K-Drama Review: Worth investing your time in ‘Start-Up’?

Starring Bae Suzy (as Seo Dal-mi) and Nam Joo-hyuk (as Nam Do-san), the hype from the series’ lead up had fans high on expectations.

Using start-ups as the bedrock of the romance plot was timely, as start-ups are developing across various industries worldwide.

Each episode is written around an industrial jargon — Hackathon, Acqhire, Demo Day and more. While some events were evidently magnified for dramatic effect, there are some factual elements mirrored onto this romantic series.

Warning: Read with caution, spoilers ahead.

A simple case of mistaken identity
Seo Dal-mi and Nam Do-san meet again at Sandbox, a fictional start-up incubator. The initial premise of the story was no less promising, and even fun to watch as Team Manager Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) and Do-san attempt to live with their swapped identities for Dal-mi. 

But this dragged on, only to return to the same storyline of a mistaken identity from yesteryears, without any proper resolution till much later.

Introducing Kim Seon-ho
The elephant in the room is no other than Team Manager Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho). The second lead may not have gotten the love he deserved in the show, but he has definitely won the hearts of most, if not all viewers.

The 34 years-old actor, who has featured in previous dramas such as Welcome to Waikiki 2 (2019) and 100 Days My Prince (2018) as well. But none of this would compare to his meteoric rise to fame for his role as our ‘good-boy’ Han Ji-pyeong — a likeable character that no one can seem to hate.

The second lead 
Han’s relentless pursuit for Seo and the deep rooted connection he shares with her grandmother might provide an explanation to why there is a divisive split in support for the characters. 

In “Start-Up”, more fans are hoping Han gets together with Seo than Nam, considerably few and far between. But this is seen in most of writer Park Hye Ryun’s previous works like Dream High (2011) and While You Were Sleeping (2017) – of which fans stuck with the second leads.

More to offer
Perhaps it was the weight of the expectations of the show, but in true start-up fashion, the series had more potential to develop.

If anything, it would have been good to get a glimpse into Seo’s sister, Won In-jae’s (Kang Han-na) side of her story. Unfortunately, not much has been told about Won till the last few episodes.

Not forgetting the build-up at the start of the show for Kim Yong-san’s (Kim Do-wan) supposed revenge on Ji-pyeong for his brother’s death, it fell terribly flat and seemed out-of-place as it was hastily concluded within a few dialogues.

Ultimately, “Start-Up” reverted and heavily relied on typical Korean dramas tropes. Whether you’re rooting for Do-san or Ji-pyeong, the show still proves to be a feel-good series, offering an interesting glimpse into the start-up world. Though it should not be considered too seriously.

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