Start-Up – K-Drama Episode 16 (Finale/Ending) Recap & Review

Lost At Sea

Episode 16 of Start-Up begins with the reporter from Hyungju Daily newspaper asking Dong-Chun where Dal-Mi’s company are situated. As he heads there, Ji-Pyeong finds out about this reporter and realizes they’ve probably received a tip-off about the ransomware attack.

He races up to their company as Dal-Mi and the others unwittingly divulge details about their company and the ransomware attack.

In the wake of this, Do-San checks out the anagram solution and realizes this leads back to Shin Hyeon and Shin Jeong, something many people will have probably worked out by now. Anyway, the group contemplate what this means and realize it could have been a big scheme concocted with Morning group to take them down.

Ji-Pyeong heads up to try and help Dal-Mi but it turns out they’re dealing with things in a pretty savvy way, with Dal-Mi well aware of what this reporter’s game is and turning it around by divulging who was responsible for the ransomware attack in the first place.

Of course, it’s a stroke of luck that this is the case but it works well for them nonetheless – especially when they twist the reporter’s hand to publish this new story about Morning Group.

When Ji-Pyeong finds out, he heads back to his office looking downhearted given Dal-Mi no longer needs his guidance. Anyway, Do-San and Dal-Mi meet Won-Deok who thanks him for making Noongil and for how much help it’s been. (I’m guessing this is off-screen given she’s not actually used it much until now)

She then goes on to tell him she’ll “write down her feedback in a notebook like last time” which is obviously a well-intentioned joke. Do-San explains the colours on the cactus toy in front of her but this entire time she tellingly doesn’t use the Noongil app.

Back home, Ji-Pyeong greets Won-Deok who heads over to give him food. As she does, he asks whether she wants to move into an apartment to help her going up and down the stairs. As they talk, Won-Deok senses that he’s getting ready to leave and asks him to call no matter what – whether he’s doing well or not. It’s a really touching moment and it ends with them both hugging and tears flowing freely.

Back at work, Dal-Mi sends over a list of potential companies who are also bidding alongside them. As they all joke about what they’d do if they win, Do-San mentions how he’ll propose if they do.

Alongside that, Sa-Ha also tells them she’ll reveal the name of her boyfriend if they win. On the back of this, all of them work hard to try and make the most of this project, working through the night to make their project the best it can be.

With the office clear of people, Dal-Mi and Do-San talk about the company and how far they want the business to thrive. Dal-Mi mentions her Father’s car accident and wants to make a company that’ll prevent this happening again. Do-San promises her he’ll make it a reality and win the bid.

Meanwhile, Ji-Pyeong meets with the orphan, Hong Ji-Seok, and clearly sees a lot of himself in this guy. Given his business model revolves around helping orphans stand on their own two feet again, he’s happy to proceed with this. His goal is 100 million won. In fact, Ji-Pyeong decides to do more than that and invests that money personally, along with another 300 million won as charity. Afterward, Ji-Pyeong tells Dong-Chun he did a good job and struggles to hold back a big smile on his face.

Meanwhile, Dal-Mi comments how much Do-San has changed while Sa-Ha introduces Chul-San as her boyfriend to her sister who arrives at Sand Box. Not long after, they head up to the office and find out they’ve passed the first stage and are now one of the finalists.

With all the group joined together celebrating with cake, they contemplate whether to expand the company, recruiting more people and investing heavily in R&D. In order to do so, the first step is opening up a funding round which In-Jae speaks to her sister about and exhibits concerns. This is a completely separate meeting though given for some reason she’s not actually with the group while they celebrate their success.

Dal-Mi is confident they have a competitive edge and wants to find investors to buy into the company. However, In-Jae is against this; a company that gets investments without revenue isn’t valued highly and they’ll lose control. In-Jae wants to take a more measured approach but Dal-Mi is insistent.

After their meeting, Ji-Pyeong and Dal-Mi meet up on the rooftop where the former tells her she owes nothing and admits that the letters were a massive comfort to him. He apologizes for not seeing her after 15 years of writing the letters while Do-San saw her the day he read them. Ji-Pyeong has decided to have a clean break away from everything and smiles warmly as Dal-Mi replies with “okay.”

In-Jae heads over to a public meeting with her former father and tells him that she’s no longer willing to accept him and that the documents have come through finalize the separation of their family bond.

As she walks away, Yong-San follows her out and apologizes for his words in the past. Do-San then rings and interrupts her as it turns out new investors are moving into their space. Do-San gathers the team and apologizes for not bringing in a competent CEO earlier and they all start crying, reminiscing on times gone by.

Meanwhile, In-Jae shows up at Won-Deok’s house and helps her sign for a parcel. She apologizes for taking so long to show and hugs her Grandmother warmly. She claims not to have cried but it’s obvious from her smeared mascara in the next scene that she has.

In-Jae shows them all the letters and now Won-Deok decides to use the app, which tells her that In-Jae’s changed her surname back again. During this touching moment, Dal-Mi rubs it in by telling Won-Deok that she should have showed up before, when their grandmother could still see.

As Won-Deok closes her eyes, a moment from the past shines through involving their Father bringing back chicken and all of them eating together as a family.

As In-Jae heads into Dal-Mi’s room, she finds the music box addressed to In-Jae and decides to take it. In exchange, she gives her sister 10,000 won, believing that scaling up the company is a good idea in the end and believing Dal-Mi will outdo her in the long-run.

That investment comes from Sun-Hak, who decides to invest personally in the business given she’s always actively rooted for Sand Box since the beginning. Believe it or not, Ji-Pyeong is the one who’s asked to feed back the news to Do-San.

Anyway, he breaks the news to Do-San about the investment and admits that this isn’t something he’s happy about doing. Furthermore, he also knows how much Do-San hated his investment in the past and is loathe to admit as much. Do-San however, tells him to keep his emotions out of this and give his honest opinion about the investment.

