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Start-Up: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread

tvN’s new drama Start-Up premiered this weekend with a heartfelt introduction to our three main characters, some strong storytelling, and that unquantifiable thing we all know and love so well: K-drama magic.

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

In order for our present-day story to be as rich and full as it is, we need backstory to set it all up. And so, much of our first episode tells the story of our heroine, SEO DAL-MI (later played by Suzy), fifteen years in the past when she was a young girl.

Her father (played by the omnipresent Kim Joo-hun) is a struggling business man with a promising entrepreneurial streak. His wife, however, can’t handle their paycheck-to-paycheck life, and decides to leave him. She does more than break up their marriage, though — their divorce also breaks up Dal-mi and her big sister WON IN-JAE (later played by Kang Hanna). When we first meet the girls, they’re super close and determined to keep their family together, but later, In-jae leaves with her mother, and their family is left in splinters.

At the same time we meet a young orphan, HAN JI-PYEONG (later played by Kim Sun-ho, but as a teen played by Nam Da-reum). He’s already won a huge high school award and proven himself an investing genius — but that’s not doing him much good with no roof over his head and no way to earn money.

He strikes up a friendship with Dal-mi’s awesome corndog-making halmoni (Kim Hae-sook), and while she puts a roof over his head (and gives him the mother figure he so sorely needs), he invests her money and makes a small fortune. But more importantly, the two cook up a plan to comfort the heartbroken Dal-mi, and together are basically responsible for the entire construct of the drama.

Abandoned by her mother and her big sister, Dal-mi is understandably heartbroken. Her father might be loving and wonderful (and huge points to her choosing to stay with him, they’re golden and precious), but her grandmother’s plan is to give her a companion that she can talk to and open up to: a secret penpal. Halmoni makes Ji-pyeong write the letters to Dal-mi, which they both come up with. They even give this fake penpal a cool name, which they randomly steal from a newspaper article. A boy named Nam Do-san just won a big mathematics award and seems like a winning sort of person. They like his name, go with it, and before you know it a year-long penpalship is formed.

We’re still fifteen years in the past at this point, and my heart is already in shreds. (What’s it going to look like when we’re a few weeks into the story?) Our young cast is fantastic here, and it’s always a treat to watch Nam Da-reum.

But this backstory isn’t just great because it’s poignant and sweet — it’s also carefully lining up all of our plot points for when we reach the present-day timeline. It’s so much fun to intuit where the drama is going, and know they’re planting the seeds for this complicated, interesting, and totally heartfelt story.

But wait, who’s the actual hero of this story? We spend so much of our time with Ji-pyeong during our opening week that it’s hard not to automatically position him as the hero when we meet him in the present. And yay, he’s made it — Ji-pyeong is now a hotshot venture capitalist who’s both successful, insightful, and as hard-nosed as he needs to be to achieve both of those things.

And he’s also (still) totally sweet, underneath the veneer. When he meets our halmae again after fifteen years, he’s determined to pay her back for her kindness to him, and he can’t do that just by eating out her stock of corndogs on a weekly basis. What is it that halmoni asks of him? He needs to find the real Nam Do-san. And he’s gotta do it fast, because after all those years, our grown-up Dal-mi is searching for her old penpal, too.

Will the real Nam Do-san please stand up? We meet him pretty late in our drama’s set-up, but that doesn’t make it any less delightful. NAM DO-SAN (Nam Joo-hyuk) might be a math genius (past and present), but his AI facial recognition start-up is crashing hard. Do-san and his two friends comprise their company, Samsan, and everything about them seems to be in triplicate: the second syllable of their names, their flannel shirts, shaggy hair, geeky personalities, and total adorability.

When we meet these three they’re getting hunted down by their investors (Do-san’s parents) and selling off everything from their “office” in order to pay the rent and server fees. Talk about an underdog team to root for. (If you need another reason, Do-san knits. That’s all it took for me.)

Ji-pyeong and Dal-mi are searching for Do-san, and both close in on him pretty quickly. Ji-pyeong is first, and these scenes hurt! Do-san thinks Ji-pyeong is approaching him as a VC, but Ji-pyeong is only interested in getting Do-san to meet Dal-mi (as per halmoni’s wish). Do-san is so persistent in asking for an investment, though, that Ji-pyeong is pushed past his patience level. He winds up telling Do-san and company that they’re not worth investing in, and he wouldn’t even consider it.

Dal-mi’s letters are the bright side of this unfortunate interaction, and even though Do-san is in crushed puppy mode, he takes the time to read all of her letters. And whose heart can’t be moved by the candid words of a young girl writing to her secret friend? (Seeing grown-up Dal-mi from afar and having a love at first sight moment doesn’t hurt either.)

Even though Ji-pyeong has stormed out of the picture, and Do-san’s deal to get paid to meet Dal-mi as her penpal of the past is clearly off, he goes to meet her anyway. Because he is a marshmallow, and that is what marshmallows do.

This isn’t just your regular coffee date, though. What’s been requested of Do-san is to dress up and accompany Dal-mi as her business partner for a flashy networking event. And to up the ante even more, that important networking event is sponsored by Dal-mi’s estranged (and highly successful) sister In-jae. Oh, and the mother whom she hasn’t seen in years is going to be there, too. We can see (and feel!) why Dal-mi is desperate to appear successful and happy.

And so, this networking event acts as a massive dose of dramatic convergence — Dal-mi is there to feign success in front of the family that abandoned her, Do-san is there to play a successful start-up CEO out of the kindness of his heart (and maybe wishful thinking), and Ji-pyeong is there because it’s his territory, and because he’s determined to help Dal-mi out, too. After all, he’s the one she had really been writing to all those years ago.

It’s such a great scene, not only because it brings our three characters and storylines together so neatly, but because it’s also so well-rounded, believable, and heartfelt. It’s also one heck of an ending for a premiere week. How can you not want more!

With just two episodes, Start-Up has done a fantastic job with its story — I not only feel like I’m emotionally connected to each of our characters already, but their conflicts (internal and external) feel real and relatable. Also, I love each of them.

Finally, the set-up around Sandbox as this hub and safe haven for burgeoning start-ups (and newbie CEOs) is just great. Can’t you feel it all in the air!? I love a drama that gives us such a rich sense of where it’s going — it feels like a giant present wrapped up and handed to us. We can see what it looks like, and guess what it is, but we don’t know all the goodness that’s waiting for us inside.

