08 December 2020

K Drama Review: Start-Up (2020)

A lot of people were raving about Start-Up. Reading all the positive reviews made me question our choices of on-air dramas to watch. We've had two so far, Record of Youth and Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol. And while they were both quite entertaining, they did not really meet our expectations. I was hoping Start-Up would finally be the "hit" for us. Although I would have to admit that I had my reservations because our experience with Bae Suzy in Vagabond was not that pleasant. But the buzz about Team Do San and Team Ji Pyeong was just too loud to ignore. And I'm glad I listened this time. :)

Story

Start-Up tells the story of Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy), a girl who went through a lot of misfortunes in her young life. Her parents got divorced and her elder sister (Kang Han Na as Won In Jae) went with their mom (Song Seon Mi as Cha Ah Hyeon) while she chose to stay with their dad (Kim Joo Hun as Seo Cheong Myeong). Dal Mi's father passed away not long after the divorce. She was raised by her grandmother, Choi Won Deok (Kim Hae Sook). 

Mrs. Choi had a tenant, Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Seon Ho), a boy who just got released from the orphanage. He had nowhere to go although he was too proud to admit it. Mrs. Choi let Ji Pyeong stay in her corn dog stall. 

Mrs. Choi wanted to cheer up Dal Mi so she asked Ji Pyeong to be her penpal. They used the name of the boy Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk), whom they saw on a newspaper as a math olympiad gold medalist. Dal Mi was so thrilled to received these letters. 

Later on, Ji Pyeong left for Seoul after exchanging tearful goodbyes with Mrs. Choi. Mrs. Choi asked him to get in touch with her again should anything go wrong. 

15 years later, Dal Mi needed to find Do San in her quest to outdo her sister. She wanted to prove that she was doing well and she made the right choice by staying with their father. In Jae was now a successful CEO of her stepfather's (Eom Hyo Seop as Won Doo Jung) company. 

Things got complicated when Ji Pyeong found Dal Mi and Mrs. Choi. He vowed to help Mrs. Choi find Do San, in order to repay her for her kindness 15 years ago. Initially, Do San was reluctant to play along as the guy in the letters but he gave in later on. The story takes us through the journey of how the peaceful worlds of Do San, Dal Mi, and Ji Pyeong are turned upside down and get intertwined in their quest for success in love, their careers, and life in general.  

The Good

Bae Suzy as Dal Mi

After watching Start-Up, all of my reservations about Bae Suzy have been erased. I am so glad we gave her another chance. 

While I had my doubts in the beginning, the show made it very easy for me to like Suzy. With all the misfortunes that Dal Mi experienced, it was just natural for me to root for her. She was such a survivor  after enduring difficult times with her parents' divorce, her father's death, and the departure of her penpal Do San who provided her comfort through his letters. And all of these happened while she was a teenager, a time when kids tend to be more hormonal and emotional. 

I loved how Dal Mi remained strong despite the problems she had to deal with. She was so street smart and although she was not as successful as her sister, I never doubted that she would be able to navigate through life because she was a fighter. She carried on despite the obstacles she had to face. And I was so proud of how confident and feisty she turned out to be. She was so passionate about everything she did. I especially loved how she never backed down like when Jeong Sa Ha (Stephanie Lee) was acting like a prima donna. Or how she turned the tables around by threatening Mr. Won with leaking his horrible remarks about exploiting start-ups when the latter was suing Do San for causing a scene in his office. It's always a joy to watch strong female characters. 

I enjoyed watching Bae Suzy here. Now I'm wondering if our problem with Vagabond was just a writing/story problem which unfortunately affected how we perceived Suzy as an actress. She gave a very solid performance in this show. She handled everything really well - from the funny scenes to the catfights with In Jae to her CEO presentations and even the drama scenes, regardless of whether it was her work, family, or Do San that was breaking her heart. I felt them all, thanks to Suzy's very credible and convincing acting. 

Nam Joo Hyuk as Do San

This was our first time to watch an entire drama with Nam Joo Hyuk. We've seen him as a guest on 3 Meals a Day Mountain Village. We also saw him on one episode of School Nurse Files, which we decided to drop. So we didn't really have any impression of how he was as an actor. 

