Kdrama Podcast 72: START UP overview

Start a business and fall in love with a (very sweet and geeky) LIAR, because this week on the show Lee Evie is discussing the charming 2020 romance kdrama START UP. This show is inspiring, focuses on themes around following your dreams and not letting set backs destroy you, and stars the gorgeous Suzy, sweet Nam Joo Hyuk, and second-male-lead-syndrome inducing Kim Sun-ho. What a lovely Korean drama! You will laugh and cry, and then go tearing out of the house to make your own dreams happen, haha! 

Listen to the podcast by searching on your favourite podcast streaming platform for THE LEE EVIE KOREAN DRAMA PODCAST, or listen in your browser here, or by following the link below:


5 thoughts on “Kdrama Podcast 72: START UP overview

  1. Hello,

    I finished watching Start-Up only yesterday and of course I had to listen to your podcast review about it afterwards. There is quite a lot I want to comment on and this might be a longer comment, sorry in advance, and maybe not the only one hahaha. I already talked to my non-kdrama watching friends about it, or rather I talked at them as you said haha

    I really enjoyed this kdrama, the storylines, the set-up, the characters, the production design, and also the soundtrack which was just lovely. However, I did sometimes feel that it was a bit slow paced here and there even though I generally like slow paced stories, but nothing that actually bothered me too much. I was not a big fan of that 3 year jump because I felt certain things were resolved off-screen and I was also missing certain scenes, like a talk or confrontation between Dal-mi and the granny about the letters. But I actually wanna comment more about the stuff I liked the most.

    Oh boy, is this a major case of second-lead-syndrome or what? Honestly I could watch a whole kdrama just with Ji-pyeong and the granny, this was by far my highlight of this series and really stood out for me, that relationship was adorable and just so wholesome. I understand why the internet is going crazy about this character and also Kim Seon-ho as an actor, I think he is amazing and hope he gets main roles now. And the last kdrama I watched before Start-Up was actually 100 Days My Prince where he also plays the second male lead and I already took a liking to him in that kdrama – solid acting, good character, nice voice and yes, cute dimples. When I heard he was in Start-Up I knew I had to watch it but I was already aware that there was a certain hype about it. And as it is so often with hypes, they might not live up to the expectations or are not as justified (from a personal view) but I think this hype is definitely justified haha. I certainly had a slight (or bigger) crush on his character and I think the last time I had a crush on a fictional character was Park Saeroyi from Itaewon Class.

    Even though I don’t really mind Do-san, I personally just did not feel it and I also was not as invested in the romance this time, but that is just personal taste, nevertheless it was still nicely done, but of course deep down I was rooting for Ji-pyeong haha. And as you said, the set-up of the kdrama in the first few episodes makes you think that Ji-pyeong is actually the main lead and not Do-san, and it is interesting how the writers flipped that. This way it is refreshing for viewers who know their kdramas and general tropes. Also, I knew that Do-san would be the main lead as I also know the actor and he has been main leads before, so why would they ‘de-grade’ him now. But throughout the show I thought, it would be interesting if they would flip it again, and actually have the second male lead turning back into main lead. I am waiting for a kdrama with such a twist haha.

    A comment you made I really liked and had not realised as such until then was about that scene earlier on in the drama with the split screen where both are asked if they like Dal-mi, with Do-san saying yes and Ji-pyeong saying no but we kinda get that he is not being honest about his feelings or tries to hide them. I totally agree that this reflects their characters and how they go about the whole love story. Do-san, although clumsily sometimes, kinda goes for it even if he might fail, and Ji-pyeong is too afraid of failing or getting hurt and hides his feelings. I also thought of that scene later on with the three of them stuck in the elevator, Do-san making that reference again about sailing off without a map and just trying even if you fail and not regretting anything, and Ji-pyeong kinda saying it is a lot of work and effort for something you don’t expect to succeed at. Even though they talked about work in that scene, the subtext was there too I think. Do-san being more proactive and daring with his love pursuit and Ji-pyeong just being too cautious and afraid of really opening up. Even with granny it takes him some time to trust and open up, and he always tries to hide his feelings, turning away when he got teary, except for the scene where he had the bloody face saying he was not a good boy (so emotional). I also read a comment that even at the end, in their last scene, he tries to hide away his tears even though granny can’t see him. I might be reading too much into this haha

    I could go on and on about this, but I will leave it here for now, sorry again about this massive comment hahahaha 😀

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    1. I am really glad you enjoyed the drama and thanks (as always) for listening to my random waffle discussion on it! 🙂 I really liked it, and luckily for me I liked Dosan so could get on board with the romance, but I feel like so many watchers felt the same as you … like dying over Ji-pyeong, haha. and gosh, I have definitely felt that way before so I totally get the feeling! Also, I really loved your comment on getting an actual crush on a fictional character! It’s so funny, cos I guess I never thought of it quite like that before, but now you have said it I realise how totally right you are! I had the biggest crush on Gu Dong-mae from Mr Sunshine (not sure what this says about me … the man was a killer and spent the whole drama covered in blood and murdering people! Eeek!) and I was the same about Park Saeroyi in Itaewon class too! Like, thinking and obsessing for weeks afterward! Haha. Being into kdrama is sometimes very intense emotionally …. 😂