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I really loved the first two episodes, besides being so visually pleasant to watch, i’m already attached to the characters. The first episode already had me bawling my eyes out, Park Hye-ryun please stop killing off the main character’s parents in such a devastating way, The actor who played Seo Dal-mi’s father is so amazing, in such a short time he already had me rooting for him

Not to be a NJH fangirl but even with the scruffy wig he looks really cute, I’m glad the wig was short-lived unlike Pinocchio where it took a couple of episodes for Dal-po to ditch the wig. I’m excited for Dal-mi and Do-san to interact next week! Also I love the OSTs, can’t stop listening to it.

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I knew that includes Future by Red Velvet.

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Same thoughts, absolutely loved the premiere eps!

I immediately searched for the OSTs and found out that jung seung hwan, kim feel and 10cm's OST were all played in the first episode. Can't wait for all of them to be released!

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I went into this drama knowing next to nothing and was surprised by so many things, in a good way. I had no idea who the lead was and so the directing worked in my favour of eliciting genuine surprise when it ended when I found out that Nam Joo Hyuk was the lead.

This PD continues to surprise me with his style of directing, which is just as beautiful and cinematic as his last projects. I'm also happy to see Suzy in a role that caters towards her strengths as an actor, as light hearted rom-coms suit her the best, and needless to say she is still pretty as ever.

As this is Park hye ran's first drama in a long time that's not fantasy, i'm genuinely excited to see what she brings to this underdog story

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"needless to say she is still pretty as ever"
No, we still need to say that :)

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Suzy is undoubtedly one of the prettiest idols/actresses in this generation so I'm glad to say that she didn't appear "too pretty" for her role.

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Wait, was she suppose to look messy/not too pretty? Lol, she looks beautiful all the time. She may not be the best actress, but she is charming to watch esp. in this writer shows. Kang Han-na is the better actor, but I don't find her charismatic on-screen for some reason. Nothing against her btw, just my opinion :D!

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she nailed the part of looking like a fighter, pretty without much dolling up yet sweet and warm to her grandma.

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Suzy is really gorgeous considering other actresses. But I genuinely felt her have chemistry is only with Kim Woo Bin. Here’s to hoping she’d have more chemistry with Nam Joo Hyuk than Kim Sun Ho cuz the SLS is pretty strong in this one.

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The first two episodes were totally good. I teared up and laughed at the same time. The story is developing well and the overall tone of the show is simply good. I am already loving grandma and Good boy too much. I hope they dont make him a typical second lead coz I will have a severe SLS then. I am not much of a fan of Suzy and although I like NJH, kim Sun Ho stealed the scenes for me in these first two episodes. I am already in love with his character more than the leads and I would like to see him developing a friendship with Dal mi.
Kim Joo Hun is shining as the father.
PS: Crushing hard on Kim Sun ho's dimples😍😍😍

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“ PS: Crushing hard on Kim Sun ho's dimples😍😍😍”

And the man himself. I never knew that this thirty something actor could basically create butterflies in my stomach. He’s a beauty to watch, Jesus.

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Ditto. 💗💓❤

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I admit I have a very biased opinion regarding Suzy's acting so these two episodes were surprising that I can watch her. Here's to hoping my opinions will change xD

I'm living for Grandma and Ji-pyeong interactions! Let her stay throughout the drama please!

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Those two are such a pair! It helps that both Kim Hae sook and Kim Seon ho are very strong in the acting department!

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I’m sure anything can be won if he flashes those dashing dimples. I have such an unhealthy crush on Kim Sun Ho it’s insane!

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Join the queue :D

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Yes! Even Nam Da-reum held his end with Kim Hae-sook.

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Nam Dareum is making this noona fall for him ...

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This noona has his heart way back xD

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Can we hope that the character Nam Da-reum plays is the one who gets the girl in the end, like in the past 2 dramas (Pinocchio, WYWS) with writer-nim?

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We can only hope while preparing our hearts for the fall.

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Their interactions are golden!

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I wanted to see more!!

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“ I'm living for Grandma and Ji-pyeong interactions! Let her stay throughout the drama please!”

Me too.

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Grandma be better be alive and still annoy the hell out of Ji-pyeong till the last episode.

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Yes please.

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I agree @neener about being biased against Suzy due to her acting ability (lack of)-- Me, too! But, I was amazed that in this drama I wasn't irritated by her acting at all. (so far--- knock on wood) and I am really happy about that. She just seems like any other actress playing a role. I seldom think she is especially pretty either because of the lips being so full that most of the time she shows her teeth. That seems unnatural to me. It seems like lips should easily close and not show her teeth so frequently. I think she looks a lot prettier when her lips close.

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That's a very specific description you have there xD Let's continue to knock on wood that her acting will be consistently good or get even better and better.

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Open lips and teeth showing in a pretty girl could drive a guy insane with longing. Innocence and naivete captured in the baring of teeth and the parting of lips. Throw in a tantalising glimpse of blushing gums, and he'll be head over heels by the third viewing. Ah, love...

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YY came through~~Indeed love

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The father's death made me cry. I'm still teary eyed writing this. At the very least, he died believing he would have his family back not knowing his ex-wife took off with their daughter.

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That was very sad, one of the highlights of the drama how it was handled with no over-the-top insanely screaming mourners. It happened, it's really sad, but she managed to move on with her life.

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I saw a lot of scenes with the flying Korean and English words SFX. I really delighted how the Korean tech industry (including its tech entrepreneurs) already successful thanks to Samsung which already became one of the massive global brands that hitted both the global markets and economy.

I love the quartet made me felt my hearts already kept me so much and I still loved Suzy and Nam Joo-hyuk (post-School Nurse Files season one era) for being among my favorite personalities and I knew they already both real-life successful media and entertainment industries which evolved with technologies. I hope Nam Joo-hyuk's popularity will have my greatest peak once Start-Up already ongoing even his post-Start-Up era/days including his planned projects from 2021 onwards and his continuous media presence including his active endorsements. (I hope Samsung will endorse Nam Joo-hyuk.)

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I didn't totally liked episode one although it was better for me in episode to. I don't understand why we are having 85 minutes episodes that spend more than 15 minutes with stills with beautiful colours. I don't know, the path was not exactly correct for me in these first episodes. Even so, Im here to stay because of NJH.

