Thanks for enjoying my episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes on New Life Begins [China] (here!).
Today I thought I’d share my episode 1, 2 & 3 notes on Reborn Rich, which is turning out to be way more cracky and engaging than I’d first expected. I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1, 2 & 3 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1. Ooh. This was a very strong opening episode; it’s definitely living up to the hype for me, so far. 🤩
We spend the entire episode in set-up, basically, and by the end of the episode, we are all set with the reborn rich premise.
That means that we inevitably watch Song Joong Ki’s character Hyun Woo go through a heckuva lot, in this episode.
Which means that while it’s admittedly hard to see Hyun Woo suffer so much, and it’s also hard knowing that he’s most definitely going to die, and soon, and in a completely unfair manner 😩, it’s some consolation knowing that his death won’t be the end of his story.
That dichotomy does have a rather unsettling effect on me, overall, because I instinctively want Hyun Woo to survive; that just comes with the territory of rooting for your protagonist, after all. 😅
And, Hyun Woo ticks all the boxes for the hardworking underdog who deserves so much more than he gets, in terms of respect, regard, and opportunity.
Based on what we see this episode, it becomes clear that he works relentlessly at his job, not because he loves it, but because it’s the only path that he sees as being available to him.
We learn that he’s a high school graduate who had lucked out in getting picked for this job of serving the prestigious and powerful Soonyang family.
Where others had dropped out and quit within 3 years, Hyun Woo has stuck it out, by keeping his head down, and his nose to the grind, regardless of what he’s asked to do.
And, a big part of the reason for that, is because he sees himself as the main breadwinner for his family. He sees it as his responsibility to provide for his father and younger brother, and this is the only way that he sees that he can do that effectively.
Because, as a high school graduate, it would be near impossible for him to find another job that pays as well.
Aside from that, I’m quite sure that there’s also a natural desire in him, to do excellent work, based on what we see.
He applies himself even when no one is watching, and he’s set rules for himself, as guidelines to success. And there’s also what he tells Prosecutor Seo, that he recognizes that she’s just trying to do a good job – because that’s what he’s trying to do too.
Putting all of that together, I just can’t help but root for him to succeed, particularly since the folks from Soonyang Group whom he works for, all seem to be horrible, cruel &/or messed up.
On a slightly irreverent tangent, I just had to say that it was really quite weird seeing almost all our characters being aged up by the use of hair and makeup, and all of them speaking and walking slower, in order to bring across this idea that they’re all old.
I’ve definitely seen better efforts at aging up characters. This entire display didn’t ring true or believable to me in any way; it just looked like people role-playing what it might be like to be old, just for the experience. 😅
I rationalize that Show is wise not to blow a lot of budget on advanced aging prosthetics, since there are so many characters to age up, and since it looks like they will play closer to their actual ages for much of the show.
Much wiser to save that money, and spend it elsewhere, it’s true. It’s just.. almost funny to me, how fake all the aging up works out. 😁😅
On a separate but still somewhat irreverent note, I got a bit of a kick out of seeing several unexpected familiar faces among the cast.
For example, when Park Ji Hyun showed up on my screen, together with Kim Nam Hee, all I could think of was, (in Trent’s voice), “SAE-YI, THAT FOX!!,” and then (no longer in Trent’s voice), “Ahhh!! Swordsmannn!!” 😁😁
It was also kinda trippy to see Heo Jung Do, all aged up, when I’d seen him in Heard It Through The Grapevine just a few months ago, during our Group Watch.
All pretty fun, excellent stuff.
Overall, it’s Kim Nam Hee’s turn as Jin Sung Joon, that arguably leaves the biggest impression on me, this episode.
He makes Jin Sung Joon so believably unstable, where his crazy emotional outbursts, verging on the edge of crazy, with the violence to go with, feel as real as his quieter, more stable, earnest moments.
I find Jin Sung Joon a fascinating character.
He’s clearly been under a great deal of pressure, which I’m sure has contributed to his mental instability. Years of having his self-esteem crushed for not being good enough, have turned him into this person who swings wildly between being borderline psychotic, and being hungry for control.
At least, that’s my guess, from what I’ve seen of him so far.
In the beginning of the episode, he tries to denounce his inheritance, not being he hates money, or despises the Soonyang Group.
It seems to me that that’s his way of breaking free from his father’s expectations of him, which he feels he will never be able to fulfill.
Later in the episode, when Dad’s in a coma, Sung Joon decides that he wants to take Soonyang Group in a new direction, one that is wholly different from what it had been before.
That lines up with my theory, that what he craves, is control, most likely because he’s never felt like he’s been in control, over his life.
As for morals, he seems as gray as they come, since he does take up Hyun Woo’s suggestion to retrieve the missing slush funds, not to make things right, but to prevent the funds from being seized by authorities.