We're first introduced to Do San as a guy with curly and unruly hair wearing baggy checkered clothes. He looked like your typical geeky guy. And when you compare him to the dashing and very polished Ji Pyeong, the initial reaction would probably be, I'm definitely on Team Ji Pyeong, if we were to judge them based on looks alone. But the show was so great because it helped us look beyond Do San's physical appearance. As the show progressed, we witnessed the amazing character development of Do San. 

Like Dal Mi, it's quite easy to root for Do San. Although he's a genius, his entire life had been a great struggle too. The unrealistic expectations of the people around him caused him to have self-esteem issues. He'd rather knit or code with his friends. He did not really care so much about the nice things in life. He's clueless, awkward, and naive. I totally understood why Ji Pyeong was so frustrated with him during the times when he was trying to groom him for Dal Mi. 

Despite these seemingly negative things, I clearly saw why Dal Mi fell in love with Do San. Beyond the history that Dal Mi believed they shared, Do San was just inherently good natured. There seemed to be no mean bone in him. 

I loved Do San's transformation from a carefree guy to one with a purpose, one who was now motivated to succeed and do better because of and through Dal Mi. And while I love Ji Pyeong, I was rooting for Do San and I sincerely wanted Dal Mi to find more to love about him beyond the letters and memories from 15 years ago. 

My appreciation for Do San was sealed when he created Noon Gil, the brilliant program for the visually impaired, inspired by Mrs. Choi who was now experiencing vision loss. He loved Dal Mi and the best way for him to show it was by loving and caring for the people she loved. 

And I loved how he learned to fight back, to have pride, and to believe in himself little by little. He remained good natured but he also learned that he had to stand his ground when necessary. I liked how he broke Mr. Won's name plate when the latter was speaking ill of Dal Mi. Yes, their company needed money but his desire to protect Dal Mi from those painful words was much greater. 

I appreciated that while he was a male lead and he was good most of the time, the show still made sure to insert some realistic flaws here and there to make him more human. Yes, he was a genius but he also had to deal with that cheating incident from the math olympiad. There was also a hint of vindictiveness in him when he refused to take Dal Mi back initially because of the hurtful things she told him when she broke up with him. And there's that tinge of pride in him as well such as when he refused to accept Ji Pyeong's offer of investing in their company if they lose during Demo Day. I loved how he gradually grew and got better as a person. 

And for someone who did not really interest me at first, I would have to say that Nam Joo Hyuk left a mark on me, judging by how much I had to say about him. He was a great actor over-all. He was credible as the gullible and awkward guy. He was genuinely funny when he delivered those clueless lines because he really looked and acted the part. But he was also very convincing when he began transforming to a more dashing guy. And while Nam Joo Hyuk has yet to reach oppa level for me, I would fondly remember him as a great actor with his performance as Nam Do San. 

Do San and Dal Mi


Theirs was not a perfect relationship. It started out with a lie. And just when we thought things would go smoothly after the truth was revealed, they had to part ways because of a lapse in business judgment. Yes, their relationship began on shaky ground. And while I love Ji Pyeong, I could not help but root for Do San and Dal Mi too because they did not allow that problematic start to define them and their relationship. They tried their best to create memories of their own so that they would no longer be haunted by the past. 

I loved how Dal Mi turned Do San into a better person. He became more motivated and was inspired to do better because of Dal Mi - he fought for her, supported her, resisted Ji Pyeong's "dole outs," and cared for the people she loved. He strived to make each program he made better because he wanted Dal Mi to succeed as their CEO. 


I also loved how they worked towards reaching their dreams together and how they always tried to bring out the best in each other. They supported each other so much to the point that Dal Mi even had to break up with Do San just to push him to grab the opportunity to work at Silicon Valley. Giving up one's happiness just to see the other person succeed is probably a testament of how much one loves that other person. 

And although they broke up, I felt that those three years they were apart were very essential for the two of them to grow as individuals. Dal Mi would not have climbed that high and would have probably not mended her relationship with In Jae had she stayed with Sam San Tech, Do San's company. Do San would probably not be as confident and strong if he did not grab that very rare opportunity to work in the US. 