I said this in my wall, but I couldn't understand why Dalmi's mum decided to abandon her daughter once her dad is dead. I mean, I get if the girl decided to live with her dad it's ok, but when he died... she just forgot about her? It doesn't make sense specially when she was so concerned about her daughter's education and Dal Mi has been struggling all her life.

Then, as a Cyrano fan, I really need this time that Cyrano gets the girl.

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I'm surprised at the total cut off too! How could the mum not keep in touch? They clearly know about the dad, and know that the Dalmi is with her grandma (and mooching off her because she doesn't have a stable job). As a parent, she should have been interested in her child's well being at least, if nothing else. Once the father passed away, it would have bee logical for the other parent (i.e., mum) to take back custody of the daughter again. I found this weird too.

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In fact it was one thing that almost made me stop watching. I know this is meant for the drama, but I hate illogical things. That’s why I didn’t really liked episode one, although episode two was better. I hope drama goes through that path.

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I wonder if unnie In Jae and mom actually knows that dad died. Was it said anywhere?

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In Jae told DalMi something like “you are still living with/ from your grandma” so, yes, they know. And if they didn’t..: what could I say about SK Social Services?

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Since they never actually showed the funeral (which kdramas are otherwise so fond of showing), I had a theory for a little while that dad was still alive, but just paralyzed and unable to work, and under care somewhere. But the second episode didn't suggest this, so I had to throw this theory out the window.

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Oh, we thought alike. I also got the feeling dad was not dead, but then episode two seemed to tell us otherwise. And at the end of episode one I think it’s said that DalMi lost the person she loved the best (although it may mean that he’s in a comatose state and maybe that’s why grandma and DalMi are struggling so much).

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Lol is it really bad of me to be satisfied with just one episode of Start Up and leave the show with only watching Ep 1?

In a weird way, I felt like I was watching a rom-com/drama film, as it was sufficient for that amount. It's prob. enough to save myself from 15 episodes of unnecessary filler/angst/noble idiocy/tropes lol.

Or perhaps I'm speaking way too early to say these things for now... :3

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I agree that mom just leaving her other daughter in Korea after the dad died made little sense. Was Grandma made legal guardian and mom couldn't fight that? Or was this just her ego after Dal-mi choose her dad over her mom? Or did step-dad refuse to bring her into his house? I hope that we are offered some sort of excuse anyway because that is a bit of a hole on the plot.

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Even so, is she so selfish that didn’t even find a way to support her daughter sending her some money so she could continue her studies. Then, as you said we still don’t know anything about what happened yet.

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I agree that we're missing some of the back story, and I'm sure that it will get filled in as we go along.

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I just assumed Dal-mi wanted to stay with Grandma and mom didn't argue because step-dad might not have been terribly keen on raising both daughters and not disturbing the the money tree came first to mom.

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I am still not sure that the mother even knew he had died. She knows now, obviously, but it seems like they were totally out of touch for many years.

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It could also be that she did try to get Dal-mi but Dal-mi strongly refused to go to her.

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well, it does happen in real life.
the mom wants to get ahead of the social ladder and the down-to-earth dalmi and dad are far too "simple" and "unrefined" for her taste; excess baggages that will simply bring down their social status.
it was also briefly shown in the café seen when the mom was criticized as somebody who preferred staying at the hotel and don't care much about the current husband and her own daughter. She is currently living in luxury to think about her other daughter — whom for all we know hasn't told a thing about to the current husband.

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I agree with this one. The mom is selfish and after the money. She did "love" her children but it was pretty obvious that not enough to support her husband's goals in order for them to stay intact as a family. She was just using the "Provide our children with a decent life" drama on her husband but in reality she was just desperate to climb the social ladder. Because if she was really after providing her children with decent lives, she wouldn't allow any of her daughter to stay with their dad, considering how he just lost his job and how she doesn't believe in his vision of starting up his own business.

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daughters*

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I realized based on so many years of kdrama watching(not saying this is actually reality in SK but hey sure some are based on reality),once the parent who didn't get the custody of the child detaches himself from the responsability alltogether of his kid like it was never there,like it's already a stranger and won't care at all,something i found wrong from the first times i saw it again and again maybe to culture shock...So it isin't suprising here as well...

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This is why we are twins. I quit the show because that is just beyond to me. Who completely abandons their child like that. A couple of beanies told me on my wall that they've known it to happen, but that is just WILD to me. I do hope ypu continue to enjoy it though.

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I’m not pretty sure I will continue. I didn’t really loved it, but I love NJH so I will try.
I can stand nonsense in dramas but there are certain nonsenses I just can deal with. I know you understand!

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Oh I totally agree with you @eazal
I know it's a kdrama, we have to accept nonsenses but no, some nonsenses are not acceptable to keep watching.
We don't know what's going on with mom's marriage life yet but, she was the one who made her daughters choose between dad and mom when divorcing was happening, before she met her rich husband.
I can't understand sister's attitude toward Dal-mi. They haven't contacted each other at all... for 14 years? Then they met and all she thinks about was just happy to know she made the right decision (choosing mom)?
That's like a makjang evil step sister drama stuff.
Well, I'll keep watching at least until next week... Since I also love Nam Joo-hyuk.

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We are on the same boat, I guess.

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My theory is that despite living with her mom and rich step dad, her family life wasn't happy or warm (tiger mom, neglectful cheating step dad, no close friends). During those 15 years apart, she probably was wondering is Dal-mi was happier with her choice/life but after seeing that her sister is still poor and living with grandma after 15 years, she's trying to reassure herself that she made the right decision to leave with mom.

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In In Jae's defense, Dal Mi egged her continuously. She just gave it back to her at the end. I didn't like how she tried to stir up shit by mixing up her name intentionally on public while a reporter tried to rile up seconds ago. It was tit for tat.

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Oh that's so true.
I didn't like Dal-mi grabbed somebody else's mic just like that to begin with.

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Both sisters are pushing appearances and not reality. Nobody ever wants to admit they made a big mistake - just look at the US election rhetoric right now.

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"Then, as a Cyrano fan, I really need this time that Cyrano gets the girl."

That would be nice. But I'm not sure with this story. Dal-mi did develop an emotional connection to the Do-san of her letters, but that connection is more of a fantasy. In her interactions with the real Do-san, she will get to know the latter as a living, breathing person.

Ji-pyeong doesn't have any feelings for her at this point. He wrote those letters as a favor to halmoni, and he almost seemed to have forgotten about them until after halmoni asked him to locate the real Do-san. I believe, in true k-drama fashion, that Ji-pyeong will fall in love with Dal-mi; he will get to know know her as a living person. The question then will be whether or not he steps into the picture too late.