This seems like a good time to point out that Hyun Woo is ALSO as gray as they come, since he first suggests to Sung Joon, to find a way to retrieve the 600 million dollars, and then appears to pocket it for himself.
Despite Hyun Woo being morally gray, I can’t help but root for him, and I think that’s because I know how much he’s suffered, and I can also see that the money pressure on him comes from his sense of duty to his family.
And, perhaps he also sees it as his ticket to breaking free from this terrible life, of serving as Soonyang Group’s dog. With that kind of money in the bank, he will never need to work for them again, right?
Plus, it’s not just that the Soonyang family is toxic; the entire company environment is toxic for Hyun Woo, since he’s the object of gossip, and the butt of jokes. That’s no way to live, especially long term.
In the end, it’s a cruel irony, that the person who gets rid of Sung Joon, is none other than the new Assistant Manager, Shin Gyeong Min, who looks up to Hyun Woo so much.
What a brutal twist, that the whole reason Shin Gyeong Min’s standing on the other side of the fence now, is because he’d taken Hyun Woo’s words of advice to heart: to never turn down a request from the Soonyang family; to never ask questions; to never make his own judgment.
I do love how Hyun Woo finds his life restarting as Jin Do Jun, the youngest grandchild of the Soonyang family.
It’s a set-up that feels potentially juicy for development, with Hyun Woo now having his whole life ahead of him, as a young Jin Do Jun, but with all his experience, knowledge and memories intact.
Not only will he be at a huge advantage in setting Jin Do Jun up for success in life, he will also be well-positioned to investigate – and avenge – his own death.
This could be really, really good. *rubs hands*
E2. Well, consider me officially hooked, you guys.
This was another fantastic episode, that had my full and complete attention; I couldn’t tear my eyes away from my screen – and Song Joong Ki wasn’t even on it, except for this episode’s final minutes. 😁
I just feel so engaged and invested in the story that Show is telling; I find myself quite glued to my screen, from the start of the episode to its finish, and that’s a Very Good Sign indeed.
For a start, it did occur to me, between episodes, to wonder what had happened to Jin Do Jun’s original soul, if Hyun Woo had only shown up in Do Jun’s body, as a young boy.
In Show’s synopsis, it’s stated that Hyun Woo gets reborn as Soonyang’s grandson, and I’d assumed that to mean that he would be born as Soonyang’s grandson, like as an infant, literally.
I would have preferred that, in a way, because that wouldn’t beg the question of where Do Jun’s original soul is, now that Hyun Woo’s occupying his body.
But, at the same time, I can appreciate how it would have a better dramatic effect, for Hyun Woo to arrive in Do Jun’s body, just as he’s going to a key event like his grandfather’s 60th birthday celebration.
For now, I’m just mentally filing this away as a necessary plot concession, made in the interest of more impactful storytelling.
Another thing is, Do Jun does say and do some things that feel a little out there, like the way he steps right in front of Chairman Jin and reaches out to touch him, in front of everyone.
That is decidedly kind of weird, but I do think it makes narrative sense, because, in this moment (and for a good while into the episode too), Hyun Woo can’t quite believe that he isn’t in a dream.
And so, I put all his slightly less conventional behavior down to testing his surroundings, to see if it really is a dreamscape, instead of reality.
Plus, it also makes sense that Do Jun gets away with a good amount of stuff, because he’s young, and kids sometimes do inexplicable and bizarre things, just coz they don’t know any better.
(I’m guessing he’s about 8 or 9 at most, judging from the information given, that his parents have been away from the family for 10 years, because the family didn’t approve of their marriage.)
Also, before I talk about the episode proper, I just have to echo everyone else: Kim Kang Hoon is perfectly cast as young Song Joong Ki.
Not only does he look a fair bit like Song Joong Ki, features-wise, Kim Kang Hoon’s mannerisms and way of speaking mirror very well, the way Song Joong Ki plays Hyun Woo.
The way Kim Kang Hoon’s reactions match so well with Song Joong Ki’s voiceovers this episode, is just *chef’s kiss* perfectly perfect.
Really, really well done! 🤩
The other thing that I find very well done, is the entire 1987 world. From hair, to makeup, to clothes and surroundings, everything really pops as one fantastically retro world. I like it.
This entire episode is spent on the journey of Do Jun winning over Chairman Jin, and going from an outcast grandson whom he won’t acknowledge, to his favored grandson, with whom he has private conversations.
This was very, very satisfying to watch.
Where we start off, things look impossibly stacked against Do Jun, with his father completely ignored by his grandfather, so much so that they get literally kicked out of the birthday celebration, for being “beggars.”
Oof. Grandpa Jin is a tough nut to crack, and while that took a tiny bit of getting used to (for some reason, I’d thought that he would have a softer spot for his grandchildren; I was wrong), it makes sense for his character.
