k-dramas reviews

K-Drama: ‘Shining Inheritance’ Review

shining inheritance review

Shining Inheritance Review.

When I watch any kind of series or movie, there are a few key ingredients that need to be combined for me to thoroughly say I love it. And even if a drama has all of the key ingredients, sometimes they don’t mix well with other ingredients.

Overall, I thought Shining Inheritance was a good series that grew stronger as it aged. There were some bumps in the road that drove me crazy, but I thought this drama was nicely balanced and didn’t become crazy central with drama. (One thing I can’t stand about any series is a crazy plot twist that only exists to create more unnecessary drama.)

At the end of the day, I think everything blended well with Shining Inheritance, but I’m not sure I “loved” it as much as I wanted to. (This doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. It was actually pretty awesome and had a strong re-watch value, but I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the characters as I usually am.)

Go Eun Sung’s life is similar to Cinderella’s. After her father died, her step-mother, Baek Sung Hee, took away all of her assets and her younger brother, Eun Woo, suddenly disappears without a trace. Despite this, Eun Sung perseveres and works really hard to fulfil her dreams.

When the CEO of a food company, Jang Sook Ja, suffers amnesia and can’t remember who she is, Eun Sung takes her in. However, Eun Sung does not know that she is the grandmother of Sun Woo Hwan, the man who she switched bags with at the airport. How will their constant bickering lead them to realize that they care more about each other than they let on? –MyDramaList

Shining Inheritance stars a much younger Han Hyo Joo and Lee Seung Ki. If you’ve watched their newer dramas first, they look like such cute and young puppies here. Seung Ki is so baby-faced and Hyo Joo is pretty and you can see how youthful she is here.

The Negatives:

I really had to stretch my imagination to believe that no one ever recognized Eun Woo when he returned to Seoul. I mean, Eun Sung had posters of Eun Woo all over Seoul. There can’t be that many autistic, seventeen-year-old piano prodigy’s in the city, right? I guess it could be entirely plausible, but it was just hard for me to believe it at times.

Seung Mi. Oh Seung Mi, how I had high hopes for her. Early in the series, I thought she was going to tell her mother off and stick by Eun Sung’s side. She seemed so committed to doing the right thing—she was even devastated by Eun Woo disappearing.

But I stopped liking and trusting her after she masqueraded as Eun Sung and communicated VIA email with their father, Pyung Joong. It was one of two moments that I lost major respect for Seung Mi. The other is when Seung Hee and Seung Mi went to the Sunwoo residence and made up an elaborate series of lies about Eun Sung scheming and cheating the Sunwoo family all along. I could expect this behavior from Seung Hee, but Seung Mi really broke my heart; I expected so much better from her and still can’t believe how dirty she did Eun Sung.

Maybe I could understand some of Seung Mi’s internal conflicts with it being her mother and all, but she really took the whole thing too far.

Then, there was the fact that she threatened Jun Se and withheld the financial records of Jin Sung Food from Hwan. I understand that Hwan is literally “everything” to her, but even that fact alone isn’t enough of an excuse. Humans make mistakes and learn from them, but Seung Mi’s crimes and realizations came a bit too late for me to have an iota of sympathy for her.

(Okay, so maybe I did shed a few tears when she finally hit rock bottom. It was really said to see her downward spiral reach its end.)

Young Ran and Jung really tested my strength with their whiny, selfish behavior most of the time, but I felt they grew more likable in the end. The two still irritated me to no end as soon as they opened their mouths, but I grew to tolerate them.

What about Jun Se? I was really hoping there was some kind of happy ending for him, but another k-drama strikes and sends off the second male lead in a disappointing, bittersweet manner. It would have been nice to see him move on and find another girl.

At the end of the day, I just wanted him to find happiness. It broke my heart to see him endlessly pine for Eun Sung. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t going to happen between them, and I wish he would of wised up sooner and saved himself some of the pain and misery.

The heart wants what the heart wants, and unfortunately Jun Se was forever cemented as the second lead that doesn’t get the girl in the end.