And when it was finally time for them to sort things out, I was happy with how they confronted their issues head on. Do San admitted that Dal Mi's words hurt him. And Dal Mi admitted that it did hurt now that she was at the receiving end of those words. But they bravely navigated through their feelings, even with the mixed signals Ji Pyeong was sending to disorient Do San. And when it became clear that they really loved each other despite everything that they've gone through, they chose to express their feelings  straight away. They did not waste their (and our!) time letting the other guess how they felt. 

So, yes, Do San and Dal Mi deserved and were good for each other. They're proof that the length of time you've been with a person is not as important as the effort you're willing to put in to create a strong foundation for your relationship. 

Kim Seon Ho as Han Ji Pyeong

Ah, my good boy, Ji Pyeong. :D This was my very first exposure to Kim Seon Ho. And the very first time I laid my eyes on him on Start-Up, I already knew I was going to be on Team Ji Pyeong, regardless of how the story turned out. He didn't even need to speak. His dimples and his sparkling eyes were more than enough for me. :)

As I mentioned above, the original Do San paled in comparison to Ji Pyeong. Who wouldn't like a clean, rich, good looking, and super confident guy like him? Despite that however, I knew right away that he was not going to get the girl. He struck me as someone who was self-absorbed and probably incapable of carrying out a romantic relationship with another person. 

Yes, Ji Pyeong seemed capable of showing compassion. We saw it in his relationship with Mrs. Choi. He also went out of his way to help Dal Mi. But he's built a very high wall around him that's quite difficult to penetrate. And if you know his background, you would understand where he is coming from. He was abandoned by his parents and he had to live in an orphanage. Then the orphanage kicked him out even before he was fully prepared to face the world on his own. He's a very guarded person and I can imagine how difficult it would be for him to be in a relationship. He'd rather live in his own world, contented and happy with speaking with his virtual assistant, Yeong Sil. 

The problem with Ji Pyeong was that the harder you try to get through him, the harder he'll pull back as well. Every time someone tried to care for him, his initial reaction and defense mechanism would be to build even higher walls and push the other person away, just like those numerous times Mrs. Choi tried to get through him. 

Yes, Ji Pyeong probably came across as a jerk, especially with how he worked. But again, this would be understandable given his background. He knew that the world is not fair and you have to fight tooth and nail to succeed so he refuses to mince words just to make you feel better about yourself. And while others might find this a very problematic flaw, I am more forgiving and lenient because his background was properly established and built up. 

As the show progressed, we witnessed how Ji Pyeong begins to question himself. Was he really too harsh that someone committed suicide because of his hurtful words? Was his business judgment wrong given that Sam San Tech won on Demo Day even if he said they won't succeed? Was he just another loser since Dal Mi preferred Do San over him? These little earthquakes in Ji Pyeong's life were very painful and humbling learning experiences for him. And he emerged as a better person because of these. I saw him letting his guard down little by little. And I loved how he personally invested in the start-up that wanted to support kids who come out of the orphanage. I felt that Ji Pyeong finally found something that could slowly break down the walls he built around himself. 

So yes, my oppa list is welcoming another member in Kim Seon Ho. He is not just another pretty boy. He can offer so much more than his pretty face. He played the cool, jerky, yet very petty guy really well. And while he was mostly serious and reserved, it was also great to see him act goofy when he got drunk with Do San in the latter's house. And he was wonderful in the dramatic scenes too. I felt his pain every time he felt conflicted about Dal Mi. I cried with him whenever he allowed Mrs. Choi to see through the pain hiding behind his strong facade. I will definitely be adding Kim Seon Ho's dramas in my to watch list. 

Ji Pyeong and Dal Mi


The premise behind Ji Pyeong and Dal Mi's relationship was a cute one. Old penpals who comforted each other during one of the most trying times in their lives. I absolutely loved that connection that was unknown to Dal Mi in the beginning. I loved how Ji Pyeong's face lit up every time Dal Mi brought up something from the past that were mentioned in their letters. Those were just so nostalgic and poignant. 

To be frank, however, I was not really sure if Ji Pyeong actually loved Dal Mi in a romantic way. Yes, he cared for her. He was there for her. He was willing to spend money on her business. But I had a feeling that he might only be channeling his love for Mrs. Choi to Dal Mi. He could just probably be nostalgic or he could have been threatened by Do San. 

