GN Says: We've Got Fantasy Endings for "Reborn Rich"
Updated: Jan 4
There is no question that Reborn Rich was one of the most binge-worthy k-dramas to come out in 2022. The gripping pace of this fantasy-themed chaebol revenge show, plus its intriguing references to real-life events throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, were more than enough to propel the show to the top of the ratings charts.
With Song Joong-ki’s eternally youthful charm as the soul-swapping/time-traveling/revenge-seeking lead, and Lee Sung-min’s daesang-worthy performance as the founder of the powerful Soonyang conglomerate, viewers were more than happy to leave some of the questions over unexplained fantastical elements and plot holes unanswered.
But its final episode – the bane of many great shows – has left many fans fuming and writing their own fantasy endings. We’ve surveyed our gwenchanoonas to see what they thought of how Reborn Rich ended, and found that there are generally three types of viewers:
Those who would completely rewrite the ending
PacaHeol: I would have wanted an ending that sticks more closely to the alternate universe genre.
In my ending, Jin Do-jun (Song Joong-ki as the chaebol’s grandson) survives the car crash because his driver In-seok notices the oncoming truck from the rearview mirror and quickly tells Do-jun to get out – which he does promptly. The truck still crashes into the car, killing In-seok.
After seeing what happened, Yoon Hyeon-woo (Song Joong-ki as the poor chaebol employee) becomes hysterical, but Do-jun puts things together and asks Hyeon-woo why he was there. From there, Do-jun asks Hyeon-woo to call the Soonyang group secretary who ordered him to be there, and they record the whole incriminating conversation.
Do-jun realizes that the route he took as Hyeon-woo from the original timeline (where he kept quiet about the truck accident in order to keep working for Soonyang), and realizes that this inexplicable soul swap/time travel was his way to make amends. He takes Hyeon-woo in as his secretary (ensuring a stable future for his alternate world family), reveals the attempted murder that his uncle planned, and ultimately takes over Soonyang.
Do-jun then systematically works with management specialists and organizational specialists to root out unlawful practices perpetrated by his family. This makes the general public cry out for justice, which leads to the Jin family losing managerial rights. Do-jun, seeing that he had achieved his revenge, leaves his position as chairman of Soonyang and continues to head Miracle Investment.
Maia Kim: The title was literally Reborn Rich so I was hoping to see Hyeon-woo really obtain his revenge as Do-jun. I was totally there for the fantasy aspect of it, with both the soul swap and time travel features. Not the confusing same soul in two bodies, in the same timeline.
For me, Do-jun should have survived the truck accident (if they can make Hyeon-woo survive a gunshot wound to the head and that cliff drop, then why not a car accident?). Do-jun still should have been named chairman of Soonyang, as he and Oh Se-hyeon (Park Hyuk-kwon) had planned, and destroyed the “Korean discount” in the process. And he should have used the accident as further fuel to take down his uncle and cousin. And then because of their actions, Hyeon-woo’s fate would consequently change for the better.
Those who think the ending was fine except for some details
Liam Yeon Kimin: After building up our hatred for the entitled, condescending and greedy Jin family over 15 episodes, the writers of the series, I feel, should have rewarded us viewers with a stronger ending that satisfied our need for justice.
I can accept that Do-jun was really fated to die, and everything that happened in that timeline was still bound to happen. But I’m having a hard time accepting that the only thing the Jin family really lost was their management rights. I wanted to see them embarrassed and stripped of their wealth. I wanted to see some of them in handcuffs on the way to prison.
I would have also wanted Hyeon-woo to take more advantage of the knowledge he has having lived as Do-jun for 17 years. He knew their weaknesses and perhaps where the so-called bodies are buried, and he could have used this to plot a more cunning takedown of the family. And then in the end, he can reveal that it’s actually him – Do-jun – who got his revenge through Hyeon-woo.
PacaHeol: A version of the ending I still would have liked better than the actual one is one where Hyeon-woo wakes in the hospital, confused AF, but still able to muster up enough rationality to actually fact check. Was it all just a dream? But he realizes that some of the events in his “dream” do not fit the facts (harabeoji Jin Yang-cheol’s [Lee Sung-min] death, Soonyang takeover, etc).
He then realizes that he wanted a world that erased his "suffering" (his mom’s death, being poor, giving up law school), but that his dreams showed him that he can’t run away from them. One thing remained constant, though: the three-way car accident.
This makes him scramble to see what he still remembers about Do-jun and his associates, and then works with Miracle Investment to take down the Jin family. The difference is, when asked to join Miracle Investment, he refuses but requests for a scholarship to finish law school. After finishing, he goes to corporate law, with no hints about the past, and no romance.
Seoul-lo: I’ve always been wary of soul-displacements and rebirths in plots. It’s completely fine with me if there’s an actual swap of bodies and souls but it gets iffy when there are two souls in one body (does that count as a possession?) or when the other soul just goes completely away.
It always bothered me that Do-jun got reborn and suddenly found himself as the young Soonyang grandson. Who was inhabiting that body beforehand and where did his soul go? Was it still Do-jun and did he just remember who he was beginning that moment? And if this was so, which soul was in Hyeon-woo’s body? Did Do-jun/Hyeon-woo’s soul split in two?
This whole thing seemed to have been solved with the dreaming/alternate timeline/redemption explanation. And I would have been fine with that. Waking up from a dream is so Alice-in-Wonderland-ish overused, but it actually worked. You dream yourself into a timeline where you get some form of restitution.
But then the writer completely ruined it with that one scene at the end when Hyeon-woo meets prosecutor Seo Min-young (Shin Hyun-been) and she sort of remembers and wonders whether he’s Do-jun from the other timeline. That scene completely unraveled the only possible explanation there could have been for whatever was going on. I hated that bit and wished it hadn’t been implied. It would have been fine if she met him and they both went on their merry ways, one knowing it was a dream, and the other knowing nothing.
Those who were fine with the ending
lousycapitalistheart: I realize I’m in the minority here, but I’m actually satisfied with the way Reborn Rich wrapped up. While I do take issue with the plot holes (especially how Hyeon-woo managed to survive a direct gunshot wound to the head THEN walked around after a week like nothing had happened), I’d already built up so much good will for the drama by that point that it wasn’t enough to ruin the whole series for me.
It probably helps that I’m not a stickler for the rules of time travel or body/soul swap stories, and that I never expected Jin Do-jun to live to 2018. Reborn Rich started out as underdog Hyeon-woo’s story, so it’s enough for me that he was able to set things right and change his own fate.
UzumaKushina: Hyeon-woo waking up from a dream was a disappointing plot device for me. However, I forgave writer-nim because of the astonishing scene where he crosses paths — coming full circle — with his alter-ego, Do-