Shining Inheritance (28 Episodes)
((summary taken from dramawiki, edited by me))
Brilliant Legacy / 인생은 아름다워 / Chanranhan Yusan
Go Eun Sung's life is similar to Cinderella's. After her father died, her step-mother took away all of her assets, and her Autistic younger brother, Eun Woo, suddenly disappears without a trace. Despite this, Eun Sung preservers and works really hard to fulfill her dreams. When the rich CEO of a food company suffers amnesia and can't remember who she is, Eun Sung takes her in and cares for her.
However, Eun Sung doesn't know that she's the grandmother of Sun Woo Hwan, a man she's constantly clashed with . . . or that Hwan is the man her step-sister loves. Will the two be able to put aside their bickering long enough to realize how they truly feel about one another? Or will they remain enemies till the very end?
(Shining Inheritance had an average rating of 30% during its run, and because of its success, was given a two episode extension. And Han Hyo Joo and Lee Seung Ki both received Hot Drama Star Awards at the 2009 MNET 20s Choice Awards.)
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This was a fantastic drama. Even three months later, I'm still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The romance, pacing, music, drama, acting . . . it was all top notch. Looking back, I have trouble thinking of even one flaw (though I'm sure there were some).
Actually, if I had one complaint, I'd say that it's the fact that the romance took so long to really get going (I couldn't even make a decent music video until 17-18 episodes in). However, it's a small gripe, because the story was still engaging without it, and the impact wouldn't have been as great if the fantastic build-up hadn't been there. Still, waiting for any actual progress as it aired was a royal pain, lol. Though when it finally happened, it made it that much sweeter. ^_^
One thing I really enjoyed was getting to watch the characters change and mature throughout the series, Hwan in particular. At the beginning, he's a spoiled, immature, stuck-up brat, who's nearly impossible to like. However, he gets 28 episodes worth of growth, and we get to see the entire process as it happens . . . by the end, it's impossible not to fall for him. It's like he's an entirely different person. Yet the change is believable and well earned--all the more so, because we were there to see it happen from beginning to end.
Also, any fan of fairy tales (or Cinderella in particular) will enjoy the modern twists to the story. (And honestly, who DOESN'T want to see the evil-stepmother "get hers" in the end?!) Just knowing it was coming eventually, made it all the more satisfying to watch. And Eun Sung was SO likable, it was hard not to cheer for her. She was a strong, sympathetic heroine; kind and trusting (but not naively so). She seemed like a really good person, and one I wouldn't mind befriending in the real world (loyal to her friends, but not afraid to smack them upside the head for saying/doing something stupid). Actually, she was the way I wanted the character Jandi from Boys Over Flowers to be more like. (Willing to stand up for herself--not constantly in need of saving or comfort). Eun Sung went through hell--and she became a stronger person because of it. Plus, she could pull off the "cute and adorable" vibe just as easily as the tear-driven, angsty, "woe is me, my life sucks" AND make them both believable. Besides, she was consistent, something Jandi was not.
Thankfully, the writer of THIS drama knew what she was doing.
I really appreciated how the drama didn't seem to drag. I thought it was very well paced, and did a great job of making the predictable unpredictable (even with the title, I never saw the twist with the grandmother coming, lol). And sure, the main story may be familiar (evil step mother, love quadrangle, family obligation, etc, etc), the way it was executed was not. Honestly, from the very beginning, I was hooked--I even liked the characters that threatened my beloved OTP: The chemistry between all four of them was fantastic.
Also, the emphasis on family love was really touching, especially the bond between Eun Sung, her brother, and her father . . . I like how the grandmother connects to all of them (she really does seem like a fairy-godmother, doesn't she?). For once, it wasn't just the romance that drove this drama, but a combination of many different elements, all of which were woven naturally into the story and fit together perfectly.
I loved it, and I think most people out there will love it too. Unless, of course, you have no soul. =p