As an investor he doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity – especially given it could result in massive gains going forward (or a J-curve as Sun-Hak calls it). Afterwards, Ji-Pyeong and Do-San hug it out and chuckle to themselves, deciding to greet Dal-Mi personally and move forward with this investment.

Afterwards, Do-San and Dal-Mi pray for their future success – including having their business worth over a billion dollars. Believing they can do anything, the pair head in to the group of investors and hope for the best.

As we cut forward in time, Dal-Mi leaves a message up on the wall admitting that she wants to “Change the world.” Do-San meanwhile writes a note of his own simply saying “follow your dream” in English – a homage to his baseball star but also a reference to his earlier message about how Dal-Mi is his dream.

During the epilogue, we jump forward to present day in 2020. CheongMyeong is a successful company and through a series of photos we see the team’s journey this far. We see photos of Dal-Mi and Do-San’s marriage before panning out and seeing Do-San and Dal-Mi with desks next to one another, the former as the Chief Technology Officer and Dal-Mi as the CEO.

It’s the annual shareholder’s meeting so Dal-Mi and Do-San are out the office, holding hands as they walk toward the meeting. Joining them is In-Jae who’s…working as something? and Ji-Pyeong who’s obviously one of the investors and presumably doing well for himself. As they all walk together, the drama comes to a close.

The Episode Review

I’ve been pretty vocal about this Korean drama since it started and for all those who have commented over the weeks, thank you so much for your thoughts! Start-Up has somehow gone from one of the must-watch dramas of the week to descending into whatever we’ve got at the end. Before diving into the negatives though, let’s go over the positives of this first,

Some of the moments during this finale were great, in particular the various interactions with Won-Deok. I really did tear up when Won-Deok closed her eyes and saw the family sitting on the sofa eating chicken together.

It shows how far this family have come and how the passing of time can really make you cherish past memories that much more. In fact, this whole motif about the past and letting go of ill feelings and hatred has worked really well across the season. In-Jae may have been underutilized but she at least gets a semi-decent conclusion with her family at the end as they patch up their differences and concede defeat to Dal-Mi.

Outside the few moments of story brilliance, the rest of the narrative has been a bit of a mess (more on that in a minute) but it’s done absolute wonders for Kim Sun-Ho. His success on the back of Start-Up will easily be the stand-out part of this drama and I predict big things to come from him going forward. For those unaware, his Instagram has grown by 2.5 million in the space of 2 months and he’s been involved in advertisements and all sorts – he’s definitely one to watch going forward.

Now onto the negatives. This is one drama I’ve been pretty passionate about and seeing the story unfold the way it has has really been disappointing. Just as a kind of disclaimer, I’m not Team Do-San or Team Ji-Pyeong – I’m Team Good-writing and that has unfortunately left the building long ago.

On the back of Private Lives, Record Of Youth and (to many people) DoDoSolSolLaLaSol, Start-Up had a chance to break the nasty trend of Netflix Korean dramas ending on a whimper. Alas, that’s not the case here.

Do-San telling Ji-Pyeong to keep his emotions out of his decision making is honestly quite ironic to me. Throughout this drama we’ve seen Do-San acting impulsively and basing his decisions on his emotions at the time.

He rejected Tarzan because of his break-up to Dal-Mi. He punches Ji-Pyeong because he didn’t want to hear his feedback and even smashed the plaque at Morning Group after hearing their true intentions – all big examples of him putting his emotions first.

That’s before deciding to go in all guns blazing with this whole “we don’t need a map while setting sail” angle that Dal-Mi has also pitched forward and decided to take on. This may sound like a compelling and romantic dream but in the world of business, it’s not a great model of success.

In-Jae has probably been the most under-utilized character in this drama though. I feel really sorry for her given she’s been instrumental in giving Dal-Mi the chance to be the CEO but yet she’s been made an outsider by her own company. She’s not present at any of the celebratory moments this episode and we don’t even see what she’s been up to as we jump forward to the present day. She’s obviously not the CEO or CTO so where is she?

Anyway, the whole romance between Dal-Mi and Do-San has been orchestrated for a while and it’s actually obvious they were going this route midway through the show. The way this has been developed though, adding a contrived love triangle in the middle, really holds this one back from being better. In fact, it actually makes things worse given Dal-Mi’s whole “I’m not sure” angle that strung out this story rather than focusing on the business aspect of things.

This poor writing extends across to Do-San and I really feel sorry for Nam Joo-Hyuk. He’s a great actor and his performance through this drama has been fantastic. The writing has really made him look like an awful person and if you look at his past it doesn’t paint him in a very favourable light.

He lied, cheated and manipulated his way into the position he’s in now (even as far back as cheating on the math exam) and even lashed out and acted aggressively on more than one occasion. It’s made even worse when you realize Do-San’s “dream” was changed midway through the show to Dal-Mi rather than his own aspirations.

While this may seem romantic on the surface, the execution is anything but. It actually makes him seem one-dimensional, which is a shame because I’d have liked to see more of his past and the issues affecting him.

The real icing on the cake though comes from Dal-Mi telling Do-San “you’ve changed.” There’s the old adage of show don’t tell in screenwriting which is one of the first lessons you learn.

If you have to tell your audience that something’s changed then it means the story hasn’t done a good enough job of convincing the audience that’s happened.

And that ultimately is the biggest disappointment here. From a drama that started so brightly, sailing off without a map into the sunset leaves Start-Up lost at sea and lacking many redeeming features.


Thank you to everyone who’s read these recaps over the weeks and for each and every comment you leave! Did you enjoy the finale? Did you feel like the characters and story ended in a satisfying manner? Do let us know in the comments below with your thoughts on Start-Up!


