JTBC's 'Reborn Rich' Becomes This Year's Most-watched Drama | Be Korea-savvy

JTBC’s ‘Reborn Rich’ Becomes This Year’s Most-watched Drama

Scenes from "Reborn Rich" are seen in this composite image provided by Korean cable channel JTBC.

Scenes from “Reborn Rich” are seen in this composite image provided by Korean cable channel JTBC.

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Korea Bizwire)Local cable channel JTBC’s corporate drama “Reborn Rich” has broken past the 20 percent mark to achieve the highest viewership ratings this year with its intriguing revenge plot by a man who is reincarnated into a rich family and achieves success with his future insight.

The drama starring top actor Song Joong-ki began with a 6.1 percent viewership rating on Nov. 18 and continued its upward march to score 21.2 percent with its 11th episode that aired Sunday, according to Nielsen Ratings Korea.

It was the highest rating by a Korean drama series this year, surpassing the previous record by the global hit series “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” which aired on local cable channel ENA and streamed on Netflix in the summer.

The Friday-to-Sunday show, available on Netflix, Disney+ and Rakuten Viki, also topped charts in several Asian countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, over the past week.

Based on the web-based novel by San Kyung and a webtoon of the same Korean title translated as “The Youngest Son of a Chaebol Family,” the fantasy corporate drama follows Yoon Hyun-woo (played by Song), who was loyal to a wealthy family before being murdered and then sought a different life when he’s reborn as Jin Do-joon, the youngest son of the family.

It revolves around South Korea’s family-run conglomerates, called chaebol, mixing news clips from the 1980s and 1990s to blend the fiction with real political and economic events, such as the 1987 Korean jet explosion, the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and past presidential elections.

“Although ‘Reborn Rich’ is a fantasy, it seems like a period drama by featuring well-known events from modern Korean history,” Gong Hee-jung, a drama critic, said. “It allows viewers to predict the plot and compare the scenes with the real events.”

A scene from "Reborn Rich" is seen in this image provided by Korean cable channel JTBC.

A scene from “Reborn Rich” is seen in this image provided by Korean cable channel JTBC.

Reborn as one of the chaebol scions in 1987, Jin Do-joon knows what will come next and gives crucial tips to Jin Yang-chul (played by Lee Seong-min), the founder of Sunyang Group, and draws attention from the iconic business figure.

As Sunyang Group is connected through a complex shareholding structure, the second- and third-generation scions cheat and betray each other to get the much-coveted throne, a typical plot Koreans have watched whenever chaebol conducted father-to-son power transfers in the past.

Some scenes are reminiscent of the famous rivalry between legendary Korean business figures — Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull and Chung Ju-yung, the son of a North Korean peasant who established Hyundai Group.

The Samsung founder broke the traditional Confucian rule of handing over the reins to the eldest son and chose his fourth son, Lee Kun-hee, in 1987, who later developed Samsung into a world leader in high-tech products and dominated the domestic business scene.

So far, the main character, who is reborn as the second son of the founder’s fourth son, successfully executes his ambitious plans to get revenge on the rich family.

Jin Yang-chul, the business mogul, learns that he is going to die from a life-threatening illness in the 12th episode.

Media critics attribute the wide popularity of the chaebol-themed drama to people’s desire to become one of them and enjoy the vested rights in their real lives.

“A sense of relative deprivation is widespread in Korean society due to the widening social inequality,” Koo Jeong-woo, a sociology professor at Sungkyunkwan University, said.

“People seem to feel vicarious satisfaction with a story in which a fictional character easily soars up the social hierarchy and wins victory after victory.”


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