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Start-Up: Episodes 11-12 Open Thread

So many feelings! It’s a real rollercoaster this week as we see Samsan Tech navigate their highest of highs, and their lowest of lows. Relationships are impacted as we watch some dreams being realized, and others cruelly crushed.

 
EPISODES 11-12 WEECAP

It’s game on for everyone at Sandbox, because after all their hard work, it’s finally demo day. This is the moment that all the teams have been working for — there can only be one winner, and the 50 million won prize means success or failure for a lot of these companies.

Even though Samsan Tech is facing quite a bit of emotional turmoil (what with the “bug” reveal and tension between Do-san and Dal-mi), the team rallies. Their group spirit is one of my favorite things about this drama, and that really came together not only during demo day, but with the other issues they run into later.

But first, it’s time for Dal-mi and Samsan to shine on stage again. They nail their presentation, and Do-san’s technology has a serious wow factor. Things have to come full circle again, of course, so once again Samsan Tech and Injae Company’s algos are made to compete against each other. And this time, it’s Samsan for the win! Their accuracy rate might be lower, but their program is smaller and more agile. Alex is blown away (as is everyone), the team WINS!

They really earned this moment of rejoicing, and it’s so fun to watch them overjoyed and on top of the world — especially because this was a test of the team’s (and especially Do-san’s) integrity. They’re tempted to inflate their accuracy number to match/exceed Injae Company’s, and this moment of will-they-won’t-they is suspended for a while. It was an agonizing few minutes. Thankfully, Do-san and Dal-mi side with honesty, and I love that this choice brought about their win. How can we not rejoice with them?

Samsan Tech might have won, but there was a judge noticeably missing from the entire event: Han Ji-pyeong. Yong-san’s accusations against him caused Ji-pyeong to do some serious navel-gazing, and he goes through a rather heartbreaking tailspin this week.

He questions what he said to Yong-san’s brother as much as he does how he’s treated Samsan Tech from the get-go. Ji-pyeong is so hard on himself, but I love that we get this look at his inner workings. The ever-wonderful Director Yoon knows exactly what Ji-pyeong is going through and tells him not to blame himself, and later, even Dal-mi tells him all his criticisms of them were necessary — but either way, Ji-pyeong removes himself during this point in the story. And it has some dire consequences.

Do-san has been courted by 2STO’s Alex for a long time now, and now that they’ve won demo day, it’s clear that the companies will now have a formal relationship of sorts. Do-san previously told Alex that any deal has to include keeping the entire Samsan team, and continuing to run their app Noongil, and Alex agreed.

So, between being high on success, and having built some level of trust with Alex (and his enthusiastic interest in their algo), the team flies into signing a contract with 2STO. And they really do fly into it. They’ve no sooner won demo day than Alex presents them with a 3 billion won acquisition deal. The overwhelming sense of having succeeded supersedes any questions or suspicions, and our team looks over the contract and signs it soon after.

It might seem like a rash move on behalf of Samsan Tech (and indeed it did to me), but I guess here we can rationalize this by their naiveté around business and their desperation to succeed. Both of these things work against them most horribly in this instance.

When Ji-pyeong finally gets wind of what’s going on and reviews the contract, it doesn’t take him long to see the truth: not only is this not an investment, but it’s not an acquisition. It’s an acquihire, where Alex is basically buying the company for its engineers. Ji-pyeong tries to warn the team, but their desire to succeed, and Yong-san’s animosity towards Ji-pyeong, means that the warning doesn’t get to Dal-mi and Do-san.

The team’s excitement over the sheer magnitude of their success doesn’t last long. Samsan Tech goes from being on the top of the world, dreaming up new ideas and imaging their lives in Silicon Valley, to being crushed — quite literally.

Alex immediately dismantles the team, dismisses Dal-mi and Sa-ha, and makes it clear he has no intention of continuing the Noongil service. Ugh, it’s one of the roughest scenes in the drama thus far, and everyone (well, everyone from Samsan Tech) is crying by the time it’s over. They’ve been played in the most humiliating way possible, and their dreams have been dismantled by the very contract they thought guaranteed them success.

It’s heartbreaking! The team has come so far that watching them become shattered like this after they landed such a huge, impressive deal is one of the worst things ever. And everything starts to crumble because of it.

Do-san (rightfully) loses it and confronts Ji-pyeong. They have a huge fist fight in the Sandbox courtyard, and sad though it is, the raw emotion in this scene was killer. Do-san’s hopes and dreams are shattered, but one of the things he seems most upset about is Noongil and halmoni. He tells Ji-pyeong the secret of halmoni’s failing eyesight, and then it’s Ji-pyeong’s turn for a heart-wrenching breakdown.

In his bloodied, beaten state, Ji-pyeong seeks out halmoni, and it’s the saddest thing in the world to see him sobbing over her, and telling her that he’s not really a “Good Boy.”

So much crying, but even more coming! The Samsan boys have to decide what they’re going to do, since the contract is impossible to back out of. Here we get some nice character development for Yong-san, and a strong sense of what that “revenge” against Ji-pyeong really means to him: it means proving him wrong, and succeeding.

It’s hard for Do-san to accept what’s going on, though, and who can blame him. He goes from being happy and successful, packing for San Francisco with his mom giving him (adorable) dating advice, to being robbed of all the things that gave that success meaning.

He and Dal-mi clearly care for each other, and despite the lies around the letters, it really looked like their closeness and affection would win out. But this second humiliation is almost too much for Dal-mi to bear, and she chooses the difficult path of letting the failure go by breaking up with Do-san to further encourage him to leave.

Interestingly, this doesn’t feel a bit like a bit of noble idiocy swooping in — sure, her denial of him breaks his heart enough to get him to go, but I also feel like Dal-mi is done. The story digs into her character a bit here, and this idea of resiliency. I have to hand it to her. She takes her loss with real grace, and after mourning, she’s back on her feet, interviewing for a position at Injae Company. The girl has gumption.

These two episodes went so much further than I expected, in terms of how broken our team would really become. I never exactly trusted Alex, but he stooped to a cruel low. Our puppies! One might want to chide them with an “act in haste repent at leisure” sort of sentiment, but really, their youthful energy and expectation of good things coming is what makes them all so wonderful. I wouldn’t take that from them.

At the close of this week’s episodes, it certainly feels like we’ve hit the climax of the drama (and possibly warrant the time jump that seems pre-built into the story). From Sandbox, to Samsan Tech, to Dal-mi’s relationship with Do-san — things have shifted irreparably. What happens next? How will our characters respond to the challenges they are facing, whether that is a different kind of success than they wanted, or having to start over from rock bottom? I know what I hope we’ll find as our story continues, but I’m sure the drama has some surprises in store for us yet.

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At this point, I hope the writer won't be making Ji Pyeong as Dal Mi's rebound in ep 13. And then after Do San returns, Dal Mi realises that she still loves her and leaves Ji Pyeong. If the writer decided to go with this story, it'll be a huge disappointment and waste to the whole story of this drama. And judging from the preview, the letters story seem to be already thrown out of the window... I bet the writer must have regretted to put out that letter story in the beginning.. because ji pyeong's character is so strong right now..

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I agree. I'd rather Jipeong and Dalmi develop a good friendship than romance. Romance wouldn't feel right. Hopefully Dosan comes back stronger and more mature having realised that his love and his dream are separate things.

I'm glad Jipeong finally realised that his words could hurt people although it was tough watching him cry in Grandma's arms. I really felt for him. But i think his harsh attitude and words are not what Director?? Yoon had in mind when she created Sandbox. She wanted to protect people, hence the girl on the swing analogy and HJP failed to protect his team.

Also, Dosan realised that they did need HJP's help afterall. But between the delivery and acceptance of said help, too much white noise was created and it turned into miscommunications all over the place. Fist fight was bound to happen.

All in all I think things are moving in the right direction, although not without breaking our hearts first.

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It is my opinion that it is part of Ji-pyeong's job to tough on the teams. If he were not, he would be useless. These teams come to the Sandbox to practice and to get a taste of the "real world" Ji-Pyeong's upfront, bare bones comments help to give the participants more of a sense of reality. Yoon said to Ji-Pyeong, "If you hadn't told me those things, I would have." He needed to hear them. If Ji-Pyeong's job was to baby the participants by giving them false praise and hope that would get them nowhere, then he would be worse than useless. Do you remember the post it note that YongSan's brother showed him? Part of it say, "Don't let someone else's opinion..." and the other part was something like "determine your future" (but I forget the actual words). So if YoungSan's brother felt those words were important, then why would Ji-Pyeong's words drive him to suicide?

