Drama Reactions & Reviews
Birth of the Rich’s childish plot has viewers frustrated
by | March 14, 2010 | 60 Comments

KBS’s current Monday-Tuesday offering is the drama Birth of the Rich, which has so far aired four episodes of its planned 16. Ratings-wise, it’s in last place but holding steady with 11-%12% ratings. It’s not a fantastic number, but it’s not terrible.

However, reviews are starting to turn harsh; the first episode had elicited tentatively positive comments about its fresh tone, but now with four episodes aired, a lot of scorn is being dished out. Unfortunately I can’t weigh in too much (I saw one episode and thought it was average, and have neither the time nor inclination to continue), but I came across a number of reviews that might be of interest to curious folks out there.

Alas, the prognosis isn’t good. The most common complaint is that the drama is childish and the acting spotty. While the men are generally accepted as holding their own (Ji Hyun-woo and Nam Goong-min), the ladies (Lee Bo-young and Lee Shi-young) are not so lucky, and have been criticized for their unsteady performances.

Despite the fact that the drama is clearly about money, viewers are irritated that there’s TOO much emphasis on money. On top of that, viewers point to the forced plot and cartoonish scenes as big detractors. But what I find curious is that there’s a notable lack of response countering the criticism.

Here’s one review from My Daily:

“With a trite topic like birth secrets… every situation is overrun with irrational setups. It’s like a grade-school drama written with a grade-school imagination.” “Do they mean for all the necklace episodes to be interesting?” “It’s ridiculous that they’re still making this 20th-century-style drama as a current Monday-Tuesday miniseries.”

Viewers are eyeing KBS’s Birth of the Rich, which premiered on March 1, with cold gazes.

Rather than words of encouragement, the Birth of the Rich message boards are full of words of criticism for the PD and writer. The problem is, producers can’t easily counter these viewers’ comments. The weaknesses are revealed in the drama and have to be acknowledged.

The area drawing the most attention is the issue of Seok-bong (Ji Hyun-woo) showing the necklace to the man who doesn’t know that he may be his father, Chairman Lee (Yoon Joo-sang). The pendant is the drama’s most important linking element and of course it can’t be brought out suddenly in the beginning, but the show isn’t able to smoothly stir up conflict through the necklace.

Seok-bong was given the necklace — his father’s — by his mother, who had a fateful one-night stand with a rich man who promised to come for her. Clearly that didn’t happen, and therefore the man never found out that the woman had become pregnant and bore his son.

Seok-bong’s primary goal, then, is to gain access to the chairman so he can show him the necklace. When Seok-bong goes to Chairman Lee’s home, he finds a seal bearing the exact same icon that is imprinted upon the pendant, but through misunderstanding, he is kicked out of the house. He then camps out outside the house and is dragged off by police. He goes through a variety of obstacles and missed opportunities before finally meeting with the chairman.

In the episode that aired on March 9, Seok-bong is just about to take out the necklace to show Chairman Lee, but loses the chance because Lee’s beloved dog falls ill.

The man’s butler bursts in to tell him the news that the dog has collapsed, and Lee rushes out. As another review puts it, “It’s the height of forced and absurd situations to prevent him once again from showing the necklace because a dog suddenly collapsed.”

Afterward, Seok-bong leisurely enters the residence of Korea’s top businessman disguised in black. He trespasses safely to the chairman’s room, and in the end he even blocks the chairman’s mouth [to prevent interruption]. It’s no surprise that this drama ends the episode with him just about to take the pendant out without anyone to stop him.

However, it has been hinted that he has actually lost the necklace, having previously gotten involved in a fight, and this meeting will likely come to nothing. Viewers are getting frustrated with this repetition and the notion that his chaebol birth will be confirmed by the sight of the necklace. And that’s not the only plot point that’s drawing complaints:

In order to get Tae-hee (Lee Shi-young) to overhear Shin-mi (Lee Bo-young) and Seok-bong’s conversation, she plants a bug in a basket of flowers, which Seok-bong discovers and uses to lure her to a false location.

In order to block the release of a video clip of the company’s brand model and her live-in mate, Shin-mi and Seok-bok go on a stakeout. There, they watch a Gag Concert on their cell phones, play along with 1 Night 2 Days‘ “lucky-unlucky” game, and sleep outdoors. It can’t shake off its childish feel.

