Global breakouts: Korean cable hit ‘Reborn Rich’ brings revival genre to mainstream

Welcome to Global Breakouts, Deadline’s brand new strand where we shine a spotlight on TV shows and movies killing it in their local regions. The industry is as globalized as ever but breakout hits are always appearing in pockets of the world and it can be hard to keep track… so we’re going to do the hard work for you. We’re kicking off with a record-breaking buzz revival drama in Korea, the country that introduced the world to Netflix. The squid game But in reality, it has been doing smash-hit shows for decades.

name: Reborn is rich
Country: Korea
intranet: JTBC
For fans of: Netflix’s the darkness Or Christopher Nolan’s the beginning

There has never been a ‘rebirth drama’ on Korean cable before JTBC Reborn is rich And the local audience rarely saw anything like it, but that didn’t stop them from watching this ambitious series on their team.

Launched at the back end of last year and broadcast weekly – a treat in this age of box-set viewing – the 16-parter was adapted from a web novel by local writers Kim Ta-hee and Jang Yoon-jae to critical and audience acclaim. This pair counts Korean Designated survival In their credit.

Starring some famous Korean actors including multi-award winning Song Joong-ki (A human boy turned into a wolf, The innocent man), Reborn is rich Yoon tells the story of Hyun-woo, a loyal high-ranking employee working for the Sonyang Group, a Korean conglomerate, or ‘chaebol’. To cover up a tax evasion scheme, Hyun-woo is betrayed and killed by a Sunyang family member but a twist that partially inspired Netflix’s German hit dark, He wakes up in 1987 to discover that he has been reincarnated into the body of Jin Do-jun, the Sunyang family’s youngest grandson. Using these circumstances to his advantage, he begins his revenge by planning a hostile takeover of the Sonyang Group. The all-star cast also includes Lee Sung-min (golden time) and Shin Hyun-bin (confession).

Rarely have such big-budget bets been taken by Korean networks and producers (The squid game was financed with Netflix money) and the content was new to many, but after reading the 13 volumes that comprise the web novel, director Jung Dae-yoon was confident that it could introduce ‘rebirth drama’ to the public. He personally undertook all 13,300-page volumes in three days.

“The web novel has opened up a wealth of Korean stories with a combination of legend and time travel and reincarnation,” he told Deadline. “The books depicted Korea’s modern and contemporary history and characters in a way that was so alive and dynamic.”

In an era of global recession where the Korean term “lee saeng mang” (literally translated “this life is ruined”) has become part of the everyday lexicon, the concept of rebirth is having a moment, the director believes. “We wanted to be the first to fully introduce Korean audiences to this topic,” he added.

Exec producer Park Sung-eun called the web novel “a masterpiece in the genre of rebirth” that “deeply touches people’s inner longing for a new and successful life.”

JTBC’s in-house production arm Studio Lululala (SLL – formerly JTBC Studios) is going to take a lot of cash to make the TV version, though. Securing Gun Jung-ki as a lead back in 2020 was crucial.

Filming took about a year, coupled with huge investments that were “unparalleled [of SLL’s] According to the director the existing play” and the long marketing campaign. CGI was also an expensive challenge due to the filmmaker’s desire to relentlessly recreate the feel of late 1980s South Korea while maintaining the high values ​​of today’s drama.

Reborn is rich

But what a punt. In an era where achieving double-digit shares overnight is nearly impossible, the show is now second only to JTBC. married world as the most watched Korean cable drama and garnered a huge 26.9% share. It is now available in select territories on Netflix and Disney+ in Korea, as well as on Asian streamer Viu.

Star quality

Director Jung says the content and star quality help appeal to all ages.

Although it is common for modern drama producers to “focus on one target age group”, he points out Rebirth of Rich Ability to attract all age groups as it spotlights the modern and contemporary history of the country.

Directors and EPs must be aware The squid game Breakout is a global success but pressure Korean TV and movies have been killing it locally and globally for years. They are the flagships of other SLL hits such as Netflix drama series hellish, DP And Suriname Series of streamers glory Currently one of the world’s top-rated non-US shows on the platform and starting its second season

There’s more to come, with Netflix last month unveiling its biggest ever Korean slate with 34 TV dramas — including a number from lesser-known genres like Korea romcoms — as well as movies and entertainment shows.

Driven by YouTube’s influence, director Jung foresees the next development as “breaking the boundaries between ordinary people and TV stars” in the country.

“From the whole — of Korean culture [K-pop band] From BTS Minary And parasite, TV dramas and even cuisine — are gaining increasing attention,” he says. “This diversity of Korean content has been accumulating for years and, going forward, global audiences will have more opportunities to access it.”

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