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oops sorry about the errors in that post.

Ji-Pyeong's job to be tough...

"If you hadn't told him those things, I would have"

Part of it says, "Don't...

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bc words can be very powerful. they can break the resolve of the strongest person, make them feel like they have nothing to live for. i don't think it was jipyeong alone who drove yongsan's brother to suicide, so his single-minded grudge against jipyeong may be a little misplaced. but:

1) he's grieving, and as with everything dosan does, people don't want to give yongsan any concession for his frail state and emotional instability;

2) yongsan has now directly experienced how brutal jipyeong can be, hjp has given them every reason to believe he's not really batting for them. it's clear as day that he's only reluctantly doling out advice bc of dalmi.

given these things, i totally get why yongsan snapped when jipyeong was willing to invest in something for the sole purpose of protecting someone he cares about. well, what about the one yongsan cared about? what about his brother who put everything out there looking for guidance, only to be ripped apart in public? jipyeong would still be useful if he dialed his harshness down a little. why is the immediate response to 'hjp is too harsh', oh would you rather he be a mentor who 'gives them false praise'? no one is saying he should swing from one end of the spectrum to another. there is a vast area in between that would allow him to drive his points home without driving his mentees' self-esteem into the ground.

director yoon told him she would've said the same things to the mentee if he hadn't, but let's be real, she would have never called a mentee a fraud, or told him his idea is worthless. the problem is not that jipyeong is a realist, the problem is that he is unnecessarily cruel when he has no reason to be. or are we saying that his callousness is what makes him useful?

words of reassurance, even just a simple, 'hey are you okay?', can give someone who is headed to hurt themselves a new reason to live. in the same way, words can be damaging, hurtful, defeatist. they can push the cart closer the edge even if they're not the final nudge that tips it over.

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A fool is a fool is a fool. Yongsan was repeatedly proven himself one so why would his brother be any better?
The way the story is told its like his brother came home and told everybody every detail and then decides to go jump off a bridge. So if they knew he was so distraught why didnt they comfort or get him counseling. Its quite common in kdrama for events get blamed on people for the stupidist of reasons.
If JP had talked really nice and the company had made stupid decisions and lost the company the fool yongsan would STILL be blaming JP, except for the company crashing and not the suicide, just like the loser dosan lashes out.
The same idiots that blame JP

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I will say that there is a difference between Ys brother's case and Samsantech. In YS' brother case, Jipyeong was not his mentor, but in SST he is the mentor. And as venture capitalist, he will judge objectively. YS brother has already get 100 million investment but his product was useless because handphone spec has already changed. As a VC, I think JP could say that.

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The script writing is weak. Its not like the storyline made the viewer wait until now for the dumstans to understand they should have paid more attention to the mentors advice.
The fools had previously gave away their company secrets to supposed investors and JP saved them, Then JP provided the means to get NoonGil even operating funds and dosans ass out of the ringer at the same time.
So when JP tells them the same thing he would have told them before if they had the IQ to ask and the immature petty dosan hits him?
There are fools and then there are fools who refuse to be educated. Thats dosan.

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This is sound like a much biased comments demonizing the characters. What advice do JP specifically give to the team regarding this? Calling when it's too late anyway? This would not happen if they have other mentors, say Director Yoon. Every character is flawed that way and everyone is learning including Jipyung. The discussion below I think explain things very well - a perspective which are different than yours if you're open to break those bias. I am actually concerned seeing how you think talking harsh words is justified by good intention. Hope life is treating you well.

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I agree. As much as I felt so bad for JiPyeong going through the ringer this week (both emotionally AND physically), the reality is that he really has failed as a mentor for Samsan Tech. Reasons being:
-his overly abrasive manner. You can give someone honest feedback without yelling and insulting them.
- from the start he never really believed in Samsan, and I think that affected how he mentored. The only reason he paid them any attention was because of Dalmi and grandma. He may have been pleasant to Dalmi, but the rest of the team literally only have memories of him tearing them down and saying they’ll never make it and that they’re losers. So I’m not surprised they weren’t keen on taking his advice when he finally did show up.

That being said, I’m glad that we saw through flashbacks that he was reflecting on his past interactions with the team how hurtful his words must have been. And we were able to see him learn from it and try to do better in the following interactions.

I also appreciate that Dalmi let him know that even though she may have been hurt sometimes from his harshness, she got over it and always followed his advice in the end. I think that was helpful so that JiPyeong wouldn’t be too hard on himself going forward. But no, I definitely think it was right for him to apologize and admit that he dropped the ball in that respect. I just love seeing how all the characters are growing in the show, and it’s so satisfying whenever they have a realization and then their next actions reflect what they have learned.

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Yes, agree with everything you've said.

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We all saw that he was taken aback when hearing about what happened to Yong San’s brother. He began to lose confidence then until Dalmi confirmed that it doesn’t affect her much and it is for some good purposes. Still, it was clearly seen that he reflected on what he did and felt sorry about it.

Now, before he went in the room and told them those harsh (but true) words, he met this Alex. Alex clearly signaled him how bad the members of team would end up if they ever fought against 2STO or acted the way the had acted that day. Let’s say that if Ji-pyeong had been any softer than that -telling them that they wouldn’t be able to beat 2STO and just join them and let the girls stay here and give up on NoonGil and the thought of suing 2STO, do you think Do-san and the guys would take that? Will they ever be able to go to work at 2STO with the present state of mind? I don’t think so. As much as I remember, Ji-pyeong didn’t blatantly say those harsh words at first, someone provoked him so he used those harsh (but true) words again. I’m not saying he isn’t at fault here; all I’m saying is that there was indeed a reason for that.

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After that, he got into a fight with Do-san. Even during the fight, he still had this gut to tell Do-san that the terms of the contract, besides the fact that the team will be disbanded, are quite good. My interpretation is confirmed again by how sorry he was towards Dal-mi for those harsh words at the noodle shop. It's true that he cares about Dal-mi, not the whole Samsan Tech team, but he never plays it dirty towards them though sometimes he can be straightforwardly rude.

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And this lesson of his:

"If you cannot fight them, join them"

is what all the members are doing. The three guys are now doing great (though their objective may be to get back at Ji-pyeong) in the company that tricked them into working with them and that they so hated, and Dal-mi joining her sister's company. I'm not sure how much all of this is Ji-pyeong's intention, but seeing from the results, the lesson is practiced by all of his mentees.

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I wasn't surprised that JP needed to take some time off to process that shock, and I understand that. I also know that during that 2STO conversation with the team, he was egged on into being "harsh". But him being MIA wasn't just the 2STO contract incident. On multiple occasions earlier, he showed that he wasn't a good mentor for them. He may not have played any dirty tricks on them, but any advisement he ever gave was:

- the bare minimum: giving Dalmi a list of companies to reach out to for investments, but not warning her about the danger of being exploited.
- at the last second: he knew that Morning Group was shady, and he even heard from CEO Won that he had ulterior motives, but instead of stopping her, he just told her at the last second to record the meeting. If he had been less passive with her, she wouldn't have even needed to let that meeting happen.
- too late: the 2STO incident. By the time he came to his senses and tried to stop things, Dalmi and Dosan were already signing a deal, and he had already lost the trust/respect of the SamSan boys.
- only for Dalmi's sake: "I'll be plan B". This was not for SamSan, he really only suggested this as a means to comfort and protect Dalmi if she got hurt from losing.

And I agree that I don't think the boys would've accepted JP's words that day even if he had been softer, they were already done with him at that point. For me, it's like a "boy who cried wolf" situation. The boy messes around so much pretending there's a wolf, but then when he's actually in danger, no one takes him seriously and he ends up getting eaten by a wolf. JP, as a mentor, never really had faith in SamSan Tech. In return, SamSan Tech weren't given any reason to trust him when he finally tried to help. It's actually a really sad situation.

