왕관을 쓰려는 자, 그 무게를 견뎌라 – 상속자들
The one who wants to wear the crown, bears its weight – the Inheritors
My, my. What a storm this drama unleashed in my life.
When I first saw Eunice watching it, she told me I should begin watching it after exams. I don’t usually watch dramas on recommendation, even less so from first episode. At that point in time, Heirs had created a buzz in the K-netizen community, what with its star-studded cast. I still wasn’t tempted to watch it.
My first encounter with it was right before exams. Yep, you got it. No amount of persuasion except exams could have made me watch Heirs. It also turned out to be the most disastrous persuasion because at that time, Heirs was at Ep 16. Within 2 days, I went from Ep 1 to Ep 16 and became a completely obsessed fan. I covered 8 episodes in a day and even found a streaming link for the next episode so I could watch it live. Talk about obsession.
This drama is fresh in many ways, and this would have heavily influenced its success. First – it depicts the life of chaebol, which is not a subject matter you often see. Rich people, yes, but children of chaebol? No, not that I remember. Second – it had its pick among idol actors as well as seasoned veterans. They also chose their leads wisely, Park Shin Hye with 10 years of acting experience and Lee Min Ho with multiple blockbuster dramas like Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, Faith: The Great Doctor, Personal Preference under his belt. He has more Facebook likes than Big Bang, by the way, and that makes him a force to be trifled with >) Jokes aside, the two of them lent a lot of help with their popularity to the drama. Interestingly, they cast breakout actors like Kim Woo Bin, Krystal Jung and Kang Min Hyuk. Last but not least, the OST. The OST is really a work of art. I’ve never been so obsessed with the OST of any drama before! The lyrics are not only heartbreaking but fit the context of the show to a T, so much so that when you hear the song on its own, it conjures up images of the show. Powerful, poignant parts of the show. If this isn’t a success formula, I don’t know what is.
Of course, Heirs has had its fair share of detractors saying that Park Shin Hye’s character is a flat one, simply because she’s like a rag doll being pushed around by men. I beg to differ. All along, Park Shin Hye’s character, Cha Eun Sang, as the object of desire, has always had the last call in her hands. The boys have nothing on her if she doesn’t want to have anything to do with them, and I think that’s where the charm in their love lines lie – two men fighting for one woman’s love fiercely, and the ultimate choice being in her hands. Or at least, that’s what it is for me. It’s interesting because the two men are such well-carved characters with very distinct caricatures. Arguably, it might be a bit formulaic, but the characters painted here got me hook, line and sinker.
I won’t talk about the Kim Tan x Cha Eun Sang love line because I jumped off that ship at Ep 16. It felt like it was dragging way too long for me – one running, the other catching, a constant hide and seek. If you want this love, you fight for it. I’m not going to sit around and wait for you to finally figure out (after a long series of trial and tribulation) that hey, you actually want it. So let me focus on the Choi Young Do x Cha Eun Sang love line first.
I hated Choi Young Do from the get-go, I really did – a really douche-y, hard-bent on revenge jerk. He didn’t seem to care for anyone at all, and that’s why I hated him so badly. But as the drama progressed, I did an about-face and fell head-over-heels for him. How does one resist the way he does things quietly behind her back, protecting her in ways that she cannot see and will never acknowledge? He is reckless at times, but even in those times we see his humanity, the softer side of him that shines through. He’s also charming in his speech – Kim Woo Bin has done a mighty fine job of portraying him.
Let me digress for a second and tell you how capable Kim Woo Bin is. He’s a model turned actor, and he is possibly one of the people I admire most in the industry, possibly because he has a girlfriend and he’s not afraid of going public with her because according to him, “The meeting of a man and woman is nothing to be secretive about.” I’ve been into K-entertainment since 2008 and so far, he’s one of the only ones who have ever dared to say something like that. He’s also a riot during fanmeetings. 😉 Since his breakout role in School 2013, he’s only come further in Heirs, depicting a more dynamic character as Choi Young Do. Where Park Heung-Soo was rarely emotional, in this drama he maintains a fine balance of emotion and that heady mix of charm. Now you know why I like him.
Of all the scenes in the show, the ones I loved best all involved fighting. Not because it was two guys fighting over one girl, but because the way they fought was riveting to watch. Their words were like knives, cutting just at the right spots. They were self-controlled and played mind games more than physical fist fights which I enjoyed greatly. There was so much you could feel just from someone throwing his chopsticks down or from someone approaching the table. The animosity was well-portrayed and the actual fist fights beautifully orchestrated. I wish I’d see more of these rather polite, cordial fighting scenes in other dramas instead of the usual “Hey, you deserve this!” *punch* kind of scenes.