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54 thoughts on “Start-Up – K-Drama Episode 16 (Finale/Ending) Recap & Review”

  1. It was great at the beginning then got worse after mid-way. The name of the drama is startup but the story focuses more on the romance between the lead roles. The writer painted Do-san and his friends as ingrates who thought they succeeded because of their talents. Ji-Pyeong commented on them throughout the series to help them learn and improve themselves yet only Dal-Mi understood his intention.

    I did not like how they portrayed Do-san as a male lead as he is the least likeable character for me excluding the ostentatious father and son. He was emotional and behaved badly yet he got all the cake. While Ji-Pyeong had done his best to take care of Fl and even reflected on his behaviour. I never felt like Do-san has any remorse for his own action. From the beginning till the end, the character development of the main couple is barely seen. Overall, it’s not a bad show but you will get bored after a few episodes. The Ost songs of this drama are wonderful.

  2. I actually loved this kdrama. Great music in the soundtrack, excellent acting. I don’t understand the hate from some reviewers. This is actually one of my favorite dramas as it explores wonderful themes of pursuing one’s dreams and also redemption and reconciliation. WATCH IT.

  3. I thought I was the crazy one for thinking this drama wasn’t that good. Most of my friends were gushing at how good it was and I was like….eh?

    It started good…but the story deteriorated as it moved forward. I just think it was really more about the romance than showing what a start up is all about. Balance was not achieved. I work in the tech industry and have an idea on how start ups are. This story made it seem like it’s all fluffy endings. It was incredulous.

    Too bad because they cast good actors, especially Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Seon Ho. I think Kim Seon Ho was the only good thing that happened in this drama and his rise to stardom is proof of that.


  5. Start Up are good in the beginning only!!! Korean drama known as the most addicted to watch because every characters has there own stories and lesson even not the main leads, their ending are all satisfying. but Start Up failed the ending is not that viewers expected that is why Start Up received many hatred comments in social media, I really don’t recommend watching it.

  6. Most hated kdrama in the history, the most unlikable couple in the history of kdrama, the most bad reviews around social media…its STARTUP!

  7. It’s very obvious the screen writers edited many scenes near the end that makes the story unreal and very hateful! I cannot blame the screen writers maybe she thought the popularity of Suzy and NJH can handle it well even she makes their characters very ordinary but she failed. NJH and Suzy failed viewers to like them as a couple! Start Up is not the worst drama for me but the worst chemistry in the history of krama world is Suzy and NJH. No tbecause iam a fan of Suzy and NJH I can make them good couple! Let be honest both no chemistry.

  8. StartUP is good story!!! Look at Suzy now after StarUp she and Kim Seon Ho build sweet relationship and enjoying drawing together. Suzy makes her painting as her IG’s profile coz its very special, Kim Seon Ho has a big part on it. Thanks to a friend.

  9. All Suzy’s drama are good except STARTUP. I noticed most of the fans who fight for STARTUP always says Dosan and Dalmi are good couple, Suzy and NJH they wanted to be a couple, thats it! but seems they didn’t understand the drama. Many viewers hated StartUp bec the letters, grandma, Jip Pyeong, aren’t cleared at the end which everyone waiting to have a good ending but didn’t happen, instead Dosan and Dalmi make them special ending which have an ordinary childhood and stories in their families, nothing special to make viewers get interested for them. For the chemistry of the main lead I find them as a sibling only. I tried to convince myself bec its Suzy a very beautiful and NJH a very handsome but nahhhh still lacking something, both perfect brother and sister for me.

  10. STARUP – story between a crying boy and an aggressive girl

    Dosan a cheater
    Dosan bastard to his parent
    Dosan bastard to his friends
    Dosan bastard to his mentor
    Dosan dream is only Dalmi
    Dalmi hate man who confess his feeling in a right way
    Dalmi enjoy aggressive kiss
    Dalmi does first move after breakup
    Without Dalmi first aggressive kiss no second chance on their breakup, means no DoDal at the end!!!!
    Dosan is like a little boy who always behind Dalmi”s power
    The End…………

  11. oh my, yes what feel while watching this drama also felt by many! yes its not a good kdrama. as we can see there are many negative comments that’s mean PROBLEM. I spent many yrs and hrs watching kdrama/movies I encountered bad and good dramas but not to the point I need to write comment on them because all still understandable. But in StartUp urg!! oh my!! what kind of drama is this! my eyes rolling%@#%^ !!! directors and film writer knows already the main characters have no chemistry, you can feel how the story flown, the story became worst and worst till the end, viewers cannt relate and many stop watching and other lost already!..survive a lil bit because of Suzy and NamJooHyuk avid followers!!


  13. I think this was a wonderful drama and I encourage anyone who is still wondering whether or not they should watch it to give it a shot. Form your own opinion. Don’t take reviewers’ word for it.

    To the points raised above as criticisms, I offer a different perspective:

    1. He rejected Tarzan because of his break-up to Dal-Mi – Not true. Dosan doesn’t reject Tarzan. He came back with Dalmi didn’t he? In the end, even after having spent three years thinking that she didn’t love him back, Dosan just couldn’t stop loving her. So even if it hurt him, even if he thought Dalmi and JP were together because JP misled him into thinking this in their last elevator conversation (Episode 14), Dosan just couldn’t turn his back on Dalmi when she needed his help. In Episode 15 Dosan confesses that he started working on self-driving cars in 2STO on the 1 in a million chance that Dalmi would start working on it too. Because he wanted to be ready to help her. Because that was the last dream they shared together before the 2STO break up. Because even if they broke up, if there was any chance at all of helping her and winning her back, Dosan would do it again.

    2. He punches Ji-Pyeong because he didn’t want to hear his feedback – This is not why Dosan punched JP. JP was already berating them a long time in that scene but Dosan only stepped forward in the end. Why? Because Dosan glances at Dalmi and she was beginning to cry already. Jeez! Dosan just wanted the guy to stop grinding the pain in, is that so awful? And look. JP was their mentor. After watching the team fall to their lowest point and telling them the unforgiving truth, JP WALKS AWAY. After HURTING them like that. In that context, I can understand Dosan’s anger. JP was supposed to be in love with Dalmi wasn’t he? Where’s the empathy in how JP dealt with their failure? Her failure? Where’s the humanity? That’s why Dosan punched him. Because in the face of the team’s devastation, JP’s words were, “If this hurts you, you shouldn’t have started a business.”

