The second half of hit Netflix K-drama The Glory finally premiered last Friday, providing answers to all of our questions and fan theories as Dong-eun's (Song Hye-kyo) meticulous revenge plot finally reached its end. The thrilling series got even better in its second half, showing the school bullying victim's story through gorgeous cinematography and expert acting from its The Glory's stacked cast. Season 1, Part 2 also cemented the drama's place among Netflix's most popular non-English shows, joining Squid Game, All of Us Are Dead, and Extraordinary Attorney Woo as the fourth k-drama to become one of the streaming giant's top 10 most-watched non-English language shows ever.
There is so much to unpack among the fallout of Dong-eun's scheme, including a possible path for the drama going forward. Read on for our breakdown of the fates of each of the bullies and Team Dong-eun.
We get a flashback of what happened to Myeong-o very early in Part 2: Park Yeon-jin met up with him at Jae-jun's boutique Siesta on the night of October 19, where he bluffed that he had evidence that she killed their former bullying victim So-hee. When Yeon-jin showed her guilt and then learned that he really didn't have any evidence, she snapped, bashing his head with an expensive bottle of champagne. She covered the murder up the way she fixed all her problems, calling in crooked police chief Shin Yeong-jun to clean up the scene and dispose of the body. She could've gotten away with it, but instead of burying Myeong-o's body, but Yeong-jun kept it preserved in an abandoned mortuary as his "retirement pension."
Enter brilliant amateur detective Hyeon-nam, who tails the cop to the mortuary and realizes that it's been using a surprising amount of power for an abandoned building, in just the freezer room. Dong-eun shares her suspicion that Myeong-o's body is in there, and her devoted lieutenant Yeo-jeong offers to confirm her hunch by buying the mortuary for her (no big deal). When the deed's in hand and they turn Yeong-jun's helper to their side, they dump the body to be found in a public place...the same site where So-hee fell eighteen years ago.
Even though Yeon-jin is guilty of assaulting Myeong-o, Dong-eun and Yeo-jeong take the extra step of putting her DNA under the body's fingernails, assuring that she'll be found guilty. (Her DNA is what Yeo-jeong was after when he put her under for cosmetic surgery.) It's only in the finale that we see why they added that layer of assurance: Yeon-jin wasn't the person who delivered the final killing blow. Instead, it was Ahn So-yo, the Siesta worker who also happened to be another of the bully group's victims (and a former friend of Dong-eun). She was living in the boutique's secret back office; on the night of the murder, she saw Yeon-jin fleeing on the security cameras and emerged to find Myeong-o bloody on the floor still alive. When he grabbed at her to help him, she flashed back to the times he sexually assaulted her, and she grabbed the same champagne bottle to give the final blow.
The best thing about The Glory's plot is all the densely-woven intricacies that lead to the bullies meeting their demise through decades of delayed consequences. So-yo's identity is one of the final big reveals of the series, after foreshadowing flashes of Dong-eun insisting that Yeon-jin has to be the one who killed Myeong-o. It wasn't just to make sure that the ringleader went down for two deaths instead of one, solidifying her place in prison, but also because her former friend isn't the one who should be punished. With So-yo's final piece of the puzzle, the murder weapon she was hiding, each of the show's three bullying victims gets their form of justice.
Sa-ra was one of the easier bullies to deal with, mostly because her chaotic nature meant her life was headed for a downward spiral at some point. Dong-eun just accelerated it, leaving her without a regular dealer and then leading her to drugs planted in the basement of her dad's church. Sa-ra's drug use is livestreamed to the whole congregation, and she's promptly arrested, though her lawyers kept reminding her that the law would be easy on her for the first offense.
What no one could predict (except maybe Dong-eun) is how Sa-ra would spiral into finding someone to blame other than herself for her downfall. While visiting her in jail, Hye-jeong plants the idea that Yeon-jin exposed Sa-ra to divert media attention from her bullying scandal, since the two stories dropped on the same day and Sa-ra's drug use (and also her and her dad's tax evasion) got more news. Sa-ra goes full scorched earth, uploading an old video of Yeon-jin threatening So-hee in the street right before So-hee died. To Sa-ra, it's just confirmation that Yeon-jin was a bully to, but it's also another piece of evidence in So-hee's case.