      Oh and I totally agree about the grandma and Ji-pyeong, gosh their whole thing made me so emotional! Also, I loved what you said about that returning motif of Ji-pyeong protecting his heart and hesitating and Dosan going for it, and how that comes back around in that conversation in the elevator. It actually kind of kills me, because I feel like if Ji-pyeong had gone for it in the beginning, and admitted his feelings to himself, he would have 100% been the dude who ended up with Dalmi! So heartbreaking! 😦

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  2. Since writing my last comment, I read some other comments online or watched youtube videos about Start-Up and Ji-Pyeong (as you can see I am still crushing on him) and it is so interesting how so many people say the same, that the character of Ji-Pyeong actually has all the main lead characteristics – especially with the tragic background story which we get to see from the start so we grow attached to him immediately – and many people would still pick him over Do-san (me included of course).

    And I think you are right, from an audience point of view, if he had been more honest about his feelings and more courageous to go after Dal-mi (Do-san was gone for 3 years after all!!!) he would have been able to win her heart. But the writers had of course a different idea from the start so it seems like they did not even give his character a chance, if that makes sense. After Dal-mi found out about the letters she was confused but never seemed to have really considered Ji-Pyeong despite her ‘saving herself’ for the boy from the letters. Not saying she should have just drop Do-san then and there and run to the boy from the letters, as I guess she also got to like some of Do-san’s characteristics by then, but I try to imagine how I would have felt in such a situation…man, I would be so confused and probably slap both guys in the face and then take a looong holiday by myself hahaha. And in any other movie or drama the girl would have picked the boy from the letters as we have seen it so many times before, so in that aspect it is freshing in terms of story telling and writing by not necessarily following a trope/cliché. But as I mentioned, I was just not invested in the romance between Do-san and Dal-mi, personally I don’t get it, and the more I think about it, the more I notice certain aspects of Do-san I don’t like (no offence, just personal taste).

    I watched this kdrama with my mum (her second kdrama after Crash Landing which she loved). She is not so familiar with kdramas and general tropes, and has no idea what a second lead syndrome is, so she actually ‘fell into the trap’ of thinking Ji-Pyeong was the main dude (my mum was no fan of Do-san hahaha).

    Regarding your crush on Gu Dong-mae from Mr. Sunshine, I kinda get it haha. He was definitely the most interesting character in that kdrama, and generally one of my favourite characters from a kdrama so far, but at same time one does feel conflicted as he is quite a brutal and impulsive guy. But I think that is the beauty of so many kdramas, that the characters are so well written and crafted that the viewer would even like a character like him because we really get to know and understand who they are (not excusing their actions but maybe understanding them better and sympathising).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I loved yur take on what you would have done if you were Dalmi! (Slapped both boys and then gone on a loooong holiday, haha). Actually I feel that would have been the sensible thing for her to do, and I think I would have also felt more confused and conflicted if I have been in her situation and found out the truth. I feel like she was very mad at Do San … but yeah, where was her long lasting confusion around Ji-pyeong as a result of realising she had crushed on him so badly for so many years? I feel like she would have at least wondered if he was the right one for her, especially because of her initial holding back from Do San because he wasn’t what she had expected from his letters. Mmmh … you have got me thinking!

      Gosh, I feel super sorry for your mum! At least I knew all along that Do San was end game (because … Nam Joo Hyuk!) and I feel that made it easier to accept where Dalmi’s feelings were headed for me, but it must have been a huge and confusing shock for your mum, because like you say, it is usually the one who wrote the letters who is the one who wins the girl’s heart.

      I feel like the writers very purposely played with a lot of our expectations in this show, that is for sure!

      Also … quite right about Gu Dong Mae being absolutely no good. He is a bad dude. I feel like I am so good about understanding that bad boys are a terrible idea in real life, but when it comes to drama, I always go for the darker characters, I have no idea! But you are so right … Gu Dong Mae is a super scary dude! But … I loved him?
      Haha. I can’t help my bad taste in kdrama heroes! 🙂

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      1. Yes, the writers definitely played a lot with of viewers’ expectations, both new and regular viewers, and in my case also with my feelings hahaha. Even when the granny asked Dal-mi who she preferred, the Do-san from the letters or the Do-san she knows now, she still said the one from the letters (I can only assume that many Ji-pyeong fans got their hopes up there). I guess for me personally the problem also lies with the 3 year jump, because we know that Dal-mi and Ji-pyeong developed a friendship but I would have liked to have seen that, and whether they talked about those letters ever again. But if Dal-mi does not want Ji-pyeong, I am OK with that too, I’ll take him hahaha

        As for my mum, I don’t think she was that invested into the kdrama in general, she liked it enough but she said she only continued watching it because we watched it together as a nice way to spend the evenings, but she might have dropped it otherwise. But yeah, she really thought that Ji-pyeong was the main lead, especially at the start.

        I feel more sorry for her now, because I got her to watch Mr Sunshine now and she loves it, especially the romance between Eugene and Ae-sin (she still has 6 episodes to go). Not sure how she’s gonna handle that ending….she probably expects a typical kdrama ending. Then again, it is historical so one should be prepared.

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