Start-Up – K-Drama Episode 12 Recap & Review

Follow Your Dreams

Episode 12 of Start-Up begins with Ji-Pyeong breaking the bad news to the rest of the team. Now they realize with horror that Do-San and Dal-Mi are signing away their company. Ji-Pyeong races up to try and get to them in time but it’s no good, they’ve already signed. Shaking Alex’s hand, their fortune is about to take a turn for the worst.

At home, Dal-Mi speaks to her Grandmother and A-Hyun, showing them the app and preparing for their trip to the US.

They’re not the only ones either, Do-San is also getting ready as he asks his Mum about how to notice romantic signals from Dal-Mi. She can tell he’s fallen for her and hangs over his shoulder, guiding a hopeless Do-San to call the girl.

On the phone, Dal-Mi reveals her idea to try and create an extra extension to Noongil. She wants it to spot different medication and tell it apart.

As they talk about LA and what’s to come, Do-San and Dal-Mi take it in turns to fall asleep while talking on the phone. Eventually it ends with Do-San and Dal-Mi both sleeping with their phones against their ears.

Do-San waits outside Dal-Mi’s house in the morning and the duo start to talk about his birthday. Do-San is happy that things are going well and I guess all that drama about the letters is pretty much non-existent now.

Anyway, they show up at the coffee shop where Sa-Ha thinks about buying a coffee for Chul-San, knowing that he likes iced vanilla lattes. Well she buys him one until Dal-Mi and Do-San show up just as she does.

She pretends like she’s not buying one for him, prompting Do-San to take it off her hands. Sa-Ha is also concerned that they haven’t heard anything about 2STO.

Dal-Mi catches up with her sister and tries bragging about her current acquisition. In-Jae warns her sister but she interprets this as jealousy. In-Jae however promises that she’ll find out whether it really is jealousy sooner rather than later.

Do-San and Dal-Mi show up at the office and learn the truth about what’s happened as this bombshell reveal is dropped. Alex dismisses Dal-Mi and the designer (Sa-Ha) and is only taking Do-San, Chul-San and Yong-San with him to America.

Do-San claims it’s fraud but he’s the one who signed the contract and agreed to these terms so he doesn’t exactly have a leg to stand on. Even worse, Noongil is now going to be disbanded.

As Do-San stands up and declares he’ll cancel the contract, Alex confirms it’s not exactly going to be that easy. In order to cancel it they’ll need to pay double the takeover price – 6 billion won to be precise. Ouch.

As Alex Kwon leaves, he speaks to Ji-Pyeong and tells him that if they continue to be emotional over this it won’t fare well for the team going forward.

An irate Yong-San speaks to the team about why he didn’t reveal anything. He claims Ji-Pyeong killed his brother and drove all his investors away. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to them after the debacle with Dong-Su.

When Ji-Pyeong shows up, he speaks plainly about his role in Dong-Su’s business and how he was just trying to stop the limited partners involved from getting hurt.

With the contract already sent, Ji-Pyeong tells Samsan they need to accept what’s happened. They’ve signed the contract and it’s their own fault for not reading it properly to begin with. As tempers flare up, Ji-Pyeong leaves… quickly followed by Do-San.

The two men fight outside, trading punches and blows before they both collapse from exhaustion. Both of them sport some nasty injuries, but Ji-Pyeong tells him the terms to the deal are pretty good.

Defeated, Do-San swallows his pride and tells him he needs help. NoonGil was started for Dal-Mi’s grandmother of course and now Ji-Pyeong finds out the crushing truth that Won-Deok is losing her eyesight and going blind. It’s a huge blow for him and one that sees him immediately head over and see her.

Crushed, he sees Won-Deok using the app and the struggles with her eye-sight. Ji-Pyeong opens up and tells her he’s an idiot and doesn’t know anything. He’s not a good boy and breaks down crying. Eventually he hugs Won-Deok, telling her he’s sorry in a really emotional moment.

On his way out the door, Ji-Pyeong runs into Dal-Mi and apologizes for how he reacted earlier in the day. Together, they head out and eat noodles. There, Ji-Pyeong breaks the news that the contract is legit and because they can’t beat them, they might as well join 2STO and try to change their fortunes from the inside.

Meanwhile, Chul-San and Sa-Ha discuss Silicon Valley and the possibility of filing a lawsuit. She warns it could take years but neither of them are ready to give up this dream just yet.