Aside from this, there’s the problem of Lee Bo-young’s inability to get fully into her character, which has been pointed out from the start. Lee Shi-young’s and Nam Goong-min’s acting feel out of place, too. There are more than just a few problems with Birth of the Rich.

Lately KBS has monopolized viewers’ attentions to such an extent that some have called it a “KBS Renaissance.” Starting with last year’s IRIS and followed by God of Study and Chuno, KBS has had hit after hit, chipping at the morale of the other broadcast stations.

However, Birth of the Rich is in trouble with the ill-will directed at its character of Seok-bong, who boldly declares that he will become rich, and its lazy storyline.

It’s fine for a drama to mix in exaggerated storylines. The problem is when those stories are sewn together with stitching skills that are so lacking.

Via My Daily, OSEN, Newsen


60 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. djes

    I just started watching this out of curiosity. From the 4 lead casts I only like Lee Shinyoung, so I have no expectation whatsoever.
    After watched 2 first episodes, my feeling is …. indifferent. It’s kinda boring and weird, and I don’t really get what they want to talk about. Yes there are too many ridiculous plots, and they’re all annoying to watch. But I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to continue it or not. It’s just like a filler for me before 3 shows that I anticipate will air.

    • 1.1 surya

      i enjoyed this drama but the lead character Ji Hyeon-woo is ugly hard,I dont know why directors in korean drama have a bad taste for men actors but beautiful and sexy lead females lol

      • 1.1.1 Lakshmi

        woah there… haven’t watched this one.. but i have four words for ya.. “queen in-hyun’s man”.. just finished watching it so was looking around for other series with the same male lead.. he is definitely one of the hotter male leads ive seen around!!

  2. Toya

    Honestly, this one is right up there with “A Man Called God”, except at least their first episode was meant to be funny.

  3. okdubu

    completely irrelevant but OH! that’s what bokbulbok meant! literally, 볡, 뢈볡!! lol ty.

  4. Elena

    I watch for Ji Hyun-woo – It’s stupid, but it makes me laugh. It is supposed to be close to, if not slapstick… so I don’t expect too much.

    I will watch Ji Hyun-woo in anything.

    Thanks –

  5. shinhyesungluv

    Nam Goong-min is hot though πŸ˜›

  6. mariabean

    Perhaps, its time that Korea has something similar to that in Hollywood, d Razzie Award- saluting d worst that d Korean film industry has to offer & maybe, this drama will be a good contender for d award πŸ™‚

  7. xiahkixiri

    “Seok-bong is just about to take out the necklace to show Chairman Lee, but loses the chance because Lee’s beloved dog falls ill.”

    LOLOL, this made me laugh. No wonder. It does sound lame as all hell. Other Guy is ridonkulously hot, though, mmmm.

  8. Lucille

    I’ll probably watch till the end, but I agree with the article. This drama is all over the place and it’s hard to like SB because he wants to be rich by finding his father. If he worked hard, became successful, and then found his rich father, I would be on board with him. However, his whole plan is to just sit around and wait for this rich man to come and save him. It’s like a male Cinderella.

    SM is just weird. I don’t understand where she is coming from. I understand her anger about her Mother’s death, but how does that translate into becoming a cynical cheapskate? It doesn’t. This drama is trying really hard to be different and funny and it is falling way short.

  9. saranga

    i am watching this and i like it, to a moderate degree. it was light and comic. very mindless- as a matter of fact, you SHOULD watch it without tuning your brains fully in haha.

    i feel like acting wise, they are doing okay for the most part. i like lee bo young, male lead #2 is a bit softspoken but okay for now. lee shiyoung makes me cringe sometimes- i thought she was a better actress than that. as for ji hyun woo…

    i never liked him. promising, maybe, but there’s something very annoying about his looks. i realize that this is nothing that he can do anything about haha. it’s just me personally. anyway, he got saddled with one of the most annoyingly written characters i have EVER seen….. at first i couldn’t figure out if it was the writing or the actor himself, but i think it’s mainly the writing. maybe a teeny bit of the actor.

    seriously, his character talks about preserving his dignity when he’s getting his ear pulled by his superior, because he was born a chaebol. but later he keeps pestering lee boyoung’s character for a tip. i do realize that later it becomes a pride issue for him in making her tip him, but with the very first incident, did he have to go that far in trying to remind her to tip him- does he have no dignity or pride, if he really believes he was born a chaebol?

    i don’t know. everything about him and the character rubs off on me the wrong way. he’s interesting to watch, but i don’t understand how lee boyoung’s character would, or should, be attracted to a guy like that. my spiel for the day!