Dalmi reacted better to JP's "harsh" words that time because she was more level headed as a person, and she also had a different relationship with JP than the others. Even though he was pretty frank with her too on occasions, she never experienced the kind of insults and put downs that the SamSan boys dealt with. I don't think she would've been able to calm them down either. So yeah, I feel like there was no way around them having that outburst, but I think it really needed to happen and everyone involved is gonna grow from it in the way they need to.

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@fourwithsun I get your points and agree with them actually. JP is not there for Samsan Tech because he never really believes in being philanthropist as he is an investor. I know he doesn't believe in their project because it's unprofitable, and actually think that he should have declined Dal-mi's choice of wanting him to be their mentor. It's not like it's JP's fault for SST's fault here for not being able to get along, it's just a mismatch. Dal-mi choosing JP might be based on her assumption that JP and Do-san was really close (again, what DS had told her), and because he helped them in multiple occasions (again, primarily because of halmoni's request). I think he should change the way he speaks, yes, but not because of wanting to get along with his mentees but because he knows the consequences of harsh words himself; and I'm glad he learned something from Yong San's brother's incident.

What he definitely shouldn't have done is accepting the role of their mentor when he didn't think the same way they did. This, I agree, that it was his mistake and it was because of his main interest, be it romantic or not, lied in Dal-mi.

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@looky thanx for replying, but I still don't think you've answered my question. Plus I'm avoiding the other fora, especially My dramalist, because the screeching was so loud, it gave me a headache. Came here because people at least try to engage respectfully. Anyway, like I said, people call him selfish and manipulative and someone even said that they hope for the whole Samsan Tech team to have a very unhappy ending. Just where is he manipulative and where is he selfish? Because from what I've seen, he loves his friends and sat through the night to save Dulchan's job by figuring out the bug on the system which no one else could figure out by the way. (My technical knowledge is severely lacking, so excuse my use of technical language.) Anyway, he also cared so much about Almoni's condition that he figured out an app to help her. But how this could have been construed to be manipulative, I don't know. Also, why did Dosan tell Dalmi about Almoni's sight when she asked him not to?? I don't think it was anything malicious at all, it was something Dalmi had to hear anyway. Almoni didn't want her to find out because she didn't want to worry her, but the sooner she knew, the better. She's also putting so much more into Noongil now after knowing the truth.

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can you share why you felt like he learned after reflecting and did better in following interactions? i saw no change in him at all, which was disappointing. i'm curious about why you feel otherwise.

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The main things that led me to conclude he was taking some positive steps (I could be mixing episodes together so my timeline may be off):

1. The flashbacks in his mind of all the times he hurt SamSan team and Dalmi with his words. This showed remorse.
2. He apologized to Dalmi (I feel like a character like his doesn’t apologize very easily, even when he’s proven to be wrong, so I was very impressed lol)
3. When he cried to Halmoni, admitting that he hurts people with his words, and that he acts like he knows everything, but often times doesn’t know anything at all. I felt like some may think he was being too hard on himself, but it’s actually kinda true (He acted like he was so sure SamSan boys would fail, but they kept proving him wrong; he was so sure Noongil was a flop and a bad idea, not knowing it was for Halmoni.)
4. When he went to go ask Alex for a favor (granted, it could be disputed that he was still only acting for Dalmi’s and now Halmoni’s sake, not SamSan, so this point is not so high on the list)

In general, I think the growth that JP made this weekend was in becoming self-aware. He became aware of how hurtful his words could be and of how misguided he was about the SamSan boys and their app. When he looked on and saw Halmoni happily using that “unprofitable” app, he came to realize that business and life aren’t always so black and white, and not every decision is made based on a monetary “profit/loss” model. I’m actually interested to see how these two values of his diverge (his cutthroat business sense vs. his love for Halmoni).

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@fourwithsun thanks for sharing! this is something i hadn't considered bc his treatment of sst was no different, even after that montage of him realizing he was wrong in criticizing them. but the self-awareness he now possesses, esp. after learning about halmoni's condition, is important as well. i hope we get to see this translated into his behavior in the coming episodes.

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Ji-pyeong never should've been their mentor in the first place. The only choice was Alex. Alex flew to Korea to meet Samsan Tech, was the one who recommended them to Sand Box, and they're a tech company. Unlike Ji-pyeong, he believes in Do-san and would've treated the team with respect. Even Ji-pyeong would've chosen Alex. Samsan Tech's lost potential is on their CEO for choosing the wrong mentor.

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Do think if Dal Mi had chosen Alex to be their mentor, SamSan Tech would be in good hands? He clearly was only after the recruitment of the trio and not actually concerned about helping SamSan tech at all.

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@lookie Yes, for one, the whole team would actually like, trust, and respect their mentor. A positive working environment with happy workers is more productive, efficient, and fosters creativity than a negative working environment where employees are constantly berated, degraded, and disrespected.

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@panshel Well, I beg to disagree. Ms Yoon was never shown to have mentored In Jae. Her step-dad is just as bad as Alex who were there only to take advantage of the fresh ideas of the hopefuls. At least Ji Pyeong only has his sharp and harsh words but they are the truth. Look what Alex did after his acqhiring...Dal Mi and Saha immediately got the boot.

Yet, you find much fault in Ji Pyeong. Answering 400 questions? He did that. Looking for possible investors for SamSanTech? He did that. Running off to warn them about the acqhiring? He did that. Giving advice to Do San before Demo Day because he was blocked by the other Sans to talk to Dal Mi? He did that. And there were many more. I admit Ji Pyeong is flawed. But he gave them straightfoward answers when they asked for it. Unfortunately, these geeks cannot handle the truth. So I wonder if they can even exist as a corporarion, despite their technical expertise.

I hope you can at least appreciate Ji Pyeong. He showed much remorse over the death of Yang's brother. That much was evident. Blame the writer if Do San appears to be inadequate and many viewers are more pro-Ji Pyeong as his is the more developed character. I hope the 3 years in Silicon Valley will help the 3 Sans tremendously to become better versions of themselves.

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@lookie Director Yoon was never shown to have mentored In-jae because In-jae was not allowed to have screen time. Chairman Won and Alex are mentors, yet we've never even met any of the other teams besides Samsan Tech and Injae Company.

Answering 400 questions, looking for possible investors, warning them about the acqhiring, giving advice to Dal-mi via Do-san... He did all of that because he is in love with Dal-mi, not because he cares about Samsan Tech. Ji-pyeong would've been the perfect mentor for Injae Company because both have no-nonsense personalities, but unfortunately, In-jae was too busy lying about being the swing girl.

I admit Do-san is flawed, but many viewers refuse to see he's had character growth before the 3 years in Silicon Valley. I hope you can at least appreciate the other characters besides Ji-pyeong.

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@panshel relative to your latest comment, I was merely reciting a few of the good characteristics of Ji Pyeong and I am glad the writer has done a good job about that. Having said that, it does not necessarily mean that I am not appreciating Do San and even critical about his actions. What I actually mean is that his character as written by the writer leaves much to be desired. You could see that in many fora. That's why I said that those 3 years would give them ample time to be better versions of themselves. Better, meaning they are actually good now. On a side note, and perhaps unrelated, we, viewers, should be able to separate the actor from the character he portrays.

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@panshel Could you maybe just flesh out your dislike for Dosan a little for me and explain why you find him so inadequate, because I really love his character and don't understand this unfair hatred. People have written that they find him selfish, manipulative an apparently "kind but not good', but none of it makes any sense to me as in the drama I've been watching he is warm and caring and yes, pretty dorky, but I find that endearing. As for him and Jipeong not liking each other, that goes both ways. So please just make me understand.

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Sorry panchel, my question was directed @looky

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@lookie It's pretty clear that no matter how better versions of themselves they become, they will never be good enough for people as shown by the reactions to the 30 second preview. People have already made up their minds about the other characters.

Viewers should separate the actor from the character he portrays when half the comments here are fangirling over Kim Seon-ho?

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@panshel Is there anything wrong with fangirling? I am unabashedly a fan of KSH as many others here are because of the way he has breathed life on his character. I also know many of his followers here are fully aware that Pyeong is merely a character and totally separate from the actor. This goes both ways, though, as we could definitely sense a fan war even in other sites.

It is really sad that comments about the characters in the drama are sometimes taken by fans as personal criticisms towards their stans. Talking about all the positive attributes of a favorite character should not be taken as a jab to the other actors. At all times, we should be able to separate them from their roles to have a healthy exchange of ideas.