But  regardless of how he really felt for Dal Mi, I was proud of how Ji Pyeong tried to fight his feelings for her. Probably out of respect for Mrs. Choi. It must have been difficult for him to do that being the competitive guy that he was. 

And while I said that Do San and Dal Mi deserved each other, I can't help but feel regretful when Dal Mi initially told Mrs. Choi that if she had to choose, she would probably choose Do San from 15 years ago. Oh the what ifs and the might have beens. 

I super loved Ji Pyeong's nonchalant and casual confession to Dal Mi over noodles. I loved how non-imposing he was and how he just really wanted to put his feelings out there. I was so happy for him that even if he does not end up getting the girl, at least he was able to confess how he felt and that would hopefully give him a fighting chance. 

Unfortunately, the outcome of their relationship can also be blamed on Ji Pyeong. I felt that he did not do enough despite his professed feelings for Dal Mi. It was his fault that nothing happened to them. He had all the chance in the world when Do San left for the US for three years. If he really loved her, he should have made his move during those three years. 

Ji Pyeong had this mistaken notion that he could win Dal Mi over merely with their 15-year old memory. Love, unfortunately, does not work that way. You need to put in effort everyday if you want to make love work. So, yes, he might have found it unfair that Do San's hand alone could erase his memories with Dal Mi. But the truth is, those memories and letters were the only ones he shared with Dal Mi. There was barely any love expressed and effort shown beyond those. And because of that, Do San really deserved to get the girl. 

The Love Triangle

I loved the healthy (and sometimes petty) competition between Do San and Ji Pyeong. Like that scene in episode 7 where they were trying to outdo each other in impressing Mrs. Choi and Dal Mi. Or that scene where Ji Pyeong was bluffing about Dal Mi's scroonchie to Do San. They were all so petty and funny. Although I did feel guilty afterwards when I saw how that scroonchie incident made Do San question his self-worth again. 

Beyond the pettiness, I loved how sincere both Do San and Ji Pyeong were about how they felt for Dal Mi. That scene during their sleepover in Dal Mi's house was just so heartwarming. Oh the lengths they would go to have Dal Mi. Ji Pyeong was willing to give up his lavish apartment and Do San refused to have it. 

I loved the grand reveal about who the real Do San was. I felt everybody's pain - Ji Pyeong's repressed feelings, Dal Mi's suffering from being lied to, and Do San's lost chance to come clean on his own. I even felt Mrs. Choi's confusion - she loved Ji Pyeong but she was also afraid of rocking the boat with Dal Mi and Do San because she knew how happy Dal Mi was. The cellphone mix-up was also a very good twist to reveal everything to Dal Mi. 

I loved how Ji Pyeong gave way graciously when he realized that Dal Mi really loved Do San. It was such a sad sight to see Ji Pyeong saying that the plant and the letters from 15 years ago were enough for him. For a competitive business guy like him, that must have been really tough. And I loved how he remained objective through it all. He still invested in Cheong Myeong. I was scared that he would go away so I was glad when he chose to stay because he would still be near Dal Mi and Mrs. Choi and someone would still watch over him. 

I loved Ji Pyeong's closure scenes with Do San and Dal Mi. I liked how he pushed Do San to finally realize that Dal Mi loved him and he should therefore not feel inferior towards Ji Pyeong. I especially loved how Ji Pyeong told Dal Mi that they were even because her letters comforted him during those tough days too. 

My wish now is for Ji Pyeong to find someone who can finally break down his walls. And I'm rooting for In Jae to be that person. :)

The Sam San Tech Team

I absolutely loved everyone on this team. They were such a diverse group of people yet they clicked. I loved how they all came together to reach their goals. 

Kim Yong San (Kim Do Wan) was the easy going one. He was always smiling and the mediator between the super passionate and dramatic Lee Chul San (Yoo Su Bin, the K drama loving soldier in Crash Landing on You) and the passive Do San. 

It would have been easy to dismiss him as just a token side kick character. But the show did such a great job in developing its characters that even Yong San had a compelling back story. It was a very surprising twist that Yong San's brother committed suicide a few years ago because of Ji Pyeong's painful words during Demo Day. Yong San wanted to avenge his brother's death. It must have been very troubling for him to see Ji Pyeong being nice and generous with Dal Mi when he was so harsh to his brother. I loved how Kim Yong San handled that character transformation really well. He was quite scary, actually. 

