Korean Movie Stories

Heirs: Episode 4



Eun-sang walks into the airport just in time to witness Tan and Rachel hugging. Well, Rachel’s the one hugging while Tan stands there, but the effect is the same. She turns around to avert her gaze, which is when Tan sees her and calls out her name to stop right there.

Eun-sang freezes, and Tan hurriedly gives Rachel her send-off before walking up to Eun-sang with that jilted boyfriend tone in his voice, wondering why she didn’t return any of his calls.

He sticks his phone out for her to give him her number, but she looks over at Rachel and says she’s said her thank-yous and goodbyes, so that leaves nothing else left to say. She adds that he shouldn’t leave his fiancée standing there, and walks past him without looking back, leaving him still holding out his phone.


For once Rachel is deservedly pissed, though of course she goes overboard and decides to harass Eun-sang since they’re on the same flight. She gets up from first class to go find Eun-sang in coach, and steals her customs form to get her address.

She says it’s because she has the sinking feeling that this won’t be the last time they see each other, and she gets the sense that Tan will go looking for her the second something bad happens in his life. So… then why are you helping him along? I don’t know. She makes little sense to me, but I like her trench coat. Moving on.

Rachel arrives at the airport to a combative Young-do, who’s come to pick her up after all. He’s holding up a seemingly innocuous “Welcome, my stepsister!” banner but we know better than to trust his smiley faces.


He still blames her for this stupid errand, while she naturally thinks it’s his own fault for losing to his father in the first place, and shoves her cart at him like a luggage boy. Ha. I do enjoy that each of these assy characters knows someone assier than them. It’s a delicate system of checks and balances, if you will.

They have this petty fight in the car over the stereo (I did actually laugh to discover that after all that complaining, he didn’t even drive to the airport to pick her up) and Rachel is the first to mention that he’s probably dying of curiosity to know about Tan.

She says he’s doing well, and that he asked about Young-do. She assures him that she said he was living well without him, and then adds with a bite to her voice: “like a fox playing king while the tiger is away.”

Young-do orders the car to stop and turns to her: “Did you ever stop to ask why the tiger isn’t in his cave? Could it be that he was just playing a tiger? And that he ran away so he wouldn’t be found out?” He gets out and stands in the street with a long sigh.

Eun-sang, meanwhile, makes her own way home only to find it completely emptied out. There’s no sign of Mom or any of their stuff, though thankfully the landlady comes by to tell her that Mom recently moved because she became a live-in housekeeper.

She borrows the ajumma’s phone to call Mom, who tells her to stay at a jjimjilbang for the night because the chairman is sick and the mood in the house is bad. Eun-sang huddles by her suitcase in her old room for the night. And in LA, Tan sits poolside, still mooning over Eun-sang and staring at her photo all day.


Prosecutor’s son Hyo-shin arrives home and overhears his mother giving the tutor a lecture on her overly revealing skirt. It’s knee-length, but given that she asks her not to come here without socks on, I think reason isn’t really her game. The tutor, JEON HYUN-JOO (Im Joo-eun), agrees readily to all her demands.

She’s on good terms with her student Hyo-shin, who asks if she doesn’t dislike all of his mother’s strict rules, adding a little flirtatiously that he likes all the things Mom hates. But Hyun-joo says none of it matters because she pays a lot, and the person who pays is always right.

As they get started on his lesson, she conspicuously ignores a call from Won. Hyo-shin asks if it’s her boyfriend, but doesn’t get a reply. Won is calling from a jewelry store, and decides on a necklace instead of a ring. Hm.

Eun-sang goes to see Mom in the morning as requested, and Mom tells her the bad news that the money unni took was their apartment deposit. What in the what? MOooooooom. She says unni called to apologize, and despite everything, still chastens Eun-sang when she calls her sister a bitch.

Eun-sang asks if they’re living in the street now, and Mom asks her to wait here and leaves her at the gate. Madam Jung arrives at the house, stopping to give Eun-sang the disapproving once-over before walking in.

Mom goes straight to Madam Han and mentions that she didn’t tell Madam Jung about her spying on her… yet. Ha. I love the incongruity of threatening someone sentence by sentence in polite note form. Mom says this hurts her too, but yes, she is threatening her. Madam Han is quicker on the uptake than she looks, and asks what she wants.


So that’s how Eun-sang gains entry into the House of Many Wives, aka Tan’s Many Mothers, who are currently going at it with Round 2. Madam Jung storms in and asks why she wasn’t informed that the chairman is sick again, while Madam Han thinks it’s hardly news since he’s sick every other day. And besides, is she hoping he dies or lives?

Madam Jung has the family registry on her side, and calls her the outsider playing house with her husband. Madam Han gets her where it hurts and calls her barren. Madam Jung spits back that having children sure did her a lot of good: “Is that child in your arms now? That’s what family registry is.” It ends with Madam Jung slapping the mistress across the face to make her point.

As Eun-sang’s first introduction to this household, it’s a pretty good one. Won’s arrival is announced, and the ladies turn on a dime and smooth their hair. It’s not quite Austen but it’s pretty damn funny. My favorite bit is that Madam Han didn’t even know he left the country and came back.