  10. 10 yen_nguyen

    I don’t think the problems come from actors/actresses, it’s just because the storyline is not as smooth as necessary.
    The only person I don’t want to see is the second male lead, each time I see him, I want to cut all his front hair (because it’s too long and it’s cover his eyes – is he a celebrity? I believe a typhoon should has short hairdo)
    I’m one of people who think it was interesting (after 2 eps), but if it’ll keep going on like this way (try to show off the necklace but have no necklace then try to find the necklace and try to show off the necklace…) I’ll minus its score.

  11. 11 soluna413

    After I watched the first episode, I was interested enough in this drama to continue with it, but it took a ridiculous turn in ep. 2 and hasn’t been able to pull itself back up. I enjoyed Ji Hyun Woo’s performance in his last drama Invincible Lee Pyeong Gang so I was excited to watch this before it aired, but it’s been steadily going downhill with each episode so I’m giving it one last chance and watching this week’s eps. If they’re as bad as the last three have been, I’m ready to give up altogether.

    Poor, poor Ji Hyun Woo. =(

    And I agree with a few of the ladies who’ve commented above me, Nam Goong Min is drop dead gorgeous. I wish he hadn’t lost so much weight ‘cuz he looked even better before, but he’s serving as major eye candy. πŸ˜€

  12. 12 Dahlia

    Huh? I liked the drama! :/

    Yeah I don’t understand why Nam Goong Min has such a low profile considering he’s so suave! I’ve liked him ever since One Fine Day with Sung Yuri. His acting’s not impressive, but at least he’s natural and his role doesn’t really require much.

    I understand why critics might find the plot a bit crazy and childish, but personally, it entertains! At least, I’m enjoying it thus far. If they drag the birth mystery for another say, 2 more episodes with no other interesting developments, my interest might wane.. but so far, im eagerly awaiting the next episode πŸ™‚

  13. 13 lenrasoon

    i saw the second episode and i’m not really liking where the story is going, the plot is messy and the characters are annoying. I’ll continue to watch it simply because of Ji Hyun Woo (i looved him on “Invincible Lee Pyung Kang”) but i don’t really know how far i can take if i don’t like at least the lead characters.

  14. 14 deeta

    Ji Hyunwoo needs to find a better management company and eyes for good scripts. I like him, but none of his works so far have been exciting enough for me.

  15. 15 javabeans

    Agreed. He keeps picking slapstick comedy, and while he has comedic skills, the only time I really liked him was in My Sweet Seoul. He was really sweet there, and without any comic gags.

  16. 16 Lucille

    Okay, I am officially slow. I just noticed that Tae-hee is the girl from BBF and SM assistant is Kim Mimi from Surgeon Bong Dal Hee. I loved both of the ladies in their previous dramas. I hope this one gets better for them.

  17. 17 thirddyfrk

    I start to watch this because the two male leads are some of my favorite actors. I stopped at the 2nd episode and I just can’t seem to watch the next.
    The plot sounded good but the writing is so horrible, the comedy is over the top stupid to be annoying – not funny, and I feel no sympathy or like for any of the characters. I haven’t had a drama I disliked since Iris, but I think this beats it.
    I am sticking with Definitely Neighbors and Good Day for the Wind to Blow. Both which have better writing and are a lot funnier than this junk.

  18. 18 ...[email protected]

    yeah is all over the place but somehow i like it i probably finish this drama.

  19. 19 eclipse

    10 yen_nguyen

    lol ….That`s also my reaction when i saw the second lead man!! I hope KBS able to fix this drama to the right path…it`s a shame when their previous dramas are good ones…

  20. 20 paprika

    @16 Lucille: I believe it was New Heart, not Surgeon Bong Dalhee. heh

  21. 21 pabo ceo reom

    KBS first fail of the year?

    I do like Ji Hyun-woo but this drama needs a lot of help.

  22. 22 Eleven11

    Just on a side note, has anyone else been cracking up at the Photoshop job in the top image? The woman ‘sitting’ on the top of the scooter… I’m sorry, but they could at least have added a bit of shadow underneath her? Sorry if this seems like a stupid thing to be commenting on, but it made me giggle =p

  23. 23 Lucille

    @20 Paprika, You are correct. It is New Heart. LOL, I don’t know what I was thinking. I thought both of those drama’s were great and I guess I mixed them up in my head. Thanks!