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Yes, talking harsh is really bad. He should have gone to the networking event himself and said his name was dosan and moved in on dalmi never telling her how he was manipulating her because thats how nice guys do it.....with beautiful soft words...

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Nope how about using someone else? That's how good Boys do it. Having someone else pretend you can later blame the other person anyway.

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But but see he went rogue it not like I continued helping him do it. I know what's good for you girl whose name I barely remembered. I knew what's best for you. So unfair now that I can't get you bohoo.

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Whatever happened to cold hard truths?

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@carulhein74 Wow! Dislike and hatred are such strong words which I believe do not apply to my comments. You may have misunderstood them. I only said that the character of Do San has not been well-fleshed out and left a lot to be desired for a male lead. Sure, he has those endearing qualities you mentioned if you look at him, but they are not really enough for me. You can also go to some fora and scroll on the comment section for this drama to know what are lacking in Do San's character and what were his actuons that didn't sit well with some of the viewers. And I must say, there are quite a lot. It's not really Do San's fault. It's the writer's. 😁😁😁

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the thing i was most disappointed about in this episode was jipyeong taking time to reflect on how he'd been too harsh with samsan tech all this time, only to go back to sandbox the next day and tear them apart again. did he learn anything from his encounter with yongsan? of course, yongsan is misplacing his anger bc of his grief and jipyeong can't be held accountable for his brother's suicide, but to hear your words may have contributed to someone taking their own life should have had more impact on jipyeong imo. he realizes how much power his words can have, and yet still chooses to cut people with them.

and you make an excellent point comparing hjp's method to what dalmi's dad had imagined a "sandbox" would be in the first episode. hjp does not push his mentees so they can swing higher, he pushes them in a way that's more likely to hurl them off the swing and land somewhere outside the safety of the sandbox.

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Why does JP have to apologize for supporting dalmi? Thats what he was there to do from day 1 and the dumstans knew it all the time dosan was getting trained.
Further on every one of them bumped into him, wouldnt give messages to dalmi and just generally harrassed JP from the start. They blackmailed him not 10 minutes after he saved them from giving away their company tech.
What is the matter with the PC police?

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Your comments are very one-dimentional. It's not the JP show. 😄

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You sound very biased for some reason, is everything okay? Everyone is having a very healthy discussion, butting in like a butthurt person under every comment really ain't it... sorry for sounding harsh, but that's exactly what you are doing.

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So I take it you find it difficult to respond to the irrefutable points?

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@MajongSofine You are saying dream on? thats very mature thank you, how about before you tell someone to watch the drama, you watch it yourself? I remember someone commenting they skip dodal scenes and only watch jipyeong :) , also the fact that you would mention other mentors, like one user pointed out they haven't shown? and the only other mentor was the director who hasn't been screaming at anyone in injae company even if they screwed up, so before telling someone else to watch it, maybe you should put your bias aside and look at the drama as a drama :) Rest is upto you if you want to keep contnuing the childish fighting and name namecalling the sams :)

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There really aren't irrefutable points in what you stated, if you cared enough to go read further threads or atleast read some information on what people are commenting here, you would understand the point, but of course you do you and refuse to see the very well written points by other people, like you thinking why he has to apologize for supporting dalmi, no one said he should.... people are just pointing out how he hasn't been a great mentor to sst and how their lashing out was justifiable here, thta was the only thing people tried to explain, but of course you wouldn't see that.

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Dream on he was a great mentor. How many other mentors had to deal with their mentees screwing themselves out of buisness 3 times? Did other mentors not get their messages to the CEO's because of the petty mentees? See the actual drama before commenting on things that didnt happen as you say

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@mtskeels @MajongSofine How can we see the actual drama if it never shows us the other mentors and mentees? Name one mentee in the other teams who's not in Injae Company.

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@MajongSofine You are saying dream on? thats very mature thank you, how about before you tell someone to watch the drama, you watch it yourself? I remember someone commenting they skip dodal scenes and only watch jipyeong :) , also the fact that you would mention other mentors, like one user pointed out they haven't shown? and the only other mentor was the director who hasn't been screaming at anyone in injae company even if they screwed up, so before telling someone else to watch it, maybe you should put your bias aside and look at the drama as a drama :) Rest is upto you if you want to keep contnuing the childish fighting and name namecalling the sams :)

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Again, I'm late to this thread as with the show and catching up with everything has probably earned me with a different perspective on things.
Honestly, Do-san is a selfish brat. He feels entitled because the SamSan trio went through life's "hardships". Insert eye roll. I give my $20 to the orphan who was actually street smart and had the balls to make his life better with less baggage and drama. So yes, you may not like my comment about Do-san's character but seriously, life has thrown apples and lemons at Do-san's doorstep since he was little and he should be grateful and remorseful (ok, he was guilt tripping the entire time, I give him props for that) but it doesn't give him the right to sucker punch someone who had been deprived of so many things and not knowing his backstory is what made Do-san such a prick. But yeah, the Kdrama commandments clearly state that he who is the first lead, gets the redemption. Ugh.
In the case against Ji Pyeong's conduct as a mentor, a VC and a person with enough professional grit is as expected. There is nothing free in this world. His advice comes with his own experience and while he provides this candidly and albeit, unsympathetically, he is right in every sense. The SamSan group was unfortunately immature in every way, they couldn't carry the simplest business ethics and mindset which is what In Jeon has. This is why they can't grip unfiltered feedback. They always act as if they're the little girl on the swing who didn't fear falling because there was enough sand to cushion the fall. There were no sandbags in the Sand Box office to cushion the fall of making business decisions without understanding the risks of such. And if Ji Pyeong had to downplay it every single time, then he loses that one thing he values, respect.

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I have a feeling it won't happen and she would treat him more as friend,mentor and maybe family.Doubt at this point she would hurt his feelings when we know she still likes Do San and keeps sometime updates on him(based on preview)...I feel more sad for Ji Pyeong as he must like her even more after the 3 years time...Still by the end i hope he will continue to be part of the family...

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Maybe I'm in the minority but I actually like the idea that the story fast forwards 3 years with Dosan and Dalmi apart.

When Dosan said that his dream is Dalmi, that just didn't sound right. It feels as if he has attached his search for his self-worth with Dalmi that it's been twice now how he's reacted violently in situations where he perceived as an attack against Dalmi (the smashing of nameplate with InJae's dad; now the fistfight with JiPyeon both because he thinks they offended Dalmi). He needs to find himself on his own and grow a little.

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Boy just needs to knit! People should know that if Dosan starts getting mad, just shove some knitting needles and yarn in his face before he gets violent.

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I’m looking forward to the time jump as well!! And I agree that I’m not a fan of his violent outburst in regards to DM. What happened to our sweet boy who knits??? It seems like ever since that scene where DS explained that he knits when he’s angry, he hasn’t picked up a yarn and needles since lol 😭 and I loved that softness about him, and the choice he made to channel his anger in a healthy way. Perhaps all the stress and letdowns have made everyone a bit unhinged lately, but I’m sooo ready for the time jump so that they can have some time apart and everyone can get some clarity and level heads. Being in love for the first time, it will definitely bring out the irrational side of you.

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I miss knitter boy so so much. I hope he takes knitting back up during the time jump.

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I love the time jump AND Dal-mi's noble idiocy. 2STO and Alex are the best things for Do-san's career. I ship Do-san and success.

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i ship dalmi and success too. these two along with dodal form the holy trifecta of ships for me.

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I ship DS with his core goodness even after the time jump. Otherwise I would stop caring for him too.

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i am pumped about the time skip! it's really clever that they wrote this into the premise, bc after everything that has happened in the last 12 episodes, all of our characters need to take time for themselves and find their own center. i'm hoping their growth will be presented in a way that stays true to the people they are in the 2016 timeline.

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I agree. I had discussed this with some people explaining that JP was never going to be the ML because he didn't need Dalmi like Dosan does. But the problem with this is that a relationship wont work if he needs that person so desperately. The relationship wont be equal. He needs to grow and mature and see he has worth and confidence as a person outside of Dalmi. He has never felt confident or secure in his relationship with Dalmi, or him as a person, because of the lies that stem all the way back to when he was a child. So he needs time away to grow and mature and gain that confidence in himself first before he can be confident in his relationship with Dalmi.

