Korean Movie Stories

Heirs: Episode 7




Outside the neighborhood convenience store, Eun-sang pretends to sleep while Young-do sits at her table and tries to wake her up. “Why do you always sleep in these kind of places?” he wonders. “It makes me want to protect you.”

Tan calls from across the street, and they have a bit of a stare-off until Young-do tells Eun-sang to give up her sleeping act. He assumes that Tan is here for Eun-sang, but Tan scoffs at that, saying that he doesn’t care what they do. Telling Young-do to save his bad behavior for his own neighborhood, Tan leaves.

Young-do tells Eun-sang to run along after Tan, still convinced they’re here to see each other. She retorts that he’s wrong and leaves him to his ramyun.


Tan’s show of indifference is just for Young-do’s benefit, and the moment she enters the courtyard he pops up to grill her—shouldn’t she be more careful of where she sleeps? Why was she with Young-do? He’d warned her against him, and asks if Young-do did any threatening. Eun-sang replies that he said he wanted to protect her, and Tan bursts out, “That’s a threat!”

She asks what happened between them, and he sighs, “I don’t remember. All I know is we hate each other now.”


She makes it a point to enter the house separately, but Tan rather enjoys popping into the kitchen to interrupt the conversation between her and his mother. She plays it off like this is their first encounter, and Madam Han makes the introductions.

After Tan exits, Madam Han enlists Eun-sang as her spy to report back on Tan’s doings at school, though she’s quick to warn Eun-sang to remember her place—they may be living in the same house and going to the same school, but in no way are they on the same level. Tan overhears from the hallway with dismay as his mother basically tells Eun-sang she’s the servant and he’s the young lord.


Eun-sang finds a brand-new Jeguk High uniform hanging in the room, and freaks out to hear that her mother bought it. Mom assures her that she can handle the cost, and Eun-sang lights up in gratitude.

Rachel flips her lid, as usual, at another attempt by her mother to solidify the new family relationships—this time it’s a family photo with Young-do’s side. She snaps at her mother to have fun taking photos without her, then storms off to confront Young-do about it, finding him post-judo practice. (Is it a written into the contract that one scene per episode must feature somebody taking conspicuous swigs of that energy drink? For all the exposure it’s getting, they could’ve at least tried to write it in, a la Vitamin Water.)


Rachel is dead-set on finding some way to break up their parents’ engagement, impatiently brushing aside his quip to date him (“I said theirengagement, not mine”). He offers that while he doesn’t have a plan for wrecking the engagement, he can stop the photo shoot from happening, and that grabs her interest. He demands a quid pro quo, though—nothing comes free.

At the crack of dawn, Eun-sang emerges from the house to find Tan haunting the gate waiting for her—he’d wondered how early she was leaving to avoid him, and waited extra-early to find out. It’s his driver’s day off so he’s called a taxi, and insists she ride with him.

During the ride, Tan instructs her on what to report back to his mother: “The kids all like him, because he’s good-looking. He studies well too, because he’s good-looking.” Psh. He notes how quick she was to agree to play spy, and she points out that she isn’t at liberty to refuse anything in his house.

Eun-sang explains her early departure as only be partially related to avoiding him, so he asks about the other reasons. Her thoughts flash to the parade of chauffeured cars dropping off kids at school, but she merely answers that she’s avoiding traffic. He overrides her choice to get dropped off at a distance from school, saying that nobody will be there at school this early to see them arriving together, which seems to me the opposite of what’s bound to happen.

When she tries to protest, he distracts her with the ol’ “What’s that?” ruse, then rests his head on her shoulder before she can do anything about it. He really can be adorable when he’s being boyish and sweet, rather than so broody and introspective. “Let’s go together,” he says, adding, “The uniform looks good on you.” Which is both flattering and meaningful, since the word for “it looks good” also means “it suits you”—as in, she belongs in those clothes, just like the rest.

On campus, they walk in separately, though Tan follows behind her at a steady pace while she remains acutely aware of his presence the whole time. Staring at the back of her head, he frowns and speeds up, pulling the ponytail tie out of her hair. He teases by mussing the rest of her hair and saying she looks prettier with more of her face covered, which is when they’re interrupted by the arrival of Myung-soo, here at school direct from yet another night clubbing.

