By Bryan Tan
This review contains spoilers and covers episodes 1-2 of Start-Up, which is currently available on Netflix.
The latest in Netflix’s repertoire of trend-setting Korean dramas is Start-Up, which focuses on entrepreneur Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy), a young girl who, as a result of her parent’s traumatic split, is trapped in the shadows of her past, dreaming of becoming the next Steve Jobs while living with her grandmother (Kim Hae Sook).
Seo develops a huge childhood crush while exchanging letters with Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk), a child genius who won a math Olympiad with aspirations to build a start-up inventing the next cutting-edge technology in artificial intelligence. You’ll remember Nam Joo Hyuk from his breakthrough acting role in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016), and for his killer abs and lanky model body in roles from The Bride Of Habaek (2017) and just earlier last month, The School Nurse Files.
Little does Seo realise that the person she’s been exchanging letters with was not Nam, but with a teenager Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Sun Ho), an orphan who was rescued from the street by her grandmother.
Let’s be honest; the purpose of the pilot episode was to gradually introduce our beautiful and handsome leads in their childhood years, but it was the veteran actors Kim Hoo Jun, who plays Seo’s father and Kim Hae Sook, Seo’s grandmother, who stole the spotlight. You will remember the familiar idiosyncrasies of Kim Hoo Jun, who played the eccentric publishing agency boss for Ko Mun Yeong in the hit drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.
Hoo Jun delivers a long-suffering portrayal of a single father who adores his daughters, and struggles at work with a physically abusive boss. Against the wishes of his wife, he leaves his job to begin a B2B food delivery start-up. Your heart just goes out to him as he is repeatedly rejected by all the businesses that he pitches to, and even gets hit by a car rushing desperately to another pitch.
Hae Sook’s depiction of Seo’s selfless grandmother is absolutely heart-warming; she rescues a shivering orphan boy in the rain without hesitation and gives him the key to a spare room, which held all her life savings. She even tells him before he leaves her, after caring for him for all those years, not to call her if he becomes famous; but to only call if he was going through a rough patch, or if he had nowhere to stay. The feels!
Start-Up is about the world of start-up entrepreneurs; their dreams, their struggles, their pain and their loved ones who want the best for them. Some do succeed, yet many others fail; but, as a quote by Les Brown from the second episode says: ‘Never let someone else’s opinion become your reality.’ Follow the journeys of Seo Dal Mi and Nam Do San to see if they succeed in life and love in this new series, released every week on Saturdays and Sundays.