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From what i have watched so far, it seems like SDM would have always fallen for DS, not because of the letters but because she saw herself in DS, even after she found out at Hacketon that DS was lying (i think it actually brought them closer) but because she could relate in many aspects to DS. They were all about the same age at a similar stage in life, and HJP just seem too over their league.

I doubt the writer expected the support for HJP to be that great of an effect as we usually see the SML pinning for the FL and we will still root for ML and FL to be the endgame no matter how nice or caring SML was. But this time around it seems to be getting out of hand at the other side of dramaland.

The letters and confession were swept under the rug without any afterthought because it was never supposed to have an effect on the audience, we were not supposed to pin any hopes on HJP and SDM. We were supposed go in knowing that ML and FL belongs together. We were supposed to root from DS from the beginning.

The flaw in the plan was KIM SEON HO, the depth he added to HJP was quite phenomenal since ep 1. and i think those micro expressions that he have added every time we see HJP on screen really made him feel like an extremely well layered character, we could tell why he was hurt and why he was happy because KSH understood his character well beyond what the writer wrote. I think DS and DM are all well layered and executed too! but i think KSH did a much better job at expressing HJP than the rest.

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Yes i agree with you, KSH really put the depth in JP character that it is so difficult not to root for him. Plus his story is more captivating to me compared to other main leads; how he grew and became what he is now, how straightforward he is yet so gentle; in fact these characters are normally found in first lead, that's why probably many are rooting for him too. This is the first time in my history of watching kdrama to root
more for the 2nd lead. The way KSH potraying this character is just so so beautiful, he really nailed it as JP, his microexpressions, how he looked and cried when knowing that grandma is going blind really shows his sadness and love at the sametime to grandma that we can actually feel JP feeling. I personally think JP is the highlight of the character in this story compared to the other leads. Anyway, I am hoping for all the leads to be happy whoever DM chooses in the end and hope the writer will not make the 2nd lead to suffer more and make him a happy ending as well.

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I agree with you; I don't think it's any writer's intention to make SML to overshadow ML. It's just that strange.

I also agree that KSH's minor facial expressions every now and then distinguished him from the rest of the cast (besides halmoni whom I think matches well with him acting-wise).

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I have to say, even though I do love KSH and Jipeong as a character, I don't think he's over shadowing NDS at all. I don't quite get the backlash and hysteria. I enjoy the show just as it is right now. Strange how people see things so starkly differently sometimes 😃

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Yes. It’s interesting. For me, JP character is very strong -so strong that I think it sometimes overshadows NDS.

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Look at us being passive aggressive. It's actually not interesting at all! Don't know why I said that. t's annoying!!😄😄😄😄😄😄

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LoL I was about to comment the same thing. I was gonna say that look at how the show has turned us very lovely Beanies into very emotionally-invested Beanies. I blame everything on KSH’s dimples. 🥺

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Those dimples make me do irrational things too! Hahaha! Otoke?! 🤦🏻‍♀️

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I know! It's not like I dislike Jipeong, he's a great character and I love love love KSH. I just feel like defending poor Dosan against all the unfair hatred. It's almost like it's a fight to the death where one has to be demolished for the other to survive. I don't like unfairness so I can't help but jump to his defense. 😃

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Also, something that really really annoys me is that Jipeong would probably not have soared to his heights without Almoni believing in him like she did. Even after he treated her so badly, she still insisted that he's a good boy and that probably changed his life. Fact is that Dosan and his team's genius was only recognised by Alex and Jipeong didn't want to ruin his record and he did not hold back in his criticism and sinocysm. Still there's flaws in every character and room for improvement all over the place. I'd just like people to open their minds a wee bit.

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You're so right. It's not like we're fighting and the only one standing is the survivor! 😊 isn't it great to see how much people are invested in the story? If we put our emotions aside, I believe the show is successful as it arouses so much feelings in the audience.

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Oeg, my spelling of cynicism is embarrassing, I do apologise.😬😬

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I also agree. In the beginning, I was more into Do-san, but going forward, my heart was set on Ji-pyeong. Sometimes the heart knows what it wants lol. He does just does it for me lol. I love his complex, complicated yet kind nature, and his unwavering love for Halmoni/Dal-mi despite his history. He is such a fully realized and human character. Plus, it doesn't help that KSH has this magnetism that draws you in as a viewer. Personally speaking, NJH is talented but lacks charm. There's a clear difference in acting/charisma power, and KSH is just incredible here. I really hope he gets recognized at the Baeksangs/other awards shows for this amazing career breakthrough!!! So glad its happening to a great guy in rl :)

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I think the 3 actors (Suzy, NJH, KSH) are all doing a great job...

Maybe it depends on which character touches each viewer more... and for me, that's Ji Pyeong.

I actually found myself forwarding the main leads scenes in the last few eps... I guess it's because I think they'll be, 99%, the end game anyway...

I just want to know what happens to JP! And maybe DM grandma..

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It's actually fine that you prefer to skip scenes just to see the sweet and handsome Mr Good Boy only, but I hope that you don't use that to demonize or bash other characters. It's just that I've been engaging with some toxic JP fans who bash DS and DM character but don't even watch the whole drama and vowing to skip other scenes.... they don't even empathize with whatever hardships other character have and labelling them one-sidedly as dumb and all... It's terrible haha

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I skip their scenes because I realized I am not that interested on how they break up/ make up/ get back together.
Each viewer has their own way of interpreting what they see, and how they react to it.
I respect that, but I also respect whatever story the writer and the director show me... So I am not in the habit of "bashing" or "demonizing" any character (or actor/actress) if I don't like them. Their roles are their roles in the drama, nothing more nothing less.

I take any drama as it is presented. They are the writer/pd not me. If I don't like how characters are developed in one drama, then I try to avoid dramas by the same writer/pd.

And I do like PHR, I have watched all of her dramas. She's actually one of the reasons I started watching Start-up. JP (and KSH) was a bonus. 😊

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yeah, i don't think he is overshadowing nds, not in any way that can be considered a positive for the character or the actor at least. after the first few episodes, he's been getting 10-15 mins of screen time, which is why these viewers are not interested in the story anymore. anyone who thinks he overshadows nds is likely to also be of the mind that the story is meaningless without hjp, so of course, their perception would be skewed to think hjp is overshadowing nds. hjp IS the whole story in their eyes. it's a very biased and self-serving position.

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I respectfully disagree. It's not about the amount of screen time one gets, but their impact. Everyone has different preferences and that's fine. I think NDS is an interesting character as well, but I also feel like HJP's role has quite a large presence. It feels like everyone's else's arch is set and told, but with HJP's, it's unclear. I find that intriguing, and its a flawed character but there's something about his fairy godmother/cynical-ness mixture that affects all the characters in the show whether they know it or not.

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You sound a bit condescending. People who think JP is overshadowing NDS might simply prefer the former because of the actor's acting for all we know. I'm still interested in the story because I'm a loyal audience of PHR and always have trust in her messages and treatments of characters, main or second. But I also happen to be much more endeared by HJP throughout the course of the story. It's pretty dismissive (and also self-serving) to think anyone who doesn't hold the same opinion and preference as you do as simply not getting the story.

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@soulsearch12 thanks for your input! i agree with you that this is influenced by personal preferences, and also agree that that is fine. i love that you said hjp is a flawed character, so i'm going to jump off of this and say that most of the hjp fans i have seen on various platforms do, in fact, think he's flaw free, or that any mistake he makes can be excused bc he has had a difficult upbringing. i can't try to make a point about how hjp is really harsh with sst without someone aggressively countering with but it's the truth! it's for their own good! this is an easy example bc it's actually indisputable that hjp is harsh with his words. it's worse with the "morality" comparisons; people hate on dosan for the same things that they will turn a blind eye to when it's hjp. everyone is free to root for whoever they want, but this double standard is rampant across all platforms, and very off-putting and disheartening to those of us who are interested in other characters' arcs and the story as a whole. i can't take hjp being propped up on a pedestal seriously, bc that is not coming from an objective point of view. and hence, the implication that hjp overshadows nds, given all of the above, rings really hollow for me.

i appreciate posts such as yours that are thoughtful and engaging, and that do not let their bias grossly misrepresent the show. unfortunately, they are quite rare.

