Metro Team Reacts to the Finale of 'Start-Up'
Our favorite weekend K-drama this year to date finally comes to a close and we have a lot of feelings!
This past weekend saw audiences all over the world (us included!) eagerly anticipating and watching the finale of Start-Up! If you’ve been tuning into our Metro K-Drama Round Ups on Facebook, or reading any of our articles on its leads, you know how much we love this drama—and how much we’re already missing it!
Warning: spoilers ahead!
We’ve been eagerly eating up each episode as the story touched on the lives of determined CEO Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy), awkward genius wonder kid Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk), sharp-witted and cunning investor and mentor Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho), and self-assured heiress (and estranged big sister to Dal-mi) Won In-jae (Kang Han-na).
In the finale, we saw Cheongmyeong Company submit Tarzan for the Smart City bid. This saw Do-san promising to propose to Dal-mi… if they win. (Gasp!) They were able to prove that Samsan Tech 2.0 is capable, as it is no longer gullible to hackers, and they also did not fall for the journalist’s tactics of trapping them in an article. The finale also saw halmeoni reunite with In-jae (oh my gosh, our hearts!) and In-jae receives her music box from her father once she truly reconciles with her sister. Those hoping to see Chul-san (Yoo Su-bin) and Jeong Sa-ha (Stephanie Lee) finally together would be happy as we saw Sa-ha introduce Chul-san as her boyfriend to her sister! The finale also saw Do-san and Ji-pyeong reconcile because the latter, being the tough love mentor that he is, truly believes in Cheongmyeong Company and decides to invest in them.
The series’ epilogue takes audiences to present-day 2020 with Cheongmyeong Company a veritable success. We note that Do-san and Dal-mi have gotten married, and Chul-san decided to shave his head—confirming they won the bid. The ending scene sees Dal-mi, Do-san, Ji-pyeong, and In-jae, walking together all smiles, heading to their shareholders meeting!
Whether you loved it or hated it, it cannot be denied that Start-Up gave a realistic, mature, and natural ending that provided success and closure for all its characters. We at Metro love it for this aspect. Now, we share our reactions (and emotions) on that finale!
On the panel for this discussion:
Raff Colmenar: Metro.Style Art Director
Anna Rosete: Metro.Style Living Editor
Cara Tirona: Metro.Style Editorial Assistant
and Grace Libero: Metro.Style People Editor
1. What are your feelings and reactions about the last episode?
Raff: I felt like the last episode was the perfect ending to the series. Every character had their moment and got the ending they deserved. Have your tissue rolls prepared if you haven’t seen it yet!
Anna: I felt that the episode 16 was justified as a finale. It was a realistic and mature one. I appreciated the closures that were made in this last episode. In general, it felt natural.
Cara: After watching the last episode, I’m just happy that they were able to tie all loose ends. I just love that each and every character experienced growth throughout the show, and it was really highlighted in the finale. Seo Dal-mi became a competent CEO to their start-up. Nam Do-san no longer felt inferior to Ji-pyeong, and he really gained confidence in his capabilities and increased his self-esteem. Although Han Ji-pyeong was used to being lonely, he finally realized that he no longer has to go through life alone since Mrs. Choi will always be there for him. Finally, Won In-Jae was able to finally go home to her family.
Grace: I honestly felt the series could've ended by Episode 13. I wondered how the last two episodes would turn out, and hoped they wouldn't be dragging. But Episodes 14 and 15 were crucial in tying loose ends and giving certain characters the closure they need. I'm satisfied with the ending. I appreciated the honesty of both Nam Do-san and Han Ji-pyeong, and I'm glad with how they decided to move on from their rivalry. They had a very honest conversation and opened up about why they envy each other, and that's not an easy thing to admit so it was admirable of them to be blunt about it. There was a short scene where they hugged each other and laughed after, and I thought they could be really good friends. As for Seo Dal-mi, it was her dream to become a CEO, and she made it happen with flying colors (rainbow colors if you may). At first, she simply wanted to get into Sandbox to beat her sister but she later realized that goal was meaningless, and so she decided to do it for herself and her happiness. In the end, she made her sister proud. Seo In-jae also proved her talent and skills sans the wealth and connection of her adoptive father. I'm also happy that Seo Dal-mi was reunited with her mother and her sister. It was also great how Ms. Yoon ended up investing in the start-up Seo Dal-mi and Seo In-jae worked so hard on, as she was supposed to do for their father.
2. Favorite actor and performance from this series?
Raff: I loved seeing Nam Joo Hyuk’s character, Nam Do-san’s growth from the earlier episodes until the finale. He wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability but he also was never afraid to take risks. Do-san always had faith in his team. That’s my favorite thing about him. #TeamDoSan forever!
Anna: I very much appreciated the two male leads, Nam Joo-Hyuk and Kim Seon-Ho. Both gave justice to their characters and represented the requisite amount of realization for both characters to be round. I also have a new appreciation for Suzy Bae. I feel like the way by which she enfleshed Dal-mi was both firey and compassionate.
Cara: One of the reasons why I continued watching Start-Up was because of Han Ji-pyeong, played by actor Kim Seon-Ho. His character was just so captivating that it really made me root for him until the very end. He was just so lovable and sweet in his own little way. And his dimples! You can’t help but smile every time he smiles. Kim Seon-Ho really showed what he is capable of, and I can’t wait for another series starring him!
