“Reborn Rich,” the smash hit drama that further cemented Song Joong Ki’s position as one of the Hallyu wave’s most bankable stars, is not without its flaws. The flaw was that the emotional journey of our protagonist took a backseat to a more ambitious one. But we cannot deny that this is what has given the script it’s crisp quality and consistent pace, which are our favorite things in any piece of content. But one thing that “Reborn Rich” gets full points for is its attention to detail. It is not just about how they expertly incorporate the elements of history with their due relevance into the storyline but also how they intertwine the lives of Do Jun and Hyeon Woo. It is very subtle, the way they did it, that it is possible to believe that even the character of Do Jun wasn’t aware of how his or his family’s actions were affecting him in his previous life. As we can see, both Hyeon Woo and Do Jun were similar in age but grew under vastly different circumstances. In fact, everything that had been suffered by Hyeon Woo and his family was Do Jun’s motivation in his current life. But there was more to their connection than just this. It probably first arose with the death of Hyeon Woo’s mother. She had invested in Soonyang Life Sciences, and the manipulation of that company without regard for small-time investors was what caused her death. Do Jun was aware of this, and he tried his best to prevent it by saving the company. However, he found that he could not change fate. This was their first connection. It was also around this time that Hyeon Woo’s father lost his job at Ahjin Motors.
The knowledge of that made Ahjin Motors a crucial part of Do Jun’s plans. He was trying to protect his parents and the innocence of his previous life. But alas, that was not to happen. Do Jun’s family probably did not know this, but their power plays were affecting many people like Hyeon Woo’s family. Sadly, privilege makes one blind to the misfortune of others. Everything the Jin family did—their carelessness, their irresponsibility, and in some cases, like with Jin Yang Cheol, their disdain for the workers—meant that their actions came with callousness. They cared about no one but themselves, and people like Hyeon Woo paid the price. As Do Jun says to his aunt, “poverty comes with compound interest.” Which was probably the third point of intersection between his two lives. Hwa Young had bet carelessly on the stock market with the funds from Soonyang. She wanted three months to repay it all and blamed the protesters for not having the patience. Do Jun tells her that three months might be inconsequential for her, but for a family with literally nothing, it could mean the difference between life and death. She doesn’t understand it, of course, but Do Jun is moved to angry tears when he is leaving her office as he remembers how his family had suffered due to such actions.
It is funny sometimes when Do Jun is dismissed by others for coming from a privileged background. Of course, nobody knows who he really is, but even in this life, it must be acknowledged that he was very close to not having any privilege, or at least less than what he had then. His father had been ostracized by the family for marrying against their wishes. The lunch they had been called to, which we saw in the first two episodes of “Reborn Rich,” was a gesture of goodwill from Do Jun’s grandmother, just so that she could appear fair and just. Had Do Jun not used his knowledge of the future to predict Roh Tae Woo’s presidency, his parents would not have been reintegrated into the main family. He would have grown up as part of a regular upper-middle-class family. Don’t get us wrong; even that is a lot of privilege, but it comes nowhere close to what it means to be a part of the family that supposedly runs the Korean economy. But that did not matter. Do Jun was extremely aware of the injustices inflicted on him as Hyeon Woo due to Soonyang, and that was the fire inside his soul. This reminds us of another blow he suffered due to them: the Soonyang Card. Hyeon Woo’s brother was in the hospital, and they had no money to get him discharged. He had called everyone he knew for a loan, but without results. It was at this time that his father had arranged for the money with a credit card. Hyeon Woo had been angry with him because he felt that this was just a trap that would push them deeper into poverty. He had been right, but what else could they do at that time? A few unwise decisions by the rich caused people like them to spiral even deeper into poverty. It is an endless cycle that requires one to pay a heavy price to get out of.
Probably the biggest connection between his two lives was Seo Min Young. She was the woman Do Jun had loved. For the longest time, he kept his feelings to himself because he wasn’t aware of where his mission would lead him, but when he finally got together with her and told her that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, his life as Do Jun ended. When he met her again as Hyeon Woo, he knew she was still grieving for him. After everything was said and done and he got what he wanted, he could have taken the step to start a new life with her. But he didn’t. It was almost as if he did not think himself worthy of her, as he had once said. Their story could have been truly beautiful for both of them, but there is something to be said about not wanting to project the fatigue of two lifetimes onto the person you love. Maybe that is what stopped Hyeon Woo.
A final connection between them, the one that “Reborn Rich” Season 1 actually stressed on, is the manner of Do Jun’s death. It was Hyeon Woo’s negligence, orchestrated by Jin Young Ki, that caused it to happen. Hyeon Woo believed that this was what had caused fate to play the game of two lives with him, not knowing that it went deeper than that. Hyeon Woo and Do Jun’s lives were linked beyond serendipity; it was deliberate and one of the more tragicomic plays of fate that seem to have a larger purpose, but in hindsight, could have just been avoided had it been kinder. Either way, as the audience, we have received a great story, and for that, we are thankful.