Chul San is probably my most favorite supporting character in the show. He was naturally funny. Yet I also felt how hurt he was when they were first asked to restructure Sam San Tech's shareholdings. And I loved how he transformed from a meek and insecure guy to a confident one with a swag after his US stint. And how lovestruck he really looked when Sa Ha started showing interest in him. I love how Yoo Su Bin chooses great materials like CLOY and this show. I look forward to seeing more splendid performances from him in the future. 

I've always been curious about Stephanie Lee ever since I first saw her sign up with Hyun Bin's agency. She looks so pretty. So I was happy to finally see her in this show. And she did not disappoint. She was very effective as an annoying snob at the beginning of the show. But you can clearly see how pretty and appealing she was. I loved that scene where she sashayed to the function room when Dal Mi finally convinced her to join their team. She looked every inch a model. And her English diction was so lovely.

And what I loved most about Sa Ha was her love story with Chul San. I loved the tension between them before they finally admitted that they liked each other. I was giddy with her proposal to Chul San, asking him to stop vlogging and to refrain from revealing their relationship to their colleagues. Super cute. 


I loved how strong the bond was among these guys. That episode where they had their impromptu reunion to help Dal Mi with the ransomware was like a scene from The Avengers. 

I was really rooting for this team. I felt so nostalgic during that scene in the final episode when the boys went back to their old office one last time before new tenants took over. I loved how the boys cheered on the new guys. And how they acknowledged that despite their success, they were not really in it for the money and they missed the good old days when they were still struggling. I hope they never ever have to disband again. 

Kang Han Na as Seo In Jae


Kang Han Na was a very credible condescending bully. In Jae was someone you want to see fail. I found it totally bitchy that she stole Dal Mi's story about asking their father to put sand under the swing to protect her when she falls. This story inspired the creation of Sand Box, the company that helps start-ups and where both In Jae and Dal Mi begin their respective businesses. Initially, she was really an insecure girl as Do San pointed out. She tried so hard to prove that she made the right choice by joining her mother.


But as with our other characters in this show, we witnessed how In Jae evolved from a cold and distant person to one who is capable of caring for others although she refused to admit it. I loved how she teamed up with Dal Mi and how formidable their partnership was. 

I liked how the show humanized In Jae when she had her adoption dissolved and how she proudly showed it to her grandma with matching tears in her eyes. I loved how she toured their old house and room. And while she did not say anything, I saw in her eyes the acknowledgment that she was home and despite the long journey to get back there, this was where she belonged. 

Kang Han Na was another surprise in this show. She handled her scenes really well and I won't be surprised if she makes it to Oppa's very exclusive Noona list. :D

Kim Hae Sook as Mrs. Choi


According to my siblings, we already saw Kim Hae Sook in a 2001 drama, Law of Marriage. Something we caught on the TV on nights when we had nothing better to do. We found her character, Mija, funny and endearing. 

Although I barely remember that, I would have to say that Kim Hae Sook is indeed an effective actress. I loved how she portrayed the funny yet very caring, sweet, and protective grandmother in this show. It was so heartbreaking to see her lose her vision. It was unimaginable for someone as independent as she was. 


While Mrs. Choi was Dal Mi's grandmother, I felt that very special connection she had with Ji Pyeong. Right from the start, I knew that their love story would be my most favorite. I loved how they kept staying with and helping each other despite their obvious mistrust of one another. I was glad that Mrs. Choi had closure with the young Ji Pyeong before he moved to Seoul. 

And I absolutely loved their reunion. Ji Pyeong was genuinely happy to find his "family" again and I felt how much he wanted to make life better for her, to repay her for the good that she did for him many years ago. It was painful to see how Ji Pyeong regretted not being there for Mrs. Choi when he found out that Dal Mi had to skip college because they did not have money for it. And how bad he felt when he found out she was losing her vision. Ji Pyeong was cold and probably incapable of really loving someone but Mrs. Choi was the exception. 


I loved how Mrs. Choi tried her best to break through Ji Pyeong's walls. How hard she tried to make him feel loved and cherished. And that Good Boy nickname. Ji Pyeong refused to accept the nickname but I knew it was instrumental in how he turned out as a person. He believed he was a bad person but because one person believed otherwise, he succeeded. And sometimes, one person believing in us is all it takes for us go over whatever hump we're facing. I loved how Mrs. Choi always knew what Ji Pyeong needed even before he asked. Like how she comforted him when she found out that Do San was back. I loved how she pleaded for him to stop being alone. 

