The basic format of my column will be similar to the well-known blog, Dramabeans. At the top, there will be a summary of each episode, followed by my personal thoughts and observations. If you are unfamiliar with K-Dramas and some of the terminology, check out my first post, which decodes everything you’ll need to know. The summary of this episode will be longer than others because I’ll be introducing the characters, but aside from that, this is what you can expect from Oh K-Drama.
In the first episode, Heirs introduces us to the main (and some of the supporting) characters, while providing us with some backstory.
We open with our 17-year-old hero, Kim Tan (played by Lee Minho), riding the California waves. Since he was born out of an illicit affair, he is considered “illegitimate.” Although he is an illegitimate child, he is one of the heirs to Jeguk Group, a company that his family owns.
We get a peek at Tan’s 31-year-old half brother, Kim Won (played by Choi Jinhyuk), in a flashback from three years ago. Won is also the current president of Jeguk Group and their father is the chairman. In the flashback from three years ago, Won exiled Tan to America after feeling that Tan’s presence and existence was threatening his chance to inherit the family company.
Cut to Seoul, Korea, where another one of our main players, Choi Youngdo (played by Kim Woobin) bullies a nerdy kid, named Moon Joonyoung (played by Jo Yoonwoo) on the last day of school. Youngdo is a chaebol (what a surprise), who will inherit a chain hotel called Zeus Hotel.
Next I’d like to introduce the heroine, Cha Eunsang (played by Park Shinhye). Eunsang works multiple part-time jobs (i.e. fried chicken delivery, cafe, dishwashing). She is one of the few characters in this drama who isn’t incredibly wealthy. In fact, she is incredibly poor. Hence, she works all the time.
While Eunsang is working at a cafe, we meet her childhood best friend, Yoon Chanyoung (played by Kang Minhyuk), and his clingy and rich (why do I bother writing rich, they’re all rich) girlfriend, Lee Bona (played by Jung Krystal).
Chanyoung isn’t a chaebol, but he isn’t as poor as Eunsang. He is super intelligent (unlike many of these rich teenagers) and lives with his single father, who is the chief secretary of Jeguk Group. Bona’s background is going to sound familiar: she is an heir to Mega Entertainment company. Aside from that, her ex-boyfriend is Tan.
Eunsang walks home from work and leaves her unni (Cha Eunsuk) a voicemail rant about Bona. On the other end, Eunsuk unni is engaged in what seems like a daily fight with her abusive boyfriend in their home in Los Angeles.
The show opens with a sudden downpour and Eunsang takes out the umbrella Chanyoung gave her at the cafe. It doesn’t open until Eunsang spots some dream catchers in a shop window.
At the Yoon residence, Chanyoung and his dad (we’re calling him Papa Yoon) cook together in their home. When they were at the cafe earlier, Chanyoung wanted to tell Eunsang that he was going to study in America for the summer, but he didn’t get the chance since Bona dragged him away.
Then we visit another home, but this one is MASSIVE. It’s the Kim’s mansion. Remember them? With all these characters, sometimes I think my head might explode. We find that Eunsang’s mom, Park Heenam, is mute and works as one of the maids for the Kim’s. We’ll call her Mama Park. Since Mama Park is mute, she communicates by writing on a notepad.
Tan’s mom phones Tan repeatedly, but her calls go unanswered. We’ll call Tan’s mom Madame Han since that’s what the maids call her. Because Tan isn’t answering, Madame Han takes out her frustration on Mama Park. (Or maybe she’s that rude all the time.)
At the Cha’s home, Mama Park breaks the news that Eunsuk unni is getting married in the States, and tells Eunsang to send all the money in their account to unni.
Unni isn’t the only one getting married. The mother of Yoo Rachel (played by Kim Jiwon) is also getting married. And who else would it be but Youngdo’s dad? Both kids get dragged along to have a meal and meet their new respective parent and sibling. What a happy family, right?
Sadly this is not the case. Both kids leave the disastrous meal afterward and run into each other outside. Rachel reminds Youngdo that she’s engaged to Tan (his ex-BFF). Meaning, when their parents marry, Youngdo and Tan will be brother-in-laws: awkward!
It’s hinted that Youngdo and Tan were formerly close friends, but had a big falling out before Tan moved. Youngdo doesn’t mind the marriages between her and Tan, or their parents, because once Rachel’s mom is married off, he’ll get an inheritance from both rich parents.
Now let’s return to the heroine. It’s revealed after she finishes her dishwashing job that she’s going to America to go to her unni’s wedding, and is never coming back (which means she will be abandoning her mom).
Checking in with Rachel, we find her packing her suitcase for a trip to Los Angeles. She’s going to visit Tan for the one year anniversary of their engagement.
Eunsang and Rachel fly to LA and coincidentally meet at the airport. While on the phone, Rachel speaks in Korean and lies to her mom that Tan came to pick her up. Surprised to hear her native language in LA, Eunsang chuckles to herself about the mismatch between what Rachel was saying and the real situation. Keep in mind that these two don’t know each other and are complete strangers.
