Character Development: 5
This drama takes place in the “Silicon Valley” of Seoul, following one girl, Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy), as she ventures into the world of start-ups. Growing up with an entrepreneurial father, Dal Mi has always had a keen eye for new business ideas. Being separated from her mother and sister made her identify with her father even more and wish to carry out his legacy when he dies in an accident. One day, her grandmother wants to give Dal Mi a friend and has a boy named Ji Pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) write her letters using the alias Nam Do San. As she grows up, Dal Mi enters the tech start-up company Sandbox joining the man she thinks is her first love.
Do San (Nam Joo-Hyuk) is the pride of his family, having started a company called SamSan Tech, without telling his parents his company is failing to get any interested investors. So, when Ji Pyeong, who is now a wealthy investor, comes to him asking for a favor, it looks like the tables have turned, especially when the favor is only to meet with Dal Mi and pretend to be the man who sent her letters all those years ago. As feelings begin to deepen, Dal Mi must determine who she really loves…is it her first love who wrote her letters all those years ago, or is it the man she’s grown to care for now?
I loved everything about the plot of Start-Up. I don’t know what this says about me, but I love all the lies and drama that occurs. Ji Pyeong initially searches for Do San because he feels the need to continue hide who he is. He feels like he can’t own up to the fact that he is the one who really wrote those meaningful letters to Dal Mi. He wants to remain unattached and genuinely believes that he doesn’t have any feelings towards Dal Mi. But when Do San and Dal Mi finally meet and begin to fall in love, Ji Pyeong realizes that he made a huge mistake and regrets ever lying in the first place.
Similarly, as soon as Do San begins to have feelings for Dal Mi, he instantly regrets hiding his connection with Ji Pyeong from her. He feels the stress, guilt, and pressure of lying to someone he loves, and it weighs on him more and more as their relationship goes on. When Dal Mi finds out the truth, she is rightfully hurt and upset, losing confidence and trust in others, but also in herself.
The family aspect was another part of Start-Up that I really loved. Dal Mi is forced to spend more and more time with her sister In Jae (Kang Han-na) and as time goes on, the estranged sisters begin to understand each other. They discover that each one was slightly jealous of the other, but they ultimately love each other and want to support each other. It was beautiful to watch this relationship grow.
The romance might be one of my favorites that I’ve seen. There is definitely a love triangle, but Ji Pyeong doesn’t make himself known as a love interest until later in the show. It’s clear the whole time Dal Mi is very in love with Do San. Even when she finds out that Do San has been lying to her, she seems unable to forget her feelings for him. Love is at the center of this whole K-drama. I think it ultimately pushes the message to be yourself with whoever you’re dating. In the beginning, Ji Pyeong tries to make Do San more like him since they want Dal Mi to believe that Do San wrote the letters to her, but the more Do San lets his guard down and becomes himself, the more Dal Mi begins to fall for him. Similarly, if Ji Pyeong was confident and honest from the start, he could have had Dal Mi from the very beginning. It always pays to be true to yourself. Also, Do San is so awkward and gentle with Dal Mi I think it might be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.
Start-Up was surprisingly funny. Whether it was Do San’s ignorance in certain situations, or his friends and coworkers adding comedic relief to the more serious moments, this show had me chuckling.
There was TONS of character development throughout this show. I think every single character had some moment of growth. My favorite was probably Dal Mi’s sister In Jae coming to terms with the decision to stick with her mother as a child, which means she lived a completely different life from her sister. But, even though it may have been more glamourous, it doesn’t mean it was more loving. In Jae comes to forgive herself for missing out on the opportunity to spend time with her father and learns to develop a better relationship with her mother but, more importantly, with herself.
I really loved this K-drama (there’s a reason why I gave it five stars). I just couldn’t get enough. I sometimes don’t think all drama are worth the hype when they first come out, but this one holds its own for me. It is well worth the hype. It’s funny, romantic, dramatic. The actors work so well together, the story is original and fun, the romance is so believable, and you really feel so much for each of the characters and want them to succeed. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a modern drama that goes beyond the workplace. The family relationships and history of the characters are so well developed. It is written so incredibly well. I just can’t say enough about it. If you haven’t already, watch this!