Myung-soo wonders why they’re together but thankfully isn’t particularly interested in pressing for answers. He thinks vaguely that Eun-sang looks familiar, but gets distracted from following that thought either.

Madam Han’s sister (or possibly close friend) drops by the house for a visit, and Madam Han once again drops back to her native saturi accent. It’s a comic gag, seeing two luxuriously dressed ladies gabbing about like bumpkin ajummas, which is exactly the point.

Madam Han’s plan to find some dirt on second wife Madam Jung has so far been unfruitful; her guy has only gotten photos of her in the most mundane activities. Nothing scandalous or incriminating at all. And it’s equally unlikely they’ll be able to dig up anything on Won.

Just then, the ladies jump to see Mom in the room, quietly going about her cleaning duties. Ha, they really are lucky she isn’t more malicious, because they’re just incriminating themselves left and right. Madam Han decides she’ll have to check one more time to make sure that Mom really can’t speak, and tries sneaking up on her in the kitchen… only to be foiled by her own reflection in the refrigerator door. She is so terrible at being crafty, I love it.


She decides she doesn’t need to know the particulars of Mom’s condition and tries one more time to sneak-scare her (into yelling, I presume), which falls hilariously flat. We get a glimpse at Mom’s notepad, which tells us she lost her ability to speak at the age of three, after falling victim to a fever.

Eun-sang interviews with Hyo-shin for the broadcasting club opening, though he points out that she no longer needs to buy a uniform (the accompanying scholarship was her original motivation). She admits to lying (“It sounded like it,” Hyo-shin says) and talks herself up, though he doesn’t seem swayed.


When Bo-na sees Eun-sang, she votes against her admission since she doesn’t want her boyfriend’s best friend hanging around (amusingly, Hyo-shin almost seems like that’s enough for him to say yes)… until one of Hyo-shin’s groupies comes by for an interview and Bo-na declares the slot filled. Eun-sang it is! Lesser of two evils, and all that.

Eun-sang ties up her hair in a ponytail as she walks, only to have Tan come up from behind and swipe her hair tie again. Ha. He is literally a boy pulling the ponytail of the girl he likes. Eun-sang catches Young-do watching from a distance, looking a lot more upset by the sight than he has any right to be.

Bo-na mishears a word for Tan’s name, proving again that she’s got a fixation on him despite all her insistence to the contrary. Chan-young asks about her dating him, and she declares that all they did was hold hands, which he jokingly says upsets him. He asks Bo-na to keep Eun-sang’s personal circumstances secret, but she huffily refuses to make the promise.

Chan-young finds Tan staring at the wall of photos in the lounge, in particular the one of him and Young-do looking like best friends. Tan asks about Chan-young’s relationship with Eun-sang and if they’ve ever had any romantic feelings between them, and states frankly that his own position is “a step right before confession.” Chan-young describes liking Eun-sang when he was nine; he was a small kid and Eun-sang would fight the kids who picked on him.

That seems to relieve Tan, and when asked about holding hands with Bo-na, he quips that it was only because his hands were cold then.


Won drops by to meet his father, stating his intention to live on his own. Until now it was a temporary situation, but now he’s decided there’s no place for him to return to here. Chairman Dad tsk-tsks that he thought Won would handle this with intelligence and class, to which Won points out that Dad’s move of bringing Tan to the company was hardly those things.

He says he knows he has more to lose than to gain, “But it’s not like I have nothing to gain. Somebody will end up hurt. And that somebody’s pain will be a comfort to me, Father.” Such a bleak outlook. He adds that if he must lose things, well, so be it.

Won packs his things, and Tan finds him in his room, all lit up with the hope that hyung is moving back in. Won is quick to push little bro away, saying that only real families should live together. Tan asks, hurt, how his brother can just move out because he moved in. Won retorts that it’s Tan who’s chasing him around like a little kid: “If you keep it up, I have nowhere to escape to. You ask how I can do this to you? But you don’t think of how you’re the one stealing away places from me? Or will I have to go to America this time?” Telling Tan to grow up, he leaves.

