Reborn Rich (2022)
Title: Reborn Rich
Hangul: 재벌집 막내아들
Writer: Kim Tae-hee
Director: Jeong Dae-yun
Reborn Rich Cast and Characters
Song Joong-ki as Jin Do-jun, Yoon Hyun-woo
Lee Sung-min as Jin Yang-cheol
Shin Hyun-bin as Seo Min-young
Yoon Je-moon as Jin Young-ki
Kim Jung-nan as Son Jung-rae
Jo Han-chul as Jin Dong-ki
Seo Jae-hee as Yoo Ji-na
Kim Young-jae as Jin Yoon-ki
Jung Hye-young as Lee Hae-in
Park Ji-hyun as Mo Hyun-min
Kang Gi-doong as Jin Hyung-joon
Reborn Rich Plot Summary
After ten years as a loyal Soonyang employee, Hyun-woo is framed for embezzlement and then murdered by his employers. He is reborn as Jin Do-jun, a member of his murderers’ family.
Living in his new life, Do-jun tries to get revenge on the family that killed him in his previous life.
Reborn Rich Ending Explained
Does Reborn Rich Have a Happy Ending?
Reborn Rich has a bittersweet ending.
Do-jun dies just before he is officially inaugurated as chairman of Soonyang by the shareholders and before he can reconcile with Min-young.
But he returns as Hyun-woo and completes his revenge, dismantling the Jin family’s power over Soonyang.
What Happened to Do-jun?
Do-Jun makes a 700-million-won donation (his entire inheritance) turning public sentiment in favour of Soonyang and is then chosen to be the Chairman of the Soonyang by the shareholders.
Before his inauguration ceremony as Soonyang chairman, Do-jun gets in a car accident and dies when a truck hits his car from behind.
The last person Do-jun sees before he dies is Hyun-woo, who is the driver whose vehicle blocked the road which allowed the other truck to crash into his car and kill him.
READ: Anna Ending Explained
Who Killed Do-jun?
The person responsible for Do-jun’s death is Jin Young-ki.
Young-ki ordered Hyun-woo to drive the truck that blocked Do-jun’s car allowing another truck to crash into it and kill Do-Jun.
What Happened to Hyun-woo?
After Do-jun dies in a car accident, he wakes up twenty years later as Hyun-woo in a hospital after surviving a Soonyang assassination attempt in Istanbul.
Hyun-woo was saved when Min-young witnessed him being shot and got him to the hospital in time.
During Sung-joon’s trial, Hyun-woo reveals that to silence Hyun-woo about his role in Do-jun’s murder, he was offered a position at the head office and became Soonyang’s loyal dog.
At the end of Reborn Rich, Hyun-woo is working at Miracle Investment alongside Se-hyun.
Do Do-jun and Min-young End Up Together?
Do-jun and Min-young do not end up together despite Do-jun telling her they would get married as Do-jun dies in a car accident before they get back together.
But the end of Reborn Rich leaves open the possibility of the two reuniting as Hyun-woo and Min-young in the future.
In the last scene of Reborn Rich, Hyun-woo and Min-young meet at the spot where Do-Jun and Min-young first kissed.
Hyun-woo compliments Min-young’s clothes and appearance and Min-young realizes he spoke the exact words Do-jun spoke to her years ago.
What Happened to Min-young?
Min-young is revealed to be Hyun-woo’s saviour and the reason why he survived being shot by the Soonyang minion in episode 1. Min-young wants Hyun-woo to act as a witness in indicting Young-ki for unlawful succession.
At the end of Reborn Rich, Min-young ditches her all-black Grim Reaper wardrobe as she has successfully obtained justice for Do-jun’s death.
What Happened to Young-ki?
During the hearing, Hyun-woo’s recording reveals that Young-ki was the mastermind behind Do-jun’s death.
At the end of Reborn Rich, Young-ki flatlines and dies at the hospital.
What Happened to Sung-joon?
Sung-joon is questioned at a hearing about his involvement in Hyun-woo’s attempted murder. Sung-joon denies any involvement.
After hearing his father implicate himself in Do-jun’s murder, Sung-joon goes crazy and is dragged away from the hearing/arrested.