    3. …. and even smashed the plaque at Morning Group after hearing their true intentions – all big examples of him putting his emotions first – Again, wrong. If this was Dosan’s reason for smashing the nameplate of Chairman Won he would have done it earlier. His reason for reacting was again Dalmi. When Chairman Won starts shaming Dalmi about her impoverished childhood, Dosan glances at her immediately. She was helpless, insulted, and by criticizing her choice to stay with her father, Chairman Won was essentially criticizing Dalmi’s love of her father. You remember how profoundly she loved her father right? Do you realize how personally offensive that moment was for her? To be in a business setting and shamed about her personal background. Dosan put an end to that personal attack. No money was worth that kind of emotional distress for her. And no this does not come out of nowhere. The night before that scene, Dosan was already worried that they were approaching Chairman Won for funding, because he knew that Dalmi’s mother and sister left her and father for that man. He was worried then about how awkward the meeting would be for her. Little did he know.

    4. The criticism about “sailing without a map.” This doesn’t mean having a business without a business plan. You should take the context in which this was said. This quote was mentioned in two significant moments in the drama that were related to business. On the rooftop when Dalmi and Dosan decide to build NoonGil and in the elevator, when Dosan and JP “discuss” whether to participate in a project bid for a self-driving car. In both instances the question was not about “should we have business model or plan, or shouldn’t we?” but about: Should we do this thing we are passionate about but for which the odds are stacked against us? Should we take a course of action no one has done before? Or should we play it safe and be risk-averse?

    What does it mean to sail without a map? What does it have to do with trailblazers? Sailing without a map is NOT about acting without a plan – sailing without a map means venturing into uncharted waters or venturing into where no one has gone before, i.e. something new, something no one has done before. When the first sailors circumnavigated the world, they did so probably without a map, or a complete one for the whole voyage. But those who survived and succeeded opened new worlds for those that followed.

    When Bill Gates started there was nothing to compare his business idea to: writing software for computers? That’s sailing without a map too. But eventually his little company disrupted and engulfed then giant IBM.

    See also Netflix. Or Amazon.

    These were guys who pretty much invented new business types, entire new industries. That’s what trailblazers do. And that’s what happens when you have a clear vision of the value you are bringing to the world.

    So please, can we not say it’s not realistic to sail without a map when reality has shown us time and time again that innovators can disrupt businesses and market shares so completely that small companies actually do swallow up giants? This is even more true in the tech industry, precisely the industry that Dosan and Dalmi are in.

    Just because no one has ever done a thing, doesn’t mean it cannot be done. And when no one has done it before, there is no map you can follow to do it on your own. That’s why if you believe enough in your vision, and are WILLING TO PUT in the work (and Dosan and Dalmi are and do and their technology IS superior) you sail without a map – pursue the course of action no one can guide you on because no one else has done it.

    5. Injae was the CEO of the Injae company that owns majority of shares in Dalmi’s Cheongmyeong Company. Injae wasn’t gone. She’s technically CEO of another company.

    This was a totally enjoyable and entertaining drama. Please give it a try.

  14. I don’t know if I am qualified to make a comment because I stopped at episode 3. I stopped watching because I suspected that the story may not have a good ending. And I was right because I found out Dal Mi (DM) did not end up with Ji Pyeong (JP). Although, JP should have revealed himself and made his feeling known but still, DM ending up with Do San whom she never had a connection with, plus, there was no chemistry between them, was just a NO. I am glad I did not waste the remaining of my time.

  15. The drama started good but then it got awful. The main male character was the worst I have seen in my life of watching kdramas. I was more rooting for the so called second lead that we viewers had more connection duo to the back story! I don’t understand how they made Dosan the main to get the girl! It’s so annoying all he did was cry, lie and steal the woman that wasn’t his in first place! Why was there no room for the curiosity of Mr Han? I think they way he was written he was the perfect 1st lead! The Story was dragged and not so much enjoyable. I stopped watching two weeks agos and forgot about the drama completely. If I didn’t see it in my previous watchlist I would have never gone back.

  16. Do san is so annoying, he’s just so childish and has no aspiration of his own. Following Dal mi like a love sick puppy. This really put me off and infuriated me. Ji Pyeong was really the main lead, his character was preoperly fleshed out and easily relatable, as a viewer, I felt like I knew him inside out. He should have been the one who ended up with Dal mi since she chose him as the one she preferred when asked by her grandmother. Do San should have been in and out of this love triangle from the beginning, it made the drama such a drag to see this forced relationship to the end.

  17. Start-up starts really well but after 6 episodes its distracted from path. HJP was a really good character and DS was a horrible one in end

  18. The only thing i found unrealistic about this drama is how they portrayed HJP. No matter how emotionally stunted someone is, atleast he can google how to win a girl’s heart or maybe asked his secretary somehow since he seem’s to understand him. How can you not understand someone for 3 years, after spending some times with them. No matter how guarded he was, he went to college, interact with so many people and still can’t make a move on a girl. Can’t DM figure out whom she liked, they reduced her character to someone waiting for the men to make a move on her instead of her to choose whom she wants to be. I just wished she rejected him when he confessed by then he’ll learn his lesson, moved on. Maybe get close later and realised their feelings for each other in present time. The message is clear, take some risk. DM can take a risk too and helped him let his guards down if she likes him somehow.