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@kaiyouessensu you might want to go take a glance at the reddit discussion threads that have thousands of comments that all echo the sentiment that hjp is the sole reason they are still watching. that is perfectly fine in itself, but it is unmistakably bias at play. almost all comments frame hjp as a broken man with a difficult childhood, which consequently absolve him of all of his mistakes. how they impact other characters is shrugged off dismissively. hjp is widely considered a punching bag, a character everyone is beating down on, someone who can't catch a break, bc the "writer hates him", and his lessened screen time in the recent episodes is perceived as a concerted effort from the writer to divert the audience's attention away from him. how does that make any sense when hjp was never meant to be the central character in this show? given that, it is self-serving to perpetuate the idea that the focus shifting away from hjp is an orchestrated slight against his character, and not bc the story was written in this manner. since you are a fan of the writer, i'm sure you know phr wouldn't change her story up bc of audience feedback. any writer with respect for their craft would never do that. this is why i don't buy the idea that he is overshadowing the lead, bc it stems from the misconception that the story is solely about hjp. it is not.

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Well, if I have to be honest, I would say this has been the most disappointing script of PHR so far personally, and not because of how she has done Ji-pyeong 'dirty', but because of the messy love-triangle and all the unnecessary teasings that are supposedly there for dramatic purposes. I vehemently dislike the whole shipping thing with this drama and definitely do not root for Ji-pyeongxDalmi (or any couples in this drama for that matter), but one really has to turn a blind eye to believe that PHR doesn't try to make her audience divisive this time, which really muddles all other messages she's trying to make. If so many of her viewers find it too distracting to engage with the story and the where the lead characters are heading, she only has herself to blame. Do a Misaeng or a Because This is My First Life if you want your audience to root for actual character growths and not bordering emotionally manipulative like this. She did this with all her previous dramas but it goes overboard this time. Still will be watching her future stuff tho.

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@kaiyouessensu i think she tried to take some writing risks, but it didn't land so well with the audience. i respect that she was trying some new things, but at the same time, this love triangle/shipping war is one of the most vicious i've seen. i actually love love triangles. when it's done well, it adds a nice dramatic tension to the writing, and is often a catalyst for character development. but with startup, it's honestly exhausting, and at the end of the day, i'm not sure what everyone is fighting over. focusing on the love triangle was a major misstep on the writer's part, i agree. i would've much rather have had dosan and jipyeong bonding after reluctantly helping each other and become like bickering brothers, as opposed to whatever we've got going on right now.

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Speaking of harsh words and Reddit, I distinctly recall reporting a Redditor with the username "dogemama" for calling a Ji-pyeong stan "witless" in a comment on one of the "Start-up" episodes two weekends ago (long since edited, I'm sure, if not deleted by the mods). If that was you, then I congratulate you on your recent character growth.

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I'll try to respond to this without sounding biased.
As much as I would like to sing praises on NJH's acting, it is a far cry of an improvement from the days of Scarlet Heart but I guess, NJH is just an actor I personally cannot resonate well with as Do-san. There's something missing and I'm still trying to figure that out. It's like his character is under a ransomware attack and I need a decryption key to save him. Again, this is just me and I guess on the flip side, this is what made me compelled to watch the show because of how Ji Pyeong's character was well played. SOooooOoOo well, it created an arc that I guess the writers didn't anticipate the viewers to have. That kind of positive reception for a second male lead takes us back to dramas like Jealousy Incarnate where fans had so much jonesing for the second male lead because it was well played. You can't blame the actor for bringing a character to life and allow viewers to feel this way. KSH made us (I say US cause I know I'm not the only one) root for his character not because he went through all that shit for nothing, but we had 1 character in this story that was sticking to his principles and trying to improve on his shortcomings. Seeing all that unfold is why Ji Pyeong is winning the hearts of the viewers and Do-san still needs to get his code right to break that streak.

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Phenomenal acting? I'm not sure. HJP for sure and obviously is the more well-written character amongst them all. Tragic backstory - no parents and newfound relationship with an older cute grandmother not of the same blood - smart and did something for himself and is rich and established yet still lonely. Tell me one part of that, that doesn't work? Lol it was meant to shine. It did for sure!

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I agreed to every word. Actually my
reason for watching this drama is bec of nam joo hyuk. I am now actually rooting for the 2nd male lead for the first time! I couldnt care less if Dal Mi ends up Do San or some other guy (her attitude of always wanting to get even with her sister is unprofessional, draining and pathetic). Ji Pyeong deserves more. I think hes the only normal character in this drama.

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I am not rooting for anyone. I watched it for Nam Joo Hyuk and I'm watching it for Nam Joo Hyuk.

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Ji-Pyeong x In-Jae couple? ;)

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I agree! HJP definitely had a well written and rich backstory, but i also think that DM and DS had a rich backstory too!

Even though DS's story wasn't as tragic, he too had a rich story, he was a maths genius who never quite lived up to his potential only for us to find out later that he was cheated during the competition and had to always live with that guilt. Loves knitting (wah how cute is that?!) and is so dorky and nerdy. doesn’t believe in blood type and and all those stuff.

DM has a broken family, her tragic backstory of her dad dying shortly before achieving success having to see her mum and sister way ahead of her, and her dropping out of school and despite all that still having the tenacity to dream and achieve them! And she had grandma by her side too :)

So i think all of them was made to shine made to work and tug at our heart strings nevertheless! but i do agree with everyone that HJP's story had more emotional elements to it.

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They could've let his story shine on its own because it is really good but he has to fall for Dal Mi and have all this love triangle bullshit going on that has no positive impact to the story whatsoever.

I still like it though. Would've preferred it more sans the love triangle and more of startup and growth.

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"The flaw in the plan was KIM SEON HO... "

- I wonder if they (PD and writer) expected this "twist".
I for one, am definitely watching because of him and his character. The writer had another lovable SML in While You Were Sleeping (Jung Hae In)... but here... SML is definitely stealing the show from the main leads.

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I think with Jung Hae In in While You Were Sleeping it was always clear he never really had a chance because the OTP was clear from early on so there wasn't the same reaction from the public while here the waters are more murky. But Jung Hae In got really popular after that role so I think Kim Seon Ho will be the same.

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Is it murky because JP was introduced first, and he has the real childhood connection with the female lead? 😁

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Yes, at least in part because he was introduced like a male lead would be in any other drama, the first episode focused on him and their childhood connection so by the time Do San showed up audiences had already formed an attachment to Ji Pyeong. Also he has the tragic backstory, and even as an adult his best friend seems to be an AI device, so he's still quite lonely. That tends to tug at people's heartstrings. While Do San has a loving family and great friends. I do think another factor to JP appeal is Kim Seon Ho himself. He is very charismatic and his acting draws attention. He was also a scene stealer in Strongest Deliveryman where he also played second lead (really liked how his story ended there).

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Of course. Characters that connect first and are proven to be loveable and good are prime and later introduced characters are seen as interlopers especially where romance is concerned. Couple that with the 1000 percent malicious way dosan took advantage of dalmis feelings for JP who wrote the letters and the scene is set. In any screenplay it would take perfect writing to make the audience feel dalmi made a rights choice in suitors choosing dosan but that wasnt the case. Every episode was filled with his stupidity (tech guy who cant figure out buttons on BMW) pettyness (how he interacted with JP pushing and shoving stepping on toes) lies, cheating (multiple times from simple stuff like scrunchies to math Olympics).
The list could go on 20 more things but people attribute that JP "overshadows" dosan because of his acting??? Maybe about 5% worth but all the bad things dosan actually did dont play a bigger part that JP's acting?

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I think KSH in Start Up is more stronger than JHI was. His role/presence is large, he affects the characters surrounding him. He gives the top advice, he's the sandbox to DM/Halmoni/and yes Samsan Tech. Plus, if you check out the Netflix description, it revolves around DM/JP lol. Plus, KSH is a classically trained theatre actor and has loads of charisma. When he's on-screen, the other actors don't stand out as much. He is what you call a Star!! NJH might have top billing over him, but in actuality if you look at the show, KSH is on-par as lead in work/office/overall minus the romance aspect. He is the best thing in Start Up, without his character, it wouldn't be getting the attention its getting rn.

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Yes, I agree. HWT (JHI's character) was an almost perfect SML, who quietly accepted the MLs and wholeheartedly supported them. He really got so much attention in WYWS, even posting he was #1 on Naver Search 😊.