Despite her disability, I was happy with how things ended for Mrs. Choi. She had In Jae back. Ji Pyeong stayed. She had Noon Gil. And she was surrounded by people she loved. 

Character Development

Probably one of the greatest things about this show was how multi-dimensional and well-developed the characters were. They were all flawed and they had their own demons to slay. Yet they all evolved and strived to be better people. I loved how even the side characters were developed like Dal Mi's mom. 

I also loved how the characters were not vengeful despite the things they went through - Mrs. Choi to  her daughter-in-law, Dal Mi to In Jae and her mom, Ji Pyeong to Dal Mi and Do San, and Ji Pyeong and Yong San with each other. I loved how they were all humble and how they rose above those mistakes.


The cast was great. And while I loved all of them, some really stood out like Do San's parents (Kim Won Hae and Kim Hee Jung). They were very funny. Yet there was still depth in their characters, especially with Do San's dad. I loved how the father and son's relationship progressed - how they learned to accept that their unrealistic expectations were doing them more harm than good. And that they can live with and support each other while fighting their seemingly conflicting battles separately. 


Ji Pyeong's secretary, Park Dong Chun (Kim Min Seok), was another of my favorites. I loved how he was the only one allowed to be funny and goofy around Ji Pyeong, even if the latter refused to admit it. I loved how he always covered up for his boss and how loyal he was to him that he even agreed to swap clothes with him which left him topless in public. :D



I also loved Yoon Seon Hak (Seo Yi Sook), Ji Pyeong's boss and director of Sand Box. I liked how she was instrumental in helping the Seo girls turn their dreams into reality. I loved how balanced her character was - she gave constructive criticism in a very tactful and motherly way. Ji Pyeong can definitely learn much from her when it comes to mentoring. 

It was so refreshing to see Seo Yi Sook in a very relaxed and chill character, a far cry from her yelling and stressed (and oftentimes overacting) character in Do Do Sol Sol as Lee Jae Wook's mother. For a while there, it felt like I was watching a continuation/cross-over of Do Do Sol Sol because both shows had Seo Yi Sook and Kim Joo Hun. :)

Story

Apart from the well-developed characters, I loved how the story was written and executed. The pilot episode was very compelling with the interesting twists and storylines. It was a great way to help me recover from my separation anxiety from She Was Pretty. The litmus test for me to identify if a show's really great is if I don't fall asleep while watching it even if I'm super sleepy before I start watching. The show passed this test so many times. 



I loved how the show managed to be funny without resorting to slapstick comedy. Do San was the gullible character but he did it so naturally that you won't get the feeling that he was made fun of or made to look stupid. 

The story was multifaceted too. Most dramas would have a central theme like the love story or the family angle and everything else would be shown in bits that would make them seem like decorations vis-a-vis the main storyline. I loved how Start-Up did not just focus on the love story. The love angle progressed alongside other storylines like their quest to build a business and the relationships of the people around them like Do San and his father, Ji Pyeong and Mrs. Choi, Dal Mi and her mom and sister, etc. These storylines were weaved together so well that you won't get tired or bored of having just one main storyline. It was refreshing to see characters who had real lives beyond their love stories. 

Social Relevance

I absolutely love dramas that manage to have substance while entertaining their viewers at the same time.  And I was so glad to find that here, after a couple of misses in the recent dramas that we've watched. 


I loved the storyline on visually impaired persons and how it was important to help them live dignified lives despite their disability. It was an interesting use of technology to express one's love. 


I also liked how the show tackled self-esteem problems like the one Do San faced. Some people have the mistaken notion that geniuses and achievers are extremely successful people and they should live happy lives. Unfortunately, some of them suffer a fate like Do San's - they crumble under pressure and would prefer to keep to themselves. They lose their confidence and feel that they can't really succeed despite all their achievements. I loved how the show took us through Do San's journey of eventually finding and believing in himself. 

I also loved how the show touched on some labor issues. I was surprised to know that end of contract schemes are also employed in Korea like what was happening with Dal Mi who kept on being asked to leave without contract renewal, only to be called back again after a few months. 

