Believe it or not, I’m finally off my mini-drama kick and I’m back to talk about a full-length, melodrama-filled, tear-jerker of a family/romance drama that’ll not only hit you in the feels, but make you insanely hungry for seolleongtang. (Seriously, I’ve been trying to master the art of making this soup ever since!)
Originally airing on SBS from April – July, 2009 Shining Inheritance (or Brilliant Legacy) follows the story of Go Eun Sung (Han Hyo Joo), a girl born to privilege who, after returning home from studying abroad, suddenly finds herself starring in her very own version of a Cinderella story. With her once-wealthy father now bankrupt and on the run, Eun Sung has a lot to deal with when she gets home but things get infinitely worse when her father is suddenly killed in a tragic accident. With her father gone, Eun Sung and her autistic little brother, Eun Woo (Yun Joon Suk) find themselves at the mercy of their step-mother, who takes the insurance money from her husband’s death and kicks his children to the curb. Suddenly penniless, with a brother to take care of, Eun Sung does what she can to make ends meet. Things only get more complicated when Eun Woo disappears after a series of run-ins with Seon Woo Hwan (Lee Seung Gi), a snotty, self-centered rich kid who thinks the world should be handed to him on a silver platter. With her brother missing, Eun Sung finds herself at rock-bottom but even in her misery she willingly takes in an elderly woman who falls ill, practically at her feet. Nursing this grandmother back to health, Eun Sung finds a friend and the two enjoy their time together. Once she’s better, this grandmother takes her leave but she doesn’t forget about Eun Sung’s kindness. Returning Eun Sung’s kindness with an act of her own, Jang Suk Ja (Ban Hyo Jung) declares Eun Sung to be the new inheritor of her booming seolleongtang business, as long as she can raise the profits of the failing second branch by 20%. Shocked by this sudden turn of events, Eun Sung accepts the challenge despite the rejections of Suk Ja’s family, namely her grandson, Seon Woo Hwan. With a failing branch to manage, a brother to find and an adorable opponent to overcome, Eun Sung has her hands full but she’s more than capable of handling all that life throws at her and she learns some very important lessons along the way.
Coming in at twenty-eight episodes, you know there’s a whole lot more to this story than what I’ve given you. As one would expect from any self-respecting melodrama, especially one centered around family, there are a lot of heartbreaking moments that’ll have you reaching for a box of tissues. Of course this drama isn’t all melodramatic tear-jerking, there are a lot of cute and funny moments, especially between Eun Sung and Woo Hwan. In a classic loathing-turned-love relationship, Eun Sung and Woo Hwan have their moments and I, being the sap that I am, can’t help but love them. I’m a particular fan of the way Eun Sung helps Woo Hwan become a better person, growing from irresponsible punk to someone both she and his grandmother can depend on. (Hooray for characters who learn and grow!)
If you’re looking for a drama you can really get into, with a well-developed story-line and equally developed characters, you may want to give Shining Inheritance a try. Personally, I enjoyed this one, even if it did occasionally lean a bit more towards the melodramatic side. There’s nothing wrong with a little melodrama once in a while and because the characters did learn and grow as the story progressed, I was satisfied. (It didn’t hurt to have an overly adorable OTP either. Just saying…) My only qualm with this whole drama was the fact that seolleongtang was brought up on a regular basis and I couldn’t help but crave that beefy goodness every time I sat down to watch an episode. (Which would be a problem if I had a Korean restaurant anywhere near me but driving an hour to get soup seems a bit much! And no, I still haven’t mastered the art of seolleongtang making at home, which is why I have to drive that hour on a fairly regular basis.)
Pulling in ratings higher than Boys Over Flowers when it first aired, Shining Inheritance is certainly a drama worthy of your time (even if it does occasionally make you hungry). I enjoyed it and I think you will too. Of course once you’ve watched this one (or if you’ve already watched this one), I’d love to hear your thoughts on it so be sure to let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!