  19. You people took things so seriously and personal, it’s only a drama after all, why so negative if things doesn’t go the way you wanted. I absolutely love SU, one of the bests dramas I’ve ever watched 👍, all the actors/actresses portrayed their characters brilliantly and especially Suzy and Nam Joohyuk the main leads of this phenomenon drama, not forgetting that Kang Ha Na and Kim Sun Ho were especially great lead supporters. For me I rated this drama 8/10👍 Thanks to all the actors/actresses especially to the writers, director and all the production crew who worked so hard to put this masterpiece together so people like myself can watch and enjoy from this part of the world. Thank You 👏👏👏👏👏👏

  20. I read with interest all your comments and especially agree with the reviewer’s spot on comment. I have never been compelled to comment on a drama regardless of how bad it is. It is after all, a drama meant for our entertainment. Plot can be a fantasy, silly, business-made-easy, etc. type of setting. The most important ingredient is the chemistry of the leads.

    In Start-Up, I find the chemistry between the male lead DS and female lead DM so lacking that neither their kiss nor starry eyes with each other have any effect. Both characters are so shallow they were becoming annoying towards the end. Like many of you reviewers I fast forward all scenes with DS/DM to reach scenes with Jipyeong to see the outcome. Kim Seon Ho was such a great actor who managed to bring out every emotion even at the lamest of the scene meant to close off his affection (or his popularity?) on the roof top. Compared his portrayal of emotion to that of DM. Before this I have never heard of Kim Seon Ho.

    Two characters’ acting saved the drama – Jipyeong and the grandmother. On hindsight, if viewers comments [some pleads :)] were given more thoughts, writer(s) could have changed a vanilla type of ending (aka male lead always get female lead) to an unexpected yet unforgettable ending, at the same time making the “losing male lead” a stronger character. Then the tune would not be Lost at Sea.

  21. I was a huge fans of this drama in the beggining.. i was so excited, thought this will be one of the best kdrama in 2020.. but it just turn into the most dissapointed drama i’ve ever watched.. i tought this is about “start up”, but what i see is they forced the strong triangle love story till the last episode.. and i cant even see the chemistry of the two main lead.. i cant feel them.. meanwhile the secondlead have a good n strong character, thanks to him for bring the emotions to this drama.. rather than the annoying first male lead who think the girl is his world.. he hates being his father’s pride, but his dream is become the girl’ pride and trophy.. come on bro.. and the concept of sailing of without map, sorry i will not do it in my bussiness, i dont want to ruin my company..

  22. Lately I left my comment about sailing without map, which is not make sense to me. “Map” is important in business in term of budget, planing, marketing research to reach its “Destination”.
    Now, I’m shocked when Do-San telling Ji-Pyeong to keep his emotions out of his judgement. Whattt??? Look who’s talking men.
    As your review, I’ve seen throughout this drama Do-San acting impulsively and basing his decisions on his emotions at the time.

  23. Downvoted this show on netflix because of how bad it is. If you’re watching from Netflix, consider doing that too.

  24. Love your points on this review. Moat of my thoughts are already poured out by the reviewer and commenters whocsays that they’re disappointed. This show, for me, looks quite promising in Ep 1-6 but degraded itself afterwards.

    The main female lead changed from independent and likeable to irritating damsel in distress, which I hate. The main male changed from immature and insecure guy (but not hateable) into violent, irritating, insensible, guy, only richer and even more like a brat. That’s it. Even the finale ep feels so lame, flat, what kind of writing is that? I didn’t see any closure other than the main leads being married and magically successful despite them being stupid most of the time.

    SO MANY WASTED POTENTIALS. I can’t believe this writer is so well-known and popular. Not gonna watch anything from them again. 🤢

  25. One example of a badly written story. This doesn’t improve Suzy’s craft and deteriorated that of Stephanie Lee. One good thing though is that Kang Ha Na still manage to deliver despite the bad story. She is really one good actress.

  26. overall show highlights:
    – han was portrayed as the proper leading man. unfortunately, his character started as a loser from do san (real reason why he used his name) , and still ended uploser to do san.
    – do san is a spoiled brat character from the writers. he can do whatever he wants on selfish reasons. he don’t listen, he could be violent, etc.
    – dal mi is inconsistent.
    – the romance between dosan & dalmi is kinda forced, at least for me

    tbh, after that ep13, after that 3yrs of 0 progress between dalmi & han, i started skipping a lot of the scenes. specially on dosans immature behavior. i skipped all scenes between dosan & dalmi after ep13. i was more entertained on dosans friend romance begween the designer. the whole show is got for me. dissapointing finale.

  27. I was disappointed in the last episode, it was not as I expected to end considering that the first episodes 1, 2 and 3 were great, where the love between Do San and Dal Mi blossomed.
    It would have been better if the director showed how the team took the winning bid since this was the ultimate goal and not only landing as finalist. And the most important part was the wedding which should have been shown to feel the moment of these two characters and not just a photo of the wedding. It ended in a dull and discouraging moments where the expectations were not met.

  28. I must say that I’m very disappointed with this drama. I was rooting for Do-san at first, I thought his character had a big potential that the writer could be exploded but stopped in the halfway. I think that the writer didn’t know how to keep going through his character and give him a better develpment.

    In the beginning, DS was more likeable and relatable, his intentions seemed to be honest and wanted to help Dal-mi. In a way, they develop a little his character because he became a little more confident, being able to “leave” his insecurities in the “past” yet he became more resentful too and even after becoming successful, he still felt inferior to HJP. Showing that Do-san wasn’t able to understand Dal-mi at all, he was just blind to his jealousy and sulky behavior.

    I was very sad with his return from USA because I had great expectations of Do-san character evolving but even after three years, the situation stayed the same. It wouldn’t made a different if the time gap was 6 months or 3 years because seemed like the time didn’t passed at all.

