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How Netflix’s “The Glory” mirrors an uncomfortable reality

The popular series from South Korea portrays a victim who plans to get revenge against the juvenile delinquents who bullied her in high school.

The Netflix Series, “The Glory” shows how vicious school violence is. In the series, shot in South Korea, the bullies get punished for what they have done. In real life, bullies often escape justice. But the series is already encouraging people to take action.

The series centers on Moon Dong-Eun who is a victim of school violence. When she was in grade 11, she was bullied by a group led by a classmate. As the violence continues and intensifies, Dong-Eun tries to report the events to the police and to her teacher, however both ignore her. She ultimately  decides to drop out from school, and later attempts to commit suicide. After her failed attempt, she gets a new idea: revenge. 

There are many scenes that show violence directly to viewers. The hardest moment to watch in the series occurs in the first episode when the bullies burn Dong-Eun’s arms with a curling iron. Some viewers have suggested that the series is too violent and that there is no need to show such graphic scenes. Indeed, they are hard to watch. I blocked the screen when Dong-Eun’s arms were being burned by the curling iron. The scars still remain even when she becomes an adult. Obviously, these are the physical examples of the emotional burns and scars that victims carry with them throughout their life. Because of that, it is more important to watch these scenes and remember that they were based on real cases. The viewers who criticize the violence have it backwards. 

The violence and cruelty of school bullying is a horrible and serious problem that stays with victims long after graduation. Even though this is a Korean series, school violence is a problem all over the world. There are a lot of teenagers that decide to harm themselves because of school violence. Furthermore, there are cases of school violence that are hard to believe, especially because they were inflicted by teenagers of the same age like cases of students who have been sexually harassed by others and who have committed suicide.

What’s worse though is the lack of consequences for the bullies. In the first episode, Dong-Eun’s teacher says that what the bullies had done to her was “just kidding.” She questions her teacher that if his son also gets bullied, is it “just kidding?” Then, the teacher gets mad and slaps her. 

Even when Dong-Eun drops out of school, the teacher compels her to change her reason for dropout to avoid people saying negative things about their school. 

Teachers in South Korea have often been accused of discriminating against students based on their parents’ jobs or wealth, or the students’ grades. Until the early 2000s, they could still administer corporal punishment in their classrooms. They have been accused of ignoring school violence and giving advantages to wealthy and promising students during their time at school. 

In the series, Dong-Eun is a very poor and academically typical student who wasn’t studying very well, so it could be said, it was natural for her to be bullied all that time. 

This series brings an ongoing problem to light. In fact, it has been credited with encouraging  some people to expose celebrities in Thailand about the bullying they did when they were students

However, even though those disclosures get attention, and those celebrities get into trouble, all they do is just post an apology letter on their social media. The audiences eventually forgets, and all those controversies get buried as time passess. So if this is what famous celebrities get for their punishments, what can we expect would happen to everyday bullies?

Despite the difficulty of watching scenes, to reduce school violences, we can hope that these kinds of films and TV-series help to play a role in eradicating violence in schools so that there are no more cases of victims creating victims.

 Header Image Credit: Swoon

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