What do you get when you mix a brilliant tech company CEO with a humble college student?…. the romantic business drama Rich Man, Poor Woman.
Next In is the fastest growing tech company in South Korea, in fact, it’s worth 80 times more than when it was listed on the stock exchange three years ago. Its market capitalization is two trillion won. No wonder it’s the number one company college students wish to work for, producing sales of over ten billion won a week! Ten years ago Lee Yoo-Chan and Min Tae-Joo founded a tiny company they called Next In (short for Next Innovation). The goal was to become the world’s leading tech company and with Yoo-Chan as the CEO and Tae-Joo in the position of Vice President, they are well on their way. In 2011 the company started with online games, then launched a social network two years later. Next In is the fastest growing tech company in South Korea and now brilliant Yoo-Chan is ready to bring his dream to the world – Big File, which will allow regular citizens to interface their lives with government information. It will be an uphill climb to get backing from the Ministry of Science, Information, Communication and Technology but CEO Lee doesn’t believe in failure and with his buddy and business partner, Vice President Min, at his side it looks like it will be smooth sailing. However, when Next In leaks over a million people’s personal information to the world, it is in serious trouble and may have to close its doors forever.
Lee Yoo-Chan is a phenomenal computer programmer and the CEO of the tech company Next In. He sincerely believes that if he can dream it, he can build it and he has yet to be proven wrong. This 29 year old man’s personal net worth is 300 billion won and if you converted the company’s profits to an hourly rate he earns 100 million won an hour! But he hasn’t always been rich. When this self-made billionaire was a young boy his mother left him and he was raised in an orphanage. He has suffered with Prosopagnosia, a severe deficit in being able to recognize people by their face, ever since he can remember so his employees announce themselves whenever they come in contact with him. His best friend is Min Tae-Joo, his business partner, the man who has always believed in him and has had his back from the moment they met 10 years ago. Yoo-Chan’s girlfriend, Kim Boon-Hong, disappeared long ago and all his efforts to find her have been in vain. Then one day, when asked her name, a frustrated job applicant happens to blurt out – Kim Boon Hong!
Kim Bo-Ra was born and raised in a small town by the ocean but now lives with her friend in Seoul, attending college, having no idea what she wants to do with her life but longing to work for a big company. Her GPA is 4.0, she memorized the entire English dictionary, and got a score of 970 on the TOEIC. As luck would have it she meets Min Tae-Joo and he encourages her to apply for a job at Next In, although he doesn’t mention the fact that he’s that particular company’s Vice President. Armed with a photographic memory as her special talent, Bo-Ra decides to take the kind stranger’s advice and join a host of other young people who are applying for a job at Next In.
Although Min Tae-Joo is the son of a wealthy tech company owner he has a strained relationship with his father and has all but turned his back on everything having to do with the man and the family business. When Yoo-Chan’s idea was turned down by the Min family tech company, Tae-Joo saw something in him others didn’t and immediately left everything behind to follow Yoo-Chan, becoming the co-founder of Next In and as the Vice President he has pretty much single-handedly run the business end of the fast growing company. Tae-Joo is warm, kind, soft-spoken, and the only friend Yoo-Chan has. Although he doesn’t need glasses to see he wears them (without lenses) solely for the purpose of Yoo-Chan being able to recognize him. He was charmed by Bo-Ra’s darling personality the minute he met her.
Unlike her older brother Tae-Joo, Tae-Ra still has a decent relationship with her father. He set her up with her own art museum which she opened in the Next In building just so she could be closer to Yoo-Chan. She met him several years ago, through her brother, and now wants to try and build a romantic relationship with him. Tae-Ra is a decent, kind woman who enjoys art but doesn’t really feel passionate about running her own museum. Bo-Ra refers to her as “a goddess.”
In 2006, at the age of 16, Kim Jun-Myeon was discovered, literally on the street, by a SM Entertainment casting manager and six years later he was officially introduced as Sunho (which means guardian), the leader and 10th member of the boy group EXO. He has always performed well academically, earning the position of class president in elementary school and student body vice-chairman, and he graduated from the prestigious Whimoon High School. He enrolled at Korea National University of Arts but later left to attend Kyung Hee Cyber University (an online university) in which he was a student of the Cultural and Arts Department of Business Administration. Aside from singing, his musical talents include being a co-song writer with Jang Jae-In. His acting career started in 2007 with a cameo in the Super Junior film Attack on the Pin-Up Boys and has extended to TV and the stage. He even narrated the documentary Korea From Above along side EXO member Xiumin. Sunho plays the part of “rich man” Lee Yoo-Chan in this drama.
