Jae-i In ‘Hierarchy’ Explained: Did She Find Her Mother?

In the Netflix series Hierarchy, we see how students at Jooshin High School suffer from class divisions based on their family status. Here we often see how rich kids are bound to be snobbish, full of attitude, and think they are better than everyone else. As they belong to rich families, they get special treatment from both students and teachers. They are taken care of, protected, and even respected more than the teachers themselves. This is a pretty common practice, and everyone, from rich kids to scholarship students, is used to it. However, not all rich kids proudly wear the tag of being school royalty. Some are just tired of all the consequences that come with this status. There’s too much responsibility and an uncalled-for attitude they have to carry. Because of this reason, these kids often forget how to lead a normal life. A perfect example of this is Jeong Jae-i, the daughter of the prestigious Jaeyul Group’s owner. Jae-i was weighed down by the expectations and responsibilities that came with her family’s legacy. So, what happened to Jae-i in Hierarchy‘s ending? Let’s find out.


Spoilers Ahead

Why did Jeong Jae-i break up with Kim Ri-An? 

Jae-i had been dating Ri-an since they were fifteen. Jae-i and Ri-an had known each other since they were six years old, and they had been friends for years before they got romantically involved. When Jae-i and Ri-an first got together, they were so innocent that they didn’t understand the importance of their families’ pride and titles or how it could affect their relationship. Jae-i was the daughter of the Jaeyul Group’s owner, while Ri-an was the son of the Jooshin Group’s owner. These two families had a longstanding rivalry. Because of this, Jae-i and Ri-an kept their relationship a secret. As they got older, they realized that every move they made could have serious consequences. The pressure and expectations from her family weighed heavily on Jae-i. She forgot how to live and smile, always pretending to be okay while suffering inside.


The only relief in her chaotic life was spending time with Ri-an. Jeong Jae-i and Kim Ri-an’s relationship faced serious trouble when she found out she was pregnant with his child. Being so young and expecting his baby, she feared it would drive Ri-an away. She couldn’t risk losing him, so she went to the United States from Korea all by herself to get an abortion. Jae-i didn’t want to tell Ri-an about the pregnancy, but somehow the news got leaked. Ju Won, the principal’s son, found out from an anonymous source and threatened her, saying he would expose the news. He even had a secret video of their private moments, which could bring shame to both her family and Ri-an’s. Jae-i was deeply in love with Ri-an and couldn’t bear the thought of humiliating him or causing him any trouble. So, after returning home from the States, she broke up with him, thinking it was the best decision. She just couldn’t bear to harm someone else because of her situation. Even if it meant pushing away the person she loved most, she was strong-willed enough to do it.

Why did Jeong Jae-i make friends with Kang Ha? 

Jeong Jae-i always lived a sheltered life. Where her family status made her the center of attention, she tried to keep it to herself because she knew revealing too much could cost her everything. She hung out with rich friends and never really experienced the joy of the simple things in life. But when she got to know Kang Ha, she started to change. Jae-i realized she could enjoy the little things, like getting ice cream from the streets or dancing in the rain. She trusted him more than anyone else, and soon they became friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend. Turning Kang Ha into her boyfriend was her way of pushing Kim Ri-an away. Jae-i knew she had to keep him at a distance, even though she didn’t want to. For the first time in a long while, talking to Kang Ha made her feel safe, just like when she’d befriended another scholarship kid, In-Han, who later got killed because of bullying and humiliation in school. But the sad part was that she didn’t know Kang Ha was his brother, and she was being used all by him in his quest for revenge. Jae-i realized she always ended up being used by others. First, someone threatened her with exposing her secrets, and now someone she thought was her friend was treating her this way. But later, her anger faded. You know why? Because she realized her mistake. She understood that even though she didn’t directly harm In-Han, she was still responsible because she never tried to stop him from being bullied. Jae-i should have stood up for her friend and been his support instead of turning a blind eye. And for that, she later apologized to Kang Ha and made her boyfriend, Kim Ri-an, apologize too.


Why was she afraid of her father? 

Jae-i, being the daughter of the owner of the Jaeyul Group, faced serious consequences. She always had to be perfect so her father could show her off. From wearing fancy dresses to sophisticated jewelry, she had to showcase that she was the true heir of the Jaeyul Group. The pressure was immense, especially because she was always afraid of disappointing her father. Any small mistake could lead to her being disgraced by the family or humiliated in front of everyone, including her evil half-brother. Her half-brother would take every chance to mentally and verbally abuse her, trying to make her look bad so he could claim the family property and business instead of her. That’s why Jae-i always had to be careful. But even all her efforts couldn’t protect her. When her relationship with Kang Ha, a scholarship kid, was exposed, she was humiliated by her father. He threatened to send her to New York to have an arranged marriage with a family of his choosing. Even though she didn’t want that, she had to agree. It’s not that she was a people-pleaser, but Jae-i’s circumstances left her no choice. She had to listen to him to protect the family from shame and humiliation. So, when her father found out she was pregnant with Kim Ri-an’s child and told her to move to New York, she agreed to his wishes. She thought she had brought too much shame to the family already, so she felt she deserved it.

At the end of Hierarchy season 1, we see a more mature version of Jae-i. She knows how to own her mistakes, stand against humiliation, and make decisions that suit her best. Even though she knew Kim Ri-an was the love of her life, she wanted to end the relationship on a good note before moving away from Korea. She realized she was becoming too dependent on him and putting too much pressure on him to make her happy instead of finding happiness within herself. When Kang Ha confessed that he had a crush on her and wanted to let bygones be bygones, she wasn’t one to hold grudges either. She understood that his intentions were good, even if things didn’t always go smoothly. Even at the end, she knew her mother was hated by her father. But she just did not care. Instead of going to New York to fulfill her father’s wish, Jae-i went against his wishes and finally decided to go meet her mother. It shows that she was tired of listening to others’ opinions and was ready to listen to her own heart. She knew that this was the only way she could make herself happy; even if it meant disappointing others, so be it.


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Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

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