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5 Things To Love About 'Start-Up'

The highly enthralling K-drama finally culminates and here's five things we already miss!

In the words of famous Twitter personality Sophie Anderson, “f***, it’s a Sunday.”

Aside from the utter disdain of the weekend ending, it is an ominous and sad declaration for most. After eight weekends of polarizing standpoints, cheering on the successes of our friends at the mythical Sandbox, and fangirling over their cuter than cute offices, the highly enthralling K-drama Start-Up finally culminates.

Catching the adventures of these starry-eyed and hardworking tech dreamers were what I looked forward to most, so this will be a hard series to get over. So to pay tribute to one of my favorite K-dramas this year, I want to share the top five things I will love most about Start-Up.

1. The storyline

Team Ji-Pyeong and Team Do-San aside, the plot serves to bring an educational purpose throughout the duration of its run. Start-Up revolves around the young dreamers and the risks they take to pursue their goals. On one hand, you have an ingenue Seo Dal-Mi (Bae Suzy) who is looking to achieve success in the field of tech a la Steve Jobs, and is roped in between two people representative of her past and present, including her sister Won In-Jae (Kang Han-Na).

On the other hand, we explore the troubled past of Nam Do-San (Nam Joo-Hyuk), child genius, Promil Kid and tech extraordinaire. Together with his friends Lee Chul San (Yoo Su-Bin) and Kim Yong-San (Kim Do-Wan), they put up SamSan Tech in the hopes of seeing greener grass. Even Han Ji-Pyeong (Kim Seon-Ho), the underdog, successful investor, Sandbox mentor and fated second lead, gets a rags-to-riches backstory.

Not only do we get the pleasure of enjoying the well-developed (except for that three years gap, yes I will never forget) character journeys, we also get schooled on start-up terms along the way. AcqHire, anyone? What a buzzword.

2. The soundtrack

Ddmit it: your productivity level surges exponentially to the sound of Gaho’s “Running,” or you find yourself in the shoes of a starry-eyed sprite in Red Velvet’s “Future.” What about gazing into the eyes of Ji-Pyeong or Nam Do-San in 10cm’s “Where Is Dream,” or you gazing at the fading lettering of a dream realized with Sandeul’s “Lonesome Diary?” What about that slo-mo Love At First Sight realization with SeungHee’s “I Know?” We’re not sharing our sob stories here, but the show’s soundtrack hits all the right notes, and the songs get stuck in your head for days.

As if the soundtrack wasn’t already repeat-friendly, Bae Suzy contributes to the album too with “My Dear Love.” The answer to that question is still somewhat debated—a point which we will get to shortly.

3. The math of love triangles: Team Ji-Pyeong versus Team Do-San

In what could be the most polarizing debate of the whole year (beats out Itaewon Class’s Soo Ah versus Yi-Seo, because face it, we know who the real winner is), I started out the show a little bit confused, and for a good reason. Whichever team you are on now, there was a point in the show where I was rooting for both of them. How is that possible, you ask? Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex Girlfriend lore phrases it perfectly: it’s like she’s a Barbie with two perfect Kens. Don’t hit me with the feminist push now because Barbie is the epitome of female empowerment in her own right. But even if I am on team Ji-Pyeong now (or Team Good Boy), it was great to see the journey of Nam Do-San falling in love with Seo Dal-Mi (the car scene, anyone? The party entrance, anyone?), and Ji-Pyeong realizing his own feelings (noodles, the elevator, the letters? Anyone?), much to his great (initial) discomfort.

The men are exact opposites—Nam Do-San represents the idealistic youth and the no-holds barred attitude, while Ji-Pyeong represents the mature, more stable and carefully calculated persona. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately both provided success in all aspects for Dal-Mi and even from getting to know each other.

But as disempowering as love triangles are (especially at the expense of the female), the storyline among the three of them made for an entertaining and hotly fueled argument for audiences all over.

4. The power of family


What I looked forward to when watching the show were also the family ties that bind. I love how the characters’ family storylines are intertwined, and define the characters’ choices. My favorite one to look out for is the story between Seo Dal Mi and Won In-Jae, mainly because they were torn apart by circumstances and preferences which led to the less than pleasing relationship they share now. But their little actions to save each other are filled with caring intentions.

Haelmoni or Grandma comes second, and in a league of her own, as she is mother to Seo Dal-Mi, her daughter in-law and Han Ji-Pyeong. Her malady (shown in later episodes) is what drives Dal-Mi and Nam Do-San to create a bestselling, CSR-run app that does wonders for those suffering from the same condition. The lack of family support (or the lack of family at all, thereof) shapes the emptiness, loneliness and withdrawal of some of the other characters on the show, and how their emotional blockages lead to their fledgling demise and gradual improvement in the long run.

There is a wonderful twist that occurs in the middle of the show that blows your mind (myself included)—rooted in family, too—and just goes to show that family life and environment does affect the shape and growth of the self in more ways than one.

5. Chul-San and Miss Jung

If my ship is not sailing because of the fate my bias is in, I am already rooting for a more stable kind of ship—Chul-San and Miss Jung (Stephanie Lee) of Sam San Tech. Their development is quiet (except Chul San is more vocal about his feelings than Miss Jung) and in the vein of FRIENDS’ Chandler Bing and Monica Geller. Chul-San insists that there is something between them, and Miss Jung turns her nose up at it first, but an incident leads her to see him in a new light, and their love evolves more maturely.

I also like the fact that Chul-San respects her boundaries, and chooses himself at some point, but fate (and their scripted run-ins) intervenes, so I have hoped for a happy ending for the both of them.

As I write this, I am hours away from catching the series finale, and I am only hoping for the best. See you on the other side. It’s been a great run.

If you haven't caught it yet—definitely watch the series, available on Netflix!

Lead photos courtesy of Netflix and tvN