  24. 24 helen

    i like it who cares about critics they are so boring besides its too early to tell if its gonna be good or bad

    btw lee bo young is a good actress just watch her in her other current drama harvest villa which is a very good diffrent type of kdrama but again nobody is watching it

  25. 25 Annie

    i like the few ep…but ep 4 got a little boring. i think we should just watch it without thinking about it too much

  26. 26 ohemgee

    I’m with #4 Elena and #5 shinhyesungluv.

    Totally love Ji Hyun Woo and Nam Goong Min is a hottie. Plus, I kinda like watching a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ahhh mindless entertainment…


  27. 27 Fakeme

    i find it more intersting than dramas about hot young guys falling for plain older women now thats what i call silly

  28. 28 lenrasoon


    after you pointed out i noticed and now i can’t unsee lol

    i can do a better job w/ PS really XD

  29. 29 sjsmn

    i’ll continue watch this drama, I like Ji Hyun-woo . So what little light drama!!!,

  30. 30 Seri

    I quite liked ep 1 so thans for preventing me having a heart attack

    I really HATE the type of things you’ve described and quoted. I’d just break my computer screen shouting “JUST SHOW HIM THE GOD DAMN NECKLACE YOU SHHH&*%$%$%^$^!!”

    I’ll watch the other episodes though just to get my own perspective on how much tom-foolery I can withstand

  31. 31 angel

    its a comic like drama so its normal that everything would be exaggerated another thing the actual plot is that the lead will become rich all by himself so that would be intersting to watch
    its a fun drama

  32. 32 tangoo

    the ratings were so much better for todays episode

  33. 33 whatever0024

    OMG! Nam Goong Min is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous!

  34. 34 sjsmn

    today’s ep 5 is getting better, was so funny

  35. 35 Kelela

    I started, but I think I am going to watch after it is finished. I enjoy Nam Goong-min, but he’s lacking here.

  36. 36 calypso

    I don’t think Ji Hyun Woo is well-suited for comedy. I did like him in Old Miss Diary (the drama series) but then again he played a serious, generic character that just was that…straightforward. On the other hand, Meri, DaeGu could’ve been funnier if a different actor had been cast–and I haven’t really watched any of the other works he’s been in (nothing really grabbed my attention), so I can’t say much about his acting.

    The plot is admittedly airheaded and ridiculously simple, but might the very hilarity of it all be the point? i can’t say elevate it to even say it’s satiric when this sort of stuff is happening: in one issue about trying to win a fashion contract with a designer, they compared two choices: mink coat vs regular coat. regular coat (shinmi’s team) won due to seokbong’s educated dramatic argument that shinmi was more thoughtful since thermolite is warmer and lighter than fur, um LOL?

    i mean the guy keeps showing his necklace to everyone as proof of his heritage and has placed his whole life on finding his supposedly rich conglomerate dad. you knew he had to be delusional from the first few minutes of the first episode. i wonder what more the critics expected?

    I was hoping the Gatsby reference would turn into something more, but w/e.

    p.s. seokbong has breast cancer. and he received money to treat it, but i haven’t seen him go to the hospital since and fear they have forgotten about this issue…

    anyway, I happen to like Lee BoYoung here. i think her acting has improved and I like ShinMi’s character. which is why i’m still watching i think? albeit passively w/o much attachment. (which is kind of nice. i hate the attachment associated with some of the more angsty-melodramatic dramas, and that is why i love HKTTR, SUCH a breath of fresh air).

    i believe viewer ratings will drop with the entrance of the other upcoming dramas. (although i do wonder about the proliferation of older woman-younger male relationships…hmmm is that what women want these days or does it reflect the current dating situation in korea? ) I think Lee ShinMi’s character fulfills that desire for female empowerment while not really breaking any societal standards? she’s pretty, rich, smart, but bookish-chaste/practical-stingy?

    So there’s not much substance to the drama or the characters,and something needs to be done with shriek-y Taehee, but for now i’ll keep watching. watching dramas is like stress-eating for me 0_x.

    BTW I love your site and your insightful posts/reviews!

  37. 37 Jae In

    Believe it or not the rating for episode 5 and 6 is 16.2% and 17.7%. So I think the story really pick up at that episode and keep increasing. So we can not make speculation based on rating. There are several drama gain low rating but still very good storyline just like A Man Story. I did not try to compare any drama to any drama.