    Also, I couldn’t understand Dal-mi either. Since before Do-san left she knew that she was in love with him and not with HJP (the Do-san from the letters), that was clearly shown when she knew the possibility that HJP could be the Do-san from the letters and not our main lead, yet she wanted to deceive herself trying to ignore the signals of the truth and delaying the confrotation with the real Do-san. She didn’t show any consideration towards HJP feelings either, what’s worse, she talked with Do-san about the letters but never mentioned them again to HJP.

    Since the moment she knew the truth and had knowledge about her true feelings, she had to turn down HJP for the good but her actions towards him looked as indecisive without a real base behind, because the truth is that she never saw him in a romantic way except for their past as friends by letters.

    I agree with you totally about In-jae, she was another character that was only used by convenience and the writer don’t even tried to give her a decent screen time. Her character as a strong rational woman was very interesting, showing that she was capable by herself and didn’t needed the money of his stepfather. I would have liked to see In-jae confront more his stepfather than Dal-mi and Do-san.

    The character with better development was indeed HJP. His attitude changed after what happened before the time skip and post time skip, I enjoyed his changes. I loved the scene with Yeo Jin Goo, I couldn’t help but smile the whole moment even if was just a short. The chemistry bewteen Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Sun Ho was tangible since the moment Sun Ho entered the room. I practically was shocked with their interaction and how Sun Ho’s performance showed complete naturalness and longing. Tbh, for me, Jin Goo and Sun Ho characters had more chemistry in these few minutes than HJP and Dal-mi, Do-san and HJP, and Do-san with Dal-mi in the whole drama. I would love to see them together in another project, I’m sure will be amazing.

  29. Reading reviews, to know if i need to watch the remaining two episodes… Thank you for saving my time 😂😂😂

  30. I agree with your review. At first, the male lead Nam Do San was likeable. When I was watching him throughout the series, I’ve been trying to justify his actions to being young. But it kept piling up—too many to simply dismiss. I gave up on Nam Do San when he punched his mentor Han Ji Pyeong. The series went on and I’ve never heard or seen him apologize for it. To make the long story short, his character kep regressing, making it hard to root for. He has done a lot things that doesn’t sit well with me. Worse, no repurcussion or consequences came back to bite him.

    The major, red flag that I noticed that convinced me to finally give up on him was the disconnect that I felt with his statements. I clearly remember during his converstation with his father when they were trying to patch up their issues, with him telling his father that, “Father, it’s very tiring being someone’s pride and dream. Let’s just be father and son,” gave me a bit of hope that he’s on his way to maturity.

    But when he faced Seo Dal Mi in another episode, he mentioned something like, “Dal Mi, I want to be your trophy, your pride, and your dream. The real me.” I almost fell from my seat when I heard it with a big “WTH!” That’s when I started disliking his character.

    Seo Dal Mi is another character that is so hard to follow. She is one confusing girl. My biggest problem with her is when Han Ji Pyeong came clean and confessed his feelings in the restaurant, it was the perfect time to flat out reject Han Ji Pyeong’s love. But she never said anything. She stringed on a guy for three years for what? That was a clear love confession. She should’ve at least had the decency to turn the poor guy down. But she did not. And what was that for?

    Han Ji Pyeong. This guy carried the show on his back. After watching the series, I realized that he is the most overused character but for some reason, I felt the narrative was cruel to him. A lot of emotional damages were brough to his character.

    The romance subplot is the fatal flaw of Start-up. It dragged on for so long and should’ve been resolved earlier. The remaining time should have been spent developing the characters, especially Nam Do San and Seo Dal Mi. This is the perfect time to convince the viewers that their love is slowly developing and genuinely maturing. But the show failed to achieve it. It was rushed.

    This is the reason why as a viewer, my heart did not flutter whenever I see them kiss or whatnot. It looks forced and fake. There was clearly a disconnect. It was too hard to root for them.

    I won’t do a second watch of this hot mess. The pilot week, I can give an outright 10/10 because it was done beatifully. The rest of the episodes after they won the Demo Day became a burden to watch. For the entire show, I can give a 6/10 rating to credit the actors who delivered really well like the Seo Dal Mi’s grandmother and Han Ji Pyeong. Their narrative brings me to tears, and a saving grace to Start-up.

  31. Start-Up takes the viewers on a make-believe version of an accelerator in Korea and it was about the struggles of young founders that grew from impulsive youth to seasoned entrepreneurs. The main characters were always meant to be DS and DM, being that the story was really about their growth – as partners in the business and also in romantic terms. The promotional materials made this clear – that they would end up together so there was no mystery there. Team DS and Team JP fans both need to chill here.

    I did think the love triangle that wasn’t was a bit of a distraction – seeing that it was always one-sided. DM no doubt respects and values JP as her mentor but nowhere throughout the whole series, was there ever a big hint that she was into him romantically, except for the confusion when she found out who actually wrote the letters 15 years ago. The whole love triangle felt strung out – i.e. it could have been shortened to focus on all sorts of challenges the start-up could have faced. Hence the angst and sometimes really nasty and sometimes dumb comments from many Team JP fans.

    If it had focused on the business side of things with the occasional romantic parts (DS & DM, Chul San & Saha), that would have made for a better drama in the end.

    Further thoughts:
    1. It was clear at the end that In Jae as the the head of CM’s parent company was also on the board of CM (possibly the self-driving unicorn?). In fact both IJ and JP are directors of CM.
    2. Myabe a season 2 focusing on Yeo Jin Goo’s start-up with some meatier parts for JP and In Jae since Dodal has moved out of Sandbox. No further half-hearted love triangles – fine for the leads and second leads to have their own separate romantic interests but not to distract from the whole premise until it descends to social media warfare between ML & SL leads’ fans.
    3. DS is not as bad as Review Geek made him out to be – he was actually kind-hearted and naive and in parts impulsive but he was never malicious at all. Neither was JP – both were actually good people with emotions sometimes getting the better of both. It was good to see them made up and hug in the end and am sure JP continues to add value as a director of CM.

