Dong-eun succeed? And if so, what would follow?
The final eight episodes of The Glory answered that and more. So, without further ado, let's examine what unfolded.
Warning: Spoilers for the ending of The Glory... obviously.
The Glory ending explained
What happened to Park Yeon-jin and her brutal band of bullies?
Despite the many characters involved in The Glory's web of revenge, the story hinged on the conflict between Dong-eun and Park Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon). As ringleader of the bullies that tormented a young Dong-eun, she remained the focus of the retaliation plot throughout the series.
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Dong-eun used Yeon-jin's crimes to bring her down in a series of brilliant, if somewhat far-fetched, twists (it's a K-drama, we don't come here for realism), with Dong-eun always at least seven steps ahead. It was apt given how much Go figured into both the story and Dong-eun's adult life – a game Dong-eun was simply too sharp to lose.
First, a former target of Yeon-jin's, Yoon So-hee, was murdered. When young Yeon-jin spotted her in a matching dress, she demanded So-hee strip. She then fled but later found herself trapped on a roof while Yeon-jin continued to torment her. When So-hee finally pushed back against the abuses Yeon-jin and her gang inflicted on her, Yeon-jin set her alight and in the ensuing struggle pushed her off the roof.
Though a cold case – literally, So-hee's body was kept on ice at the Seoul Joo General Hospital - Dong-eun pushed a formerly apathetic detective towards the evidence to incriminate Yeon-jin.
The final sting of The Glory's first part came with the murder of Myeong-o (Kim Gun-woo). As he attempted to blackmail Yeon-jin with the information about So-hee Dong-eun, she bludgeoned him with a liquor bottle.
We later discovered that the killing blow came from Yeon-jin's assistant Gyeong-ran (Ahn So-yo), but Dong-eun ensured that Yeon-jin took all of the blame. It's worth noting that Gyeong-ran was probably the most tragic character in the series having been subjected to the gang's abuse for far longer than anyone else, including being sexually assaulted by Myeong-o.
Yeon-jin eventually wound up in prison. She was stripped of the trappings that had previously kept her insulated from taking accountability for her actions, including her husband, who divorced her when he learned of her history and crimes, and her mother, who Dong-eun manipulated into committing murder before forcing her to give up her daughter in front of Yeon-jin.
It's one in a series of symbolic ends. Yeon-jin used her wealth to justify her crimes – only to become nothing without money. The brutal Myeong-o was brutalised himself, his life extinguished in a shower of blood from a head wound. Lee Sa-ra's (Kim Hi-eora) drug use was also exposed – there is a whole other discussion to be had about the moral framing of addiction in The Glory – along with her part in tax evasion, before she was imprisoned for stabbing Choi Hye-jeong (Cha Joo-young) in the neck, which is a kind of punishment in and of itself for someone whose insecurities drove her to shout above others.
Jeon Jae-jun (Park Sung-hoon), who spent her time leering after bullying victims and borderline stalking his child with Yeon-jin, was blinded when Hye-jeong spiked his eyedrops – all before he's pushed into a vat of drying concrete by Yeon-jin's ex-husband Ha Do-yeong (Jung Sung-il) to ensure that he won't follow his daughter to the UK.
Does Dong-eun find peace?
When asked what she planned to do when her decades-long revenge plot was finished, Dong-eun replied that she wants to be happy. "Happy enough to die," she said. "I want to be happy, just by that much." It hung over her story, even when it appeared she might settle down with her overbearing beau and accomplice Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun).
But it's not an abstract statement. After an evening of drinking and laughing, Dong-eun disappeared. She returned to the roof on which she stood as a teenager, intent on taking her own life, the same roof from which So-hee was pushed. She was about to step off when she was stopped by Yeo-jeong's mother.
Having uncovered the significance of the place to both So-hee and Dong-eun, she arrived at the last minute and begged Dong-eun to help her son find similar closure with the man who killed his father – her husband.
Dong-eun backed away from the ledge and in a rapid set of scenes, we saw her return to Yeo-jeong, with whom she shared a jarring K-drama kiss. The pair of them then began to set in motion a fresh revenge project. Their target was moved to a new prison and they both secured jobs inside.
The series wrapped up with Dong-eun's exuberant accomplice – and mother figure – Kang Hyun-nam (played by the brilliant Yeom Hye-ran) looking despondent as she carried out a mundane task, and without her daughter. But her situation quickly changed once again when Dong-eun enlisted her into one more adventure. She excitedly locked up her shop and raced off to join Dong-eun, probably with a bag of eggs while Dong-eun and Yeo-jeong started working on their implied new vengeance plot.
Given how well Dong-eun's revenge came together, it might seem odd to leave that loose end dangling, but it does leave the door open for a second season. There was a sharp contrast between Yeo-jeong's frantic, knife-obsessed failure and the cold and efficient way Dong-eun realised her goal, so there's undoubtedly more to explore there.
Perhaps a second outing will address the question of whether Dong-eun should take on revenge, a key issue that season 1 failed to interrogate. There's been no word from the streamer on The Glory's future, so watch this space for updates.