What Happened to Hyun-min?
After Sung-joon is arrested, Hyun-min files for divorce.
What Happened to In-seok?
Do-jun’s driver survived the accident that killed Do-jun but in the present suffers from dementia as a result of alcoholism.
In-seok recognizes Do-jun and Hyun-woo are the same person but because of his condition, no one takes anything he says seriously.
What Happened to Do-jun’s parents?
After Do-jun’s death, his mother blamed his father for not protecting Do-jun from his family, and the two separated.
After the truth about Do-jun’s death is revealed, the two reconcile.
What Happened to Se-hyun/Mason?
After Do-jun’s death, Se-hyun left Miracle Investment to live a quiet life and also sold his Soonyang shares 10 years later.
He helps Hyun-woo take down Soonyang and strip the Jin family of their managerial rights.
What Happened to Soonyang?
The public boycotts Soonyang and the Jin family is forced to step down.
The Jin family gives up their managerial rights leaving Soonyang in the hands of a business manager.
Why was Hyun-woo Reborn as Do-jun?
Hyun-woo believes what he experienced was not a case of time travel or possession but penance.
He lived as Do-jun so he could repent for his actions as Hyun-woo.
Reborn Rich Ending Review
What is it with kdramas being unable to wrap up their story in a satisfying way?
Add Reborn Rich to the list of dramas with bad endings. Reborn Rich starts off strong only to completely fizzle out in the end.
Reborn Rich’s ending is particularly frustrating because it feels out of place with almost everything that came before.
If you wanted, you could watch episode 1 and skip to episode 16 without missing a beat. Which should NEVER be the case.
So where did Reborn Rich go wrong?
Hyun-woo Replaces Do-jun as The Hero
Reborn Rich centered Do-jun’s perspective for 14 out of 16 episodes so naturally he was the one I was emotionally invested in.
Every victory, every setback. The relationship with his grandfather was the heart of the drama.
It was all Do-jun, not Hyun-woo.
Caring about Do-jun doesn’t mean I automatically care about Hyun-woo.
Honestly? I stopped caring about Hyun-woo after the first episode.
Hyun-woo’s death was a stepping stone to get to the real story: the Soonyang succession fight.
So when Reborn Rich returned to the present in the finale with Do-jun dead and Hyun-woo the main protagonist, I was disappointed. It made me feel like everything I watched was all for nothing.
I wanted to see Do-jun take over the Soonyang Group with the other members of the Jin family seething over his success.
Soonyang being taken down by a stranger in Hyun-woo is just not the same.
Do-jun was the main character through most of the show but in the end, he was just a plot device for Hyun-woo’s character arc.
The Journey Was About Repentance, not Revenge
I thought Reborn Rich was about revenge.
Hyun-woo died and was reborn as Do-jun, a member of the family responsible for his death. In this new life, Hyun-woo has the opportunity to avenge his death by bringing down the Jin family from the inside through the succession fight.
Do-jun was motivated by anger and revenge.
His mission to avenge Hyun-woo’s death at the hands of Soonyang drove Do-jun and the story.
Or so I thought.
When Reborn Rich ended with Hyun-woo’s talking about how his second life as Do-jun was about repentance, I was annoyed.
I like the idea that Hyun-woo’s entire journey as Do-jun was for repentance. He lived a miserable life as Hyun-woo and in his desperation resulted in the death of another in Do-jun. And instead of going to the police, Hyun-woo hid the evidence and reaped the benefits with a position at Soonyang.
Having Hyun-woo reborn as Do-jun so he can experience first-hand the life he had a hand in ending while trying to repent for his sins?
That’s a good story.
But it’s not the story we watched unfold for 15 episodes.
I don’t buy that Do-jun’s decisions and actions were made because of his desire to repent.
Is it repentance when the person repenting doesn’t even know he’s repenting?
For 15 episodes, Hyun-woo/Do-jun did not remember the circumstances surrounding Do-jun’s death or that he had evidence hidden away implicating the murderer. But of course, he remembers everything just in time for the finale.
