The Bequeathed is a story shaped by rejection and guilt. Some would disagree and say that love was at the center of it, but even if that is how it started, it is not the emotion that led to the current actions of the characters.
Myung Hee and Myung Ho were siblings, and they were said to always be together. Myung Hee was picked on because of her cleft lip, and in a superstitious town like where she grew up, the adults must have discriminated against her as much as the children did. Children can be naturally cruel towards differences, but if the bullying never stopped, it must mean that the adults did not step in to counsel them or tell them that it was wrong to do that. The Bequeathed does not directly talk about any prevalent stereotypes, but in a flashback scene, Myung Hee’s father is constantly referring to his daughter as being cursed and unworthy. That did not just seem to be the result of her pregnancy but a deep-held belief that had been there all his life. At such a time, Myung Ho was Myung Hee’s only safe space. He protected her from others and was with her in whatever capacity he could be. It is unclear when the romantic feelings developed between them. Did it start before Myung Ho got married, or did it happen after? The only fictional reference we can come up with is Cersei and Jamie Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” who got together after Cersei gave up on her relationship with Robert. Is that what happened between Myung Hee and her brother? Myung Ho kept saying that Myung Hee’s fiance was a bad man who already had other women in his life. Maybe that is when she ended up being with her brother, at a time when no one else consoled her during her heartbreak. Whatever the case may have been, Myung Hee became pregnant, and she would rather die than live a life of rejection with a man who did not love her. That was when she asked her brother if they could not be together for the rest of their lives.
We never understood whether Myung Ho loved his sister romantically or not, but it is clear that their relationship was toxic. Perhaps he ran away with her because he knew that she would die otherwise, or maybe he really wanted to be with her as a family. The latter is more likely, but it cannot be ignored that Myung Ho left behind his wife and child for Myung Hee. He had a life with her until he passed away, and the villagers knew that Young Ho used to call Myung Ho ‘papa.’ Yet, it was all a rumor that was spoken about in hushed tones. When Myung Ho died, Myung Hee did not know how she could sustain herself or protect her child against rumors and social rejection. That is why she took him to a temple and tried to say that he had ‘shinbyeong’, meaning that he was possessed by a god. That claim was dismantled soon, and Young Ho was sent to an orphanage. Myung Hee must have consented to that because she knew that if he stayed with her, she wouldn’t be able to escape her identity, and that would affect him and lead to his life being as miserable as hers. That is why, despite having a parent alive, Young Ho grew up as an orphan. A guess is that he must have known what was going on. At some point, he must have figured out why his mother abandoned him, and he kept that secret for her sake. Young Ho gives off the impression of a disturbed individual, but he is not cruel. He is simply trying to protect the only family he has left. When he was trying to warn Seo Ha, he did not refer to her by her name but kept calling her ‘sister.’ At the funeral, Young Ho broke down, wailing because of the loss of a family member. Myung Hee may have protected Young Ho from ridicule, but she could not save him from loneliness, which altered his brain chemistry in prominent ways.
At some point, Myung Hee must have felt that she could not do a lot for her child. Her sacrifice and her protection involved removing herself from his life, and just like any parent, she must have felt the need to secure his future. That is when she learned about the funeral home. All Myung Hee had to do was show up, and it would be in her name, and then she could have transferred it to Young Ho. But she knew the price of her secret being out in the world. The few years that Myung Hee had spent with her brother had given her peace, but it had come at a great cost. Though it was just a rumor, it must have led to his exclusion from society. Perhaps even Young Ho was bullied in his school days because of this rumor? Either way, the moment Myung Hee revealed her relationship with him, it was over. Even if she claimed that she was his aunt, people would know, and Young Ho would not be able to lead a normal life. That is why it was important that he inherit the funeral home directly. Myung Hee kept removing the obstacles in his path, be it Seo Ha’s husband, the detective, or any investigator who got a little too close to the truth.
Meanwhile, rejection and loneliness had affected Young Ho differently. He just wanted to protect his people. Young Ho may not have shinbyeong, but as a small boy learning those things, he had his own faith, and he used his limited knowledge to protect his sister. Young Ho immediately knew why the people were being killed. Maybe he had seen his mother’s madness all those years ago, or maybe he sensed it now. What is to say that Shinbyeong is the only supernatural sense one can have? When Young Ho said that people would die unless he got the funeral home, he wasn’t threatening anyone but referring to the motives of his mother, who he knew was the killer. He wasn’t revealing her identity to protect her, just like he was warning everyone to protect them. But his words were misleading when the entire context was not known.
At the end of The Bequeathed, Seo Ha makes up for having Young Ho kidnapped by saving him from the fire. She saves the man who had been trying to save her all along. Myung Hee jumps in the fire because the revelation of her crimes would put a scandalous spotlight on her son. Finally, Young Ho decided not to press kidnapping charges because Seo Ha was the only family he had left, and he wanted nothing more than to be accepted by her. Seo Ha also understands this. She doesn’t sell the funeral home, and while she is not yet talking to Young Ho, she is willing to have a relationship with him in the future, when there isn’t so much darkness between them. Young Ho may not get the funeral home, but he has a legitimate family, which would make him and his mother very happy.