He’s built his empire from scratch, and in order to succeed, he’s had to be brutally calculative. It makes sense that this quality would have become ingrained in him, such that it extends to his family members.
And, it makes sense that he would be constantly thinking of the future of his empire, and the kind of hands that would eventually inherit it.
He’s worked so hard to make it what it is today; he can’t afford to pass it into the hands of someone who’s less than capable, after all.
And of course, with the succession in mind, it’s quite natural for all the children and grandchildren to be angling for Grandpa Jin’s favor, in basically everything, at every opportunity.
It’s pretty darn cool, that details from the past, that Show had told us about in episode 1, in the future timeline, actually unfold in real time, in this episode. That doubles the thrill for me as a viewer, because Show had thought to provide the context, in episode 1. Very nice. 🤩
Like how Do Jun witnesses the breaking of the vase this episode, when he’d talked about it, as Hyun Woo, in episode 1.
It would have worked too, if we had only head Hyun Woo remember it in voiceover, while Do Jun witnesses it, but it works even better, because we’ve already heard Hyun Woo discuss it with Sung Joon, in episode 1.
That just goes to show how much thought and groundwork has gone into the plotting of our story, and that gives me a thrill, because I’m thinking that there’s more good stuff like this, in our future.
The other thing that comes to mind, from episode 1, is how Hae In, Do Jun’s mother, talks about an accident involving her son.
We don’t know the details of this, but given that Hyun Woo has no information on Do Jun, my drama senses are pointing to the possibility that that accident had involved Do Jun, and had likely killed him, which is why Hae In talks about wanting her son back, in that scene in episode 1.
That definitely puts an extra layer of tension into the mix, because, even as I delight in watching Do Jun steadily show himself to be worthy of Grandpa Jin’s attention, I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen to him, and when, and whether he’ll be able to avoid it.
Also, it’s kind of mindbendy to think about the possibility that perhaps the “accident” had been engineered, because people were getting jealous of the favor that Do Jun’s getting from Grandpa Jin.
Isn’t that quite a loopy, intriguing sort of thought?
All that said, I am loving the kind of smart, thoughtful yet borderline sassy person Do Jun is turning out to be.
When he finds himself in a spot, he often doesn’t speak immediately, which I feel is wise, because that gives him time to assess the situation, and think about what to say or do next.
But, he’s also very capable of the sass, like when Sung Joon accuses him of being the one to break the vase, Do Jun points his finger right back at Sung Joon, explains that Sung Joon had been trying to steal from Grandpa Jin – and then fishes the loot right out of Sung Joon’s pocket, in front of everyone.
I felt a big stab of satisfaction at this scene, not gonna lie. 😁 Take THAT, Sung Joon!
It’s not all glee and satisfaction, however.
When Do Jun concludes with certainty that he is, indeed in 1987, the first thing he does is hop in a cab, to go see his mom, who, in the present, has passed away.
That wistful, wordless way that Do Jun just looks at her, is just so poignant. I’m sure there’s so much he wishes he could say and do, but he can’t, because in this timeline, he’s someone else’s son.
That look on his face, as he puts that first spoonful of broth in his mouth, makes me think that this must be so precious to him, because it must have been years since he’d tasted his mom’s cooking, and it must have been something he’d thought he could never do again.
And then, when he gets taken away by Hae In, after just that single spoonful of broth, my heart wept for him, because that precious experience has now been taken away from him, even before he could have a second taste. 😭
It’s a small consolation that he at least has that band aid, which Mom gives him quietly, when she sees that he’s got a cut on his forehead.
Afterwards, as he sobs in the car, it feels like such a complicated mix of emotions. There’s wistfulness in there, because he can’t be with his mother, but there’s also a lot of relief, from being able to see her in the flesh, once again.
Augh. If Do Jun hadn’t already had my heart by this point, he would’ve definitely taken my whole heart, with this scene. 😭
And of course, it’s so great to see how Do Jun manages to win Grandpa Jin’s trust and favor, one step at a time.
In particular, I love how he uses his knowledge of the future, but then blends it with logic that meshes with the present, in order to explain his thoughts.
Like how he advises Grandpa Jin to back the 3rd runner in the elections, instead of the front- and second-runner, because he knows who the eventual winner will be, and then uses an explanation from the selection of class president, to back his thoughts.
It’s really quite brilliant, and it shows how smart Do Jun / Hyun Woo is, to be able to blend the two in such a seamlessly believable fashion.
And then, later, I love how Do Jun manages to save Grandpa Jin’s life, by using something that he knows will galvanize Grandpa Jin into changing his flight.
That’s brilliant, because, as we see, no one would believe him anyway, if he tries to go with the real reason he’s trying to get Grandpa Jin off that plane, which is a bomb on board the original flight.
I also love how bold Do Jun is, in negotiating with Grandpa Jin, even though Grandpa Jin has shown himself to be a very stern, demanding sort of personality.