The moment that firmly lands Sa-ra in prison, and elicited a scream from yours truly, happens at Myeong-o's funeral. Hye-jeong had been trying to flaunt her relationship with Jae-jun in Sa-ra's face (more on that later). While Sa-ra had been dealing with more important things, she's also just as rude to her frenemy as always. The difference is, Hye-jeong now has leverage, via a clip of a high Sa-ra going down on Myeong-o. She sends the clip to several people in the middle of the funeral, and Sa-ra snaps, calling Hye-jeong the devil and driving a pencil into her windpipe. The last we see of hysteric Sa-ra is her immediate arrest.
Things had finally been changing for Hye-jeong. The often-ridiculed former bully couldn't get her "friends" to see her as an equal, even after she'd landed a rich fiancé. However, while searching for some hint of Myeong-o's fate, she got her hands on his tablet and found the recording of him and Yeon-jin on the night of his murder. She brings it to Jae-jun, focusing on the proof that Myeong-o was threatening Yeon-jin, but Jae-jun remembers the heavy champagne bottle and pieces together the circumstantial evidence that Yeon-jin killed Myeong-o. He then immediately asks Hye-jeong if she can raise an eight-year-old, forming a plan to marry her and get parental rights of Ye-sol. Hye-jeong, who has been crushing on Jae-jun since time eternal, is all in.
It takes a couple days for Hye-jeong to start flying a little to close to the sun, especially since Jae-jun's obviously still willing to drop her the moment she's not useful. But she's gotten what she's always wanted and she's reveling in her win, so she uses whatever material she can find on the tablet...and gets put in the hospital with her vocal chords severely damaged. It looks like justice is served when Jae-jun dumps her (in her hospital room!) but then Dong-eun offers her a lifeline. Hye-jeong has always straddled the line between bully and victim, and Jae-jun doesn't deserve to walk away from all this, so she takes her own form of revenge.
For most of Part 2, Jae-jun's unraveling Yeon-jin's murders of both Myeong-o and So-hee, with the goal of bringing her down to get custody of their daughter. He's mostly left to his own devices by Dong-eun, except for when she needs to get rid of one of Yeon-jin's lackeys, her asshole co-worker at Ye-sol's school. She lets Jae-jun know that the teacher takes inappropriate pictures of the female students, and Jae-jun immediately heads to the school to beat his ass. (A very fun, rewindable sequence.) Jae-jun gets arrested, and Do-yeong comes down to the station to press charges against the teacher, leading to another instant-rewind scene where Do-yeong finally beats up Jae-jun for the years-long affair.
After the extent of Yeon-jin's crimes is exposed and Do-yeong finally leaves her, she immediately goes running to Jae-jun to save her and their daughter. For a moment it looks like he'll stick with her, but then his lawyer informs him that there's no way he can stop the autopsy of Myeong-o's body, and he cuts Yeon-jin off then and there, only ever caring about himself. He then meets Do-yeong and blackmails him: divorce Yeon-jin and give up parental rights, or Ye-sol becomes the daughter of a murderer.
Luckily Do-yeong makes sure Ye-sol doesn't end up with Jae-jun as her dad (more later), but considering everything, the playboy gets off pretty much scot-free by the start of the finale. He still has his business, Hye-jeong has finally shut up forever, and he isn't implicated in So-hee's death. Even though he wasn't there on the night she fell, it turns out the bullying victim was pregnant when she died. Dong-eun thought it had been Myeong-o, since he had assaulted her and So-yo, but So-hee had actually been raped by Jae-jun. Dong-eun even says Jae-jun deserves to die for what he did to So-hee, so what happened to his revenge?