Won heads to the wine cellar to pack a few bottles, and Tan follows him there to apologize for everything—for going to the hotel, for coming back to Korea. He says he understands hyung’s feelings, which makes Won bristle at the presumption. Won derides, “You have enough courage to come back, but not to fight? How dare you—”


And then Tan hugs him. Aww. “I won’t fight with you,” he says. “It’s obvious I’d lose. How could I win a fight I don’t mean?” Once again, Won cuts his brother off mid-sentence and leaves.

Tan hangs out in front of the house, on hand again to startle Eun-sang upon her arrival. She starts out talking stiffly in jondae (using his mother as an excuse), but he orders her to return his dreamcatcher and meet him in the wine cellar.

He gets there first, and sets a song to play—the one she’d played the other day. Eun-sang shows up to return the dreamcatcher and starts to go, but he suggests she stay for the rest of the song, which is the flimsiest excuse if I’ve ever heard one. But it works, and she confides that she likes the song, which was liked by “the person I liked like crazy.” Immediately he gets into jealous mode and quizzes her, then grins when she points out that she never said it was a guy. (It’s her sister.)

They settle into a pleasant conversation (for once), where he asks how it feels being back in the Korea she’d wanted to leave. She says that it’s more or less the same, work-work-working all the time, though thanks to him and her school situation she’s a little bit more unhappy. She asks what it feels like being born into the Jeguk Group family, and he paraphrases Hong Gil-dong to say that he can’t call his mother his mother, or his brother his brother.

He starts to ask her a question, but she deflects, saying that all his questions have been dangerous. With that, she leaves, though she spends the rest of the evening thinking back to conversations with Tan, like him saying he might like her.


The next morning at school, a crowd of annoyed students crowds around the doorway of a classroom, being held out by two guys who stand guard. Bo-na pushes her way through and finds Young-do looming over Eun-sang menacingly, saying he needs to have a little chat with Nouveau Riche here.

He grabs Eun-sang’s bag and upends the contents all over the floor, then grabs Bo-na’s bag and does the same. Lying on the ground is a stark contrast between luxury and thrift, heiress and commoner. He insinuates that she’s a charity case impersonating a rich person, which would be an affront to all the rest of them. He asks Bo-na what Eun-sang’s deal is, and to her credit she doesn’t blab, despite her comment earlier about not feeling any need to keep quiet.


What kind of backup does she have that makes her so confident, Young-do wonders. On cue, Chan-young pushes through the crowd, and Young-do scoffs that Eun-sang sure has a lot of black knights rushing to her aid: “It makes me feel competitive.” It gets him to back off, though, and he leaves the room as the students trickle in. Chan-young thanks Bo-na for not talking, though she’s annoyed enough to snap at him.

One of the students takes the gossip to the class next door, where Tan and Rachel both look up to hear about Young-do’s behavior. Tan bolts up to do something about it, but the teacher arrives and calls class to order, and he sits back down.

He spends all of class fidgety and distracted, and goes in search of Eun-sang as soon as it’s over.


A crowd gathers at the lockers as the timid bullying victim, Joon-young, holds out a piece of paper to Young-do. Crap, did Young-do actually sue his victim for assault? You are such an asshole.

Joon-young asks Young-do to rescind the suit, and Young-do just laughs. Eun-sang watches with the utmost sympathy while Joon-young begs, asking what he can do to get Young-do tp take it back. Young-do offers no guarantee, but suggests that a proper kneeling might get him to change his mind.

So Joon-young gets on his knees and Eun-sang flinches to see it. On one hand I sorta want her to step in, but on the other she was recently Young-do’s victim too so she’s in zero position to help.

Into the mix comes Tan, who shakes his head at the scene and orders Joon-young to get up. But Joon-young finds nothing generous in the gesture and says he’s as much of a bastard as Young-do is, telling him to butt out. Tan asks his usual question, “Did I used to bully you in the past?”—and Joon-young bites out, “At least Young-do remembered.” Burn.