How convenient that he had no idea that he was involved in Do-jun’s murder and the cover-up but after waking up from his coma, he remembers everything. But even though he didn’t remember, he was subconsciously repenting for his sins all along!
Give me a break.
If the plan all along was to bring back Hyun-woo (I don’t think it was), it was poorly planned and executed.
Hyun-woo being involved in Do-jun’s murder is a Big Deal and withholding this crucial information from both Do-jun AND the audience and throwing it in at the last minute did a massive disservice to Hyun-woo’s character.
Especially since in the end, it turns out Hyun-woo is our main hero.
If they had revealed that Hyun-woo was complicit in Do-jun’s murder from the start, Reborn Rich could’ve shown him actively repenting in episodes 2-15.
We could’ve seen Do-jun struggle with his identity as he comes to terms with being both the victim and the perpetrator.
We could’ve watched Hyun-woo grapples with the pain and remorse of living with Do-jun’s loved ones. Hyun-woo can then understand what he was complicit in covering up and the pain he caused for selfish reasons.
There is a lot of amazing emotional ground Reborn Rich could’ve covered with Hyun-woo if they wanted to. If the plan from the start was truly to have Hyun-woo as the main hero of the story.
Instead, the last-minute protagonist switch was just a cheap plot twist to move the story along and get the writer their desired ending.
Reborn Rich says Eat The Rich
I think Reborn Rich was always meant to be a criticism of chaebol culture, specifically the inherited managerial rights in South Korea.
The members of the Jin family are portrayed as greedy, corrupt, and manipulative. Most of them lack any real depth. We’re not supposed to root for them.
Reborn Rich demonstrates throughout how the rich have too much power and the systems that uphold their power and allow them to treat the world as their playground need to be dismantled.
In short, Reborn Rich said:
Eat the Rich.
The problem is that the hero of the story, the one going up against the rich Jin family, the lens with which we view everything is…Do-jun, who is a Jin himself.
Yes, he has the soul/memories of Hyun-woo who grew up in poverty but as Do-jun he lived a rich and privileged life for 17 years. His past as Hyun-woo is irrelevant. Do-jun is part of the 1%.
He is not the poor underdog.
We know that Do-jun is Hyun-woo (and vice versa) but on the outside, it’s more of the same.
So, for all intents and purposes, we were all rooting for the rich man.
From this standpoint, it makes no sense for Do-jun to emerge as the head of Soonyang group as he did in the original novel if the drama wants its message to be Eat the Rich.
How can a drama really say “down with the rich” when the one bringing about the downfall of the evil rich is a rich man himself?
Nothing would really change with Do-jun sitting at the top with all the power.
He runs Soonyang, marries Min-yeong, they have children…who inevitably engage in their own succession fight because they’re rich people. The cycle continues.
Do-jun winning and running Soonyang would’ve been emotionally satisfying for us because we’ve been with him through his journey fighting for control of Soonyang. I would’ve been happy seeing him win because I was rooting for him all along.
But with a Do-jun victory, the drama’s message could be interpreted as “if you want to successfully topple a business empire, you need to be a chaebol AND have knowledge of the future. Ordinary people, don’t even bother trying.”
Not very inspiring.
I think it would’ve been a funny yet demoralizing message to the audience. But I can understand why the Reborn Rich team had no interest in putting that out into the world.
Instead, Reborn Rich has Hyun-woo win. Hyun-woo, a “nobody” that comes from poverty and truth topples an empire by standing up and speaking the truth. He emerges as the winner against the Jin family, dismantling their power over Soonyang.
Hyun-woo’s victory offers a much more positive message to the audience:
The chaebol system is not invincible and can be dismantled by the people.
This message would not be possible if Do-jun was the one who emerged victorious.
Killing Do-jun and having Hyun-woo be the one to emerge victorious was the only way to successfully convey this message.
Reborn Rich killed Do-jun and brought back Hyun-woo to be the hero because they prioritized the drama having a positive social message over logic and character development.
As a viewer who cares about characters and relationships first when watching a drama, Reborn Rich is completely unsatisfying. I’m all for art making bold social and political statements when it’s done well. Not when it’s shoehorned in last minute like Reborn Rich did.
What did you all think of Reborn Rich?