[Newsmaker] JTBC’s ‘Reborn Rich’ intrigues with intriguing chaebol stories | Bot To News

The photo on the left shows the official poster

The photo on the left shows the official poster of “Reborn Rich” (JDBC, Samsung Electronics)

The recent JTBC TV series “Reborn Rich” was a hit in South Korea. The drama’s famous “reincarnation” fantasy plot is interspersed with real-life stories of chaebol who are admired and hated in South Korea.

Three weeks after the first episode aired on November 18, the latest episode reached 20 percent of its weekend viewership ratings, the only TV drama in Korea to surpass that mark this year. It also ranks high on other popular global streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+.

Yoon Hyun-woo, portrayed by K-drama heartthrob Song Joong-ki, is a loyal secretary in charge of risk management for the owner family of the fictional chaebol Sanyang Group in 2022. Despite his loyalty, Yoon was betrayed. Killed by a family member for knowing too much.

When he wakes up, Yoon reincarnates into the body of Jin Do-joon, the youngest grandson of the Sanyang family. His new life begins as a teenager in 1987, with all of his memories of Yoon from 2022 intact. Using his memories and knowledge of the future, Yoon plots revenge against Sanyang, an industrial giant.

Adapted from a web novel of the same title, “Reborn Rich” draws on some of the iconic stories of chaebol leaders and their vast business empires, as well as the country’s modern history — both domestically and abroad.

The web novel’s original author, who uses the pen name Sangkyung, said he was heavily inspired by top chaebol groups like Samsung and Hyundai Motor when writing the story.

A Samsung official, who did not want to be named, said he and some of his friends who work in major chaebol groups are watching the show closely.

“It’s true that we had some concerns about another chaebol-bashing drama,” a Samsung official said.

“Because the play is loved by so many people, we try to make the show fun.”

Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chul (left) and his son and former group chairman Lee Kun-hee (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chul (left) and his son and former group chairman Lee Kun-hee (Samsung Electronics)

goes global through semiconductors

In the previous episode, when Jin Yang-chul, chairman of Sanyang Group founder and veteran actor Lee Sung-min, decided to buy the semiconductor company against the wishes of his family and aides, it could be seen as a reminder of Samsung Group’s bold bet. 1970s to buy a semiconductor company.

Lee Byung-chul, the late founder and former chairman of Samsung Group, and his son, the late Lee Kun-hee, who succeeded him at the helm, bought Hankook Semiconductor when Samsung could only make watches and black-and-white and simple integrated circuits. – White TVs. But as a close aide of Lee Kun-hee recalled, the former chairman had a keen eye for persuading his father to venture into the semiconductor business, saying that chips would be the “rice” of future industries.

And Lee was right. While still in its infancy, in 1983 Samsung announced the development of 64 kilobits of DRAM. Within 10 years, Samsung became the world’s first to develop 64 megabit DRAM in 1992, beating out its competitors in Japan and the United States. Decades ahead in technology.

Now, the corporation has grown into a global semiconductor powerhouse and market leader in memory chips. Backed by its success in the chip business, Samsung, which started as a trucking company in 1938, expanded its businesses into electronics, smartphones, insurance, hospitals, luxury hotels and shipbuilding.

Late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung (Hyundai Motor Group)

Late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung (Hyundai Motor Group)

Changes the competition in the car market

Another key episode, Sanyang Motor’s acquisition of its biggest rival, was Samsung’s fantasy, whose automotive ambitions never really materialized.

While the Samsung family cemented its leadership in many industries, it suffered a major setback in the auto business when it gave way to Hyundai Motor Group — another Korean empire founded by late founder Chung Joo-yung. – Purchase of Kia Motors in 1998.

In the play, the Sunyang leader shows the mixed heritage of the Lee and Chung families. Like Samsung’s Lee, Jin is portrayed as a car enthusiast who would spend hours hiding in his private garage to study cars made by foreign automakers.

Sunyang Motors’ struggles are prompting Jin, the car market’s tailender, to buy Ajin Motors, the second-largest automaker. Jin’s attempt to save his automobile business in the wake of the Asian financial crisis that hit South Korea in the late 1990s is facing difficulties. Jin eventually succeeds in buying Ajin Motors in the play.

With the dream of owning his own brand of cars, Samsung Lee also started Samsung Motors in 1995. But after a gap of four years, the automaker had to go to court. Samsung sold its automotive business to France’s Renault Group in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

While the car sector marks a bitter loss for Samsung, Hyundai Motor Group has grown to become the country’s No. 1 automaker, dominating more than 80 percent of the domestic market after its takeover of Kia.

The official poster of the JTBC drama

Official poster of JTBC drama “Reborn Rich” starring Song Joong-ki (JTBC)

Appreciation and hatred

It is still unknown whether Jin Do-joon or Yoon Hyun-woo will win the revenge against the Sunyang family. The play is the familiar David Vs. Goliath takes over the plot, and the meek and naive David learns how the future unfolds.

Critics described how this kind of plot development gives the audience a “perverse satisfaction”.

They point to examples such as when young Jin Do-joon advises his father to invest in the film Titanic to Korea, or when Jin chooses the “useless” plot of land in Bundang in Gyeonggi Province as a reward from his grandfather. The audience is satisfied because they already know how Titanic becomes one of the biggest movies of all time and how the Bundang area rises in value after it is selected as a government urban redevelopment project.

“What’s special about this drama is how it infuses South Korea’s modern history into the plot. It uses all the real events that happened and the youngest grandson uses it to get rich,” culture critic Jung Duk-hyun told The Korea Herald.

Experts also point to the public’s great interest in chaebol as one of the reasons behind the drama’s popularity.

“The public is very interested in chaebol, which is a very important socioeconomic factor in South Korean society. It is no exaggeration to say that the history of chaebol mirrors the modern history of Korea,” culture critic Ha Jae-kyun told The Korea Herald.

Because they dominate the South Korean economy, chaebol are considered to have extraordinary influence in Korean society. Even now, the top 10 chaebol-owned conglomerates, including Samsung and Hyundai Motor Group, account for more than half of the country’s gross domestic product. Samsung accounts for more than 14 percent of South Korea’s GDP.

Familiar problems plaguing the chaebol system and families become an interesting draw for viewers — the chaebol’s strong ties to the government and media, intense family feuds over ownership and the first-son-only succession plan.

“The public’s perspective on chaebol is very mixed, with both admiration and anger,” Jung added.

Sankyung, the author of the original web novel in the mid-50s, when asked why they have an almost borderline obsession with chaebol types, replied, “Not only humans, but also animals form a hierarchy in their society. How airline tickets are divided — classes such as first class, business class and economy class are inherently different.

“There are people who want to break free from class, but there are still many who want to take advantage (of the system). …I realized this when the character Jin Yang-chul, who can be a villain, was liked by many viewers. People want a leader who dominates them.

By Joe Herim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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