“I’m sorry,” Tan says. “I’ll repay you this way.” And THWACK. He slugs Young-do in the face. It’s the thought that counts, I’m sure, though surely somebody must note the irony of apologizing for violence, then making amends for it with more violence?


“Since I’ve hit you too,” Tan says, “make me kneel too.” Young-do approaches with a murderous glint in his eye, only to have a teacher break up the scene.

The boys are brought before Madam Jung, who’s the school board director, and Young-do puts on his choirboy facade, saying that friends sometimes fight, “But it hurts my feelings.” Madam Jung scolds Tan for causing trouble and telling him to transfer if he keeps this up.

Young-do assures her that it’s no big deal, but he likes this idea of sending Tan to another school and tells him to think it over. Tan retorts that it’s the one who’s more embarrassed who should be the transferee, and Young-do chides Tan for disregarding his mother’s advice just because she’s not his bio-mom.

As the boys go their separate ways, we’re taken to a flashback of their middle school days, when Young-do had been avoiding Tan and Tan had confronted him about it.

Younger Tan asks if this is because of what they’d seen the other day, and if Young-do is feeling embarrassed over it. Young-do grabs him threateningly, but Tan says, “That’s not something to be embarrassed about, it’s just something that hurts.” And that’s when Tan confides one such thing of his own, that his mother isn’t his birth mom.

Tan says this as a way of connecting with his buddy, only to have Young-do spit out, “You’re illegitimate? So if a baby is born between my dad and that woman we saw him with, it’ll be a bastard like you.” Geezus. And I’m supposed to find Young-do the least bit appealing?

The fight is the big gossip item of the day, and Bo-na exults in Young-do’s payback while her friends argue that Young-do was the victim this time, saying that perchance her old affection for Tan is putting her on his side. She scoffs at that, then confronts Rachel about blabbing to Chan-young about her dating history. The two girls trade barbs about the usual—mind your own business, no mind yours—and stalk off huffily.

Rachel’s mother picks her up from school and hears about the fight. Ever one to rub it in, Rachel uses it to point out that Young-do and his father are alike in their ill-mannered tendencies. Rachel’s mother heads to the hotel to ask for Young-do, and while she’s at it she asks for Won’s secretary’s number. Ha, I’m surprised she doesn’t already it; what kind of lame secret affair are you having without his number?


She calls Manager Yoon straightaway, pouting a little that she had to call first. He says he was just giving her time to think things over, and Chairman Dad surmises from his end of the conversation that he’s dating. Manager Yoon doesn’t say with whom, though coincidentally enough, his report is all about Rachel’s mother—specifically, her stake in Jeguk Group and Zeus Hotel, and how much stock she’ll hold upon her marriage with the Zeus president.

At school, Eun-sang ignores a call from someone she’s named “Don’t Pick Up,” but the caller is persistent and she reluctantly answers. It’s Young-do, inviting her to share some jajangmyun he wants delivered, which she flatly refuses. But he says she’ll change her mind once Joon-young talks to her—he’d told him he’d “consider” canceling the lawsuit if he got Eun-sang to come to him.


Eun-sang fumes, but shows up as coerced. She demands to know why he’s playing around with her and Joon-young, dangling that damned lawsuit as bait when he has no intention of canceling it. He counters that he will cancel it now that she’s come, using an overly flowery phrase to mock-marvel at how her presence changed his heart, which pisses her off even more—stop fooling around. He asks, “Does everything I do seem like a joke?” Well, yes, that’s your entire M.O. Laugh at everything, be hurt by nothing, isn’t that it?

Rachel shows up at Young-do’s door, peeved at her ignored calls and his continued inaction on the part of Operation Cancel Photo Shoot. He says he’s dining with an important guest, and she pushes her way in to see for herself. You know, I almost feel bad for Rachel for being thwarted by Eun-sang yet again, but it’s sort of funny to watch her head explode every time.