  38. 38 tokyojesusfist

    I thought bad writing was just normal for Korean dramas.

  39. 39 ν™κΈΈλ™

    Why is this drama so underrated? I think it’s rather funny to watch, especially the trick with the hair-game, this recurring events of the collapsing dog that prevent the main character to speak with the president,etc. Everything is made to be hilarious, that’s the point of this drama! It wants to make fun of these Cinderella stories With the cool rich Guy and the poor, dept-ridden Girl, replacing them with a stingy chaebol-heir Girl that should just resign and get married according to her fathers wishes and a poor, hard-working Guy with a birth secret AND a terminal disease!
    All those classical Drama-themes are mixed together, and stupidity of interaction between the characters is what makes this drama the one of it’s kind. I’d like to get more in detail,but I don’t want to spoiler you unnecessarily and keep this short so that someone will actually read it πŸ˜›

  40. 40 Amanda

    I really like this show, I think it’s underated. I don’t usually leave comments, and appreciate this website for giving us so much info. I just had to comment to get some balance out there away from the negative:-)

  41. 41 aprilborn

    MY TURN ! I started watching this drama show simply because the other shows I Iike were not yet subbed in English or have licensing issues. Actually , this drama gave me some time off from brain activities -because there is nothing to analyze nor to agonize on . It is simple -but I have a feeling the writers might inject some mind boggling twists here and there later. Just to prove us wrong . Still,the drama had to inject a disease -I thought Kdrmas already tired of this genre for the lead man -who I do not find attractive at all (sorry about that ). The second lead ,like the comment of one , I’d like to comb his hair to one side (not cut -too drastic) and also the style is for the young actors . His role is also too passive -the drama can go on without him . The first lead is quite detached from her role (but maybe that is her interpretation of an arrogant daughter of the owner of the business).The other lead is too frivolous and have unbelievable infatuation with the second lead (he is not attractive and not young nor hot -what is there to like -though I enjoyed watching him with Sung Yuri before).

    As for the necklace…let us see how pivotal it can be for the drama later .

  42. 42 God

    i think this drama is very fun to watch
    the exagerrated situations just make it all the more enjoyable to me
    i havent laughed so much/hard in a VERY long time
    the drama is also pretty unpredictable imo

    my favorite character atm is boo taehee because she is so crazy
    i also like the minor characters, they have a lot of charm

    i am at episode 8 btw, no subs for ep 9 yet
    sorry, i am too lazy to write properly atm hahaha

  43. 43 Ruby

    late! but the show just premiered on KBS World today. thought it was cute for a start πŸ™‚ not sure how ep 2 will be though (apparently not too good, if the other reviews here are anything to go by)

    but 2 things:

    1. the whole ‘phone number written in a book’ thing reminded me very much of the American movie Serendipity, with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. (KB’s character did the same thing in the movie, except the book was ‘Love In the Time of Cholera’.)

    2. am i the only one who thought that Seok Bong’s father (in his younger days) is sooooo fine? i googled him and found out that his name is Son Hyo-Yeong – and further googling revealed that he was previously a member of the boyband g.o.d.! nice. (side note – those pictures of the band waaay back when are pretty funny, esp those of Kim Tae Woo! he looks so much better now!)

    (and @Eleven11 – yes, totally spotted the faux pas with the photoshopping! looks too unreal.)

  44. 44 fara

    gosh..i hear u guys saying bout how bad this drama in ep 2..luckily i didn’t watch it from the start but start from the middle..just by watching from ep 5 makes me want to watch more!it really is a great drama if u watch it till the end..and i’m now want to watch the ep 16!

  45. 45 Ruby

    hehe, have been watching it consistently the last few weeks πŸ™‚ it’s quite cute! my mum and i like watching it together!

  46. 46 Ruby

    still watching it πŸ™‚ and i love seokbong and shinmi together.. there’s something about them being together that sparkles!

  47. 47 joy

    worth watching…funny, interesting, entertaining and relaxing…love the lead casts!

  48. 48 shan

    I really like the show despite all the comments. like i feel relaxed when watching the show. THUMBS UP(:

  49. 49 jazz

    nice one, feel so good drama, LOVE IT!

  50. 50 mauie

    i enjoyed watching the sweetness of shinmi and choi seokbong…i agree with ruby that there is something about them being together that sparkles…hope to see them more on k-drama romance πŸ™‚

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