Director: Jung Dae-yoon
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Lee Sung-min, and Shin Hyun-been
Streaming: Viu and Viki. Disney+ and Netflix
The series tells the story of Yoon Hyun-woo (Song Joong-ki), a loyal higher-up employee working for the chaebol Soonyang Group, who was betrayed and murdered by a member of the Soonyang family to cover up a tax evasion scheme.
Hyun-woo later wakes up in 1987 discovering that he has been reincarnated into the body of Jin Do-jun, the youngest grandson of the Soonyang family. Using these circumstances to his advantage, he starts his revenge by plotting a hostile takeover of the Soonyang Group.
Reborn Rich K-Drama Review:
Reborn Rich is another revenge drama, but with time and space involving memory transfer to another body which is quite supernatural. Another thing the drama does well is executing the ideas of the character through and showcasing many glimpses of early 2000s South Korea.
This drama was one of the best dramas I have seen in 2023 and after Weak Hero Class 1. The concept and execution of the creation of a dual identify character (in a different timeline) exist for the sole purpose of seeking revenge and ascertaining the culprits responsible for his murder.
This show was gripping, tense, and entertaining. This show answers the question to basically “If I had the privilege and knew the future what would happen” in a realistic way.
Yoon Hyun Woon is a high school graduate who’s forced to become the loyal dog that handles the dirty deeds for the Soonyang conglomerate to climb the corporate ladder. He’s then murdered and reincarnated as the youngest grandson, Jin Do Joon, of the very same family that enslaved him.
Rather than placating his newfound rich grandfather for a meager share of the inheritance, he holds the ambition of buying out Soonyang as revenge. What ensues is a thrilling and intense battle of wits as Doo Joon entraps his relatives by using their own insatiable greed and ulterior motives against them.
Through the ruthless succession conflicts, we not only see the degradation of society but also the salvaged shreds of humanity that are left. While Do Joon has to master the art of “greed, suspicion, and betrayal” in his quest for vengeance, he still maintains a bottom line to protect the interests of those he cares about.
He’s not exactly the hero type, but he can get the job done in the most spectacular (and unconventional) way without resorting to illegal means. Each episode is filled with unexpected plot twists and crazy cliffhangers that keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s interesting how there’s no singular villain since every member of the Jin family is a culpable suspect.
However, my favorite part has to be Do Joon’s relationship with his grandfather. Jin Yang Cheol is a complex character that’s hard to love or hate. He’s a shrewd and cynical businessman who’s built his empire upon draconian and often unethical practices.
Yet he’s hit with a dilemma, whether to pass his entire fortune to his oldest son’s line or the one who resembles him and can make Soonyang grows the most. On the surface, Do Joon is his head-on rival. But at a much deeper level, Yang Cheol regards him as his favorite grandson, someone who genuinely cares about his welfare and business ideology.
Behind every great show is a spectacular cast, and this is no different. Song Joong Ki is a surprising yet very fitting choice for the lead role. I love how he can quickly switch from the playful college student into the cut-throat gangster when he’s about to ‘negotiate’ a deal.
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I guess it’s a great balance between his character in Vincenzo and Descendants of Sun. Plus, the turtleneck and baggy jeans definitely add to the Steve-Job entrepreneur vibe as well. I really like his chemistry with Shin Hyun Bin who plays the female lead.
She certainly has a makeover from the sleep-deprived surgeon in Hospital Playlist into a feisty and stylish prosecutor. Lee Sung Min is definitely a force to reckon with.
As a veteran actor, he pulls off the mean and hard-to-please expression of Jin Yang Cheol extremely well as the powerful head of the Soonyang Corporation and Jin family, he’s supposed to be the most commanding presence in the room.
It’s not until the later episodes that we get to see glimpses of a softer and perhaps more vulnerable Jin Yang Cheol when he’s with Do Joon, his favorite grandson. The rest of the Jin family is very well cast.
They’re each greedy, entitled, and scandalous in their own way. The drama is complemented by an emotional and powerful soundtrack that beautifully underscores impactful scenes. Moreover, the acting is excellent across the board which is unsurprising considering the veteran cast.
I am not the biggest fan of Song Joong Ki’s work and I do believe he tends to only play certain types of characters he is comfortable with but even I have to admit that he really shines in some of the scenes in Reborn Rich.
Acting-wise, for me, this is his best work yet. Song Joong Ki’s character here is this brilliant edge lord who is out for revenge, equipped with the power of the future, an IQ of 600, and skin that’s as smooth as a baby’s butt.
While he is not the most well-layered character out there with incredible depth or substance, he does excellently deliver your quintessential hot, charismatic, and conveniently overpowered oppa character that’s easy to root for and puts on a great show.
Song Joong-ki once again chose a very good drama. Initially, I was apprehensive that Reborn Rich may be similar to Vincenzo, his last drama prior to Reborn Rich where his character left an indelible mark on me, but was I in for a surprise.
He tackled his character differently in Reborn Rich so I never saw him as Vincenzo but as Jin Do-jun/Yoon Hyun-woo. He is likewise supported by veteran actors whose performances are of top caliber.
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The biggest winning point for me was definitely Lee Sung Min’s grandpa. His character is as vicious as they come. A true anti-hero with the greatest business acumen, greed for expansion, and corporate ruthlessness. For all intents and purposes, the grandfather is a character with flaws and yet the one that you will come to love the most.
His relationship encompassing love, compassion, respect, and at times rivalry with his grandson (Song Joong Ki) is easily the highlight of the entire drama…
While the plot and characters have been exaggerated for entertainment purposes, the drama still contains many real-life events that make it quite a nostalgic watch, especially for South Koreans.
It’s refreshing to see Do Joon walking us through the IMF Crisis, the South Korean team in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, Seo Taiji and Boys’ disbandment, and the list goes on. There have also been suggestions that the drama also drew inspiration from the current political landscape in South Korea, with the omnipotent status of conglomerates and ‘chaebols’.
Everything was straightaway gold until the last episode. The 15th episode changed the pattern of the show and the finale of the drama turned out to be messed up. Episode 16 throws out everything, every aspiration, dream, development, and the beautifully crafted revenge plot, and turns into a train wreck that looks conclusive on paper, yet lacks in feeling like a real ending.
The character of Do Jun had the saddest conclusion and it felt like a forced way out for Soonyang which made the conclusion unsatisfactory.
Reborn Rich is a masterpiece in its own right. It’s a perfect combination of fantasy, business, family, and revenge themes that somehow has a duality to it. Dramatic and shocking yet still very humane.
Note: “Reborn Rich become the 3rd most watched Korean drama on cable with 22.456%”