Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the Korean occult suspense thriller The Bequeathed is sure to petrify us. Themes like murder and incest have been well explored in the series. The feud over a family plot stirs up Yoon Seo-ha’s life and digs up her dark family secrets. So the questions that The Bequeathed raises are: Will Yoon Seo-ha be able to resolve the family feud? What secrets about her own father will upturn the whole world? Will she accept Kim Young-ho as her brother? Let’s find out!
Yoon Seo-ha, a part-time lecturer, was not very content with her career and was seen working as a ghostwriter for her professor, Kim Chang-seok, helping him with his book. He was seen utilizing her for his own benefit, denying her the perks of a permanent position. She was also frustrated with her personal life after she found out that her husband had been cheating on her. She found meaning in her existence when she found out that her paternal uncle, Yoon Myung-gil, before passing away, had left her a piece of land. She was unaware that she had an uncle, as she had broken off all ties with her father at a young age when he had left her mother for another woman.
Later, she learned that her uncle’s death was not natural and that there were traces of a poisonous element (thallium) found in his body. Seo-ha found that Myung-gil had left her a graveyard. She noticed that the villagers came forward to help her with her uncle’s funeral in Jinseong-ri village. While conducting the funeral, she was shocked to find out that she had a younger brother, Kim Young-ho. He came to the funeral, telling her that he had legal rights to a share of the land after his father’s passing. When both Seo-ha and Young-ho’s DNA were matched, it was proved that he was her half-brother indeed!
While investigating the case, the police found out that the villagers were somewhat happy after Myung-gil’s death. They saw it as an opportunity for development in the village. He was not ready to sell the burial ground to a construction company that was planning to build a golf course. A building had also been set up in the village to operate official arrangements to manage the golf course, and the owner was Yuk Sung-soo. The police had found thallium in his building, immediately connecting Myung-gil’s murder to the man. He told the police that Kwang-soo had asked him to kill Myung-gil. He was the owner of the Jijo construction company and promised Sung-soo that he would be given a share of the profits if he could manipulate the villagers to sell their lands to the company.
Detective Choi Sung-jun was seen taking charge of the case voluntarily, helping Detective Park Sang-Min with the case. It is possible that there was a history between the two detectives, leading to one helping the other! Meanwhile, Seo-ha’s husband was seen getting murdered by an anonymous entity in the middle of the road. There is a possibility that Yong-ho murdered his brother-in-law to gain the property, and maybe Seo-ha was his next target!
We are taken back in time when we see Sung-jun’s son being arrested for stabbing Sang-Min in the leg, crippling him for life. He had gotten into a bet with a few other boys to stab his father, but ended up stabbing Sang-Min. It is possible that Sung-jun was doing favors to Sang-Min after his son had cost him a leg, out of a sense of guilt. He felt responsible for Sang-Min being maimed for life, for which his wife left him. He apologized to Sang-Min on behalf of his son, saying that if his son had not lost his mother at such a young age, he wouldn’t have acted so irrationally.
Sang-Min called in Seo-ha for her husband’s murder investigation after finding his body. The postmortem report stated that he had been killed by a shotgun. She told the police that her father owned a shotgun, and it is possible that Young-ho had taken that gun to murder her husband. Later at the funeral, Mr. Kang (a private detective) came to meet Seo-ha and told her that people were thinking that she might have killed her own husband over a feud on the land. He also manipulated her to consider buying a building that one of his friends owned after selling the inheritance that she would acquire. Later, when Seo-ha went to meet the owner of the building, he told her that he would give her the building in exchange for the graveyard and some additional cash. When she expressed her concern over a delay in getting her hands on the property because of Young-ho, the owner told her that he would take care of that issue.
After a word with the owner, when Seo-ha was returning home, she saw Young-ho outside her apartment. When she went to the gate, she was horrified to find that he had inscribed a weird pattern on her main door with animal blood. It is possible that Yong-ho was trying some sort of black magic on his sister to make sure that she would be affected by it and would give up on the land, leaving it entirely to him!
The police managed to arrest Young-ho for doing such an act. However, after his capture, he denied the accusation of trying to hurt Seo-ha. He told the police that he said he went there to give Seo-ha a talisman (samjaebu) to ward off all evil eyes. Meanwhile, Seo-ha was terrified and asked the police to arrest him, as she thought that Young-ho was targeting her to get his hands on the land. When the police told her that they could not arrest Young-ho due to a lack of evidence, she decided to make Mr. Kang follow him to know his whereabouts for her own safety. When Mr. Kang went to Young-ho’s house, he found some bloody clothes, money, and pictures of him in an orphanage. He had also found a diary and a photo there, but just as he was about to leave with that evidence, someone attacked and killed him. Later, the unknown entity was seen performing some rituals on the body. The killer dragged the body to a car, and burned it there. It is clear that someone was trying to protect Young-ho and did not want him involved in any peril.
Meanwhile, we get a flashback of Seo-ha’s childhood, where her father was seen acting erratic, attacking his own family. These flashbacks seemed to immensely disturb Seo-ha’s mental stability. On top of all the problems she was facing, she was faced with a new challenge when she found out that someone had exposed that she was ghostwriting for Professor Kim. She doubted Na-rae, a workplace rival, for having exposed her secrets to defame her at the university. This episode also reveals how Mr. Kang, along with the building owner, was trying to defraud Seo-ha by getting her to buy a building that was about to be auctioned soon. Seo-ha’s life was already in such a big mess that trouble from her half-brother was the last thing that she wanted!