Grace: I loved Kim Seon-ho from start to finish. I'm glad I discovered a new oppa here. Despite him being considered as the second male lead, he really stood out and showed such amazing talent and irresistible onscreen charm. I now understand what Start-Up director Oh Choong-hwan meant when he said he's a fan of Kim Seon-ho. He was really a gem waiting to be discovered. He embraced his character Han Ji-pyeong, and made it so lovable despite its obvious overbearing personality. I'm team Han Ji-pyeong partly because of Kim Seon-ho's portrayal. In Episode 15, that scene where Han Ji-pyeong was trying so hard to not cry while telling Seo Dal-mi he isn't okay, his facial expressions there were so captivating you almost feel his pain. No wonder Kim Seon-ho already received an offer for a lead role even when this series was ongoing. But although I'm team Good Boy, Nam Joo-hyuk also deserves credit for his acting (i.e. the scene where he bawled out crying in the bus station).
3. Favorite moments from the finale?
Raff: In-jae’s reunion with her grandma was definitely one of the highlights of the finale for me. You best believe I cried buckets during that scene.
Anna: I really liked the scene where Ji Pyeong and Ms. Choi have an encounter again, their first major one after the bus station scene in episode 1. The way he cried and came to a realization about the real status of his life— finding success without finding true happiness— yielded so much compassion for the character from me as an audience. The scene also showed unconditional love from Ms Choi to her ‘good boy,’ and the familial bond that they have formed over the years. It was truly heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time.
Cara: My favorite moment from the finale was when Mrs. Choi visited Ji-pyeong in his apartment. Being a member of Team Good Boy, I wanted him to have a happy ending despite not ending up with Dal-mi. The moment when Mrs. Choi was comforting Ji-pyeong and telling him that he does not need to be lonely, I couldn’t help but feel his relief. It was the reassurance he needed that he has a family in Mrs. Choi.
- The scene where Seo Dal-mi showed growth and maturity when she handled an ill-intentioned reporter well
- The heartwarming conversation between halmeoni and Han Ji-pyeong where she told him to not be lonely anymore (after all, he gained a family in Seo Dal-mi's family and got some friends, too, with the Samsan Tech guys)
- The cameo of Yeo Jin-goo (who's the voice behind Yeong-sil) and how Han Ji-pyeong decided to invest in his start-up that aims to pair orphans with sponsors who will help them stand on their own feet
- The cute love story of Lee Chul-san and Jeong Sa-ha and how she introduced him to her sister as her boyfriend
- The solid brotherhood of the Samsan Tech guys, seen when they checked out their old office for the last time
- The reunion of Seo In-jae with halmeoni
- The reconciliation of Nam Do-san and Han Ji-pyeong
4. Favorite lines/quotes from the entire series?
Raff: “Pray first. And then make it happen.” — Seo Dal-mi
Anna: Favorite quote is “I would have grieved over fallen flowers rather than enjoying the flowers in bloom,” Dal-mi in a letter to “Nam Do San,” Episode 1. It’s a poetic reminder of appreciating life inspite of and despite of all the setbacks. It is so appropriate for the challenges we are all encountering these days. It also sounds so dramatic, laced with adolescent sentiment, which I enjoy, because one can get very jaded and not in touch with these kinds of thoughts later on in life.
Cara: I just love the quote from Mrs. Choi from Episode 2. She told Dal-mi, “You're a cosmos flower. And it's still spring. Wait until fall, and you'll bloom beautifully. Be patient."
- “Never let someone’s opinion become your reality” - Les Brown, as quoted by Kim Yong-san's brother
- "Cars without brakes can’t speed because they’d have to ram into a wall to stop." - Han Ji-pyeong
- "It’s actually nice to wander aimlessly every once in a while. From time to time, it’d be wonderful to sail off without a map." - Seo Dal-mi
- "Sailing off without a map could cost me my life. But I could also survive. And people like that become trailblazers." - Nam Do-san
5. What has set this show apart for you compared to other k-dramas? What has it been like to watch?
Raff: I think Start-Up’s edge is it’s relatability. I’m sure many millennials and gen z’s can relate to its themes and characters. Maybe that’s why it’s such a hit.
Anna: I really enjoyed the aspect of the written letter from Start-Up. Witnessing the letters unfold felt like reading poems or literature. I also appreciated that there was a contrast in the series. On the one hand, there was this romantic and nostalgic aspect of life, and on the other hand, the striving, focus and determination it takes to build a competent start up company are shown. It presents a balanced view of the world that the writers created.
Cara: From the very first episode, I was really hooked. The plot was unusual and throughout the show, I just wanted all of the characters to have their own happy endings. Honestly, this was the first drama that I watched that I was rooting for the second lead more than the main lead! It may get frustrating at times for me, but I loved the drama nonetheless.
Grace: It was very inspiring overall, especially because I'm around the same age as the characters so I could relate to them. Their dreams and struggles resonated with me. More than the (in)famous love triangle, what Start-Up is all about is business, following one's dream, and collaborating with likeminded people and making their teamwork work. As the director said, it was also very heartwarming with the themes on family, friendship, and self-worth. The story has several layers that made it enjoyable to watch.
6. Will you recommend this K-drama to people who haven’t yet tuned in? Why?
Anna: Yes, definitely. There are all the ingredients of a drama to look forward to. There’s the romantic aspect, as well as the familial aspect, all taking place in parallel with a dynamic work culture, all make for a compelling series.
Cara: Yes, I will recommend this k-drama because not only are the actors good at portraying their roles, the plot was new and refreshing. Viewers will really learn a lot of things about love, family, and start their own business.
Grace: Definitely! I think it's one of the best K-dramas of 2020.
Lead photos from tvN and Netflix