This article contains details of bullying and violence that some readers may find upsetting.

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In Netflix's recently concluded The Glory, we're introduced to a fantastical Korea in which people are the worst versions of themselves.

In both the first and second parts of the hit K-drama, we witnessed horrifying and extreme acts of bullying carried out by a young Park Yeon-Jin (Ye-Eun Shin) and her group of friends, tormenting Moon Dong-Eun (the young version played by Jung Ji-So) and others. And sadly, the drama is rooted in real-life events, as has been seen in numerous other Korean dramas.

Speaking at a press conference prior to the release of The Glory part 2, screenwriter Kim Eun-Sook suggested that inspiration for the drama initially came from her daughter asking her about bullying. She later spoke to real survivors of bullying and school violence, which cemented the idea in her mind.

But looking at Korea's recent history reveals that, as is so often the case, truth really is stranger than fiction – or in this case, more brutal.

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Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Netflix's The Glory.

Is The Glory based on a true story?

Back in May 2006 at a girls' school in Cheongju, South Korea, a student was reportedly subjected to 20 days of intense bullying by three other girls, who have not been identified.

The teenage students allegedly assaulted the classmate after she refused to give them money they demanded from her. This included apparently pushing the girl around with a baseball bat, scratching her with a barrette, beating her, and burning her arms with a curling wand.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, the victim claimed that her body was unable to heal because the bullies would burn her every few days, even peeling her scabs with their nails as punishment.

Korean publication Hankook Ilbo (via K-Pop Post) also replayed the victim's testimony: "I couldn’t escape because two people were holding my arm so tight I couldn't. It was so painful I thought I was going to die."

Her injuries required approximately six weeks of hospitalisation.

The Glory.

The details are grisly but in the wake of The Glory, they sound remarkably similar to the torment Park Yeon-Jin inflicted on Moon Dong-Eun.

But counter to what we see in the drama, those allegedly involved in this real-life case didn't escape consequences. One girl was arrested while a number of teachers who failed to act had "administrative measures" taken against them.

Still, there are limits to what measures can be taken when most of the perpetrators are under or around the age of 14, which was noted by school inspector Choi Woo Sung during an MCB Radio discussion about school violence.

He felt that as exaggerated as the bullying in The Glory appears, he believes "these scenes expressed parts of reality", before going on to say that bullying is "getting more violent and sophisticated".

This is driven home by reports that school violence is increasing across South Korea following the return to in-person learning after the COVID lockdown.

Bullying has formed the basis of numerous Korean dramas – recent releases include All of Us Are Dead, My Mister, and Tomorrow – both in the school and the workplace. But while it's deeply dramatic and shocking to witness, some feel it's a representation of reality both in South Korea and across the world.

The Glory isn't based on one singular real-life event, but is an amalgamation of true stories and experiences that make for a truly shocking watch.

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, you can visit Childline or call 0800 1111 for help and support. You can also visit Kidscape for further advice.

The Glory is available to stream on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight

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