Those letters were definitely a comfort to Dal-mi and they meant so much to her. I don't think that they mean much to Ji-pyeong (at least at this point).

I would love for the story to go the Dal-mi/Ji-pyeong route, but if Nam Joo-hyuk is the lead, then we must assume that he is the endgame.

I truly hope that all of our leads end up happy. And even if Ji-pyeong doesn't get the girl, he has his sweet relationship with halmoni. :)

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I agree with you that in the past the letters meant more to DalMi than to JiPyeong, but I also think JiPyeong enjoyed the exchange of letters, he did, but he had a lot more to take care. DalMi was in pain because she had lost half of her family (mum and sister) and then a year later, she lost her dad. But JiPyeong didn't have anything or anyone... as a teenager he didn't have time for that in his heart.
So I have the feeling my heart will be broken.
I want Cyrano to have Roxanne.
And I ADORE NJH.
I foresee tragedy.

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"I foresee tragedy."

Nooooooooooooooo! We can't have that.

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Halmeoni may have pushed him to write the first letters but the flashback montage showed him eventually looking forward to those letters alone, reading them with so much gusto, and replying to her alone. So he did become emotionally attached to Dal-mi also via those letters. It's just that time of his life, his focus was to get out of the hellish past he has as an orphan, and to succeed in life. He had a very bad childhood so it's understandable why falling in love was definitely not on his list and had to forget about Dal-mi while in pursuit of his dream.

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Good points. :)

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Thank you for the super-quick weecap, missvictrix!

This was an unexpectedly (for me) strong opening week for a drama I had zero expectations of (very average promos/teasers). The blink-and-miss knitting scene had a huge part to play :D And seeing Yoo Su-bin again on screen after his delightful turn in CLOY brightened up my weekend :)

Show made me realise all over again how much I love Kim Hae-sook! She was such a rockstar in Pinocchio and Hospital Playlist. She's doing her thing here too!

Kim Seon Ho does feel like the male lead in the first episode, but the trailers obviously tell us otherwise. I will be miffed if they force-pair him up with the sister, though. If he has to have a romantic interest, let it be organic please!

I'd love to see more of the geeky and difficult entrepreneurial life, where not everything is hunky dory (although a CODA win is portentous and seems imminent), or bright and smiley and happy. But okay, it's a kdrama.

Net-net, this show has me interested, despite however *completely predictable* it is going to be.

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I guess the CODA win will make In Pyeong second guess getting Samsan Tech to Sandbox. And when that happens I can’t wait for Do San to go “hAh!” in his face, cuz as much as I’m a hUGE fan of Kim Sun Ho and his character, he was a little mean to cutie Do San there.

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Kim Sar Hook is ❤️

As for our couples (I haven’t watched the trailers) I guess the OTP IS Suzy and NJH. But I would love the couples be the other way round, you know, because my Cyrano thing.

Also, I think the San boys were the three ones waiting outside halmoni shop and the one who wanted his letter delivered to InJae may have been DoSan. I have a total different drama in my head 😂😂😂

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The actor is different tho.

But what’s your Cyrano thing? I’m sorry for asking.

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Cyrano de Bergerac was a French writer and poet in the seventeenth century. There’s a very famous play (written in 1891) and it’s beautiful adaptation (there are many, but si would recommend the 1990 movie). Cyrano was a sharp and famous poet but a had a huge nose, really huge, he knew and was in love with a lovely lady, his cousin, but that lady was in love with a young soldier who asked Cyrano for help by writing witty and heartfelt love letters to her. She fell in love with the handsome and young soldier not because of his looks but because of those letters. In fact she once confesses to him that he would love the young soldier even if he was ugly. Cyrano and the young soldier have to leave Paris to fight in the war with Spain and the young soldier dies, not before asking Cyrano to tell Roxanne (the lady) the truth. But Cyrano never does and only 15 years later when he’s about to die, she learns the truth.
So that’s my Cyrano thing. I always wanted Cyrano to get the girl because it were his words and not the soldier’s look that won Roxanne’s heart.
I know in this case DoSan is also a warm and affectionate guy (It can’t be other way with NJH), but even so, DolMi is in love with DoSan’s letters and it was Ji Pyung the one who wrote them.
And yes, I know it’s too early in the show to say anything, but...

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agree with the Cyrano thing. Although here there's another twist - Halmoni's role. There's a case to be made that she is the true author of the letters, since she oversaw everything he wrote.

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This just gave me deep SLS right now. Do San is nice but Ji Pyeong is the orchestrator after all.. him and halmoni. Huh. Although they wrote to each other, Ji Pyeong didn’t seem to fall in love with her, although Dal Mi was definitely in love. Or did I miss something? Ji Pyeong did always seem to wait for her reply though. But, he did leave after all. He took the first step.

When Dal Mi finds out so many people are going to be in trouble, lol. I don’t want Dal Mi to be a damsel in distress but so far, everyone around her are planning stuff to keep her happy like she’s some fragile glassware. She better prove them wrong.

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@eazal I replied to your earlier comment regarding Cyrano. But I'll post a little more here:

I think the difference here is that Ji-pyeong wasn't truly invested in those letters. They meant so much to Dal-mi, but not to him. He was helping halmoni, who wanted to comfort her lonely granddaughter. And he wasn't the sole author; he was working alongside grandma. Those letters were a comfort to Dal-mi, but I think she will end up developing a strong, more substantial bond with the real Do-san.

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Ooh if it was the San boys, was one of them Do-san? That would be interesting! I don't think so, though... then the photo should have clicked. need to go back and see those kids again.

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I thought about it when one of the San boys said that the name of DalMi rang a bell when JiPyong mentioned her name... then I said.. what if he remembers because she was the sister (and class mate, I guess) of the girl one of them wanted to confess? What if DoSan was the one that wrote the letter?

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I presumed they said they kinda remembered it because of the Sandbox press conference...

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@pickleddragon were they there? Were they the ones asking questions in the first place? I totally missed it!

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@eazal - Yes, the two boys were in the conference. One of them also asked a lame question. We were also shown a small conversation between them before Dalmi grabbed the mike etc.

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I'm sure Kim Sun-ho will end up with the sister, but hopefully she will have to change a lot to deserve him. I'd like to see her lose all her advantages and have to struggle. But that would probably be a drama all on its own....