And while it was not that realistic and it was a bit too dramatic, I also appreciated Do San's dad for gatecrashing the Demo Day presentations to confront In Jae about how people like him were losing their jobs because of the innovations created by In Jae's company. Although I understood where both sides were coming from, I was struck by what Do San's dad said about how we need to pace innovation so that we can help people like him brace for the impact that these changes bring. Indeed, technology is nice and liberating, but as with everything else, it won't hurt to proceed with caution. It was nice to see Do San's dad and his colleagues stand up for their rights by holding a strike in protest of the layoffs. 

I really love shows like Start-Up that are brave enough to talk about things that others might find offensive. 

Business Storyline


Aside from being socially relevant, I loved how this show also tried to give us a crash course on setting up start-ups. I appreciated the definition of terms (hello, DAU, MVP, acqhiring, etc.) and the great tips on how to be an effective CEO. And the show managed to tackle quite geeky topics of start-ups and coding without sounding too technical that it would bore its viewers. 

I loved how the show did not sugarcoat businesses by only showing the profit-making side of it. More than the money, the show emphasized how important relationships are when it comes to businesses. Friendships and relationships can fall apart because of business and money matters. I liked the realistic portrayal of Chul San and Yong San doubting Dal Mi in the beginning and how they felt that they were being robbed of everything they've worked hard for. Fortunately, they were able to sort things out early on. 


It was great that Start-Up showed us that while dreaming of putting up a business sounds so nice, it entails a lot of hard work. I loved the emphasis on the importance of knowing your "why" whenever you put up a business. Because just like everything else in life, it's your why that will push you and keep you going when nothing else seems to go your way. 

I also like how the show taught us that there's no shame in admitting if managing a business is not for you. We all have things we're good at and it's important to concentrate your efforts on those. I liked how Ji Pyeong spelled that out for Yong San - they should choose to do what they love. Although it would have been more glamorous for them to put up their own business, the truth was they were more tech than business savvy. And they were humble enough to accept that the business side was best left with Dal Mi and In Jae. 


I also loved the warning about greedy predators and exploiters that are out to victimize start-ups. I liked the concept of Sand Box trying to protect start-ups from getting hurt but Oppa noted that it should have been more protective by vetting contracts that these start-ups enter to avoid what happened between Sam San Tech and 2STO. 


I liked how the show tried to strike a balance between being cautious and taking chances, especially when it appears that the odds are stacked against you. I super loved the concept of Tarzan, the self-driving car. I found it so cool, especially the test drive scenes.  

Ending


I loved Start-Up because I felt that it respected its audience. The show did not only give us pretty faces to ogle at or sweet and romantic scenes to swoon over. It gave us a realistic and logical story worth our time. 

I loved how most huge issues/conflicts were already resolved by episode 15. At that point, I knew that the show was going to give me a proper ending. It already knew where it was headed and how to get there even before it started. It refused to sail without a map like Dal Mi or Do San. :D And I really appreciated that after my disappointing experience with the ending of Do Do Sol Sol. 

I found the ending very emotionally satisfying. Everything was resolved and closed. I already thought that the CLOY ending was great in closing the loop on everything, that you won't really find the need for another season but this one was even better. The couple got married so you no longer have to guess if everything really worked out for them. No issues were left hanging. 

And just to make it clear, although I am on Team Seon Ho, I  do not resent the fact that Ji Pyeong did not get the girl because as I said above, Do San totally deserved the girl. I guess I'm maturing as a viewer because I can now compartmentalize my emotions towards the actor and the character. :D In any case, I'm just grateful that we finally watched an on-air drama that was worth our time. 

The soundtrack sounds promising too. I loved Running with its very youthful and competitive vibe. 


I also loved Future by Red Velvet. 


Day and Night is probably my most favorite and the song I would associate most with this drama. 


I've also grown fond of My Dear Love because it was sung by Suzy. She was really a revelation for me in this show - both with her acting and singing. Now I think I get why a lot of people love her. :) 



Oppa says...4.9.

Noona says...it's a 4.9. I would have probably given it a 5 but I felt that Reply 1988 was still a more wholistic drama, hence the .1 deduction. :) 

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