School bullying has always been a topic of interest for the K-drama industry. I suppose Dramaland was far ahead of its time when it was decided that most villainous characters would be the rich “chaebols,” who then get put in their place while the good, rich “chaebol” takes the girl and the cake all to himself. Sky Castle and Penthouse were Makjang dramas that were global hits, both including the subject of special schools for the rich and how these kids grow up. Bitch And Rich is a mini-series that tries to provide the same sort of adrenaline rush but fails to impress with its surface-level attitude towards the subject. As is common with K-dramas, the show tries to include a comical tone despite dealing with a serious subject, which comes across as being in poor taste. Additionally, it’s a show about school for school kids, and even with 30-minute episodes, it feels a little bit sluggish when it comes to its main plotline and then rushes things in the end. Most importantly, the ambiguous ending of the show makes one wish they hadn’t watched it rather than appreciate the messaging behind it.
What Happens In The Show?
Bitch And Rich revolves around a high schooler named Kim Hye-In, who hails from a middle-class family. She’s desperate for some money to pay for a study abroad course and pretends to be a college student to get a job as a tutor. What’s frustrating is how naive this girl is throughout the series, as she keeps digging a deeper hole for herself, leaving us terribly embarrassed. Kim Hye-In learns quickly that the rich are a completely different species. Her student Na-Yeon is a middle school student who owns bags worth 2000 dollars, and Hye-In can’t help but comment about how it’s something she doesn’t need. However, when Na-Yeon offers to give her one of those bags for free, Hye-In immediately tries to snatch it up because it could pay for her course. Na-Yeon is simply teaching her a lesson and showing her how everybody would like luxurious items if they were handed them. Out of curiosity, Hye-In decides to post a picture to her social media with the bag on, which becomes the talk of her school. This is a luxury that only the upper crust can enjoy. Hye-In loves the attention and pretends she’s rich in front of all her classmates. She goes to Na-Yeon’s house early every day to take more pictures and grow her social media following (I want to bang my head on the wall). Hye-In learns that if she gains 10,000 social media followers, she could get paid for her posts.
This makes her go one step further, and she takes a look at Na-Yeon’s mother’s wardrobe. She gets caught by the housekeeper, who tells her to leave the room before there are any misunderstandings, but Hye-In notices the uniform of the popular Cheongdam International High School. This is a uniform that gets delivered in a limousine, and Hye-In decides to try it on for a laugh. Of course, this is when she gets busted, and Na-Yeon decides to get her to be her errand lady as revenge (this kid is clearly very kind). On the day of Hye-In’s midterms, she gets a call from Na-Yeon, who is crying desperately. She has her interview for the prestigious school; however, she doesn’t have her interview sheet with her. Na-Yeon tells Hye-In to bring it for her, saying she’ll tell her mother about everything from before if she doesn’t. It turns out she was simply pranking Hye-In. This is Hye-In’s last straw, and in the middle of the interview, she throws a bucket of water at Na-Yeon (yikes).
Naturally, the school doesn’t tolerate this behavior, leaving Na-Yeon with no admission despite a hefty donation. Hye-In (realizing her mistake very quickly) decides to have a word with the headmaster of the school to have Na-Yeon admitted. He tells her that that would ruin the school’s reputation, and as a smart kid, she should simply walk away. Desperate, Hye-In decides to wait for him outside of the building to try and convince him once again. This is when things get really nasty, and Hye-In’s ears start ringing when she hears a thud from behind her. She becomes witness to an attempted murder.
The girl who lay crumpled on the floor is a scholarship student, making her disposable to the school. The school simply wants to make it seem like a suicide attempt, but Hye-In has seen the murderer. The headmaster offers her a place at the school, so she’ll keep her mouth shut. She’s a changed woman now and takes up the offer (why?). Now begins the battle between Hye-In, the poor, and Je-Na, the rich. Je-Na is the heiress of a company that seems as big as Samsung in this universe. Hye-In doesn’t know who Je-Na is and even accuses her of stealing. This makes for the worst start of her time in the new school that she’s so desperate to do well in. On the other hand, the chairman’s (headmaster’s) son wants to get close to Hye-In because he knows she’s the only one who witnessed the murder attempt. So will Hye-In be able to escape Je-Na’s clutches?
Why Does Je-Na Hate The Poor?
It turns out that there’s a soft side to the Queen bee of the school too. She’s picking fights in school because her parents are getting divorced. Her father’s been seduced by the English teacher of the school, who is later revealed to be pregnant. Je-Na always talks about how Do-Eon, the chairman’s son, should not turn out like her own mother, who decided to marry a poor man and ended up with nothing but a divorce. In the final of episodes of Bitch And Rich, Je-Na is made to look more innocent than some of the other poor kids. She’s still on her high horse, but she has some remorseful feelings and even helps Hye-In out. The two of them actually get along quite well and would probably end up being good friends in the future.