As we cut forward, we see Do-San and Dal-Mi getting ready for the day ahead. As she sees Do-San’s face, she realizes that the pair had a big fight. Instead of celebrating his birthday, Do-San is full-on involved in the takeover and wants to try and fight the case.

With no one coming to work, Dal-Mi does her best to try and enjoy the day and take in the sights. Do-San though is in no mood to celebrate.

They head out to a French restaurant together where the two are on completely different wave lengths. She wants to know more about his past but Do-San is way too invested in this lawsuit.

Given how lucrative this deal is, Dal-Mi tells Do-San that he should take this once in a lifetime opportunity, even if it means some casualties along the way. Do-San however, is having none of it and walks away.

He refuses to go to Silicon Valley until Dal-Mi tells him to go. She feels humiliated that he was chosen and not her. Given he’s not the Do-San from the letters, she’s breaking up with him.

Back at the old Samsan office, Do-San speaks to Yong-San who’s driven to prove Ji-Pyeong wrong. He wants to get his revenge for his brother. The Zero figure for start-up companies – like any record – is there to be broken and he intends to be the one to do it.

With their Sand Box dreams over, Sa-Ha says her goodbyes to everyone. Dal-Mi happens to be in the main atrium and looks at the picture of the girl on a swing. Given Sun-Hak was there that day when her Father passed, she gives some advice to Dal-Mi who looks for positions of management online as a way of putting her expertise to good use.

Lo and behold, In-Jae company pops up looking for a strategic planning manager, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

At 2STO, Alex greets Do-San and Ji-Pyeong as they discuss the future of Noongil. That future seems to hint at Do-San continuing to develop the app but this hasn’t been confirmed 100% just yet.

As we cut forward slightly, the San boys get on a plane bound for America. As they do, Sa-Ha uses a video from Chul-San to fall asleep to while Dal-Mi shows up for her interview at Injae company. She’s serious about this too and hands over her application form to prove as much.

During the epilogue, we cut back to the moments featuring Do-San and Dal-Mi’s break-up. Out in the rain, he clutched his baseball tightly and wanders aimlessly, letting himself get soaked in the rain and experience the same thing Dal-Mi did, with a beautiful sky juxtaposing the storm clouds brewing in Do-San’s mind.

The Episode Review

Back when I was 18, I signed a contract with a nightclub unaware that I’d also agreed to hand over 100% of my tips for the business. The other staff were just as shocked, especially when we were explicitly told to empty out our pockets at the end of every night to make sure we didn’t take any tips home.

Those tips went straight to the executive bonus for the general manager, which he saved up over the year and subsequently splashed out on some expensive champagne which he shared with his friends… and there was nothing we could do about it. Since then, I’ve always been vigilant about signing contracts – especially those involving employment.

There’s so many examples of this across the globe and especially when it comes to businesses, it’s so important to read the small print.

Start-Up for example even has Sa-Ha who confirms this episode that she used to be a lawyer. So surely she would have known to look through the contract properly and convince the others to do so before they hastily signed up? It’s such a rookie move and one that they’ve learned the hard way. And that’s before mentioning Morning Group which have already tried to scam them. As the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Do-San’s character work unfortunately comes completely undone in this episode too. For 12+ hours we’ve learnt about his struggles to be number 1 and how he’s always put other people first. He gave up his chances at being in the limelight at the Olympics, handing over his medal and since then vowed to put himself first.

Once again though he’s actively choosing to sabotage himself by giving up everything for Dal-Mi. I know love can make you do stupid things but Dal-Mi practically had to break up with him for the boy to follow his dreams.

Yes, the company was completely screwed over by Alex and it’s tough to take but let’s not forget Do-San was the one who confronted him in the first place and forced Alex’s hand to make a deal. If it wasn’t for Do-San then they never would have got that deal.

Anyway, it looks like Do-San is finally going to put himself first but the preview for next week’s double bill seems to hint that he’ll be back to interfere sooner rather than later.

The longer this drama goes on though, the more I think Dal-Mi is going to go it alone and not pick either man. I’d imagine a relationship with Ji-Pyeong is almost inevitable now but it also looks like a time jump (3 years!) is on the table which could sour a lot of the feelings between Dal-Mi and Ji-Pyeong. That’s speculation for now but given how fierce the debates have been recently, the scriptwriters could opt for neither man as a safe middle ground (and ironically annoying both fandoms!)

