Welcome to “Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance“, another edition of my new weekly ‘Korean Drama Throwback’ series. This series will feature reviews for dramas that aired at least 10 years ago.
Falling in love with Korean dramas well over a decade ago now, it was time for some official reminiscing. I also look forward to sharing some of the great dramas of the past and it’s protagonists with you.
Fasten your seat belts and join me on this journey down Korean drama memory lane.
Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance is referred to as a Korean adaptation of beloved fairy tale ‘Cinderella’, set in the current time.
For the author of this review, the drama marks the first time she ever heard of Lee Seung-Gi and a reminder of how she fell hopelessly in love with him.
Original Release Date: April 25 to July 26, 2009
- Lee Seung-Gi as Seon Woo-Han
- Han Hyo-Joo as Go Eun-Sung
- Moon Chae-Won as Yoo Seung-Mi
- Bae Soo-Bin as Park Joon-Se
- Kim Mi-Sook as Baek Sung-Hee
- Ban Hyo-Jung as Jang Sook-Ja
Get prepared for a lot of hating on the villains, the occasional tear shedding and one bad ass grandma.
Go Eun-Sung (Han Hyo-Joo)
Go Eun-Sung’s Dad is the owner of a successful construction company. Her mother passed away when she and her younger brother were little. After a while, her Dad met someone new and decided to remarry.
Her new Stepmom has a daughter named Yoo Seung-Mi (Moon Chae-Won) from a previous marriage. Seung-Mi and Eun-Sung are of a similar age and Eun-Sung does her best to become close to her new sister.
Seeing her Dad happy again, she is glad to accept the new family addition. Her brother, who has autism, comes to think of his fathers new wife as the only mother he has ever known.
Together, they live a comfortable and what appears to be harmonious life. Following her fathers wishes, Go Eun-Sung goes overseas to study business administration in order to one day take over his company.
Yoo Seung-Mi (Moon Chae-Won)
Despite Eun-Sung’s efforts and her fathers sincere affection for his stepdaughter, Yoo Seung-Mi keeps to herself a lot. She also hides all throughout their school years that her and Eun-Sung are family.
While she is bullied one day near school, Seon Woo-Hwan comes to her rescue. Seung-Mi falls head over heels for him. Over the course of the years, they become close friends and stay in contact even as adults.
To Seung-Mi, Woo-Hwan is the center of her world. To Woo-Hwan, she is one of the few people he still sincerely cares for.
Seon Woo-Han (Lee Seung-Gi)
Seon Woo-Hwan’s family owns a mayor Korean food company founded by his grandmother, Jang Sook-Ja (Ban Hyo-Jung). The grandmother loves her family dearly, always making sure they do not lack anything and spoiling them.
After loosing her only son in a tragic accident, grandmother took her daughter-in-law and her two grandchildren to live with her. Specially her grandson Woo-Hwan is the apple of her eye and she sees in him the future heir to her company.
Woo-Hwan’s mother and younger sister are not hurt by the special bond between grandmother and grandson. Both are aware that to the grandmother, Woo-Hwan is like a last connection to the son she lost.
As a child, Seon Woo-Hwan sincerely returned the affections of his grandmother, despite him becoming more sullen in nature after his Dad’s passing. But as an adult he became increasingly arrogant and acts entitled.
On the pretense of studying, he goes overseas for several years only returning home for holidays. But instead of focusing on his education, he spends his time partying with friends. Because he was always provided with the best money can buy, Woo-Hwan has no concept of its value.
Park Joon-Se (Bae Soo-Bin)
Park Joon-Se’s father was a close friend of Woo-Hwan’s late father and the family has maintained a close relationship throughout the years. The father, a lawyer, became head of the legal department at Bang Sook-Ja’s food company. Being ambitious, he sent Joon-Se to law school and expected his son to follow in his footsteps. He is also determined to have Joon-Se eventually marry Woo-Hwan’s sister.