Who Killed Hae-In?
If only Hye-In didn’t have a similar name to the girl who gets thrown off the building, she could’ve escaped this crazy mess, but alas. Nearing the last episode of Bitch And Rich, we are shown the necklace that Hae-In gave Hye-In when she was trying to call for help. Hye-In never told the police about it, and that was the evidence she kept hidden from the chairman too. It’s revealed somewhere in the middle of the series that Hye-In never saw the face of the person who pushed Hae-In, but she saw a female silhouette. Later, she notices the same necklace on Yul-Hee’s neck and asks Je-Na if it’s expensive. It’s a necklace that is almost impossible to get because of the waiting list. It was revealed earlier that Yul-Hee had lost hers, and her boyfriend Woo-Jin had bought her a new one to celebrate their 5th anniversary. It turns out Hae-In wasn’t as nice a kid as everyone assumed and was blackmailing students, so they would give her money. Although the show tries to make it look like Je-Na could be the only one who could have killed her, it’s actually Yul-Hee who did it after finding out that Hae-In slept with her “fiancé.” It was an accidental shove, but she was probably happy about it.
What’s Oh Shi-Eun’s Deal?
Oh Shi-Eun is an ex Queen bee and present scum of the earth at Cheongdam. She used to be best friends with Je-Na, but she had worse attitude problems than her. Shi-Eun comes across as a total psychopath, as she’s the one who sends Hye-In secret notes, calling her an associate murderer (since she never reported the truth about Hae-In). Shi-Eun wants revenge on Je-Na, who humiliated her in front of the whole school when her father was imprisoned for drug use. Hye-In and Hae-In are simply pawns in her grand scheme. Shi-Eun tells Hye-In to tell the headmaster that it was Je-Na who killed Hae-In, giving her an ultimatum. Earlier, Hye-In was desperate for money, so she asked one of the students for help. He made her take inappropriate pictures in children’s clothing before asking her to change in front of him to get more money. Having no self-respect anymore and desperate to pay Na-Yeon back, Hye-In did it, not realizing she was being recorded. Shi-Eun threatens to reveal the illegal video to the whole school if Je-Na isn’t caught for murder.
Who Killed Shi-Eun?
During Bitch And Rich‘s ending, Shi-Eun is seen waiting for Hye-In on the roof of the building, with just an hour left for Hye-In to finish her task. Hye-In asks her to wait for her at school so they can speak face-to-face and she can strike a new deal. By now, she’s gotten everybody on her side to help her, but to no avail. When she gets to school, it’s a Deja Vu moment when Shi-Eun is the new victim who falls to the ground behind her. This time she’s dead for real, though, as she bleeds from her nose and mouth. Shi-Eun is shown meeting someone on the roof, and she tells them that she is surprised that they were the first to want to talk to her. The first person who comes to mind is Je-Na, because she’s the only one with such animosity toward Shi-Eun. This could also explain the surprise from Shi-Eun, because Je-Na even had a restraining order against her. On the other hand, So-Mang, who is a good friend of Hye-In, had told her that he would sort Shi-Eun out. He’s never seen after that, but this could also be his doing. But this theory doesn’t make sense since he’s never shown signs of being murderous or evil. It is also revealed that Hae-In wakes up in the hospital after Do-Eon asks her why she cheated on him. I suppose the show is simply trying to tell us that things will never change in such a situation and that the gap between the rich and poor will always cause such problems. It’s a terrible ending, according to me, especially because Hye-In has been so hard-working throughout the show despite being so naive that you want to smack her in the face and wake her up sometimes.
A person wearing the luxury shoes that Hye-In physically assaulted Je-Na for in their first meeting walks into the headmaster’s room, presumably to reveal some big news or strike another deal. Hye-In is never seen wearing those shoes again, so could this have been Je-Na telling the headmaster that it was Shi-Eun who plotted the whole thing? Finally, Yul-Hee also forgives Woo-Jin for cheating, because that’s how things were always supposed to be. She was simply happy to have him wrapped around her finger.
Bitch And Rich is a miniseries, and this open ending makes one wonder if the show makers got lazy, despite making a short show with only 30-minute episodes. The show ended up losing any sort of impact it may have had before that by the last 10 minutes, where everything happens so quickly and with no answers. Which theory would you go with, and who do you think killed Shi-Eun?