Dal-Mi though is constantly the one pushed aside and I hope by the end of this drama In-Jae and Dal-Mi finally patch up their differences and grow together and form a company that utilizes both their talents. Whether the script will do that or not though, remains to be seen.

Still, Start-Up has been a really enjoyable watch but whether this one will stick its landing or not, remains to be seen. Until then, feel free to comment below with your theories on what’s going to happen next and how you’re finding the characters! Are you Team Ji-Pyeong? Team Do-San? Or neither?

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27 thoughts on “Start-Up – K-Drama Episode 12 Recap & Review”

  1. I really really can’t stand Do-san….hes always whining. Why did he even start a physical fight with Jipyeong? For telling the truth? He even tried to save them from the situation they put themselves in. All while being blamed for “killing” the other guys brother and noone stood up for him? Makes no sense. And its obvious the direction the show is going which is frustrating. Team Jipyeong all the way. Dude deserves way better.

  2. Team DS, they have better chemistry and frankly I don’t empathize with JP, he never came back and is a jerk (but seems like he’s redeeming himself and learning to give constructive criticism). Enjoying the business end of the Startup storyline too!

  3. Horrible I don’t like to watch it anymore i know what’s the ending in it for sure it’s dosan and dalmi right! I don’t like dosan character it’s annoying it’s not so good for dalmi character it’s supposed to be mr.Han should be with dalmi but we know he’s just 2nd lead but damn!! The story is a mess it’s confusing me I don’t like the outcome of this story very bad ending and story plot thumbs down 👎 I’m episode 11 watching at Netflix and after dalmi won for the sandbox demo ill stop watching it I don’t feel the thriller anymore at episode one is awesome it gives me goosebumps when dalmis father died i cry a lot and continues to watch it but after dosan and dalmi is all about there story I don’t feel the taste in it anymore it’s tasteless.. mr Han story is amazing he supposed to be with dalmi but I know it’s not !! So for me this kdrama is the most annoying drama I’ve ever seen very predictable!! Just saying

  4. so angry after seeing this series. Mr Hyun is the only one normal personage the rest so much impulsive persons. I had hope that in the end they will leave in peace Mr. Hyun and go out of his normal life but instead of that they got mad to him and hit him. So bad to be nice between immature and stupid people. After this series, I really do not want to help people without brain. I wish that I never saw this series and I do not recommend to normal people who had worked hard and got some position in the life, because even we try to help others they will be ungrateful.

  5. The story is somewhat good not that master piece but focusing more on Do san & Dal mi relationship and revolving around their not so interesting romance is not what I wanna see …… I really don’t get why do san react the opposite when JP says something to him like a stubborn kid …… god why he is so pissing me off sometimes … IF dal mi ends with do san I don’t think I’ll be watching it TBH

  6. No matter which teams you are, either Do San or Ji Pyeong, let’s be honest, the writer messed up a good drama by focusing too much on the relationship between Do San, Dalmi n Ji Pyeong. I thought the writer was done messing up Do San’s character when he confessed he was not a saint but a loser instead but the final blow was when he punched his mentor for delivering the truth to them.

    It was their fault for not discussing things with his mentor, it was their fault for not listening to the mentor’s advice and when everything went wrong, still it’s the mentor’s fault. Do San didn’t create NoonGil for grandma, he created it for Dal Mi.. Ji Pyeong wanted it maintain because of grandma.

    Everything revolved around Dal Mi for Do San so how is that character development? He was better at the start but the moment he fell for DalMi, he threw everything away and acted like a foolish teenage boy. At least Dal Mi had some sense and broke up with him so he could grow himself elsewhere.

    No, i don’t hate any of the actors, i would rather blame the writer and director of this drama for poor storyline. This drama has some amazing actors but they turned it into a second rate love drama that I would watch if I was still in high school.