When Young-ho was released from police custody, he came back home and started acting all erratic. He was talking to his father’s photo, and that is when he seemed to get a supernatural response that his sister would die next! Meanwhile, Sung-jun was seen going to Gyeongamsa Temple to investigate further about Young-ho’s history. He met a monk there and asked her to take him to her spirit mother, who handled the temple 15 years ago when Yeong-ho and his mother were staying there. When he was taken to the old monk, Sung-jun showed her the talisman that was drawn on Seo-ha’s door. She told him that the talisman drawn was wrong, and such wrong talismans were made by Myung-hee. He also got a call from the forensics team and was told that they had been able to retrieve two DNA samples from Seo-ha’s husband. One was his own DNA, and the other was unidentified. The second person’s DNA suggested that it was a woman, who was Young-ho’s maternal relative and also Seo-ha’s paternal relative.
Seo-ha tried to contact Mr. Kang; she couldn’t get through to him, but the killer who had his phone texted her, asking her to meet. Thinking that it was Mr. Kang, she set off to meet him. Young-ho, who was anticipating that something ominous might happen to his sister, followed her and tried to warn her not to go anywhere. He told her that she should hand him the graveyard, as she would be harmed otherwise! Seo-ha thought that he was threatening her and got Young-ho arrested. Meanwhile, Mr. Kang’s charred body was discovered, and the police thought that Young-ho was the culprit. But he had to be released once again as his phone’s location was not the same as that of the murder spot. When Young-ho was returning home from the police station, he was kidnapped by some goons. It is possible that he had been kidnapped by the men of the landowner, who had promised Seo-ha that they’d take care of her problem.
We are swept back in time when Seo-ha went to meet the owner of the building and told him that the graveyard plot was still pending. She told him that if Young-ho would still claim his portion of the land, then it would be troublesome to get her hands on the land or to sell it. This led the landowner, Choi Tae-seong, to kidnap her brother. Tae-seong was in a hurry to sell his land, as he needed the money to marry off his daughter.
When Sung-jun and Sang-min found out that Young-ho had been kidnapped, they set out to solve the case together. When they went around investigating Young-ho’s family history, some neighbors told them that Myung-ho had two other siblings, Myung-gil and Myung-hee. Myung-ho had a special affection for his sister, Myung-hee, and they were very close. He kept her safe from all the taunts from the others due to a deformity in her upper lip. Later, Myung-ho also left his own wife and daughter to go and live with her, and that is when she became pregnant. People started saying that the baby was a result of their incest. Unable to bear their harsh words, the couple left the vicinity. Some years later, they came back, and shamans started frequenting their place and performing rituals on Myung-ho to rid him of his sudden erratic behavior. However, after his death, Myung-hee took her child and went to live in the Gyeongamsa temple. Just to seek refuge in the temple, she lied to the monks there, saying that her child had divine powers.
After listening to this version of the story, Sung-jun realized that Young-ho’s mother was the real killer. He had seen a lady with a similar lip deformity lurking around in the village and remembered that she had shown a keen interest in the investigation of Myung-gil’s death. Meanwhile, Myung-hee was seen kidnapping Seo-ha with the intention of murdering her. The identity of the killer is finally revealed, and it is possible that she had been committing crimes to make sure that her son, Young-ho, would inherit the graveyard.
Sung-jun and Sang-min go to meet Yuk Sung-soo in prison to investigate further about the case. When he gives them the residential details of the woman with a scar on her lips, they immediately set out to find Myung-hee. On their way, they learned that Seo-ha had been kidnapped by Myung-hee. Meanwhile, Myung-hee was seen confronting Seo-ha and telling her that she was her aunt and also his father’s second wife. She further told them that Yeong-ho was their son, and she had killed people to save her son. Upon hearing all her confessions, Seo-ha felt sick to her stomach and expressed her disgust towards her father and aunt. When Myung-hee was about to shoot her, she told her that if she killed her, then her son would also be killed by the goons who had kidnapped him.
Myung-hee made Seo-ha call the goons to ensure that her son was safe and asked her to take her along to the location where his son was taken captive. When they reached the location, Seo-ha was captured by the goons, and they tried throwing her in the furnace along with Yeong-ho for trying to disrupt their work. Meanwhile, Myung-hee, in an attempt to save her son, attacked the men with her shotgun but ended up getting shot in the leg. She somehow managed to break open the furnace and rescue Seo-ha and Young-ho. The police are also able to track down Seo-ha’s location and reach the spot, arresting the goons and Tae-seong. When Myung-hee realized that her veil was gone, she committed suicide by jumping into the furnace. Upon analyzing the situation, Sung-jun realized that Myung-hee did not come to claim the property upfront to make sure her son’s true identity of being a child of incest did not get revealed to the others, causing him disgrace in the long run.
In the end, Seo-ha was seen running an art workshop, where Sun-jun came to meet her. When he asked her about the graveyard, she told him that she would not sell it as it was her ancestral property. He also asked her if she was in touch with Young-ho, but she denied it, saying that there was no need for her to stay in touch with him. However, it is possible that she was still in touch with him secretly, as she was seen dedicating herself to an art workshop. Young-ho was also an artist, as we could see from the piece of art that he had made on Seo-ha’s door with animal blood. Probably she was inspired by him to pursue her career in art. Finally, Seo-ha was seen accepting her flawed family when she put the urn of her aunt’s ashes beside that of her father’s ashes in the burial ground. When someone asked her how they were related to her, she said that they were family.
The Bequeathed makes it clear that Korean dramas are not only about fluttery romances and flowers; they can also cost us our sleep at night! The element of gore enhances the twisted appeal of The Bequeathed, keeping the audience glued to their seats. The themes of occult and incest add to the dark element of the series. The gore can be compared to films like Hereditary and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Despite making a mini-series consisting of only six episodes, the director has experimented well with the plot. The series has several subplots, and all the characters have been elaborated on thoroughly.