Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Yu Jin Kim
JTBC, the South Korean network well-known for creating high-quality dramas, has gone through some difficulties over the past few years. Although several dramas were recognized for their fine qualities, the network fell short of creating an ultimate game-changer. However, Reborn Rich is on track to become the breakthrough series for the channel. The drama drew viewers’ attention even before its premiere as it was confirmed to air three episodes a week and is currently seeing a rise in ratings every episode.
Based on a famous web novel of the same name, Reborn Rich is about a man named Yoon Hyun Woo who used to be a loyal employee of a large conglomerate called Soonyang group. When he dies after a series of events involving the chaebol family that he had faithfully served, he is reborn as the family’s youngest son Jin Do Joon. After facing death, he wakes up in 1987 as the 10-year-old Jin Do Joon with the memory of everything he had experienced in his 40s. And this time, he has a clear objective. He is eager to find out the real culprit behind his death and will do whatever it takes to destroy Soonyang. The biggest supporter yet the most dangerous obstacle to accomplishing his goal is Do Joon’s grandfather, Jin Yang Chul, the chairman of Soonyang Group.
Reborn Rich can be described as a long and large scaled historical drama that has been repurposed to suit the taste of viewers in 2022. Although it could be different from other existing epic sagas, its grand scale and overall vibe are comparable to other well-made historical dramas set in modern South Korea. The setting of reincarnation indeed caught viewers’ attention in the beginning, but the turbulent modern history of South Korea and the power struggles within the chaebol family are what the drama is mainly about. Unlike other historical dramas, Reborn Rich is set in the late 20th century to early 21st century, a time of rapid economic growth and depression that followed the sudden financial crash that struck the nation. Being the grandson of a chaebol family, Do Joon cleverly and effortlessly overcomes crises with money and power. The events that happen in the series bring memories back to people who vividly remember the era and give them vicarious satisfaction through the insightful decisions he makes.
In this project, the protagonist is depicted as an almighty god. He senses opportunities that others miss and lives the life of a winner by preparing for all possible scenarios. The drama keeps its tension and unravels the story by giving him hurdles to jump over. One of the episodes that best shows that is Episode 5, when the family acquires Ahjin Motors. Do Joon tries to obtain Ahjin Motors to prevent his bad luck from happening, but he overlooks people’s greed for money and Jin Yang Chul’s intention to keep the inequality created by wealth. Despite overcoming all obstacles, Do Joon cannot escape his unlucky fate, and his attempt to change his destined life fails, even with all the memories from his past life and the knowledge he has. As the story progresses, he will face more of these obstacles, which he cannot overcome just by revisiting the memory he has from the future. Therefore, how he solves and handles those problems will be one of the key takeaways from the drama.
Despite its fictional setting, the story feels very real due to some aspects besides the plot itself. The cast ensemble is one factor that creates such a sense of reality. Song Joong Ki portrays a believable character by effortlessly playing a man in his 20s with a mind of a middle-aged man in his 40s. He makes us understand the character through his brilliant portrayal of Jin Do Jun whenever he witnesses the brutal side of power and wealth and acts like an innocent boy around his grandfather. Lee Sung Min also showed off a jaw-dropping performance as chairman Jin Yang Cheol. His burning desire to establish the group and continue his legacy is well shown even in the most minor wrinkle on his face. The tight tension between the two is another charm of the series that makes us stay tuned into the show.
The conflict in the series intensifies from Episode 6. Do Joon finds the ultimate reason to bring down Soonyang, and he begins to destroy everything Yang Cheol has built by jumping into politics. That’s when Yang Cheol realizes his bright grandson is the one who has been driving him to the corner. Who will be the final winner in this fierce battle between Do Joon and Yang Cheol? Will Do Joon become the monster himself to bring down Soonyang? All eyes are on how the story will pan out in the remaining episodes. (7/10)
Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart