The Bequeathed: Suspense and crime in Netflix's first K-drama for 2024

The Bequeathed

The director of "Train to Busan" delivers an intense six-episode thriller that promises to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

For many, the dream is to inherit a mysterious fortune from an unknown relative. This dream turns into a nightmare for Yoon Seo-ha, a woman struggling to advance her teaching career. When she inherits a family cemetery in a remote village, her life takes a sinister turn, complicating her already troubled existence. "The Bequeathed," a somber miniseries comprising six episodes, marks Netflix's inaugural original K-drama release for 2024, targeting aficionados of Asian horror and crime narratives.

Crafted by Yeon Sang-ho, the visionary behind "Train to Busan," the series debuted on January 19th and features a stellar cast of renowned Korean actors. Kim Hyun-joo ("Toward the Future") portrays Seo-ha, a woman who uncovers her husband's infidelity, only to find herself entangled in a murder mystery surrounding the land she inherited from a long-lost uncle.

Park Sung-hoon ("The Glory") embodies Seo-ha's husband, a yoga instructor with an insufferable demeanor. Ryu Kyung-soo ("Jung_E") takes on the role of Kim Young-ho, a mysterious man who crashes the funeral claiming to be the protagonist's half-brother. He insists on his rights to the land and vows to do whatever it takes to drive Seo-ha away from the village.


A tale of death

The dispute over the property reaches sinister heights as more bodies surface in the village. Two investigators posit that the deaths may be linked to Seo Ha, and indeed, they suspect that her uncle was murdered. Park Hee-soon ("My Name") and Park Byung-eun ("Kingdom") portray the detectives leading the investigation, each grappling with their own personal narratives stemming from a fateful event in the past.

As they pursue the clues left by a serial killer, Seo Ha uncovers dark family secrets. The tension of the narrative is heightened by sound design, featuring intriguing melodies that evoke a sense of unease. Additionally, the plot delves into shamanic customs and rituals, introducing a paranormal dimension to the story.

References to Korean classics

Yeon Sang-ho presents "The Bequeathed" in collaboration with Min Hong Nam, his assistant director on "Train to Busan." Min is credited as the director and co-writer of the project. Early reviews of this title praise its unsettling premise, although its momentum seems to wane slightly in the second half of the limited series.

Nevertheless, the sound and photography are clear strengths in this psychological thriller. According to The South China Morning Post, there are similarities in the style of the miniseries with other Korean classics: a red scarecrow, also present in Bong Joon Ho's film "Memories of Murder" (2003), and the rural setting, coupled with the ominous tone, reminiscent of the unsettling atmosphere in "The Wailing" (2016).

"The Bequeathed" offers a new option for binge-watching in the thriller and crime genre on Netflix's catalog. It has been available on the platform since January 19th.

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