Being the witch she is, Rachel confronts Eunsang. Eunsang tries to evade it by pretending she’s Japanese and can’t understand. Unfortunately, Rachel is fluent in Japanese and sees right through Eunsang’s lies. Eunsang apologizes and turns to leave quietly.
After locating Eunsuk unni’s house, she’s welcomed (not really) by a random woman and unni’s supposed husband. Mr. Nincompoop informs Eunsang that unni and him live together, and that they will never get married. Also, he tells them that unni isn’t going to school. This is how we know that everything unni has said was a lie.
Next we see more of Won! We watch him lead a meeting with lots of boring business details. What we do you get out of it is that many of his employees’ loyalties still lie with his father (the chairman).
Tan sits in a cafe where unni works and she pours him some coffee. All the while, Eunsang glowers at her through a window. Tan takes notice and stares back. Following his gaze, unni finally takes notice of her dongsaeng and rushes out to meet her.
Eunsang cuts right to the chase and they start to argue about Eunsuk’s lies. Eunsuk ransacks Eunsang’s luggage for the money and runs off with it, leaving Eunsang crying hysterically, broke, with no way to return home. Meanwhile, Tan has witnessed the entire scene.
Next, Tan’s nimrod surfer buddy pops up and spots Eunsang. He’s all, “Aw yeah. She’s a cutie.” Oh no, here we go! Nimrod approaches Eunsang and helps her put stuff back in her suitcase, then steals the bag of bean powder her mom made for unni. What. Is. Happening?
“Those aren’t drugs!” Sadly Tan’s exclamation goes unheard by Nimrod. Then Nimrod goes and takes a whiff of the powder and chokes and passes out. Cut to the hospital. It turns out that Not-A-Druggie had an allergic reaction and is going to be fine. Darn it Heirs! We could seriously do without this freak.
Then a cop shows up and starts questioning Eunsang about the powder. He says they need to “look into it.” He asks for her passport and wonders if she’s here illegally. By now Eunsang has reached the extent of her English abilities, and Tan comes to save her. NOT.
The cop and Tan are quite acquainted with one another, but for the wrong reasons. Seeing that Tan is involved, police guy confiscates her passport immediately and tells her that he’ll call to her about the verdict of the bean powder ASAP.
Eunsang asks Tan for a ride to her unni’s house (which he finds completely ridiculous after the sisters’ fight), but she has no one else to ask, so he relents out of empathy and perhaps because he thinks she’s pretty.
They arrive at the sketchy house in a sketchy neighborhood. Eunsang tells him she’ll contact him throughout the day for her passport. She knocks on the door of the house but no one answers. She’s insistent that Eunsuk will come home and Tan finally leaves.
Some drunk guys saunter past her and shout random comments at her. She takes this as a good time to leave and gets up when a car’s headlights are seen coming towards her. IT’S TAN! He asks, “Do you wanna come to my place?” Oh jeez, hitting on her already?
First of all, can I point out that we have an angsty shower scene TWO MINUTES into the drama? I don’t know if anyone is bothered by that, but “really?” Choices like these, made me a bit worried that the drama would have an all-star cast, but fail to deliver a quality plot or characters. Luckily these worries were unfounded. I was thoroughly entertained for the entire hour.
Here are a few reasons why I liked it:
#1 Heirs has a super-star cast. I’ve seen most of Park Shinhye’s works and have a complete girl-crush on her. And who doesn’t love staring at Lee Minho and Kim Woobin? I’m a total boice (a fan of the band, CN Blue), so I had to watch for Kang Minhyuk. And Kim Jiwon was a complete sweetie in another drama called What’s Up. I haven’t seen anything from Krystal, but many f(x) fans are watching for her. We’ll see how she does alongside these guys.
#2 The hero, Kim Tan, is a typical rich chaebol, but with a twist: he isn’t a complete jackass. Not only that, but he actually seems like a good person. That’s two brownie points for you, writer. Tan really feels empathy for Eunsang and it seems that he is helping her out of kindness. In addition, we finally have a rich male lead male who finds a mega poor girl to be really pretty. It’s a little early to tell, but I think Tan is going to be an excellent character.
#3 The show, specifically the Kim household, parallels a sageuk (a historical K-drama). I guess I should’ve seen that coming since the title is Heirs, but I missed the hint. For those who have never seen a sageuk, it’s based on pre-20th century Korea, when they had a king. The culture revolved around gaining power and palace politics. In case you guys don’t see the connection with sageuk, here it is: Kim Tan’s dad is the king. Dad’s wife is the queen. Madame Han is the concubine. Kim Won is the first son and Tan is the second. Won and Tan are fighting for the Jeguk Group “throne.”
I do want to discuss some of my dislikes but I’ll end my commentary here since this post is breaking into page three. I suppose if you send me a donation, I’ll give you some more editorial commentary. Or you can wait until next week, for episode two!
Words by Amber Ly
Screencaps courtesy of DramaFever