Not only does he decline the cash that Grandpa Jin offers in exchange for his help, he asks for land, which he knows will increase in value over time.
And then, he further negotiates for his family to be welcome on the weekends, along with everyone else, in exchange for an acceptance letter to the prestigious Seoul National University’s School of Law.
Such a small little cool badass, hee. 🤩
As much as I enjoy Kim Kang Hoon as Do Jun, I do very much welcome the time skip, which gives us Song Joong Ki back, because now Do Jun’s accomplished what he’d promised Grandpa Jin; he’s been accepted into SNU’s School of Law.
Even as I marvel at how convincingly Song Joong Ki comes across as a college student, even though he’s actually 38 in real life, I’m chomping at the bit to see more of how Do Jun moves forward, in his new life, which he now accepts as his “new opportunity.”
I’m really curious to learn what this “new opportunity” means to him, and I hope our next episode will shed some light on that.
E3. This was another very solid episode, but I have to confess that, for the first time, I don’t feel 100% on board with at least one thing that Show’s doing – and that is the introduction of the potential loveline between Do Jun and Min Young.
The way Show is playing it, it seem like Hyun Woo had had a liking for Min Young, but we aren’t given any information or.. anything, really, on that. We don’t even have Hyun Woo telling us anything about it, in voiceover.
All we see, is that Do Jun is quite thrilled to see Min Young, in this new life of his, and then takes every opportunity to make a connection with her.
This feels rather unnatural to my eyes, honestly, and I wish Show would give us more context on that, rather than just have us go by the happy look on Do Jun’s face, every time he catches a glimpse of her in his orbit.
So far, this connection between Do Jun and Min Young perplexes and confuses me more than anything else.
And while my wish is that Show not create a loveline where it honestly doesn’t feel needed (well, at the moment, anyway?), the feeling I get, is that Show is going to make this loveline happen, and is quite determined about it, too.
Ah well. Maybe there’s a reason Show needs this loveline to happen, and the reason will become clear later on.
I just.. wish that we had more context, for Do Jun feeling so thrilled to see Min Young.
Actually.. come to think of it, given what we are shown by the tail end of the episode, that Do Jun isn’t quite the Sunshine Boy that he makes himself out to be, perhaps that’s all the context I need?
I have to confess that with Do Jun doing such a fantastic job of winning over Grandpa Jin, I’d kind of forgotten that he might have other, darker, plans than what we see.
I mean, he’s so very convincing at being Grandpa Jin’s Sunshine Boy, that I had it in my head, that his plan was to outshine everyone else, and become the heir to Soonyang, thereby “stealing” Soonyang as revenge.
But, as we see from the way he “steals” Hando Steel from Soonyang via Power Shares, clearly, he has a rather different plan in mind.
It still looks like he wants to be the owner of Soonyang, like Oh Se Hyun says at the end of the episode, but perhaps he wants to do so, by cowing and taming Soonyang, instead of inheriting it..?
I don’t know; clearly, I’m just thinking out loud right now, because I have no real clue as to what Do Jun really plans to do.
Also, while it’s true that Do Jun is hamming it up as Grandpa’s Sunshine Boy, we do get a glimpse of his true heart, when we see him watching over his real mom from afar, at the tail end of this episode.
We see that, at this time, her health is starting to falter, and Do Jun, watching her, is in a great deal of emotional pain, because of it.
He wants to go to her, but can’t, and him knowing that she has limited time left, has got to be the worst combination of things possible. 😭
This is a quick but stark reminder that he’s really Hyun Woo, on the inside, and has a whole other life, filled with people whom he cares about, that he will likely want to avenge – because it was Soonyang that took that away from him.
That’s a very efficient way of pulling us back to Do Jun’s reality, I must say.
One thing I wanted to mention, is Do Jun’s casual way of talking about the future, and the way people just seem to accept it. It’s.. weird?
Like the way Do Jun tells Min Young, so specifically, exactly when and how Seo Taiji will make a comeback, after the announcement of his band’s retirement, and she just.. accepts it as fact, assuming that he has the intel because of Soonyang.
That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, to be honest. 😅 And, he has a habit of dropping these nuggets of information every once in a while, which is a decidedly odd decision.
Back on topic, taking into account where we end the episode, perhaps Do Jun’s involvement with Min Young is a lot more calculated than I’d first thought.
Maybe he feels that she will play an important part in his revenge, and that’s why he’s roping her into his orbit early?
In any case, it looks like Do Jun’s starting to make some interesting moves, thus showing us glimpses of his real plan, and I am very interested to see what happens next! 🤩
*This show is being covered on the VIP Early Access (US$15) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1, 2 & 3 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
Episodes 7, 8 & 9 notes will be out on Thursday, 8 December 2022! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for December, which you can find here!