The Random Bibliophile

by Renee Alexis

Renee Alexis
20-something Filipina, an introvert who loves young adult fiction, brush pens, Taylor Swift, and BTS. Coffee runs in my bloodstream.


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2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
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Renee Reacts: Start-Up 2020

Renee Reacts: Start-Up 2020
Photo from Google
Where do I even start with this reaction blog post??? I mean, I just finished the last episode of this series, and I'm having a hard time understanding that I won't have another episode to look forward to the next weekend. - this was me in the early hours of Monday morning (07-Dec)

Today is the 9th of December and it's almost midnight as I continue to write this blog post. As I've said in this post, I have been following this show from the very beginning. Every weekend since October 17, I would always enthusiastically finish my work to finally be free to watch the newly released episodes. I've been hooked since episode one because of the flow of the story, the fresh business scene setups, and most of all, because of Han Ji Pyeong. Now that the show has been concluded, I think I might have withdrawals for the next couple of days...

[Warning - Spoilers Ahead!]

I always grow attached to the characters whenever I watch Korean drama series or any type of series for that matter. And this one was no different. I was enthralled by Han Ji Pyeong's character from the very beginning and despite knowing that his character was only the second lead, I still rooted for him until the very end.

Like Bae Suzy's previous dramas, i.e. Dream High and While You Were Sleeping, this gave me a major SLS (Second Lead Syndrome). If I was asked to choose between Han Ji Pyeong and Nam Do San, I will choose Ji Pyeong in a heartbeat! I was THAT in love with him. Let's dwell on this matter in a few...

Let's talk about the plot first. Start-Up tells the stories about people in startup companies - as mentioned in its title. Our main characters here are Seo Dalmi - a dreamer and a doer who aspires to reach her ambitions, Nam Do San - a math genius, CEO of Samsan Tech, who is struggling to maintain and get funding for his company, Won In Jae - Dal Mi's sister who is working her way to the top to prove that she can succeed on her own, and lastly, Han Ji Pyeong - an orphan who once swapped letters with Dal Mi for a year under Do San's name, who is now a successful team leader of a leading investment company in the country. Their lives got intertwined when Dal Mi met the real Do San when Ji Pyeong begged him to pretend the Do San that Dal Mi knew from the letters. Confusing? I guess you just have to watch the series then! 😁

Kim Seon Ho - Han Ji Pyeong
Kim Seon Ho as Han Ji Pyeong

The plot wasn't really complicated. Albeit its simplicity, the beauty of the characters, and how their lives got tangled with each other made the show all the more interesting. The relationships between the characters were fun to watch, especially the interactions between Do San and his best friends. There were side stories that made the plot richer like the little story about Kim Yong San's brother and Dal Mi's father meeting the CEO of SandBox and being the inspiration behind the company. 

The thrill of the show was how Seo Dal Mi would, later on, find out the truth behind Han Ji Pyeong and Nam Do San. The climax happened around three-quarters of the story and I was really curious about how everything will pan out after Dal Mi realized that she was lied to. 

One thing I just have to mention here is how I loved Han Ji Pyeong and Eomeoni's (Dal Mi's grandmother) relationship. I loved how Eomeoni loves Ji Pyeong like he was her real grandson and how Ji Pyeong never forgot how indebted he was to Eomeoni. I loved their interactions, how they told each other their desires and their secrets, and how Eomeoni knew Ji Pyeong like no one else. Eomeoni was the only family Ji Pyeong ever knew and it just touched my heart. They were the reason why I cried in this show!

From the very beginning, I was rooting for Ji Pyeong to end up with Dal Mi, even though I knew that it will never happen. As the show's ending approached, I wished for Ji Pyeong to end happily instead, even without getting the girl he loved for 15 years. As I watched the drama's ending, I recalled the previous episodes and I realized why it ended like that. Nam Do San wasn't the boy Dal Mi first fell in love with. He was not the boy in the letters that accompanied Dal Mi through the tough times in her childhood. But despite that, Dal Mi chose Do San over Ji Pyeong. Why? The answer was really simple. Because Do San was always there for Dal Mi even when he would look stupid. Do San helped Dal Mi the best way he can think of when he made Noon Gil. Do San didn't care about what other people will think, he just loves Dal Mi and he chose to act on that love. Unlike Ji Pyeong who, for years, hid and suppressed his feelings. Yes, the letters and the possibility of ending up with your penpal 15 years ago is one for the books. The problem was that Ji Pyeong took too long to act. He was contented loving Dal Mi from afar. Yes, he took care of Dal Mi in his own ways. He was gentle with her, he was honest with her, he was everything you could ask for a man to be. But he fell short when it came to professing his love. Ji Pyeong is the modern Kim Jung Hwan - the ever-loyal lover yet always being the guy who was one step behind.

I felt sad when Ji Pyeong finally chose to move forward and let go of his unrequited love. But I understood why Dal Mi chose Do San. Watching through the drama, if I were in Dal Mi's shoes, I will also choose the man who understood me, who loved me unconditionally, who cared for me and for my grandmother, and who shared my vision. Do San was that guy for Dal Mi, and even though I loved Ji Pyeong so much, I understand that Dal Mi just saw him as a big brother, as a mentor, as a colleague. The ending was okay. It was expected. I'm just happy that Ji Pyeong was smiling in the end.

Besides the main characters, I loved the supporting actors. I've never felt prouder when the Samsan Tech boys became successful. They started at the bottom and now they were topnotch and in-demand IT's after their achievements in their field! Also, Jung Sa Ha and Lee Chul San! 

Also, special mention to the graphics of this show - the intro and outro - I loved it! 

This show gave me a lot of valuable lessons. Be ambitious and work hard to reach all of your goals. Follow your dream. Be as unapologetic to gain the respect you deserve. Honesty is the best policy - hahaha! But seriously though, this drama is not the typical nonsense drama that you want to watch to have a good time. Yes, it has comical scenes that you couldn't help but laugh out loud, but there are so many scenes that just gives you that feeling of gaining another meaning about life. Humor and depth are well-balanced.

Overall, Start-Up may be one of the top 5 best Korean Dramas I've watched this year! 

Till my next fangirling! xx



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