Shining Inheritance is makjang to the nth degree. As I said earlier, the plot twists and drama was almost at crazy town levels. Some things that occurred were just so absurd. Our heroine, Eun Sang, was relentlessly beaten down over and over again, that my heart broke for her. Maybe someone in the writers room made a bet with the fellow writers to see how much they could torture our heroine…and the viewing audience. (I’d say they succeeded.)

The Positives:

Jun Se was a great character. He was kind, selfless, hard-working, and he had such a “sunny” personality. Jun Se really was the sunshine that Eun Sung needed in her life after she lost, quite literally, everything and everyone.

It was always reassuring to see him in her corner—whether it was taking over her milk delivery while she was sick or when he printed out hundreds, probably even more, flyers to help find Eun Woo. Like Hwan told Jun Se late in the series, he’s just too good and righteous. Neither are necessarily a character flaw, but I felt like he spent so much time chasing after Eun Sung and helping her that he never took any time for himself.

Eun Woo! We didn’t see enough of him, but I love the way that the series handled autism. My best friend has a younger brother with autism, and I felt that the series really showcased Eun Woo’s limitations but also showed his intelligence. For those suffering with autism, they usually have one thing they do really well—whether it be playing the piano, studying maps, or memorizing dates and what days they fall on.

Hwan had a great story and journey. His behaviors were deeply rooted from a trauma he witnessed as a kid. He believed that his grandmother thought he was a bad person, so he decided to be exactly that.

While he acted out and was mean, selfish, and rude, on the inside he was hurting. I’m grateful that Eun Sung helped guide him in the right direction, but at the end of the day, Hwan made the choice to face his demons and become a better person. He really transformed from a boy to a man during this series. His transformation was honestly one of my most favorite parts. By series end, he no longer lived shrouded in darkness. He was truly living life.

I really adored Eun Sung. Here was a girl who came from wealth, but didn’t eat with a silver spoon in her mouth. When everything fell apart for her, she didn’t sit around and cry endlessly. She worked hard, made some money, and did her best to look after her brother. She really never thought about herself.

Eung Sung, like Grandmother Jang said, was full of compassion. And there wasn’t ever a moment that I doubted that. Eun Sung is definitely one of my more favorite k-drama heroines because she was determined to persevere despite the crappy hands she was continuously dealt.

As far as messages go, the family values that were instilled in this drama made me smile. It’s really all about family and taking care of each other. Sometimes, it’s also about tough love. The grandmother was really the pillar of the series for me. She used her wisdom and strength to make things better for everyone around her — including family and friends. And she did all of this while she was ailing. Top points for this Halmoni!

Final Thoughts.

All in all, this was a solid drama. I can’t rank it as my favorite because I did feel like some of the repetitious drama could have been cut out. Some things took forever to get resolved and I wasn’t really sure why. The standard k-drama taps out around 16 episodes. Sometimes 20.

Shining Inheritance was a whopping 28 episodes and it was a huge project to watch. If you survive the first four to seven episodes, you’ll likely make it to the end. But it might not be easy. You may need to keep the fast forward button handy. Each episode is an hour, so this is a 28 hour drama. Unless you hit the fast forward button a lot, this is not a one-day binge-watch.

I also don’t understand why Hwan never asked to see a picture of Eun Woo? It felt like they used his “ignorance” as a way to drag out the plot concerning Eun Woo. Oh well. No drama is perfect, but this one did a decent job at hooking me. I would definitely recommend it as I feel it is a blend of The Prince and the Pauper meets Cinderella.

P.S. Hwan cooking for Eun Sung was the sweetest thing, ever. Eun Sung smiled and pretended the food was good. Secretly, the taste was awful.

P.P.S. I also forgot to add the whispered “I love you” from Eun Sung at the end…. and the way that she got on her tippy toes to kiss Hwan. I’m still reeling.

You can watch Shining Inheritance on Viki.

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out some of my other work on my Reviews page.


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