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‘Brilliant’ drama leaving its own legacy

‘I found it offers something different from other typical dramas.’ Kim Tae-il, viewer

July 16,2009
Lee Seung-gi and Han Hyo-joo, first and second from right, respectively, pose with other actors in the SBS drama “Brilliant Legacy.” The highly popular weekend series revolves around the inheritance issues of a well-to-do family. [SBS TV]
It’s not a big-budget show featuring well-known stars, nor is it a sensational soap opera sprinkled with violence and adultery.

So it comes as a surprise that “Brilliant Legacy,” a 28-episode romantic comedy-melodrama series that airs Saturday and Sunday nights on SBS TV, has become so wildly popular.

“Brilliant Legacy demonstrates that a drama with sincerity can win the hearts and minds of the public,” said Jeong Deok-hyeon, a local pop culture columnist.

The latest episode, which aired on July 12, posted an audience rating of 41.3 percent, the highest rating for a show so far this year. The show that previously held that distinction ? another SBS drama, “Wife’s Temptation” ? registered a 40.4 percent rating in late January.

Brilliant Legacy’s overwhelming success is rather unexpected and, therefore, significant. Most popular dramas cast hallyu, or Korean wave, stars in lead roles. But Brilliant Legacy features two actors, Lee Seung-gi and Han Hyo-joo, who were relatively unknown before.

The show’s story line also revolves around the theme of “good overcoming evil” and a poor girl meeting her Prince Charming ? well-worn concepts that seem too obvious and overplayed to lasso in huge audiences.

So just what is it that enables this seemingly mediocre melodrama to outshine its counterparts?

“Brilliant Legacy successfully positions a dramatic conflict among characters, which is a must for dramas, as well as an interesting plot touching on universal topics such as family and love,” Jeong said.

The show follows a family led by Jang Suk-ja, an old and able woman who runs Jinseong Food Co.

Jang, a strong-headed CEO with solid morals and business ethics, one day announces a surprise decision: She will bequeath the family’s fortune not to her grandson Sunwoo Hwan (played by Lee Seung-gi), who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and behaves as he pleases, but to a girl, Koh Eun-seong (played by Han Hyo-joo), who is reeling from her father’s apparent sudden death and other issues but maintains a bright outlook. (FYI: Eun-seong helped Jang in the past and earned her confidence.)

It turns out that the move was also an effort by Jang to help her grandson change his outlook on life. Hwan, who was a man about town, starts to take things seriously. He tries to defend his rights as heir to the fortune against Eun-seong. But something happens along the way. The two, who quarreled with each other at every chance, begin to develop a new and close relationship.

“What I think is special about this drama is that it displays the power of senior citizens, through the character Jang, in an aging society where an increasing number of older citizens are economically active,” said Na Kyung-jin, a housewife in her 50’s who is a self-proclaimed ardent fan of the drama. “In addition, it shows that people who are truly able and qualified can inherit a legacy, not just members of well-to-do families.

“There is also this lovely romance between good-looking younger people, which is a bonus to all viewers. Considering all these factors, I think this is a drama that appeals to both men and women of all ages.”

Indeed, men are a big part of the audience as well.

“Usually I’m not a fan of soap operas, but I’m watching this one quite regularly, as I found it offers something different from other typical dramas,” said Kim Tae-il, a middle-aged man in his 50’s. “It deals with the issue of a bequest involving a family, which is quite new and interesting. And it also touches upon various social issues including family, giving viewers an opportunity to think over the issues in their lives.”

Brilliant Legacy has four episodes left before its swan song, scheduled for July 26.


By Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]



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