In 2013 Ha Yeon-Soo (born Yoo Yeon-Soo), who plays the part of Kim Bo-Ra, began her acting career with the movie Very Ordinary Couple of which she was nominated for a Best New Actress award, and the TV drama Monstar for which she won the 20’s Booming Star – Female award. She also sang five songs on the Monstar soundtrack.
Oh Chang-Suk, whose character is Min Tae-Joo, began his entertainment career with the 2007 movie May 18 and the following year he moved to television, acting in the drama Worlds Within. His role in the 2012 drama Love, My Love won him his first acting award and he followed that up the next year with a Best New Actor award for his role in the drama Princess Aurora. Rich Man, Poor Woman was my first time seeing Chang-Suk and I thought he played Min Tae-Joo perfectly.
I’m very familiar with Kim Ye-Won, who plays Min Tae-Ra, having seen her in eight dramas before this one but I remember her best in Operation Proposal. She’s been in films, on TV, and in musical theater. Although she is very good in this drama I don’t think her stage presence is wow enough to be the heiress of a humongous, very successful company. But that’s just my opinion.
Although I didn’t love the show, it was entertaining and flowed well. The thing that stood out to me right from the beginning was the buddy/brother/partner relationship between Yoo-Chan and Tae-Joo. It reminded me a lot of the one Jae-Ha and Phillip have in Spring Waltz. Yoo-Chan dreams up, designs, and builds the products while Tae-Joo runs the business from behind the scenes. Their love for one another and desire for success is synergistic and that’s what made Next In such a tremendous force to be reckoned with in the tech industry.
In all honesty, Yoo-Chan’s personality is a little too arrogant for my liking. I don’t think he saw himself as conceited or even realized that’s how he came across to those around him, so that helped me to not dislike him. He is who he is and although that may rub some people the wrong way, it’s definitely not a cognizant arrogance on his part – very much like Kim Joo-Won in Secret Garden. Both of those men go through some major character growth without changing who they really are.
I can’t go into details with this paragraph but once you finish watching the show you’ll understand what I’m referring to. I want to go on record as saying that although I did not in any way condone Tae-Joo’s actions I certainly understood where he was coming from. In a very small way I’ve been in his position a few times, professionally, and it made me want to scream so, yes, I did have some sympathy for him.
In my opinion, Rich Man, Poor Woman is less of a romance and more of a bromance. Although Bo-Ra likes Yoo-Chan right away, it takes most of the show for him to even come to the realization that his feelings for her are receptacle. However, the friendship Yoo-Chan and Tae-Joo share spans the entire length of the show. We are 100% positive those men will remain pals the rest of their lives. The show really is about understanding, forgiveness, and repentance.
It’s not hard to make a connection between the fictional company Next In and the real company Facebook. Both were founded by friends, both are huge social media/tech companies, both have a very young, male CEO, both went through a privacy leak scandal, both are the company every college kid would love to work for, and both have a laid back working atmosphere. There are quite a few similarities in the two companies.
Rich Man, Poor Woman happens to be the South Korean adaptation of the 2012 Japanese drama of the same name.
The most often played song in this drama is Hard for Me, sung by CHEEZE and Do Young of NCT. They don’t sing it together, though. You know how in Secret Garden there’s a male version and a female version of the same song (This Man and This Woman)? Well, Hard for Me is like that – a male version and a female version of the same song. It’s played a lot and, thankfully, it’s good enough that it never becomes redundant. In fact, I found myself humming it in the shower one morning. There’s a soft rock song entitled Let’s Pray, performed by Kei of the eight member girl group Lovelyz, that has a great electric guitar in it. Those of you who enjoy songs with beautiful harmony will definitely appreciate Do U sung by Monogram. I give Rich Man, Poor Woman’s soundtrack a respectable score of 8 out of 10.
Most of the drama is filmed in the big city of Seoul, with only a bit of it being shot in Bo-Ra’s small hometown by the sea. The Next In office building is awesome! I’d love to work there. I went on a tour of the Facebook campuses in Menlo Park California and Seattle Washington and Next In was definitely patterned after that company’s offices.
I can’t, in all good conscience, tell you this show is a fantastic drama but it is entertaining and worth the 16 hours you’ll spend watching it. Put it on your list and check it out someday. I liked it.
I think one of the best take-aways from Rich Man, Poor Woman is –
“… life is a process of dreaming. It isn’t important what your dreams are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re not able to make those dreams come true. The important thing is: are you dreaming right now?”
A light drama
Good character growth
No “oops” (that I caught)
Nothing really special that stands out