He notes Eun-sang without a word, but then when Mom asks her to take the chairman his medicine, it’s Won who finds her aimlessly wandering the house, not knowing where to take the tray. He points her in the right direction and she introduces herself to the chairman.

Won makes excuses for having to go right back to work, but Dad tells him it’s time he let Tan back in. Dad says he understands Won’s hurt and that’s why he turned a blind eye to the pain that he’s been inflicting on his younger brother till now, but it’s gone on long enough.

Dad says he doesn’t have one memory of hugging Tan because he was so concerned with Won’s feelings, and doesn’t want to have any more regrets. Won says bitterly that the statement makes it sound like he raised Won with warmth and love, which is obviously not the case.


Madam Han realizes that Won’s trip to LA means he must’ve seen Tan, and rushes up to ask about her son. Won isn’t very compliant, unsurprisingly, despite her earnest pleas. A photograph of Tan on the beach fades into him doing the same now, watching the sunset all alone as he thinks back to his brother’s harsh words back at the orchard.

As Eun-sang eats with Mom in the kitchen, she asks which of the wives has more power, and Madam Han interrupts to finally greet Eun-sang. She’s terrible towards Mom as usual, but also hilariously forthright about their household being gauche. Eun-sang tamps down her pride and thanks her for letting her stay here.

Eun-sang sees how hard Mom works and helps out that night, and in the morning she unpacks her things and apologizes through tears for running away and leaving Mom behind. Mom just hugs her reassuringly.


It’s back to multiple part-time jobs for Eun-sang, who works around the clock. Tan spends his days haunting the places he went with her, while she gazes at their couple shirt, now tucked away in a drawer.

After working all through vacation, she calls Chan-young with the news that she’s ready to pay him back for the plane ticket, but he announces that he’s on his way back since school is about to start.

Madam Han is still as anxious as ever for Tan to come back, while Dad is more about the tough love—if he’s too afraid of his hyung to come back, maybe he should stay away. Mom calls anyway, but Tan ignores the call as always.


He sits on a bench at school and thinks, “I always imagine, that the people who are lonely because I exist… will be lonely because I am gone.”

And then we watch as imaginary Tan looks in on his family members one by one, each so alone. “I want to come home, father. I miss you, mom. After sending me away so hurtfully, I want to believe that it pained you just once, hyung.”

He comes out of his reverie with a decision, and makes a call. He stops in to see his professor, and hands in his journal. The last entry reads: “One who wants to wear the crown, bears the crown.”


With that, he returns to Korea, where a happy Manager Yoon welcomes him back. He says that his parents are eager to see him, but Tan says grimly that Won comes first.

It’s as frosty a greeting as you could imagine, as Won asks how many days he’s staying. Tan says he’s here for good, and assures hyung that what he’s fearing might happen, won’t happen. Won snaps back, calling him the son of a concubine, and says it isn’t his place to decide what will or won’t happen. Yeeeouch.

He makes it clear there’s no such thing as peaceful coexistence between them, and announces that Tan has just thrown away the one chance he was given. Won storms out and tells Manager Yoon to book him a hotel for the time being, not wanting to be at home for Tan’s return.


Madam Han is on cloud nine, though Tan is clearly more focused on his father, who greets him in his usual terse, not-cold-but-not-warm indifferent manner, giving him about two seconds of his time before sending him upstairs.

Mom follows him up, buzzing like a doting bee, and has to be ushered out for some breathing room. The housekeeper takes away his laundry, including the pair of Eun-sang’s socks that she left behind at his beach house.

Tan takes out the dreamcatcher to hang in his window, while Eun-sang sits in the courtyard down below. She snaps a photo of her plane ticket and posts online: “I have no way to prove that I was in my dream last night. That place is like that to me. Was I… really there?”


And in the ensuing days, they continue to live in the same house without crossing paths. It’s pretty funny.

He pauses at the pair of red sneakers hanging on the clothesline, and sees a figure leaving rooms as he enters them. During dinner one night he gets up with a start, either because he hears a horror movie playing from somewhere in the house, or his spidey sense is tingling and the soundtrack is getting cheeky. He basically chases her around corners like a ghost…

But they never run into each other, partly because Eun-sang is purposely taking pains to be as invisible as possible while living there.


All she knows is that Second Son is back in the house, and Mom stirs her awake at the crack of dawn one morning to tell her to stay out of the house till late that night, because the mood in the house is bad. First Son hasn’t been home since Second Son’s arrival, which is making tempers flare.

So Eun-sang gets ousted out of her own bed, and walks out just as Young-do and his friend (fine you get a name) JO MYUNG-SOO (Park Hyung-shik) split up after being out all night. Myung-soo jumps out of his skin to see a stranger walking out of Tan’s house, and wonders if they moved.

She basically sleepwalks over to the convenience store, where Young-do is waiting for his morning ramyun to cook, and he watches as she buys a drink, downs it in one shot, and plops down for a nap, all without opening her eyes. He chuckles and sits down next to her, curious.


When two little kids come by making a bunch of noise, he shushes them because she’s sleeping, but that only makes them cry, and she gets up and leaves without a word.

