Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Eungee Joh
The 2020 tvN series, Start-Up, is a story about young adults who have dreams of starting their own business. This is the first South Korean drama with a theme centered around a start-up, a topic that’s enjoying popularity in overseas shows. The story of the four main characters, each of whom creates a future with different goals, shows what it is like to be young members of society and explores their work and social life as well as their dreams and frustrations.
A Thorough Look into the Start-up Business
The drama captures the process of people with small business ideas struggling to find investors who will recognize their potential. Samsan Tech is a team formed by three students from the same university club, led by Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk). The three engineering students with zero social skills go through a major rough patch in the beginning, but they begin to grow as they face their problems head-on and gradually move toward a larger vision. The drama lets us watch their remarkable growth as we relate to their goals and root for their success.
The success of a drama that centers around a particular business depends on how well the show portrays the field from the perspectives of industry insiders. Start-Up showed its extraordinary potential from the very beginning, using the insider terms such as ‘angel,’ ‘hackathon,’ ‘demo day,’ and ‘exit’ as its sub-headings. The drama also talked about some of the interesting business ideas that are currently heating the global IT market. There are scenes where the characters, led by Seo Dal Mi (Suzy) and Nam Do San, build an autonomous vehicle and artificial intelligence for blind users. Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Seon Ho) is also seen talking to an AI speaker called Jang Young Sil every morning. The smart speaker, which has a little bit of sense of humor, enables him to do various things by providing information like the fortune of the day and selecting music based on his new favorites. Later in the drama, the voice of the speaker turned out to be Yeo Jin Gu’s and blew away many drama fans.
Suzy’s Portrayal of a Young Entrepreneur in the Story
What motivated Seo Dal Mi the most was the urge to win her older sister Won In Jae (Kang Hanna) who she grew apart from after their parent’s divorce. The two meet as rivals at Sandbox, with Dal Mi trying to change the world through Samsan Tech and In Jae aiming for the same goal through her own company. Dal Mi’s three-minute elevator pitch, which convincingly delivers her innovative ideas in front of potential investors, is considered the best scene in the drama. Suzy nailed the scene with perfect diction and great clarity, leaving an unforgettable impression on viewers. The actress has catapulted into stardom, charming the audience with her fresh appearance in Architecture 101. She earned the name “the nation’s first love” through this iconic role and got herself on numerous romance shows of the time. In Start-up, Suzy effectively drew the harsh reality of young adults’ lives by playing the passionate woman named Dal Mi. She convincingly showed what it’s like to be a young adult who constantly has to prove her potential without succumbing to her fears.
Kim Seon Ho’s Amazing Acting as a Supporting Lead
The romance in Start-Up begins with a hand-written letter that Dal Mi had exchanged with someone when she was very young. Dal Mi mistakenly thinks that the sender of the letter is Nam Do San, who had always been there for her even in her darkest days. However, it turns out that the sender is Han Ji Pyeong. Ji Pyeong grew up to be a rather cold-hearted person who would analyze things in the most objective way. Even to Dal Mi, who he loves the most, he chooses the coldest way to talk to her: “What do you want to be in the future, A good person or CEO? You gotta choose one or the other because you can’t be both at the same time.” From the very beginning, the drama spent a lot of time telling what kind of life he lived and how he must have felt during his periods of struggle. The drama kindly sheds light on Ji Pyeong’s painful childhood and what he had to endure until he became successful at SH Venture Capital. Although Ji Pyeong and Dal Mi never grow close, he keeps a good relationship with Dal Mi’s grandmother Won Deok who had raised him with unconditional love when he was young. Ji Pyeong is often referred to as “softy” among fans when he is around the old lady. Kim Seon Ho made many tear up with his delicate acting that carefully got across Ji Pyeong’s emotions.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.