But Joon-Se decided that being a lawyer was not his dream and instead opened up a small but successful restaurant. This is an ongoing topic of disagreement between him and his father, who is unwilling to accept his son’s choice.
When Joon-Se meets Eun-Seung, he notices they share many common interests and is almost immediately smitten with her. He becomes close to her and acts like her benefactor on numerous occasions, sometimes without her noticing.
Although Joon-Se is only a few years older than Woo-Hwan, they have not gotten along for a long time. Woo-Hwan despises always being told how he should be more like the responsible Joon-Se. In turn Joon-Se is not keen on any close relationship with the spoiled Woo-Hwan.
Go Eun-Sung, now 26 years old, returns to Korea for a brief holiday and to pick up her brother. Eun-Sung has found a school that will be perfect for her brother so he may further develop his musical talents. Her father has agreed to this as well and all appears to be settled.
Eun-Sung also hopes to use this opportunity to tell her father that she has changed her major in school. Discovering that she really enjoys cooking and creating recipes, Eun-Sung decided to no longer study business administration.
However, she is not the only one hiding secrets.
Seon Woo-Hwan, summoned by his grandmother, also returns to Korea. She has discovered some of his escapades and demands he return to help with the company. He has no choice but to obey since his grandmother controls the purse strings.
Woo-Hwan has come back to appease her and plans to leave again as soon as possible. After all, he is the only heir and it will all be his one day anyway.
But the spoiled 29 year old is in for a rude awakening.
Eun-Sung and Woo-Hwan arrive in Korea on the same flight. Due to the similarity of their carry-on bags, Woo-Hwan accidentally takes Eun-Sung’s when they disembark. Upon realizing the mix-up, they agree to meet and switch back.
A series of unforeseen events and misunderstandings as well as Woo-Hwan’s arrogant behaviour make the bag switch impossible.
Due to these misunderstandings Woo-Hwan mistakes Eun-Sung for someone greedy and fake. She sees him as an immature and entitled rich guy not worth her time.
Both stubborn in nature and with a temper to match, they refuse to see beyond these impressions.
Beyond the facade
Eun-sung’s world turns upside down when personal tragedy befalls her family and the true financial state of her fathers company comes to light. In the aftermath she looses her home, many of her so-called friends and needs to fend for herself and her brother.
Everything changed overnight and the envisioned future is now far from her mind. Providing for her brother and keeping him safe is her priority now. In a twist of events, further misfortune befalls her and Eun-Sung feels pushed to her limits.
It is during her lowest that she meets and helps an old grandmother she happens upon on the street. Since the old woman has amnesia and appears to be homeless, Eun-Sung lets the woman stay at her place.
Little does she know of the extraordinary impact her small act of kindness will have on her future.
Woo-Hwan is in complete shock when his grandmother puts her foot down on his immature behaviour. Realizing she inadvertently spoiled her grandson too much, she gives him an ultimatum: Work at the company or move out. She completely cuts him off from any financial support including cancelling his credit cards.
Woo-Hwan, enraged and hurt, looks for fault about his situation with anybody but himself. His stubborn arrogance clouds his judgement and threatens to overpower all other emotions.
Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance
A grandmother acts on her conviction that she is under no obligation to have her family inherit her financial assets. Despite oppositions, she decides that the legacy she leaves her family will consist of something money cannot by.
Two young people thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. They must successfully navigate through the ensuing events but success may not be measured in the way they imagined.
People of all ages struggle with greed and fear. Greed for what they feel is due to them, fear that it will be unattainable. What if your greed has disguised itself as a conviction based on your best intentions towards someone else?
Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance is one of my longtime favourite dramas. Each character seems so complex and thought out. As if the writers decided that no character was too small to be detailed. Even the family butler ends up with his own little story line!
I highly recommend to watch this drama. On top of everything else already mentioned, it has an amazing cast. Whether it was up and coming actors or more experienced ones. Everyone truly brought out the essence of their characters, flaws and all.
Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance has its expected share of the usual Korean drama cliches but to me that makes it even more endearing.