Bo-na makes her way around Idol Central looking for her entertainment CEO dad, where she runs into Heechul and is friendly enough with him to call him elderly. She’s just in the middle of telling oppa about her boyfriend, when Chan-young asks in a text what she’s doing talking to another man.

He’s in the stands, having sprung his return on her. She wants to celebrate, though he reminds her that she was looking for her dad not two minutes ago. She says he’s unimportant now, and Chan-young jokes that he’s not having a daughter. Bo-na: “Who says I’m going to give you one, you perv?” Ha.


They eat at home instead, where Chan-young and his dad cook up a meal like a pair of expert chefs. She freezes when Dad mentions that Chan-young met Tan while in LA, and lies through her teeth that she doesn’t know who Tan is.

At school, she sighs to Myung-soo that she might get dumped, because Chan-young might know about her past with Tan, and might have beat Tan up because Tan obviously hasn’t gotten over her. Haha. I’d like to spend a day in her head, this one.

Meanwhile, Tan sees Eun-sang’s latest post online, and answers that she was there (in LA)—he’ll be her proof. Only he’s leaving the messages still logged in as her, which she realizes when she sees herself posting things she didn’t write. She tells him to log out, which he naturally refuses to do since it’s their only link.

As they argue back and forth online, she’s about to walk into the house as he’s about to walk out… but they turn out to be at different doors, missing each other again by a split second. But as he passes by Eun-sang’s mom, her I ♥ California t-shirt stops him in his tracks.

Madam Han happens to be wearing Eun-sang’s socks too, which Eun-sang notes curiously. There are more pressing concerns though, namely Madam Han thoughtlessly shuttling Mom back and forth to get the proper wine, and Eun-sang yanks the bottle out of hands to go run the errand herself. Madam Han agrees it’s a good idea that she earns her keep around here. Ugh.

Tan is busy staring at his phone, so annoyed that Eun-sang isn’t responding that he misses entirely the fact that she walks right past him in the background. He keeps seeing her just as she disappears around corners, and he goes in to ask Mom if their house is haunted or something because he keeps seeing a girl.


She says that’s just the housekeeper’s daughter, who’s his age… named Cha… Eun…sung. It’s close enough that he freezes and asks why she’s living here. Mom says the housekeeper spent her apartment deposit on the older sister’s wedding.

Another piece of the puzzle falls into place, and Tan paces in his room, wondering if it could really be Eun-sang. He shuffles through her old messages and re-reads the one about hating Jeguk group, which makes a whole lot of sense if Mom is the housekeeper.

He leaves another message asking what she’s doing right now, and nearly has a breakdown waiting for her reply. She finally leaves a message that she’s drinking water, and he runs through the house toward the kitchen.

He stops outside the kitchen door and hesitates, and braces himself before sliding it open just a crack…

And there inside is Cha Eun-sang, drinking a glass of water in his kitchen.


That was a nice build. I enjoyed the hide and seek, if only for the ridiculous fact that his house is so big that you could actually live in it and never see someone else who lives there. Him finding out first is the best part, because that hesitation outside the door feels so real. It’s yet another reason for Tan to hate his wealth and privilege because it keeps him from the things he wants most in the world—to be loved by his hyung, to be thought of as a son and not an heir. And now with Eun-sang living there, the daughter of the housekeeper… I mean, you know exactly how she’s going to respond to that. I actually want him to keep playing hide and seek and get her to fall for him first before outing himself as Second Son. Would that be so wrong?

It’s a nice twist on the usual chaebol character that he feels weighed down and trapped by his position (again, more like royalty than just a guy loaded with money), and I like that along with him falling for Eun-sang first, comes him sizing up just how far apart they really are. They both guess as much when they first meet, but damn if real life isn’t so much worse than they ever imagined. It’s the first time that the meaning of them being under the same roof—so clearly separated by the upstairs-downstairs divide—actually overtakes any joy I’d feel about cohabitation hijinks. Okay, I’ll probably come around in about two minutes (think of all the shirtless run-ins, woman!) but for now the oh-crap-no impact is greater.

You know, I really didn’t care for the LA portion of the drama, but once everyone else is back in Korea (thank ye) while Tan remains there, California really does start to feel like exile, like Tan is suspended in time, without home or family. That loneliness and isolation really hit home today, and I enjoyed how out of place he felt. To Eun-sang it would remain a dreamlike place, but for Tan it was his prison, and I like that he called the house dark (when he arrived home and Dad asked how he liked the beach house). Visually that place is the opposite of dark, but that’s what it was to him, and the sentiment really lands in this episode.

Tan’s relationship with his hyung continues to be the most interesting one in the drama, though I suspect once school starts his past with Young-do will be as engaging. It sure looks to be just as antagonistic, that’s for sure. And I already like the hint that Young-do will like Eun-sang on his own, not just as a way to get under Tan’s skin (still a probable way the love triangle will go down, though I prefer the earnest version, naturally). Can I just say, I cannot WAIT for school to start. I feel like that’s where all the drama is going to happen, and we’ve been in limbo waiting for things to rev up. Vacation’s over, guys. Let’s go back to school!

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