    Summary – I still like Start-Up a lot but it could have been improved – perhaps a Season 2. Would give it 4 stars out of 5.

  32. Watching from Canada and I thought it was absolute rubbish. Not watching anything by NJH or Suzy for a while because of how bad this was.

  33. Totally agree with your review. Though you have been generous to still give it a 2.5. If there was negative rating for this drama then that is what i would rate.

    This ship sailed without a map as expected . Worst Piece of writing ever. The writer completely lost her marbles after giving us such a wonderful pilot episode. I have never disliked the leads in any other drama as much as this one ; to the extent that right now I do not want to see any of their future projects for some time to come. The only good thing out of this mess was bringing to our notice Kim Seon Ho the actor. Will look forward to his future projects.

  34. Well where to start. I think characters or the show aside, the producers, directors and writers were spot on in terms of casting the actors and actresses in this drama. lets not take this away from them because they did a splendid job of bringing the characters we love and not so favoured to life. I stuck thru 16 episodes because of the crew and the way they delivered this drama. full of chemistry and no signs of awkwardness. 10/10 for this. Kim Seon Ho was the breakout start of this drama tbh and to me he carried it for the most part of it. Nam Joo Hyuk was excellent as expected of a male lead. Suzy, not a fan fav of her work but in this context she did well.

    As for the writing, plot and whatever. This was the biggest let down for a kdrama in 2020. yes the ending was clean and almost all loose ends were tied. But as i mentioned in my review before, we all expected the Dodal ending. whether you are team DS or HJP, lets not be delusional and accept that in kdrama land with a love triangle, the 1st male lead will get the girl. End of story.

    I agree with the author of this article on all fronts. What hurt me most as a viewer is the writer built a HJP character on a very high pedestal. But to slowly throw him under bus after the mid pt of the drama. it was obvious the writer made some changes to the script mid way and how HJP was potrayed. And to me the greatest insult to the wound is the rooftop scene for HJP and SDM. Dalmi barely said anything and all the words that came out of HJP mouth, to me, was to “come lets end this once and for all so the viewers can accept a DODAL ending better”. The writer made a mistake with the 2nd lead. they created such a strong 2nd lead character and with seon ho’s acting, it got us imprinted to him.

    As for dosan, he was too weak at the start and mid way his character gt an injection of steroids. Anything his character does was overly romanticize and it was okay, it fit his role. So innately we are just to agree that in all aspect of his character what he did was fine? the laying blame, clueless direction, cheating and violent tendencies. And all that, it culminated to him telling an ironic sentence of put your emotions aside. Its like the character cannot make up their mind of who Dosan is truly. He got dalmi at the end and most will keep bringing up that he was more brave to take the step ahead with dalmi and he showed up but not HJP. well its written in that way isnt it? The writer did use this statement to end all talks of HJP vs NDS. the person who showed up, deserve the girl.

    SDM was just another disappointing character. From being firm on what to do, she keep seeking validation and assurances for her decision. the way she chose dosan, speechless. not going to dive more into her cause talking abt it annoys me even more.

    This drama set our heart ablaze just to smack ourselves in the face at the end of it.

  35. Whats with the ending😪the series started of so smoothly and the ending to be honest was pretty harsh. I m not satisfied with what happened with jepyeong. His emotions and feelings were not put forward well. And the marriage of dosan and dalmi in the end hit me harder😪😪

  36. First off, I don’t know nor recognized any of the actors from other series other than the father. So I didn’t dislike it because of my “personal love for an actor”. For me (and only me…this is my take), the issue was character development or lack thereof for the main character(s). The male lead was so “hateable” (not the actor, again it was the character). The fact that he never got punished for all his wrong-doings throughout the series made his “getting the girl” so much more unpalatable. The guy starts beating on the scapegoat …what was it? episode 13 or 14? Grow already! Wait, he did “grow”. He grew more and more of an a$$ throughout the series.

    It seemed as if they wanted to compensate for “not getting the girl” with a good relationship with grandma. But the frigid portrayal by the lead female character (nothing to do with the actress, again it was the character), felt off. It made him seemed like an interloper in “her” family. The visit by grandma at the end helped but I still felt as if he was always going to be on the outside looking in.

    I am assuming it was supposed to be a heart-warming drama. Instead, it left me with the same feeling I get when I watch all the main characters die in a horror show. For good satisfying series…I will watch, rewatch and rewatch again. Start-Up? I will delete this from my Netflix history.

  37. The reviewer summary was excellent.
    Dosan was supposed to a be a flawed relatable character but the writer didnt write him as that. She wrote him as liar who cheated and manipulated the affection a woman had for another man and used her to force JP into supporting his company at sandbox.
    Now normally when a woman finds out you did that to her there is hell to pay but this writer never felt that burden. She realized that all she had to do to deal with Dosans pathetic petty character was write the female lead as someone who isnt even female. Or aware. Or curious. Or empathetic. Or has a good judge of character. When a real woman meets a guy who was a HUGE foundation for 15 years of her life she would have questions.
    Why did you stop writing?
    Was it real or were you just fooling me?
    Why did you put this guy with me and make me a fool thinking you were him?
    But Dalmi was never written as a real woman. She was written as the object of a 12 hour NJH Public Relations program where he could fart in her face and she would tell him she loved his scent.
    The other reason she wasnt a real woman is even if we stipulate she was a good person why would she be so evil and hurt JP for so long? She wasnt even a decent enough human being to respond to JP’s confession. She used his affection to her advantage every time.
    Since Dalmi could be written to overlook any and all flaws of Dosan there was never a reason to make him appealing for cause. She reasoned most people would be swoonie fools but I’m sure was suprised that all poles taken including the ones in Korea showed between 74% and 82% of viewers felt if she was a good woman then she deserved the best man available and the best in the drama was JP.
    Dosan was supposed to be a geek programmer that didnt understand human emotions, metaphors or many social customs yet NJH played the character so poorly that he screwed up playing the character by blubbering and sobbing way TOO much. The writer took care of screwing up the rest of his character by trying to tell the audience he was sort of a geek savant that didnt understand people well and then for some ass backward reason thought they would make him have minor degrees in romantic philosophical literature as well where he could supposedly even grasp what sailing off with out a map even means.
    This from a fool who leaves the love of his life drunk in a park in the middle of the night to go put on a suit.
    If there is a writers purgatory and hell, this writer will be spending a LONG time making up for this cenematic travesty in their afterlife.

