The Heirs Review

Come for Lee Min-ho, stay for Kim Woo Bin.


The Heirs is the second K-Drama I have watched and my experience with this one was very different from watching my first, The Legend of the Blue Sea. The two shows share their male lead, Lee Min-ho, but that’s about it. The premise of The Heirs centers around Cha Eun-Sang and Kim Tan. Eun-Sang’s mother is the housekeeper to Kim Tans wealthy family; Eun Sang and Kim Tan meet in America when Eun Sang visits her sister in America to give her money under the belief she is getting married. Eun Sang hopes to stay in the States to find a better life, but finds her sister is not getting married and instead she takes the money and runs, leaving Eun Sang devastated.

Kim Tan watches the heart-wrenching exchange of Eun Sang fighting with her sister and after an unfortunate disaster feels compelled to help her. The two grow close over the next few days, but Eun Sang eventually returns to South Korea and treats her time in America as a dream. Kim Tan, who was exiled to America by his elder, half-brother, Won, decides to return to South Korea a few months after Eun Sang leaves. His return causes great disturbance amongst his family and for Eun Sang, once he realizes she lives in his home. He consistently pursues Eun Sang, causing much strife for her particularly from their classmates at Jeguk High, a high school filled with wealthy and cruel elites.

For all of the secondary characters in the show, the main storyline still revolves around Kim Tan and Eun Sang, which is unfortunate because outside the episodes in America, I liked their relationship the least. Their pairing, and how Kim Tan treated Eun Sang was really off-putting; it made me hate his character in those scenes. I liked his interactions with other characters, but when it came to Eun Sang he never listened to her and was just so incredibly selfish. Eun Sang kept rejecting his interest because if his family found out it would get her into trouble with her mother’s employers (his parents); Kim Tan refused to listen and lo and behold, when they got caught it caused her serious trouble. Yet even then, he just had a oopsy-daisy attitude about it, which was infuriating. Moreover, casting-wise, the actors didn’t really seem to have much chemistry. Eun Sang had more chemistry with Won than with Kim Tan and they barely shared scenes, so I think casting was a bit weak for the main two.

Beyond the lack of chemistry, their relationship bordered on the obsessive and slightly abusive. Kim Tan threatens and demeans her pretty often and its incredibly difficult to watch. His character is the definition of a ‘nice guy;’ he puts nice coins in and expects Eun Sang to answer his every whim with a smile and open arms. I really disliked him as a romantic lead. Kim Tans only redeeming qualities were his relationships with his mother (though he treated her poorly as well sometimes) and his brother. I understand that Kim Tan has had a emotionally difficult relationship with his family, but thats not an excuse to be a huge dick.

Furthermore, in the pivotal moment when his relationship with Eun Sang has fallen apart, he has the most ridiculous breakdown ever. The one moment where you feel like he might experience growth after he realizes he has essentially destroyed Eun Sang’s life with his desires, he tells Young Do “you take her.” Which is so messed up and a prime example of him treating her like an object he can give and take as he pleases. Young Do is furious with this statement and I only wish he had beaten some sense into Kim Tan as he threatened. But, alas, it doesn’t happen.

Another negative for me, was how Eun Sang was treated by Rachel, Tans fiance. Rachel is unnecessarily cruel to Eun Sang, because Tan likes her. While I felt for the tough situation Rachel was in, there was no need for her to be so vicious towards Eun Sang, especially considering Eun Sang turned down Kim Tans advances time after time. Yet, Rachel attacked Eun Sang instead of Kim Tan, which really just made her situation worse. Honestly, though this was one of the more obvious mistreatments of women by other women in the series, which is never fun to watch.

One of my last major complaints, was the ending felt really weak. I don’t like endings that leave me hanging a little bit and The Heirs writers left things a little too loose and undone for me to feel good about it.

On the positive side, I loved almost all of the secondary characters and their relationships.If you are wondering whether or not to watch the show, watch just for the secondary characters. One of my absolute favorites in the show was Lee Bo Na; she was adorable and one of the most amusing characters in the show after Myung-soo. On her own, she was wonderful and she was even better with Chan Young. Their relationship is the actual OTP of the series. Their relationship was ridiculously wonderful and was one of the only healthy romances found on-screen in The Heirs. 

The best character in this show is decidedly Choi Young Do, played by my new favorite actor Kim Woo Bin. I saw a meme on tumblr stating “I started The Heirs for Lee Min-ho, but stayed for Kim Woo Bin” and I think that encapsulates exactly how I felt about this show. Even when he was the villain in the story, Young Do was one of the most compelling characters in the story. I liked seeing his growth as a character even if it was a bit choppy and sometimes drastic. Kim Woo Bins performance as Choi Young Do was brilliant and he took an otherwise, unlikeable character and made him the star of every scene he was in.

Overall, I didn’t like The Heirs, I’d give it a 2 out of 5. I think Kim Tan was an awful character, his few redeeming qualities were easily overshadowed by his poor treatment of Eun Sang. I’m glad I watched it, because it is one of the bigger and well-known works with Lee Min-ho, whom I love, but he plays such an awful character in this show I’m going to try to forget it. The few good things that came from this disaster of a K-drama is my love for Kim Woo Bin and the other incredible secondary characters.

The Heirs first premiered October 2013 and finished December of the same year. There are 20 episodes, each lasting about an hour in length.

It has a 92% on AsianWiki and a 7.6/10 on MyDramaList.

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