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I enjoyed this drama, too. I was a bit reluctant but the first episode got me excited. I'm looking forward to what this drama will bring although I know choosing between Kim Sun Ho and Nam Joo Hyuk is such an arduous task so I'll just enjoy these babies on my screen.

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That ultimate moment of choosing between Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Sun Ho is gonna crush me. Crush me. I’m sure.

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All of us!!

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I was raised around computers and those who work on things like AI (including my late father). So I am simply rooting for Do-san here.

And also for a reconciliation of the two sisters.

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I’m already anticipating the worst... that Ji Pyeong would be paired off with In Jae. It’s not that I don’t like In Jae, in fact she’s quite interesting, but that would be sympathetic pairing off. And Kim Sun Ho deserves better.

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My guess is that Do-San gets Dal-Mi, and her sister gets In-Pyeong, at least if the scenes in the trailers look reliable, as it seems that Dal-Mi becomes the CEO of Do-San's startup, that gets funded as it wins the CODA competition.

In Episode 2 the critical scenes are:

* When Do-San (and his friends) sees Dal-Mi for the first time before In-Pyreong grabs him, and obviously he falls in love with her at first sight (one of his friend grabs the other and leaves them alone as soon as he notices that), and then when Dal-Mi sees the fully upgraded (haircut, suit) Do-San at the networking event and she also falls in love at first sight with him.

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I knew I was gonna get major SLS because of Nam Doreum but just the fact that Captain Dimples is the elder version of it just takes the cake. I haven’t seen much of Nam Joo Hyuk for me to root for him (and I’m still in love with his School Nurse Files character) even if the fact that he knits made me love him immensely. I just want more time spent on Nam Doreum and the girls because gosh he’s such an amazing person. I loved every minute he spent with halmoni and I really wish he would be the male lead because everything in those letters, they’re the ones who have a deep understanding. And Nam Doreum is so uwu.

But the plot is amazing so far and I’m not rating it good just yet. I’ve always loved the dad character actor because the first time I saw him was on It Okay To Not Be Okay and I loved him there. Even in Do Do Sol Sol i like him. And I can’t say that to many actors. He’s just a good actor.

I’m skeptical with the opening week and going in with my guarded heart. I just wish I wouldn’t get SLS cause so far I’m loving Nam Doreum and Kim Sun Ho so so so so so much. And that’s all.

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I am with you on that. I have seen far too many dramas start out really good in the first 2-4 episodes, and then just go 100% MEH! Liking it so far, but I can also see how it could go off the rails really fast.

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I really wish Shi-peong had told Dalmi the truth, so that she would have formed real relationship with him. By lying to her gave an opportunity fir Do-san to form a relationship with her. Now he’s become somewhat a fairy godfather, and sadly he wouldn’t have anyone to blame but himself.

*sobbing as that would mean I’ll also get a severe SLS.*

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This show is just so picturesque and the color palette is lovely. Didn't expect Kim Joo-hun to be here either, so it was a nice surprise (him being omnipresent is a good thing, right @kdramaswimmer?) but his arc was just devastating since I'm really close with my dad and it hit close to home.

I haven't watched Suzy in anything and the last show I watched with Nam Joo-hyuk was Bride of Habaek, so I'm still on the fence whether I'd watch this live or not though. Still, I'm excited to read the weecaps and the comments!

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Omnipresent Kim Joo Hoon is a treat for me which i am enjoying so much.
but his story was heartbreaking... how much talent and ideas he had but bad luck took him away soon.
just like you i was very close to my dad too and i lost him 15 years back so his death brought back some of the worst and painful memories for me... and thats the reason i feel his story was even more torturing and heart breaking for me.

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*virtual hug* my friend. Some stories just hit too close to home T_T

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very rightly said... *hugging you back tightly*

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for Suzy.. she has disappointed me badly 8n her past projects..and this would be very first one i'd watch her acting and am happy so far.
I am watching NJH and love his beauty but not a fan of his acting. and i really hope he works hard on his acting to not to ruin an otherwise fantastic show with such great ensemble cast...

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It is the writing, directing and cinematography which should encourage you. So far Suzy is doing well and I think that it would be a mistake to hold BRIDE OF HABAEK against Nam Joo-hyuk- that was a badly written show.

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Nam Joo Hyuk owned his character in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, almost as if it was written for him. If you haven't watched that, please do!

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Second to this.

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Thank you, @missvictrix, for the recap and analysis. I agree that the introduction "brings our three characters and storylines together so neatly". They can't help it but be tangled with each other for what grandma wanted to do to cheer Dal-mi. Love the beginning - hope it continues till the end.

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The 1 hr and 24 minutes of Start Up was enough to give us a backstory on the FL/2nd FL and 2nd ML. I liked that they showed the ending with NJH's character being a fresh start for our FL. It's a bummer that this is only 1 episode, but it's nice that the show ended without going into filler/unnecessary angst.

Oh wait, this is a 16 episode show?! Jokes aside, good premiere week but I'm sorta iffy on the romance part of the show. Hope they keep it to a good amount that doesn't overtake our FL's arc/journey...

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Cinematography is intelligent and Editing is PERFECT.
how well the current story line and flashbacks are weaved together to not to let viewers feel bored or out of the place... as if we are living all these years with those characters right beside them.
My biggest question.. when Sandbox idea was of Dal- Mi's dad who told it to the Female ceo in lift... how - why and who actually used it to make this big company ?
and will Dal Mi get to know abt it and also will get to feel proud on how great thinker her dad was.

Second.. Dal Mi has great problem solving skills, which was evident the way she handled the crowd. And i am sure she got it from her father who was so sure abt mobile phone being the new big thing in future.

So i hope she gets what she deserves and what her dad couldn't.

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I too hope that Dal-mi gets the life and wealth that her father probably could have given her if it were not for the accident. The fact that she is a practical problem solver will be part of San-san's success I am sure.

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i second this... Samsan plus Da Mi will give Sandbox a good competition...

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I really loved the way Sandbox was actually based on the sand Dad used to teach Dal-mi to swing without fear. The CEO who was going to invest in his concept was the same person as the host of the Sandbox panel in ep. 1 where Dal-mi confronted her sister. So in the years that passed between then and now, she became very successful and, remembering him, founded Sandbox to help other companies get started. It makes so much story sense that Dad took idea from his experience with Dal-mi, gave it to the CEO, and she created the incubator that will help Dal-mi become successful. The gift came full circle.