  7. At the french restaurant Dosan lists his failings in the most impartial and honest way, no one honestly watching the drama would disagree. Yet the writer has Dalmi fall for that?
    The writer seems to love giving dosan screen time and stealing memories only Dalmi and JP share from their letters for his sympathy generating walking in the rain. Disgusting.
    He even has his mom tell him the reading girls thoughts secrets and He cant remember its his birthday and every time dalmi try’s to turn it into a nice experience the FOOL wont quit banging on about the lawsuit.
    He has a micro meltdown and storms out leaving Dalmi alone. So much for everything he does is for her. Everything dosan does is for dosan.
    He tries to get credit for NoonGil being for grandma but in reality it was the absolute last thing they considered and they only did that because there were no maore options. They even went to dalmi’s most hated place, her step fathers company first!
    Too many viewers and too gullible to the writers poor script.

  8. I’m team Ji Pyeong, cuz the whole story between Dalmi and Dosan stared because of him and Dalmi’s grandmother. Dosan just appeared in the story because Dalmi’s grandmother asked him to find the guy so he did it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have happened even his dream in the Sand Box. But they never give the shot to JPyeong, he’s mature and the one whom cares about her from the start. However Dalmi seems immature as Dosan if think they deserve each other, I’m rooting for JP cuz he deserves a happy ending. But still, for me Dosan and Dalmi ends up together doesn’t make any sense… Basically Dosan gets his dream job and the girl (it’s unfair in my opinion) without doing nothing especial. And where is JP after this??! Rooting for him, but the series is not getting my attention anymore.

  9. I don’t understand the hatred for Do San. He wasn’t the one who started all this, and since he met Dal-mi, everything he did was for her. It is obvious they are in love with each other. I somehow feel that it is JP’s competitiveness that led to him thinking he is in love with Dal-mi, it is totally one-sided. As for Dal-mi, she is confused over her feelings for JP, not Do san. She already said that she is grateful for his company back then and has somehow mistaken that crush with love.

    The show is well written, there’s so much chemistry between Do san and Dal mi that a look is enough to put them on the same page. Do san’s character has also developed progressively, growing from an guy who lacks confidence to being the real genius he is.

    They say absence makes the heart grows fonder, from the preview for ep 13, we know that they are not over each other and I am sure they will end up together like they should. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway.

  10. I’m Team JP and don’t like Do San but judging by the amount of screen time that he is currently getting and limited interaction he has with Dal Mi, don’t think Dal Mi and Ji-Pyeong will be getting together as it seems to be biased towards Do San. JP’s character deserved to be developed more in the series and been given a shot with Dal Mi but obvious he is not the lead character. He deserves happiness and hope he finds someone else that is worthy of him. Lost interest in the show, frustrating and disappointing

  11. The proof that dosan is a manipulator wanting a girlfriend for free and being in business with her forces JP to help make him rich is in the French restaurant scene.
    Lets lay aside the asinine way dalmi and dosan have had their continuation after her being so depressed etc….
    Here is Dosan…..supposedly obsessed with dalmi….its said by some that he does EVERYHTING for her from breaking name plates to fist fights……..but right now he is in deep dodo with her over lying etc. He needs to be aware, attentive, say the right things, make no mistakes and what does the A**hat do when she gets all dressed up, remembers his birthday and constantly steers the conversation to relationship issues?????? The moron is only interested in his pride, and money…..
    THIS IS NOT a man who puts Dalmi first any more than he did breaking the nameplate. He stomped out of the office alone. Hardly the way to protect the honor of dalmi as some viewers have suggested.

  12. Team Ji-pyeong. I liked it for his character and background. However considering the amount of screen time, Do-san is getting way more and of course like many Kdramas, writers tend to go with that character with more screen time or none. Do-san’s story of “struggle” is nothing compared to Mr. Han. Ever since the “kiss” I have been finding my self skipping through the episodes to save the frustrations and see where Ji-Pyeong stands. At this point, I will wait to watch the last second of the last episode and skip watching each week because of how the drama is favoring Do-san. Drama started off amazing but to start ending like any typical immature love story isn’t worth the time for me.

  13. Dal-mi is in a way a strong lady. Being Resilient is more on point when describing her though.

    Everyone has a choice…. has to make one most of the time. No matter what choice you choose doesn’t matter as long as you can stand by it. We can make unpopular choice/decision but it doesn’t mean it is the correct one. Being matured is to stand up again and again every time you fall. The blessing of being young is… you still have a chance to correct your mistakes, and it’s never too late to make adjustments.

    So kudos to the writers and creative staff by dividing the fandom. For me, i am just enjoying it for the sake of entertainment during the ‘stay-at-home’ mode. Looking forward how the remaining episodes will unfold.

