The new 6-part Korean series on Netflix is the latest on their roster of Korean dramas. It’s almost as if the platform is conditioning us to wait for a new one to arrive every other Friday at least, and I’d be exhausted if I were on the back-end team. The Bequeathed is a show about Seo-Ha, an assistant professor in Seoul, who one day learns about the death of an uncle on her father’s side. Seo-Ha’s been estranged from her father since she was 7 and doesn’t even know of this uncle, but things start to go absolutely off the rails soon after she learns about his death. It’s interesting because the show begins with this awfully unnerving scene of this old man in an isolated village falling to his death in the twilight, but as the show progresses, this old man is completely forgotten. Technically, it’s an important role that catapults the events of the series; however, it feels a little bit messy how his death is just relevant when required in the plot.
To understand who this man is, we need to revisit the whole show. Seo-Ha has to host the funeral of her uncle, where her half-brother shows up and begs her to give him the burial ground that he has rights to too. She knows her husband is cheating, and later, after the funeral, when they discuss it, he’s shameless enough to tell her he won’t get divorced until she offers him money from the burial ground. But, lucky for her, he ends up being shot on the same night when she leaves him in the middle of nowhere in an angry burst. Then the private detective she hired to check on her husband and to keep an eye on Young-Ho, her half-brother, ends up dead just when he’s about to send her details about this brother. In the meantime, this private detective has also asked Seo-Ha to sell the burial land and purchase a building that belongs to his friend. For some reason, this man specifically wants an educated woman to buy his building, which was at the time a karaoke bar with hostesses. What I can’t put my finger on is why this man is determined to sell that building to Seo-Ha specifically.
How Did Seo-Ha’s Uncle Die?
Seo-Ha’s uncle was one of the many old people living in the village, where people were suffering because of their low income. At first, it seemed that the uncle had died of natural causes, but through investigation, it’s been found that he was poisoned through the “Makgeolli” (rice alcohol) he had had earlier. It turns out that a big company was planning on building a golf course in the area, and the villagers were all overjoyed because they could now sell their land and manage their finances. However, when it came to Seo-Ha’s uncle, he wasn’t okay with selling the family burial ground. Of course, the first assumption is that it’s because it’s an ancestral property and he wants to keep it for the family. However, as the show progresses, we learn that Myung-Hee wants this burial ground for her son; it’s almost like a sacred connection for her. Since Young-Ho is a child of incest, there’s nothing much he can claim for himself; he’d be shunned by society and looked down upon in disgust. So, Myung-Hee had spoken to her younger brother and convinced him to let Young-Hee inherit the land. However, his sudden death messed up the whole situation, starting a domino effect of bad luck for Seo-Ha, who had no idea what was going on.
It was the village chief who killed the old man on behalf of the big company. He thought it would be easier to get the land from whoever inherited it. On the other hand, everybody assumed the old man had no family, so the village chief must’ve assumed it would be easy for him to get the land for the company. He even pretends to care about the old man in front of Seo-Ha, saying he’ll take care of the funeral procedure with the town because they all loved him dearly. The chief had invested in the golf course, and since they weren’t able to do it, he’d be losing money because of the old man. He gets caught rather easily because his evidence is out in the open, and the detectives are quick to catch the details.
What we can assume is that there’s some connection between Kang, the private detective, his friend, the building owner named Mool-Joo, and the village chief. I suppose Kang would get commissions from both ends if he managed to have Seo-Ha sell the burial ground and invest in Mool-Joo’s land. He was determined to have her do both. Mool-Joo needs the investment to marry off his daughter; he does the math for Seo-Ha and claims that because she’s a professor, she’ll have a fantastic income, which, if added to the amount that would come from selling the land, would be just enough for his shoddy building. He keeps talking about wanting an educated woman to buy his building, but it seems to me like it’s just an excuse to make it look like Seo-Ha is the perfect candidate for him. Either there’s a direct connection between Mool-Joo and the Golf Course Company, in that he might be working for them too or have invested in the land, or his daughter might’ve been marrying into the family that owns the company, so this would be in a way a kind of dowry for his daughter’s hand.
Ultimately, the old man’s death was in vain because Myung-Hee fought till the very end to keep the burial ground for her son. It’s almost as if it would make Young-Ho real, not simply a rumor. She didn’t want him to fade away as a stranger, but to become a part of the family, and this was the only way she could’ve done that. I suppose eventually Seo-Ha would have Young-Ho share the inheritance with her or at least have him buried there.