But as always, Rachel undoes any ounce of sympathy she manages to shore up by reacting immediately like a brat: She calls Tan to chirp that Eun-sang is enjoying a cozy dinner in Young-do’s suite.

Eun-sang excuses herself, and I’d almost think Young-do feels a little bit abandoned, if only for the fact that I remain unconvinced he has feelings.

Tan calls Eun-sang repeatedly, only to have his calls go unanswered. He heads out right away and finds, with some relief, that she’s busy at work closing up shop at the cafe. He drags her outside and takes her to task for going to Young-do’s hotel. She points out that she stayed with him when he could have been some druggie, and he takes that as proof of her foolishness—she shouldn’t have, because he could’ve been dangerous.

“But you’re not that kind of person,” she says. She tells him about the lawsuit bait, and how she had to try to help even if Young-do doesn’t drop the suit. She points out that Young-do’s picking on her because of Tan, and he exclaims, “That’s why I’m telling you to be careful! I don’t want something to happen to you because of me!”

He asks her to not do anything and not worry him, and she flings that back at him—can’t he leave her alone? It’s hard enough for her just to keep hanging in there, but she’s got Young-do breathing down her neck and Tan upsetting her at every turn, and she doesn’t know what to do.

Tan offers her a solution: “Leave my house tomorrow. Or can you not do that? Do you want to keep going to school? Then like me—if possible, for real. I like you.”



This may be an unpopular opinion, but one of my blocks with this show is the character of Young-do—I just can’t stand him. This isn’t a case of a character being charming despite his asshole tendencies, or feeling conflicted about liking a guy who does so many reprehensible things. Rather, I flat-out have zero patience for him or his shit-stirring ways, and find nothing sympathetic or magnetic about him whatsoever. He’s written like the classic arrogant alpha hero (the kind who harbors inner pain and is brought to his knees by love and transforms and shows his true puppy underbelly, blah blah blaaahhhh), only for whatever reason I just want him off my screen.

It has nothing to do with the acting, because Kim Woo-bin has great sardonic delivery and he’s perfect with the deadpan bon mots, the turn-on-a-dime personality that’s equal parts charismatic and menacing. But Kim Woo-bin isn’t elevating the character of Young-do for me, and in fact I think Young-do is taking away some of my Kim Woo-bin love. And as a result, none of this love triangle business has any weight for me, and I don’t really care about what kind of bad experiences Young-do has had to make him this way, because at a certain point you can’t excuse bad behavior with “but he had a mean daddy” reasoning. He gets no free pass from me, and I’m not sure that at this point the writing is going to be able to turn the ship around for me. Bleh.

Which is strange, because when you put Tan and Young-do next to each other, I can see how Young-do is the dynamic, complicated one. Tan is sort of boring and vanilla in comparison, because it’s pretty straightforward how his background made him the guy he is today. I suppose the difference is that sometimes I DO want the nice guy to win, and Tan is earnest and sweet, and for the most part not too objectionable. He’s got an asshole past too, so he’s got some redeeming to do—at least for his own conscience’s sake—but the guy he is right now is trying to get through with his head down low and avoiding trouble.

The trouble with that is, it’s made him avoid basically everything, retreating inside his head and his writing and disengaging from real life. And in that sense his trajectory is more muted and internal a path than some of the others’, but I find it as compelling if not more, just the same.

Nobody in this show is outright evil in the sense of a conventional villain, and we have varying shades of selfishness, pettiness, pride—you know, normal human weaknesses. So I appreciate that at least the characterizations feel rather slice-of-life and relatable to varying degrees; we may not be heirs to future billions, but the emotions deal with universal stuff—teenage rebellion, parental opposition, angst over broken families, the need to fit in.

That said, I’m starting to run into the problem of not really liking anybody all that much, so it’s hard to feel too invested in their growths. Tan and Won have a great dynamic, and Mom’s a hoot, and Madam Han makes me laugh, and… well, everyone else tends to be set dressing. I’m onboard with the main romance because that’s the direction the show is taking us, and I’m enjoying the show enough to stay along for the ride. I can’t help but wish for a little more zing, though, a reason to invest my mind and feelings full-force.

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