- Song Hye-kyo returns in The Glory Part 2 as a woman seeking revenge on her high school bullies – with her main tormentor beginning to fight back
- The first two episodes of Part 2 lack the punch of Part 1, but there is every chance the show will pick up its pace as it approaches its endgame
After a gripping launch last year, Korean drama series The Glory returns on March 10 with a second set of eight episodes.
The episodes are billed as “Part 2”, and this is an important distinction, as this is not a second season. Rather, The Glory is a 16-episode show – the standard length of most Korean broadcast and cable dramas – that has been split into two chunks.
What that means is that Part 2 dumps us in something of a midseason lull, unlike a fresh season of a show that would normally seek to open with a bang.
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The goal remains the same. Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) is in the final phase of her vendetta against her high-school tormentors, chief among them Park Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon).
She is a teacher at the fancy private school attended by Yeon-jin’s daughter Ha Ye-sol (Oh Ji-yul) and she has already revealed herself to Yeon-jin and her clique – Yeon-jin’s sometime lover Jeon Jae-jun (Park Sung-hoon), druggy artist Lee Sa-ra (Kim Hieora), gold-digger Choi Hye-jeong (Cha Joo-young) and meathead Son Myeong-o (Kim Gun-woo).
Dong-eun has also revealed herself to Yeon-jin’s construction mogul husband Ha Do-yoon (Jung Sung-il), who has been made aware of his wife’s sordid history and that he may not be Ye-sol’s real father.
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She is trying to tear Yeon-jin’s life apart, though we do not know what her end goal is. Until writer Kim Eun-sook decides to reveal that, the story has to fill some of the gaps between its dramatic reveals, which have become increasingly spaced out.
The main events occupying the early stages of Part 2 are the investigation into the likely death of Myeong-o, who began blackmailing all his friends before suddenly disappearing.
He has – or pretends to have – dirt on everyone, but most of all on Yeon-jin, who Dong-eun believes is responsible for the death of another classmate in high school who perished after falling off its roof.
Yeon-jin, like any cornered animal, begins to fight back. She could hardly be expected to endure Dong-eun’s slow punishment in silence. Money, power and a lack of scruples are Yeon-jin’s tools, and she uses them to try to turn the people in Dong-eun’s life against her.
Meanwhile, Dong-eun slowly draws closer to plastic surgeon Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun), to whom she revealed her past and scarred body in previous episodes. Dong-eun is staying in Yeo-jeong’s house, where they share several scenes together.
These scenes do little to move the story forward – instead the show’s tone switches away from revenge drama into more classic K-drama romance territory.
Yeo-jeong is a sweetheart and does everything to make her comfortable, which includes setting up a tent cutely adorned with light bulbs for her in the house, or setting up camping gear outside for an impromptu fondue dinner.
Throughout the first pair of episodes of Part 2 there is the constant expectation that things will kick off again the way they did throughout Part 1, but the crescendos are slow to come and when they do materialise, they lack their earlier punch.
We know enough of the story to piece together what has happened in the gaps and, without any new threads to counterbalance the lack of surprise in the main story, we are left with melodramatic scenes featuring characters facing off and showing us how much they hate each other, rather than offering any new information.
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The cast remain game and impressive, but the dialogue they fire at each other has begun to sound hollow and repetitive.
Over coffee one day – the purpose of which is not entirely clear – Yeon-jin tells Dong-eun that she does not believe she has done anything wrong, since “your life has been a living hell since you were born”. Yeon-jin thus believes that poor people are destined to be miserable, as if we needed more evidence of her emotional cruelty.
In turn, Dong-eun placidly promises to tear her to pieces or rip her mouth, but these barbed threats have lost their sting.
In an effort to pad out its revenge story, the show opts for a few very melodramatic asides, including some details to make us feel even more pity for Dong-eun’s murdered classmate, and a soju-swilling, raving phantom from Dong-eun’s past who shows up to cause a very public scene.
What continues to work is Dong-eun’s sidekick Kang Hyeon-nam, expressively played by Yum Hye-ran, and the show’s memorably visual cues, such as when Dong-eun goes to a high-end restaurant with Do-yoon and the maItre d’ takes her coat – revealing a sleeveless dress … and the welts left by curling irons all over her arm from her horrific teenage encounters with Yeon-jin.
There is every chance that Part 2 of The Glory will improve as it approaches its endgame, but a little patience may be needed to get there.
The Glory Part 2 will start streaming on Netflix on March 10.
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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