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Revenge rises as key theme in K-dramas

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A scene from the Netflix's Korean original series
A scene from the Netflix's Korean original series "The Glory" / Courtesy of tvN

By Lee Gyu-lee

It's no secret that Korean drama series are increasingly focused on revenge, offering a sense of catharsis through eye-for-an-eye storylines.

This compelling theme of justice being served in dramas such as Netflix's newest Korean original series "The Glory" and SBS crime series "Taxi Driver 2" has resonated with many viewers, taking these shows to the top of the rankings charts.

"The Glory," created by star writer Kim Eun-sook, follows a school bullying victim, Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo), whose life has been torn apart by the abuse she suffered at the hands of a group of spiteful high school students.

About 20 years later, Moon intervenes in the lives of her abusers and carries out carefully crafted vengeance to bring suffering to her tormentors.

The series, which released its first part in December and its second part this month, has been enjoying global success. It topped the platform's official weekly streaming chart for non-English series for two consecutive weeks. Approximately 123.6 million streaming hours have been recorded since its release as of the third week of March.

The new season of SBS's crime action series, "Taxi Driver," is also carrying on the success of its previous season, with stories of its characters seeking justice for crime victims.

Scenes from SBS's crime action series
Scenes from SBS's crime action series "Taxi Driver' / Courtesy of SBS

Based on the popular webcomic "The Deluxe Taxi," the series revolves around a taxi company, called the Rainbow Taxi Company, which runs an unusual service: taking revenge on behalf of its clients. A group of people at the company, including ex-military officer Kim Do-ki (Lee Je-hoon), helps victims of violence and injustice by taking every measure to avenge the criminals.

The second season, which premiered last month with a 12.1 percent rating, has been following the people at the company combating a human trafficking cartel, a cult that feeds off of sick people, and an illegal adoption scheme that abuses orphans. Its latest episode hit a 16 percent viewership rating last Saturday.

Star writer Kim Soon-ok, who wrote the smash-hit series, "The Penthouse: War in Life" (2021), returned as a creator of a new revenge series, "Pandora: Beneath the Paradise."

The tvN's new series, which kicked off on March 11, revolves around a woman with a perfect life, Hong Tae-ra (Lee Ji-ah). She loses her memories of the past but has managed to settle into a happy life with her husband, who is the CEO of a successful IT company, and their lovely daughter.

However, as her memories start to come back, she realizes that she was raised as a killing machine and sets out to exact revenge upon those who manipulated her fate.

A scene from the series
A scene from the series "Pandora: Beneath the Paradise" / Courtesy of tvN

Actress Kim Sun-ah is also set to appear in a revenge drama series, "Queen of the Mask," as her latest project.

Channel A's upcoming series, set to go to air on April 24, follows three friends who are living successful lives ― a celebrity lawyer (Kim), a chairman of an art foundation (Shin Eun-jung) and a vice president of a hotel chain (Yoo Sun).

About 10 years earlier, the three framed one of their friends for murder. When the friend comes back into their life for revenge, the three are put on edge and are forced to reveal their true selves.

Lee Gyu-lee

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