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oh great details you got.. and that would be the best thing to happen.. and i really hope CEO helps Dal mi without being partial to big companies (as we see when NDS confronted HJP... what he meant wasnt whats published)

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This is a story that has heart- you can see that right from the start. In this way it reminds me of I'LL COME TO YOU WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE even though it is going to be a much different story.

This drama sucked me in and kept me up until 2 AM to finish the second episode.

Did anyone catch the reverse of the Cyrano De Bergerac scenario: Instead of Ji-peong writing letters at Do-san's request he is writing them for a Do-san who does not even know that this girl exists. And, straight out of a fairy-tale- the final scene of the second episode is when Dal-mi and Do-san finally actually meet at the Networking Party- which will have to substitute for a ball in this story- but the cinematography at this point definitely gave us a fairytale like scene.

And, also giving our story another fairy tale twist: Ji-peong had told them that it was not in his power to get our struggling San-San company into the Sandbox. They had desperately entered an AI competition even knowing that their odds of beating out their competitors was probably a million to one. It turned out that, even as buggy as their software was it was in fact still significantly better that of the other entrants: They won. This means that they are now automatically qualified- on their own merits and without anyone else's help, including Ji-peong's, to enter the Sandbox.

And let us not forget that little bit of schadenfreude in the second episode: It seems that Dal-mi's mother now regrets dumping Dal-mi's father as her new husband cheated on her and she now refuses to live in the same house as "that jerk".

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I also saw the Cyrano reference, and I have mixed feelings about it as I’ve said before that I always wanted Cyrano to be with Roxanne. I’m not sure if InPyong young self was in love with DalMi, but he enjoyed their pen pal relation: his smile when he got the letters from the bird house were real.
And this reminds me that Dal Mi left a letter in the bird house... so will it begin now another letter exchange in which the three of them would be involved?

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Yes!! That latest letter had me wondering too.

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We all wanted Cyrano to be with Roxanne. But do not forget that our tongue-tied young soldier also loved Roxanne. And in this story Do-san, his counterpart, is the one with the social handicap (and with no money at this point) while In-peong is the polished, good-looking rich guy.

So, in this case the writer has inverted many elements of Cyrano's story. So while there is a very clear reference to the story we are not going to get s simple re-telling of the tale here. As to the birdhouse-letter thing- we shall see. A lot has already happened.

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What doesn’t help is how Nam Dareum always looks like he’s in love. That boy is clearly beautiful and the day he takes on a lead role is gonna be the death of me. Plus it doesn’t help that his older counterpart is Kim Fucking Sun Ho a.k.a Captain Dimples. *fans intensely* talk about hotness infinite.

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Park Hye-ryun really knows how to write crack. I loved the premiere. This is such a fresh twist on the story because in any other drama, Ji-pyeong would've been the lead in the classic mistaken identity. But now Dal-mi's relationship with Do-san is the ultimate meet-cute where he'll fall in love with her through her letters.

The childhood backstory won my heart. Nam Da-reum is amazing, and Ji-pyeong and Halmeoni is my favorite relationship. She saw past his insolence and took him in. I cried when he hugged her at the bus station "Call me if you're having a hard time," then during their reunion "Do you have nowhere to go?" I wonder why Ji-pyeong and Dal-mi stopped writing letters to each other after a year. Heo Jung-eun is all grown up (I'll always remember her fangirling over Song Joong-ki), and I can't wait to meet Kim Kang-hoon.

I love Suzy as Dal-mi when she dealt with the JKN fans like a boss at the teahouse. I don't like In-jae. Like mother, like daughter, both so materialistic. So Dad was the inspiration behind the name Sandbox? Thanks a ton for the weecap, @missvictrix!

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She does know how to write addicting dramas. I loved these episodes. So much so that I re-watched them with my adult son who's home for a visit. He's a huge Suzy fan, plus he's a programmer, with entrepreneur hopes. We both agree this was a great start.

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My son has just completed his first Kaggle competition, which had well over 1200 teams competing. Your son would tell you that our Sam-san team did not just have the winning score but blew the competition away.

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Lol is it possible to watch a Kdrama just to look at someone? Nam Joo Hyuk! ❤️

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For people in the tech industry, how close is the depiction in this show to the real tech industry?

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Completely dissimilar. For one thing, there should be tons of different avenues of investment available for an early-stage start-up - not just ONE angel investor who makes or breaks success for all. Usually there would be more than one incubator like Sandbox around, and Do San and his buddies would be doing lots of in-person pitching for a place at one or the other. If he was doing his job right, he would be spending all his time hanging around co-working spaces and taking part in pitch battles. Networking events would not be new to him.

Also, what's weird to me is that an invention and a start-up are two completely different things. One is a technological innovation which you might sell to someone as a product. The other is a business idea with a long-term plan for growth. Do San seems to have a product, not a business, and doesn't seem to have any experience working under other people at their businesses, learning how it's done. That's part of what an investor invests in - your experience and your skill to grow a business. I totally understand why Ji Pyeong is so done with him lol, he needs to try harder.

I would never have started watching this show if I was expecting realism, so it doesn't bother me in the slightest :)

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yeah exactly. I have been to 2 networking events just because there were inteesting lectures. and my nerdy friends... after lecture moderator says ok network and bam! these guys, they go through the whole room like it is a nightclub - in 20 minutes no less! with 5 potential partners found and Im just standing around thinking maybe I should stay close to the stick sandwitches.

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Yes, I knew it was not going to really be like the high-tech industry at all, and ofc it isn't. But to make it worse, Do San's product (and you are totally correct about it NOT being a business but a product) as AI facial recognition software. Only someone totally out of the industry would think that is new and fun and sexy. No, it's completely ugly and a tone deaf move.
Facial recog SW is old, old news, and the people who do it best and are there already are certain oppressive governments (like China) who are using it to keep tabs on dissidents. Frankly, I can't think of an uglier product to promote right now.

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I know! I think facial-recognition was chosen purely so they could make dumb jokes about it not recognising his dad, not for any more logical reason :)

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You may be right but the point about its use by totalitarian regimes is quite legitimate, unfortunately

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Ah, in that case isn't it that Do San is just clueless at everything besides coding?--not that it's unrealistic? He just isn't capable of leading a company!