HJP, on the otherhand, is a totally different SML... As I've said in some other posts, I like PHRs dramas.. And when I heard Start-up will be led by NJK and Suzy, and a not so known (well atleast for me) KSH and KH.. I was a bit worried. No offense to NJH and Suzy, I do think they're good actors (especially NJH who got a whole lot better since Bride of Habaek)... but maybe not yet at a point where they can LEAD a drama on their own.
I am just taking a wild guess that that maybe HJP has a stronger presence than your usual SML is because he really is not your typical SML in a drama... he is an integral part of the drama.. an almost ML. And they sure did a perfect casting with KSH.

Hahaha not sure if this post made sense...

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Haha, don't worry I understand you!

I think its one of those moments that even the writers themselves didn't know how much love/traction KSH/HJP would get. On paper, the role can come across as harsh/one note, but KSH with his charms makes HJP three dimensional/multifaceted. I know he's been getting more love in the romance genre, but man, he has the chops to pull of a heavy melodrama/drama a la My Mister :D. High praises b/c that show/LSK there is masterclass acting!!

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I don't think they did? As in him getting more love/praise for his role. The director of Start Up praised KSH's acting talents/kindness in the press conference. I definitely think its one of those lighting in a bottle moments, where the timing, role, situation, and such worked out in a perfect storm for Mr. Han/KSH. It's fascinating seeing K-netizens voice their support of HJP as well. Sometimes certain characters/actors just captivate/bloom in a role, which is the case here.

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Kim Seon Ho 🥰

Love love this analysis of what prompted the shipwars. It makes sense to me.

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I love JP with Halmoni, but JP as a character himself does nothing for me. KSH portrays him well certainly but not enough for me to ignore the very clear and consistent story progression and the relationship development between DS and DM from the moment they met to the moment they break up. I view the characters from the story aspect and the letters is just merely a set up for the consequent lie which establish the premise for character motivation and growth.

The writer is weave the emotional beats and connection between DS and DM with nuanced details that JP fans chooses to ignore, such as DS being touched by the letters and their messages exchanges before they met, or how eventually DM only mentioned DS' hands the second time DS asked her what she liked about him.
I root for the DD relationship itself and I don't see this drama centred on DS vs JP and who gets the girl because from the moment DS and DM met, the writing is crystal clear that they are the OTP.

And all those comments about how the drama is focused on JP like he is the male lead? From casting news and all promos of the drama even before the drama is aired, NJH is billed as the lead. If that is not enough, and male lead is determined by amount of screen time he has, I'm fairly certain DS's screentime exceeds JP's by a clear margin.

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I love KSH and his portrayal of HJP but it was clear to me from the start that it's gonna be DoDal.

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you have taken everything i feel and articulated it so well here. thank you so much for sharing!

re: hjp/ksh - i really enjoyed his portrayal in the first few episodes, and was rooting for both guys. but i quickly realized hjp was just another rehash of the standard tsundere male leads that exist in abundance in dramaland. right around this time, the fanaticism around hjp/ksh got out of control, and somehow the discourse around the entire show got reduced to hjp can do no wrong. i've been scratching my head this whole time, like yes ksh is charming but he is absolutely not good enough to be overshadowing the leads in any way. how can he when he barely gets 10 mins of screen time every episode? all the hate dosan gets is in large part influenced by this blind reverence for hjp. dosan is never considered on his own merit or mistakes, and everything he does is magnified and scrutinized using hjp as the golden standard.

i know we can all be passionate about the characters we root for, but this is the first time i've seen this level of negativity directed towards one character due to preference for another.

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Exactly!!

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YES! "The flaw in the plan was KIM SEON HO"!! I remember reading an article about him being cast as the 2ML and I remember thinking, "uh oh..." and being confused because I was sure they meant 1ML. lol. He is such a phenomenal actor, I am interested to see how this ends. I have never cared so much about the 2ML.

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I agree that Dal-mi would have always fallen for Do-san. She could relate to his lying because this whole ruse started from Dal-mi lying herself to In-jae about dating Do-san and co-founding a company with him. They are a lot alike with both starting up their careers. Ji-pyeong is older and established in life that feels like a generation gap between them.

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I think the character build up for NDS is too weak. It's almost the end of the drama and his character is just starting to build up. He is always on the weaker, sentimental, emotional flow of the story. I think there are also flaws on HJP character as well. It's too extreme, from being polite and comforting towards Grandma and SDM to being the super mean mentor to SST. The storyline is quite predictable. I have tried many times to drop this drama, but KSH kept me watching. For some odd reason, his acting is very interesting. I agree with those micro expressions. It's the small details that caught my attention. His character is supposed to be cruel and mean, but when he smile it negates all of it. The viewers must have felt same way since I have read a lot of HJP vs NDS arguments on social media.

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That's the problem with Kim Seon Ho. He smiles so beautifully.

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If he doesn't end up blowing up from this show, and parlaying that into lead roles, critical acclaim, and more recognition for his talents. Then surely something is wrong, hopefully it happens, because I think his time to shine big is now. Got to strike when the iron's hot!! Go KSH!!

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100% agree. I went into this drama, like I do all dramas, already shipping the ML and FL and I've never changed my stance, simply because Dosan has never given me reason to not ship him with Dalmi. I love JP but I was confused when I learned there was a huge ship war between these characters. It was obvious from the beginning who was the ML and if you are going to ship someone who isn't the ML, why keep watching when you know your ship isn't going to sail? I personally drop dramas if I ever stop shipping the ML and FL together. But it seems lots of people convinced themselves JP had a chance when it was clear he was the SML before the drama even started.

People also have been saying JP is a very complex character but I don't agree with that. Besides the first ep he hasn't shown much character growth or change as a character. Out of all the characters he probably has had the least character growth of them all. He has already accomplished all his goals he set for himself in ep 1 and now all he wants is the girl. He did have some growth in these latest episodes but before then he has been almost unchanged as a character since ep 2. I think it is ultimately KSH's phenomenal acting that is making the character seem more interesting and complex then he actually is.

Dosan and Dalmi on the other hand have grown a lot. And a lot of people say there isn't much to Dosan but I find him a very complex character that has been growing and changing through the whole drama. He also was the clear candidate for ML as the drama is specifically about making a startup and these characters dreams and goals to accomplish that. It would be a very boring drama indeed if it was just about JP who already accomplished most of what he wanted out of life and now he just needs the girl to crown his accomplishments.

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I should add, I understand sticking with a drama, even if your ship doesn't sail, for that character. Not to see them end up with the FL but to see their story to the end because you do enjoy their character outside of them being the OTP.

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Wow, so much in 2 episodes. The good bye scene between Dalmi and Dosan so poignantly contrasts with her sister’s farewell. She has taken Ji Pyeong’s advice - if you can’t fight them, then join them-and has matured to accept limitations. Instead of holding on to Dosan, like she did with her sister, Dalmi lets him go because she recognizes this is most practical. This realization is also what makes Dalmi brave enough ( and swallow her pride) to interview at her sister’s company. I can’t wait to see how all the relationships will reconcile in the next few episodes!
Also, i love Kim Seon Ho. Watched Catch the Ghost while waiting for new Startup episodes last week-he was an amazing lead. Hope he is lead in his next drama, he deserves to get the girl!

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I do not really care who gets the girl at this point. I just want some happiness for Ji Pyeong. I think he deserves it.

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Samsan Tech is so frustrating. They don't understand anything from the world of Start-Up.

Ji-Pyeong is cash when he speaks, he says straightforwardly what he's thinking. But if you want to success, you must put your pride in your pocket and listen the words and not the way. Dal-Mi understood that, but the 3 San, they can't accept they're not good in business. His breaking down with halmoni was the best part, they really have a beautiful relationship and the actors a great chemistry.

Do-San : he discussed twice with Alex behind the back of his team, he was the one who suggest that Alex pays for all the compagny and he was warned that Alex was not a philantropist.

Yong-San : Instead to tell that Ji-Pyeong was behind the death of his brother when Dal-Mi said she chose him as mentor, he chose the most important day of their start-up to talk about it? They could talk about it before or choose another mentor... He didn't talk about his brother's death with somedy else like Director Yoon. Now, he wants to go to America because he wants to prove to Ji-Pyeong he's not a failure... but Samsan Tech doesn't exist anymore... Ji-Pyeong didn't judge them as coder/developper but as a start-up entity.

