On ‘The Glory’ And Why Anger Isn’t Always Bad

I am tired of being told to be the bigger person. I am so sick of forcing myself to forgive after being aggravated by someone who shows no remorse and refuses to admit their errors.

I can no longer stand lectures that try to invalidate all forms of anger, particularly those that focus only on how it can consume a person. I hate being told to “forgive and forget.”

I believe in holding people accountable for their unacceptable behavior. I believe in calling people out and telling them what the problem is.

Most importantly, I believe anger is sometimes warranted—especially if you’ve been wronged by someone who has always been aware that their actions may, in fact, negatively impact other people.

And this is why I don’t just forgive. This is why I never forget.

I may not have gone as far as exacting revenge on people who knowingly caused my suffering in the past, but their names will forever remain in my burn book. I may act civil toward some of them, but I simply won’t let things go.

However, I’d be lying if I told you that I have never fantasized about getting back at them, especially the bullies who made my life miserable in elementary and high school.

And then “The Glory” came out. Although fictional, this Korean series has somewhat appeased me.

One of the things I like the most about this series is how unapologetically angry its main protagonist is and the fact that she’s not keen on hiding it.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

In other revenge dramas, protagonists move stealthily while plotting their revenge, almost always watching their targets from afar and celebrating rather quietly after ticking an item on their to-do list.

But in this Korean series, things are different. Even before the young Moon Dong-eun (Jung Ji-so) goes away and begins actively working on her revenge plan, she visits her former school one last time and confronts her bullies. She tells them she knows what their dreams are and tells the young Park Yeon-jin (Shin Ye-eun), “Starting today, my dream is you. I really hope… we’ll see each other again.”

When they see each other again many years later, the adult Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) becomes even less discreet about what she’s been up to. When the adult Yeon-jin finds out she’s the teacher of her daughter, Dong-eun does something even more shocking: She tells Yeon-jin she cannot run away from her, even reminding her that transferring the child to a different school won’t make any difference because she will always find a way to be close to the girl.

From then on, she stays not only in Yeon-jin’s life but also in the whole gang’s. She tries to get to their heads and weaponizes some secrets she knows about each other, even using those secrets to turn them against one another. She does all these things by keeping them aware she’s around, either watching from afar as things go south on their own or triggering chaos herself. That’s part of the thrill; people don’t know if another person is behind those things or if it’s just an angry Dong-eun messing with them. Either way, they suffer, especially since they are messy individuals who cannot help but create more mess and react to mess by creating more mess.

Even more interesting is that everyone who knows what Dong-eun is up to respects her anger. No one forces her to just become the bigger person and forgive and forget. Instead, people try to help when they can. I do understand that this is largely because most of these people have been holding grudges against other people, as well, so they understand where Dong-eun is coming from. But still, it’s such a delight to watch vengeful people working together and trying to get the kind of justice in such a way they think they deserve.

If you have ever been wronged by someone who, on top of refusing to own up to their mistake, also makes it a point to brag about how unapologetic they remain despite knowing how much suffering they have caused you, I am sure it would be quite hard for you not to derive any form of pleasure from Dong-eun’s wins.

And I think this series shows that getting angry is not necessarily bad, especially if it’s a reaction to something unfair done unto you. Just like what a viral tweet says, “Your anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse and unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well and with kindness. Your anger is part of you that LOVES you.”

Dong-eun knows she deserves better, and she has decided she won’t be a doormat anymore. I am glad that the people around her understand that. I know her means are too extreme that they may be morally problematic, but it is still very cathartic.

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