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I was not expecting anything. On paper it looked so boring. But after watching 2 episodes... I kinda... liked it? Maybe. I am not sure if I can survive 16 episodes of it without FF most of it. Kim Sun-Ho and Kim Hae-Sook were the best of it, she is so charming since Hospital Playlist. Everything else was a bit boring for my taste.

God, Suzy is so, so pretty.

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I’m liking this. I was confused on whether I missed out on who is the male lead as KSH really shone through and I’m liking him a lot. And our male lead never appeared till really late but woah when he’s all cleaned up and in that suit and that walk - NJH I like it :) love a drama when you love both male leads and they are both different but yet equally delicious (ha!)
Suzy is very pretty and I don’t see why that can’t be praised. She looks very natural and just God gave her that face and us mere mortals can only lament. I think she acted pretty well for this 2 episodes. I actually teared up in her conversation with grandma about her wanting just one day to show off and how she can’t lose to her sister because that would meant dad was a wrong choice. My heart ...

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I'm not liking this show as much as most of the people here. Perhaps because I was expecting more of the technology and startup world but not getting much of it. There are also too many plot holes that it's hard for me to connect with sthe story. How can a mother and a sister can just neglect the younger sister, especially when they are in position to help? What's with the anomisity between these sisters who were supposed to be very close when they were younger. And how is it possible that a smart capable woman keep self sabotaging her relationship with any potential suitors just because she can not move on from her childhood pen pal? One that she never even met?

Frankly I think all these background stories are not really necessary. Surely they can create enough tensions and conflicts between these characters without needing to link them all with childhood tragedy? The tech and startup world are still not commonly featured in kdrama. There are so many fresh and new angle they can explore. Why start with such overused drama tropes?

Sorry for the long rant. I actually don't hate the drama. I think the acting so far are on points and the cinematography are just gorgeous (those pink cherry blossom 🌸🥰). The glimpse of tech/startup talks that we got in the first few episodes are enough to make me want to continue. More of that please and less of the tropes...

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I feel ya.. honestly thought Dalmi was a little to hung up on Do San, i mean 1 year of pen pal-ship vs 15 of hanging on to memories (the flashback dating was hilarious) girl really doesn’t have friends it seems. N childhood trope wasn’t necessary but they went with it anyway. I hope we’ll get more of the tech n start-up side once they progress though

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I think that the back story was very much needed and adds poignancy to the tale. And I have seen enough other dramas where the family and romantic love stories were simply drowned out by the techno and corporate politics side. I think we will get just enough of the techy stuff to make the story authentic while concentrating on the human drama.

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I feel your pain. My very same thoughts.
NJH is the main reason I watch, but it's not a yes from me.
The plot holes and the nonsese is right now too much, plus episodes are too long and filled with scenes that could be cut off, sincerely. It's pretending to be too pretty with all those cherry trees and the beautiful colors.
One more week and we will see, because first two episodes and I was really ready to FF most parts... not a good sign.

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I loved the cherry trees! part of it is cos i’m stuck in the city so i’m living vicariously thru all the pretty scenes in dramas 😁

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Same....I expected something like Korean Halt and Catch fire. But they are going with the same age old, overdone shitty parent, sisters rivalry, struggling guy dropped dead, step dad cheated on mum, pen pal love etc. It would've been nicer if they really made Suzy come to the story with some real passion for starting up business and a game plan. Its such a cliche story and I will see if there's good enough conflicts to stick around. Otherwise, pass.

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Exactly! I was expecting Korean Halt and Catch fire type thing too... I wanted to see more serious, real struggle about their dreams and relationships. Nope.
This drama looks like an old cliché rom-com drama from 10 years ago in a new package to me.

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I really like Han Ji Pyeong and his relationship with grandma. And as much as I have nothing against him, I can not help but wait for Nam Do San to show his lovely face. I dunno I love a good underdog story.
Right off the bat, I am rooting for Seo Dalmi and Nam DoSan to succeed.

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At this point i’m rooting for more scenes of Ji Pyeong and Halmeoni together. I want moarrrrr they’re so cute together!

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They may be the truly OTP of this drama. Just saying.

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Jang Young-Sil, AI's voice is Yeo Jin-Goo!

Acting wise, I love seeing Seo Yi-Sook (Mago in Del Luna) and Kim Hae-Sook (Grandma). They are absolutely fantastic.
But probably I'm the only one who wasn't so into this drama here...
I was expecting more fresh and new plot/story but it was just an old cheesy Rom-com kdrama to me... I didn't feel real.
I kept thinking, why can't Ji-pyeong tell Dal-mi the truth about the letter...?
And he didn't visit Grandma at all until now?
Dal-mi's mom and sister are the same. Mom met somebody super rich and moving to the US.
That's so Kdrama cliché... And they forgot about Dal-mi?
Even 14-15 years ago, there was email. They didn't even come back to Seoul once for that long?
It looked like sisters cared about each other. They stopped contacting because of hair-pulling fight?
Mom and sister are living a nice rich life while Dal-mi is struggling.... Makes no sense.
And Dad had an accident and died (did he?) on the bus...
These kind of stuff happen only in makjang drama.

I'll watch more because of Nam Joo-hyuk and Kim Do-wan.
Hope it will get better!

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Heee i loved the AI.. reminded me of A Piece Of Your Mind but this one is less creepy than AI Jisoo.

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Ever since Itaewon Class, I've not felt my heart skipped a beat for any dramas after that. Not until I watched Start-Up. Can't wait for the next ep to air.

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loved these episodes so much. Love that the writer took 2 separate episodes to fully ground the leads AND supporting characters instead of trying to start off without that foundation like a lot of dramas do. Love that their usage of fate as a plot point is not too far-fetched like most dramas that use it. The narratives so far have already made my cry more than most dramas have done accumulatively, even though I did think Nam Ju Hyuk's little quibble with his father dragged a liiiiittle.
I actually appreciate Suzy in this role so far. Nam Ju Hyuk has just been getting better. I was fond of him but he really won me over with The School Nurse Files. I would literally lay my life for his loose fitting half sleeve shirt look with his naturally pink, flawless-but-not-retouched skin in that drama. Kim Sun Ho is warm and endearing and this show better not taper off towards the end like some Netflix romance dramas have done lately.
Really rooting and waiting for this drama!

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Surprised this is an Open Thread and not full recaps. Regardless, I appreciate having a place to post about this drama, as I very much enjoyed the first two episodes.

My OTP is Grandma and Ji-pyeong.