  14. This was a great episode and the preview of episode 13 seems to show that they will need Do San. Though I like the second lead , it’s obvious that the writers are moving to a premise where Dalmi will end up with Do San and Mr. Han will help her in the same. This is because their parting showed that they both loved each other, all she wanted was equal footing. I also feel the sisters will work together and develop respect for each other. Finally the elder sister will end up with Mr. Han . So all ends well. Comments welcome.

  15. I think Do’san in some ways has similarities with dal mi’s late father.
    They were bound to end up together from the moment, mr Han and the grand mother chose his name for those letters.
    Mr Han will get his happy ending through the grandmother, he doesn’t need to get the girl, he was never in love with her from the start, where as do san fell for her on day one, before even knowing about the letters.
    Dalmi happy ending is a better relationship with her mother and sister and dosan happy ending is finally getting confidence and becoming the man he was always meant to be. There’s some great character development for everyone through vulnerability etc I love it.

  16. Most of my friends are team JiPyeong. We seriously think that Dalmi doesn’t deserve him. She’s immature emotionally and Dosan as well, so they both deserves each other. JiPyeong should be given a happy ending, with or without Dalmi, even better if there’s a spin off and a strong female character is worthy of JiPyeong, but Dalmi is not it.

  17. Dosan was handed the answer to the math Olympiad, he was handed startup funds for dosan tech (now Samsan tech), he was handed a past with dalmi, and he still somehow screws it up? Compared to Jipyeong who fought from young and didn’t have things given to him, still being judged for valuable tho harsh comments, such practical street smarts AND a genuine heart. Irked at how much screen time dosan is getting. Makes him seem like he had it rough and is such a victim but on surface level he’s just crying over a girl he just met who fell for him bc of jipyeong’s letters. Make it make sense, justice for jipyeong ;-;

  18. I am rooting for Ji Pyeong. He cares and his character is more fully developed. However, the shots are always of Do San with Dal mi, so it is quite evident that they set up Do San as the male lead. The writer is saying that even though Ji Pyeong likes Dal Mi, Ji Pyeong never expresses his feelings directly or when he does, he does it too late. Disappointing. I ship Ji Pyeong and Dal Mi, and I don’t care about Do San.

  19. Story wise, it’s okay. No masterpiece except for the fact that fandoms have been divided and never was there a second lead who stole our hearts ever since Ep 1.

    Nim Park is a good writer and judging from her previous works, it seems that she really makes strong second lead characters. Having that as a background, there is no way that Han Ji Pyeong will get the girl (Dream High seems to be the pattern here). I really wish though she takes a different route; to Nim Park, please dare to be different.

    It’s good that the majority who watch Start-Up are so deeply rooted with the so called love triangle (count me in). If you take away the IT/business start up backdrop, it’s just one love story, nothing much.

  20. Hey Goladys, thanks for the heads up! I did notice there were 2 instances where I wrote Do-San instead of Dal-Mi by accident. Apologies! That’s all been corrected now.

    -Greg W

  21. As observed, you keep on mentioning the name of DO SAN instead of DAL MI. Pls always review your write up before posting.

  22. Well if they skipped 3 years till dosan comes back which means han ji pyeong is a nobody in her life. He can’t make any in road with her in the relationship. Lousy scripting don’t understand why they built up han ji pyeong and threw him under the bus. He had all the qualities of the main guy but somehow do San gets the girl.

  23. Hm, I have personally lost interest in the love triangle after seeing the possiblity of a time jump in the next episode. If within three years Ji-Pyeong and Dal-Mi didn’t get together, then there is no point of dragging it. Then it is clear Dal-Mi has made her choice already, Ji-Pyeong character deserves a happy ending and I hope they find it for him instead of dragging him along in a love triangle that he doesn’t seem to stand a chance.

  24. equipo han….. horrible … odio los saltos en el tiempo….3 años y apenas le vas a dar anillo ya deberias estar casado y con hijo.

    mis predicciones han jipiong hara lo posible para separar a dalmi y dosan y en el ultimo episodio se hara a un lado como buen chico y dalmi estara con dosan…… completamente decepcionado espero equivocarme …. 🙁

    (han jipiong debería haber pagado la multa de 6 mil millones de wones y listo conflicto terminado.) oh my god writers upset

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