Dal-Mi : I was disapointed she couldn't play her role as CEO. When they thought to lie about their rate, she should have been the one who takes the decision, not Do-San. For the contract, Alex didn't give a time line to sign, so they could wait and ask Ji-Pyeong about it. For Nature Morning, Ji-Pyeong was a part guilty because he didn't answer to Dal-Mi because of his feelings, in this case, he misses only one day and wasn't aware. Dal-Mi should have contactd him to explain that it wasn't an investment but an acquisition.

Ji-Ae : I'm feeling like I almost never saw her in this drama after 12 episodes. This character deserves better. She was good in the last 2 episodes. Halmoni, her mother and sister are living together and she's alone...

I hope the 3 years would let them growing-up and stopping the mean little wars between the characters like the love triangle or Yong-San and Ji-Pyeong.

I'm curious how Do-San and Ji-Pyeong protected Noongil.

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Dalmi was thoughtful enough to get him some porridge because he was sick, and even called him and brought it to his apartment, but somehow fails to communicate the most important thing: that they got a contract from 2STO. CEO? What CEO?

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@shichybot I know, right? Question Bomber forgot to ask the most important question 🙄🥱

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So true. Its either she doesnt trust Ji Pyeong's advice at that time, or shes more concerned about her feelings with Mr. Han, or she's not fit to be a professional CEO with a business mind. With all her 400 questions to Mr. Han in the previous episodes, why not ask about Mr. Han regarding a deal so big as this?! Tsk tsk. Its Dal mi's fault as a CEO for not protecting the company's welfare.

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Yes, I think it was probably on Dalmi as she was the CEO, but it's all part of the story. She has the potential to be a good CEO, but it's also her first time doing this and as in life, you learn through your mistakes. As does every character in this show. They were all newbies. Now Dalmi has to swallow her pride and accept that she has some learning to do. Even if it is from her In Jae, who has a lot of experience. All part of the learning process. Every single character in this show made mistakes and had to learn the hard way. Great writing in my opinion. Looking forward to what next episode brings.

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Looking forward to the next episodes as well. Experience comes with maturity. Also hoping the two sisters will get along in the end. Sibling rivalry has to stop.

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Hehehe, Dongcheon my doppelganger was available to! Dalmi-yah! Maybe Dalmi secretly has a thing for Lexie Baby?

Under the tutelage of Injae, Dalmi-yah will learn how to resist them boyz.

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Yong-san's arc felt a little off to me too. With how purposeful everything else was introduced in the drama so far, how and why Yong-san's hostile feelings against Ji Pyeong were raised just now, after all this time was a bit anti-climactic considering how the "revenge" arc has been teased so much in the past episodes.

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It almost carries no weight, and turned itself to be only a plot device. Another thing is I have a bad feeling hearing that 'Friend, let's go to the U.S. I don't want him to think of us as losers...' This doesn't sit well with me for some reason. It's strange that I don't really root for the Samsan trio gang.

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They're cute together. But they made Ji-Pyeong their ennemy by jealousy. I agree Ji-Pyeong didn't do anything to be nicer but they should understand at least how to use Ji-Pyeong even they don't want to be friend.

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Or how to treat him with respect as how we should treat other people.

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I think both parties could do better. Samsan Tech trio can learn to separate personal feelings from business and see criticism objectively; whilst JiPyeong could likewise learn to give criticism without sounding condescending all the time. But I do appreciate the portrayal of these flawed characters, nevertheless. They are human as we all are and I feel like I learn along with them lessons that each complex character brings to the story.

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thank you for your level headed response, @drinkurwater. i am baffled by how hjp stans see no issues with the way he treats sst, and shift all the blame for their antagonistic relationship on them. you can't clap with one hand. dosan, chulsan, and yongsan don't respect hjp bc he doesn't respect them. forget respect, he thinks they're good for nothing losers.

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I agree - Yongsan's arc was there from episode 2? 3? I was thinking ah, so the letters' arc has ended now - can we get to the "revenge" arc soon? But no, it was finished even before it got hot.

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Would have more impact if they have give the revenge arc to a cameo/one-ep actor and not with the supporting actors?

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Ah, thank you, thank you. I ff some of it, but one thing I was sure, that DS talked to Alex about it. But after of what happened it was almost like he let Young San take he blame for it. I was confused a bit and was waiting this post to found out.

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@kurama I definitely agree with you about Ji-Pyeong not being wrong when he called Samsan a company that would not succeed. In the form it was in at that time, it was doomed. But at that time it was the 3 guys. With changes, it becomes a different company. When Samsan was accepted into Sandbox, it was not accepted as the company Samsan. It was DalMi that picked them as her partners. Had she not picked them, In Jae wanted them. Either way, they were no longer the Samsan that Ji-Pyeong said was doomed to failure. And what we anticipate as the super success of the 3 san guys (or at least of Dosan) after Silicon Valley is not the original Samsan. Ji-Pyeong was not saying that the guys were all losers, he was saying that Samsan at that time was not a viable company. And he was correct. So no matter how wealthy and egotistical YongSan becomes, he isn't going to be proving Ji-Pyeong wrong because things are way more complex than that.

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I don't agree with you. Firstly, Samsan Tech chose Dalmi. Not the other way around. Also, they are still using the same software that Samsan Tech developed, which won them the prestigious Coda prize. Point is, they got into Sandbox through all the legitimate channels. It took Dalmi to steer them a bit, but why JP could not do some steering from the start and just dismissed them out of hand, never seeing any value in their technology. That's shortsighted in my opinion.

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Both DalMi and InJae won the initial step to form a team. Each of those could pick 4 people for their team. Both DalMi and InJae picked Samsan and Samsan went with DalMi. If Samsan had gone with InJae, the name Samsan would have disappeared as InJae was in charge. Going with DalMi, they could keep their name because DalMi was in agreement. If neither DalMi nor InJae had picked Samsan then Samsan would not have been in Sandbox.

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But both wanted them

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This is a plot hole. Samsan literally could not pick In-jae because she was already a team of three, so she only needed two engineers (the twins). If Samsan had picked In-jae, only two of them could go, and their company would've had to split up.

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I agree with you. Because a startup needs element of hacker, hustler, hipster. Samsan boys are all hacker, they were incomplete teams. Even angel investor with the heart of gold and softspoken nature will not invest on them.
Their image recognition program is good. Even JP also said at the time that I am sure your product is good. But startup is not just the software.
That's also why the aqhire happen. They are valuable as programmers from the start. But there are not really good startup to invest in. They are being bought as employee?-programmer talent.
And btw sandbox is accelerator btw, and they invest 6-10% equity in preseed stage. So all the mentor operate with investor mind as representative of Sandbox. It's not the same with mentorship in other fields.

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I agree. I rarely comment, but I felt the need to. I feel one the major issues of Samsan tech is that they are unable to take criticism. Dalmi displayed nice resilience - yes, Ji-Pyeong could be condescending but his criticisms werent incorrect. Dalmi took what he said, and asked ok so what can we do?
The others just sort of dismissed anything he had to say and went there own way. I mean, they didn't even have or know about having a business plan and didn't understand the importance of if even with Ji-Pyeong's condescension. The lesson went over their heads, they just focused on the insult.

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"Dal-Mi understood that, but the 3 San, they can't accept they're not good in business."

hjp has never been as harsh and mean with dalmi as he has been with samsan tech. dalmi has also never seen the way he treats the boys, so of course, she hasn't seen the worst of him. i'm sure she would have something to say if she witnessed hjp tearing samsan tech to shreds, as he has done in almost every interaction he's had with them.

excusing hjp's harshness bc this is what happens in the "real" world is a falsehood. there would be grounds to take this to hr if anyone spoke to a colleague or a subordinate like hjp does in the real workplace.

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HJP wasn't really nice with Dal-Mi neither. He was opposed to her decisions, but still helped her. Mentors are here to help for the business part and to work with the CEO. Director Yoon never talked to the engineer of In-Jae's start-up.

The real world is about 90% of start-up fail, 20 % in the first year. Why? Because of marketing, team issue and bad decisions by the CEO.

They're not colleague or subordinate. HJP is an investor who put money in start-up and doesn't want to loose it.