I love Kim Sun ho and Kang Hanna and like Suzy and NJH in certain roles. Both Suzy and NJH are good here, but I have a feeling I'll like pre- makeover Do-san more than post.

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Your OTP is the best OTP possible.

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Very surprised. I expected all Park Hye-ryun dramas to get full recaps.

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With you totally on pre-makeover Do-San versus post; before his makeover he looked like a real person, like someone who actually would spend all day parked in front of a computer, while afterwards, when he strolls up to her with the model slo-mo and fancy lighting, he looks like any other kdrama male lead. What a loss.

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What a relief!
I am invested in this drama in a more all-in way than others because it is written by my favorite drama writer so I am overjoyed to see (I have not watched the episodes yet) your giddy recap @missvictrix. And the comments from Beanies here.

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I like the premiere week. Grandma and Jipyeung's relationship is 💗.

Kim Seon Ho! Kim Seon Ho! Kim Seon Ho! Can he remain as Grandma's accomplice and not fall in love with FL?

Visually and with its BGM, it reminds me of Her Private Life and WWW: Search.

Like beanies mentioned, it's a bit too long. I actually watched majority of the eps at 1.5x speed.

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I agree with you - grandma & jipyeong! 😄

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The main lead actor needs to seriously improve on his acting. If he only looked cute like a school boy whose range of expression is wide eye to open mouth then this drama will sink, despite a good fantasied human story in a rat race. I don’t think the lead actress, though good, and the other casts can carry the drama by themselves. Just a smudge can ruin the whole show.

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Scenes I like:
- Dalmi coloring her shoes with black ink (I've done that before, hee! But I won't put my bag on the toilet floor!)
- Dalmi taking care of the crowd in the cafe (but bummer she didn't get to be a permanent staff)
- Granny & Jipyeong's scene at the bus terminal (very touching!)
-When Jipyeong said Samsan Tech's name is based on the 3 San guys! (Sam is 3)
- dad = toilet (poor dad!)

I find the character of young Jipyeong and the older one a bit jarring. The younger one seems grouchy but the older one seems playful. Maybe he's happier after getting richer, haha

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I love this review because it perfectly reflects the excitement I felt watching this premiere week!
A short, gut-wrenching and bittersweet backstory and set up?! GAH!!! MY HEART!
Wonderful acting and the writing that ties everything together!? GAAHH!!! I'M ALL IN!
Marshmallow, porcupine and Suzy in her worn out heels?! GAAAAAAHHH!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

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Is it just me? Or does the man in the end of episode 2 look like Suzy's dad? The one in the CODA room thing where he also said that he was excited to meet Nam Do-san?

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omg yesss he totally looks like the dad

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After 2 episodes, I'm kinda surprised that Nam Joo-Hyuk is the lead and not Kim Sun-Ho. We know more about Ji-Pyeong than Do-San, and for now, I'm way more curious about him than Do-San. I love his relationship with the Grandma, I need more of them!

The story is very kdrama-esque for now, with the mean mum and sister who want to be rich, the kind father who is unlucky, etc. The cinematography is beautiful (the slow-motion with Suzy coming out of the toilets was weird)

Otherwise, my issue with Suzy's acting is not that is bad but I don't see any difference between the characters she played.

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I had low expectations for this, but when I finally decided to watch it I was pleasantly surprised. Much better so far than I expected, almost enough to make it onto my MUST WATCH list (I need at least 4 episodes for that).

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Just watched this and oh no...i'm gonna get SLS aren't I? 😭

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Suzy's so radiantly beautiful. Anyway, I watched the first episode, looking forward to the second. Not sure how many of the episodes are out right now, but it looks good!

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I enjoyed the heck out of the first two episodes! The tech start-up world as a backdrop to k-drama magic really worked for me, and I already love Halmoni and Seo Dal-mi. Not sure how I feel about Dal-mi and Nam Do-San just yet, though I think I preferred him looking all cute and scruffy, lol.

That said, I did have one major problem with the plot setup: who splits up siblings like this? I don’t know anything about family law is South Korea, but most countries don’t leave custodial decisions to minor children! Also, how come neither of the non-custodial parents showed any interest in the daughter not living with them? With Dal-mi in particular, she’s essentially orphaned by her father’s death, and the mother doesn’t think to take her to America as well? Whatever.

(Aside: I really like Kim Sun-Ho in this. He seemed familiar, and then I realized why. The dimples and the Obsessive Tech Bro haircut are just like Hyun Bin in MotA, lol).

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i LOVED this premiere!!! i havent loved a premiere like this in awhile. i think you put it in such great words- i feel emotionally connected to each character already.

ugh and fake do san's story with the grandma and the letters was so freaking cute and heart warming. i can feel second lead syndrome creeping on

i cried like a baby during the first episode...the dad :(

i'm rooting for real do san and dal mi. i just want them to be happy and find success lol

also really loving Kim Sun Ho in this. i fell for him and his character in strongest deliveryman and he's kinda making me fall for him all over again. there's just something about his deep voice and the way he delivers his lines makes me all giddy lol

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Definitely digging this and all of its sweet moments, all of the flaws pointed out in the comments aside. Nice contrast to real life in this time of pandemic....

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Does anyone know which daughter was on the swing ? in the first episode

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watching ep 1. that mom is such a selfish bitch. if you want more money, then go to work, duh. lazy ass woman.

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Ok. I am late to this party but will comment anyway. I personally do not hate the sister, while she seems to be set up as the antagonist, I actually think her choices were the more realistic one. She is painted to be a b* but that has always been the unfair depiction of women in a corporate setting - that if a man is assertive, vocal, and blunt - he is perceived to be a kick-ass boss, but if a woman behaves exactly the same way, she is called a b****. The FL on the otherhand, I don't get why she is hung up on those letters and the boy behind it, and why the need to antagonize her sister in a public setting, plus, why pick a one-sided fight.. her head is in the clouds...

Now I hope the next episodes will change that but right now I am rooting for the second leads more plus halmeoni.

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I think the sister has built a shell bc of divorce and moving... trauma is not always visible. We do not sre inside a person. I am actually more invested in her development than Dal Mi. I think the sister refuses to let her weakness show or she cant. That she might have done it all out of fear to get even more hurt.

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I dont yet care for Dal Mi much. I do care about the boys.
Wouldnt it be insane if actually Grandma was the one who ended up with the biggest franchise (penpal in a bird box?) Plus food biz. Showing it is never too late to make it big.

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