That's where Dong-eun's plan for Hye-jeong comes in: the scorned lover switches out Jae-jun's glaucoma medicine for a blinding agent (windshield wiper fluid and TK are mentioned, but since I wear contacts I'd rather not dwell on the painful particulars). Jae-jun finally uses the drops while he's driving down an empty street at night looking for Dong-eun, where he stops in the middle of the road and gets T-boned by a cement truck. Later, as Dong-eun mentions his disappearance, we flash back to an unseeing Jae-jun stumbling around a construction site the same night he was hit. Someone we can't see pushes him over a ledge, and before he drowns in a container of concrete, the last person Jae-jun sees is his killer, Ha Do-yeong.
Yeon-jin was always the focus of Dong-eun's plans, and the subject of her deepest hatred, so the weathercaster and former ringleader was always set for the most painful descent. Even though Yeon-jin begun to fight back a bit at the start of Part 2—she tried to blackmail Hyeon-nam over to her side, charged the aforementioned teacher with making Dong-eun's work hell, and even brought Dong-eun's horrible mom back to get her fired—Yeon-jin still ended up going down for all of her crimes. Not only that, there were layers of psychological attacks with the ways that the evidence against Yeon-jin slowly came to light, culminating in Yeon-jin's mom's shaman channeling So-hee's spirit to confront her murderer. (Speaking of which, that's the one part of this show that I can't untangle. Was the shaman legit or just acting? Did she really die?)
In the end, Dong-eun accomplished what she'd been narrating all show, as Yeon-jin had no one on her side at the end. Do-yeong finally left her after realizing she was a cheater, a bully, and a murderer (bully should've been enough, I'm a bit disappointed in him); Ye-sol shared her disappointment in her; and Jae-jun wasn't there to pick her up. Dong-eun even set Yeon-jin's own mother Yeong-Ae, the woman who always cleaned up her messes, against her.
A quick breakdown of the set-up between Hyeon-nam and Yeon-jin's mom: The former housekeeper set her abusive husband up to blackmail Yeong-ae with the knowledge of Yeon-jin's murders and her involvement. Yeong-ae slowly loses it as she's tormented, and eventually orchestrates Hyeon-nam's husband's murder via hit-and-run. Dong-eun then goes to Yeong-ae and offers her salvation if she hands over Yeon-jin's old name tag, the proof that Yeon-jin was at the scene of So-hee's death. Yeong-ae quickly and unrepetantly gives up her own daughter, and Dong-eun invites Yeon-jin there to see it happen. It completely breaks their relationship: when the mother and daughter later end up in the same prison, Yeong-ae won't even look at Yeon-jin. The ringleader is ultimately, totally, alone.
Fans of Song Hye-kyo and Jung Sung-il's chemistry may be disappointed that there aren't an abundance of scenes between Dong-eun and Do-yeong, as Yeon-jin's husband remains mostly neutral in the revenge plot targeting his wife. In fact, he tries to keep his family together as long as possible in theory, before the reality of Yeon-jin's villainy slowly dawns on him as he sees how she reacts to the bullying allegations and refuses to apologize to So-hee's parents. Eventually, all he cares about is Ye-sol, who is truly his daughter if not by blood.
When it becomes clear that Yeon-jin will go to jail for the murders, Do-yeong quickly packs up his and Ye-sol's things for their move to the U.K. (After all, Ye-sol loves soccer.) He ties things up with Yeon-jin by serving her divorce papers in prison, and then he deals with the only other person who would threaten his parental rights, Jae-jun. By killing him, Do-yeong ensures that Jae-jun will never come after Ye-sol, and the cuckhold gets his own form of justice.
Like all of The Glory's characters, Hyeon-nam exists in a moral gray area, since she only joined Team Dong-eun because the mysterious woman offered a way out of her abusive marriage. She's been relying on another person's death throughout the series, but she maybe has the purest motives out of the adult characters, as she just wanted to protect herself and her daughter. She also ended up as one of the standouts in a cast of excellent characters, as she showed that she's a natural at revenge through both her detective skills and her thorough deception that she had turned to Yeon-jin's side. The scenes that hinted that Hyeon-nam had turned over to the dark side were the show's best use of time jumping and hidden details, showing Dong-eun and Hyeon-nam as a truly fearsome team.
