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Is Netflix’s The Bequeathed Inspired by a True Story?

The Netflix Korean crime horror show, ‘The Bequeathed,’ unfolds an intriguing mystery around a family and their generational burial site. Is Netflix’s The Bequeathed Inspired by a True Story? The sudden death of a distant and unknown uncle thrusts Yoon Seo-ha into immense change. It leaves her in possession of her family’s burial ground as her inheritance.

 However, it also leads to the discovery of an unpredictable half-brother, Kim Young-Ho. To make matters worse, a string of murders and other crimes plagues the town, and Detective Choi Sung-Joon persistently suspects Seo-ha’s family graveyard. As a result, secrets of the past and present unravel, propelling the woman’s life down an unforeseeable path.

Is Netflix’s The Bequeathed Inspired by a True Story?

Uniquely originating from Korea with universal themes, ‘The Bequeathed’ is not based on a true story but is a work of fiction conceived under filmmaker Yeon Sang-ho’s screenwriting. Yeon, known for his previous global recognition and praise for ‘Train to Busan’ (2016) and ‘Hellbound’ (2021), brings his compelling writing to life under the debut direction of Min Hong-nam. The show presents its riveting storyline with a Korean family grave site at its center.

While the series brims with occultist themes of horror, it also aptly immerses itself in a crime-driven narrative. Due to this combination, coupled with the show’s authentic exploration of family, curiosity naturally arises about the show’s origin and themes.

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The Bequeathed: Exploring Family, Tradition, and Horror with Yeon Sang-ho

The show’s original title, ‘Seon-san,’ translates to the Korean word for a family grave site. Since this traditional practice, passed down through generations, isn’t commonplace in other cultures, the word lacks a direct English translation. Consequently, the title transforms into ‘The Bequeathed’ to convey the weight behind the tradition as a bequeathment.

In many ways, the show initiates as an exploration of family and religion, concepts filmmaker Yeon believes share significant commonality. For this reason, he decides to incorporate occult themes to bridge the gap between the two concepts, introducing a horror perspective to the story. This approach further aids in the story’s exploration of familial relationships.

The innate rituals associated with family traditions, coupled with the idea of individuals inheriting their family’s sins, help Yeon construct the show’s framework. From there, the concept of a family grave site, arguably a uniquely Korean concept due to its cultural consistency, comes easily to the writer.

Despite the unfamiliarity of the concept, a central narrative tool within the show, viewers can still find points of relatability and real-life reflections due to its focus on the theme of family.

Webtoon Connection and Fictional Realm

The Bequeathed’ is an original idea crafted by Yeon and his imagination, the show’s basis on the popular webtoon by Kang Tae-kyung, sharing the show’s title, may lead people to wonder if one is based on the other. The webtoon, first released in November 2023 to a receptive and appreciating audience, intricately relates to Yeon’s Netflix show.

Although a part of the webtoon was released earlier than the show, its story continues, with the second part coming out alongside the show’s introduction to the global audience. Consequently, both pieces of media can be seen as companion pieces, exploring the same narrative and characters, albeit in different formats.

Nevertheless, ‘The Bequeathed,’ in either format, remains a fictional story penned by Yeon Sang-ho, who drew inspiration from various sources. Yet, his work retains enough distinction that it doesn’t have tangible connections to a real-life instance. Moreover, its supernatural elements further solidify the show as a work of fiction.

Stellar Cast

Kim Hyun-joo stars as Yoon Seon-ha, a university assistant instructor navigating professional challenges and personal unhappiness in her marriage to Yang Jae-seok, portrayed by Park Sung-hoon. Seon-ha’s life takes an unexpected twist when she inherits a family burial ground from an unknown uncle. Park Hee-soon embodies the character of Detective Choi Seong-joon, while Park Byung-eun takes on the role of Detective Park Sang-min. The detectives inform Seon-ha that her uncle’s death may be a murder, adding complexity to her newfound inheritance.

Ryu Kyung-soo plays Kim Yeong-ho, Seon-ha’s half-brother with a shared father. As family secrets unravel, the plot intensifies into a serial killing spree, making Seon-ha the final target and the key to ending the mysterious murders. The ensemble cast delivers a compelling portrayal of characters entangled in a web of dark secrets and unexpected family ties.

Where to Watch

The Bequeathed’ is available on Netflix, premiering on January 19, 2024, with a total of 6 episodes. The show falls under the genres of occult, thriller, crime, mystery, and suspense, delivering its narrative in the Korean language.

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