I honestly would have loved for Cha Eun Sang and Choi Young Do to get together. I think if Kim Tan was a character who could give Cha Eun Sang what she wanted, then Choi Young Do was someone who would pull all the stops to love her. Some would say it was childish of him to do things like use his empire’s website to look for her, but quite honestly, I think that’s bravery. Choi Young Do would stop at nothing and he knows no greater loss than the loss of Cha Eun Sang, but Kim Tan has more burdens and has much more to lose. Yet the show would never have been as poignant had it been Choi Young Do who’d ended up with Cha Eun Sang simply because Kim Tan and Cha Eun Sang have come so far and had the stakes raised too high for them. Choi Young Do is the ideal character to lose in this game because of the amount of things he’d gambled away, which upped the stakes for him, but he was also assured an inheritance. Kim Tan would have lost thoroughly. The sad ending wouldn’t have done well for ratings at all, would it?
Choi Young Do’s theme song in this drama was a song called 상장통 2 Growing Up Pains by Cold Cherry and it is by far one of my favourite songs in the entire show. Just a snapshot of the lyrics before we move on –
사랑 난 배운 적이 없는데 왜 이런 맘이 나에게
I haven’t learnt about love, so why do these feelings come to me?
감당할 수도 없게 아파서 다가갈 수 조차 없는 나
It hurts so much that I can’t handle it, so I can’t approach you.
이젠 더는 견딜 수 없는데 왜 이런 아픔 나에게
I can’t bear this any more, why has such pain come to me?
한참 동안을 이럴 것 같아 너로 인해 베어진 날개
I think I’ll be like this for a while, my wings have been cut up because of you.
How can your heart not hurt for him?
The cutest couple of the year also has to be from Heirs, none other than cloyingly sweet Chanyoung and Bona.
This was probably the best written couple I have ever seen in dramas. What makes it so interesting is that we have two characters with very distinct impressions – Bona with her bratty, overly possessive self, Chanyoung with his straight-A, filial son self – fitted with quirks that are equally distinct – Bona’s way of showing love with her jealousy, Chanyoung who actually finds her jealousy cute – made to mesh and interact with each other. This couple gave the show an added dimension because of their links to their main pair, but they held their own as a subplot of the drama. Very well-written indeed!
Hyo Shin and Hyun Joo were another couple in the show that I liked but felt was too flat. In contrast to Kim Tan and Cha Eun Sang or even Bona and Chanyoung, there was no healthy push and pull. From the very beginning it was already established that Hyo Shin would always be the flailing boy who lost his first love, and Hyun Joo the one who only had eyes for another man. It was flat, predictable and not necessarily a pretty sight. In fact, other than counselling and mediating Kim Tan and Youngdo’s fight, it would seem that Hyo Shin served no purpose in the entire drama.
Here we come to the characters with the most unclear motivations of the entire drama. Yoo Rachel, whilst having a really cool Korean name, has a really unhealthy obsession with Kim Tan, and in trying to get her way she does a number of odd things that even I wouldn’t understand. For one, why would you throw Eun Sang’s uniform in the trash instead of outrightly humiliating her? Why would you stop halfway, given your intensity of hatred? As for Kim Won, seeing Eun Sang and Kim Tan’s success in dating, why would you not go after Hyun Joo? Despite your occasional softening, you still manage to maintain a steely exterior, and your mistrust in Kim Tan after a while just gets old and can’t be backed up with a simple “He could steal my inheritance.” any more, so it was slightly disappointing, but I did enjoy Choi Jin Hyuk and Kim Ji Won’s portrayal of these two characters. True to character, but I feel that the motivations could be clarified a little further.
As Joonni put it, “I’ve watched too many dramas to be surprised by any direction this drama will take me. I’m ready for all the good and bad. But I still can’t help but cry, yell, complain, and laugh as I watch the characters I have grown to love and care for, despite all their faults and for all their faults, face the realities of life and growing up. Perhaps you believed too much in love, Tan, Eun Sang, and Young Do. Perhaps your love is not enough to protect the one you want. What decisions will you make? What paths will you take? What lessons will you learn? Let me walk this journey with you.” This drama has been a journey we’ve taken with Kim Tan, Cha Eun Sang, Choi Young Do and the numerous others, to learn what it means to wear their own crowns. I wish they’d produce a Heirs 2, simply because I need to see Young Do (and maybe, pretty please, Won too?) find a *cough* favourable closure, but also because it would mean so much to see what the aftermath of putting on that crown would be.
Heirs has earned its place as the best drama in 2013 for me, and I couldn’t find a better contender to have this title. 상속자들 최고!