After her husband's death, Hyeon-nam mourns him while refusing to take Yeong-ae's settlement money. She also finishes up her last errands as Dong-eun's helper, and the two unlikely allies have a sad parting. Months later, she's working in her own eatery, while her daughter Seon-ah studies in the U.S. (where she's hopefully happy and still listening to The Boyz). Though we don't get to see her reunite with her daughter, we do get a hint that she and Dong-eun continue their friendship in the future, as Dong-eun texts that she has a new job for her.
Yeo-jeong is a faithful and reliable swordsman for Dong-eun's revenge plot throughout the episodes, and he's also her confidant, as their love story is built through brief yet lovely scenes of the duo's interactions as she stays with him. His admiration of her never fades, even when he has to deal with her horrible mother or face Do-yeong as a possible romantic rival. Even when he's directly confronted with the fact that Dong-eun has been using him this whole time, all he cares about is that she didn't break things off with him all those years ago because he wasn't her type. She tells him that left him because she didn't want to use him in her plot when he was a victim himself, and he responds that using him was always the best course of action, and that if she leaves him again, it will be a decision based on love, not revenge.
So when she does leave him again once Yeon-jin's in prison, after a classic K-drama date by the ocean, it devastates him. Dong-eun is lost after a lifetime only focused on revenge, and she decides to end it all. While she's standing on the edge of the roof where So-hee died, the same way she did when she was at her lowest as a teenager, Yeo-jeong's mom suddenly appears. The hospital director says that she gave Yeo-jeong permission to help Dong-eun with her revenge, and then asks Dong-eun to help him escape his own hell.
All this time, Yeo-jeong has been seeking his own revenge against Kang Yeong-cheon, the man who murdered his father. In the years since the murder, Yeong-cheon has been sending both Yeo-jeong and his mother taunting letters about the incident, and Yeo-jeong has been stuck in his rage and grief. He eventually comes up with a plan to get a job as a doctor at the murderer's prison, where he can dole out his own revenge. However, the warden can't hire a victim's family member, so his plan had ended before it began. Fast forward six months (even The Glory can't escape the k-drama finale time jump), and Dong-eun reappears at Yeo-jeong's place, offering help in his own revenge (and they kiss!!!).
The thematic allure in stories of all-encompassing revenge is that those who dedicate their life to vengeance often end up losing their own soul in the process. That seems like the path that Dong-eun is set on when she decides to end her life after achieving her goal. It takes another plan for revenge, and her love for Yeo-jeong, to give her a new life purpose.
Just like with her own plan, she's brilliant and meticulous in setting up Yeo-jeong's plan. She uses one of her old connections, Hye-jeong's ex-fiancé Tae-uk's wealthy mother, to get Yeong-cheon beat up in jail and transferred to a new prison. Ahead of his transfer, Yeo-jeong gets the prison doctor job without a problem, and Dong-eun becomes the volunteer debate teacher. The show ends with two sequences: Yeong-cheon reacts in fear after arriving at the new prison and seeing Yeo-jeong there. Then, the outside sky goes from bright to dark and cloudy as Dong-eun and Yeo-jeong walk into prison for a day of work and the implied start of their new plan.
The first time I watched the final scene, I thought that Netflix had accidentally ended the episode ten minutes early, but I've come to accept the open ending. No matter whether or not she succeeded in her plan, the future was always going to be tough for Dong-eun. She admits in the finale that life's just now starting again for her, as she finally progresses to age nineteen and beginning her healing after her revenge. We also get a sweet glimpse of her life completely outside of revenge, as she finally begins studying architecture. She's building a life for herself, and it's well-deserved.
As for whether we need a second season of The Glory following this new revenge plan, I vote no. Not only was Dong-eun's plot impeccably built and dense (hence this very long breakdown), it also included a layer of wealth inequality that gave another layer of catharsis. The Glory is one of the most successful shows out of the recent trend of Eat The Rich content (I think it's right up there with Parasite and Squid Game), and Yeo-jeong's revenge wouldn't hit the same thematic resonance. Writer Kim Eun-sook is free to prove me wrong, but I think The Glory is perfect as it stands, completed.
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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