  38. I was so excited to add this series to my watch list but after episode 3 and the way Do-san was acting and how Dal-mi would be indulging it, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I hadn’t realized the HJP wasn’t the male lead until then and felt really cheated by how we were led to believe otherwise.

    Thank you for the recaps!

  39. I loved it! With everything going on in the world, it was nice to see such a lovely happy ending. I thought Do-San grew as a character and Dal-mi as well. It’s interesting that you point out Do-San’s outbursts but fail to mention how awful Mr. Han spoke to people. Here in the States, that will get you a black eye real quick. I found his character unnecessarily rude the entire series. It was not endearing. Honesty does not give you the right to be an a-hole, no matter how cute your dimples are. He did become kinder after the time jump.
    Anyhow, I enjoyed it and will likely watch it again. It’s right up there with CLOY for me.

  40. Your analysis is spot, I know there are people who seem to have enjoyed it, everyone has different choices, but I think it’s the first time in my life I have ever commented on a movie or a series. I have enjoyed many series and I have never commented, I have disliked many series and I have never commented. But this series. I loved it so much at the start and the way it faltered so miserably makes me so frustrated that I just HAD to comment on it. Worst drama or series I have ever watched. I have only read reviews once it went downhill, saved me the heart break of watching it but strangely I still wanted to know the story. Such mixed emotions and I can see many people had the same experience as me.

  41. I absolutely agree with ur review.. i think im just wasting my time watching this drama.. honestly starting ep 15 i fast forward the drama just to watch scene with han ji pyeong.. thanks to 100 days my prince i found ksh and that was why i watch this drama at first

  42. Thank you for the comforting review coz the series was awful it hit a brick on me… The series was so promising from the start that I had to invest my weekend hours but after 9 or 10, it felt like a train hit me and hoping this series to be canceled. I feel sorry for mr.Han… awful series.

  43. Thank you for suffering through the last episodes and writing these recaps. Your recaps have completely satisfied my curiosity and allowed me to spend my tv watching time more wisely on other things.

    This one started off with so much promise–SO MUCH–and then sailed off without a map.

  44. The worst regression of a plot and its characters I’ve ever seen

    This entire drama is a fraud. It pulls you in from the beautiful pilot episode filled with symbolism, breathtaking cinematography, and the heartbreaking backstory of who you THINK is the main lead, Han Jipyeong. And then it pulls the rug from under you.

    Nam Dosan is the main lead, though he had a 10 second clip only in episode 1. Regardless, he was great in the beginning. Relatable, cute, dorky, and very lovable. Until he’s not. I really can’t pinpoint where this happened, but Dosan quickly became the most toxic, manipulative, serial liar with anger issues and violent tendencies, male lead who never gets called out for his actions. In fact, he is rewarded for everything he does, good and bad. Why? Because he’s the main lead, of course! Duh.

    On the other hand, we have Jipyeong, our second main lead who feels like the main lead but is treated like a punching bag and a waste disposal. Everything revolves around him: the plot, the letters, the character development, and the relationships with all the other characters. He is the heart and soul of the story, no matter what the writers were trying to convince us otherwise. This was in part Kim Seon Ho’s doing, as he breathed life into his character. What I firmly believe happened was that Han Jipyeong was not MEANT to be as loved as he is. Rich, quick-witted with a sharp tongue and a self-made man, he could’ve easily become the antagonist of the story, but Seon Ho achieves in making him out to be a beautifully flawed human, a man who grew up with nothing and has had to fend for himself all his life. Props to Kim Seon Ho, who was a hidden gem that was discovered through this mess of a drama, and for that reason only I don’t regret watching it with my entire self. As much as the viewers learned to love Jipyeong, the more the writers began to hate him, and his entire character arc ended with a whimper, leaving us unfulfilled and demanding justice for him.

    As for Seo Dalmi, our female lead, the writers were amazingly horrible in developing her. She went from being independent, hard-working, dream-filled to a pathetic and helpless nobody who couldn’t do anything without the help of a man. We never really learn what she’s thinking, or why she’s doing anything, or the reasoning behind any of her thoughts or actions. Honestly, I don’t even know who she is. The show failed in fleshing her out and showing any sort of character growth and development on her end. She’s a mystery box. You can’t predict anything she’ll do or say because nothing about her is consistent. Very disappointing.

    Overall the show advertises itself as a business youth drama, but it really isn’t. It pretends to be one until the plot falls apart and character development is thrown out the window. Plot holes everywhere, dead storylines, and “main” characters are more like cameo appearances- AKA Kang Hanna. The writers forgot the overall arc of the story and instead focused on a love triangle that went nowhere for 10 episodes. In all honesty, the plot could’ve been concluded in about 6 episodes. It dragged on for so long and so painfully, with virtually nothing happening in the second half. Without Seon Ho’s portrayal of Jipyeong, I really doubt that this show would’ve caught the hearts of the viewers, and as amazing as he is I would still never recommend anyone to watch this show. You’re better off watching clips of him on youtube.

    Lessons and morals of the story? Cheat, lie, play dirty, fight your mentor and those who help you, blame others for your failures, never be grateful to your friends and family, use “fate” to explain your mistakes, and win the girl. Wonderful, very heart-warming.

    I don’t think I’ll be watching another Bae Suzy or Nam Joo Hyuk work for a while to cleanse my palate from their portrayal of the worst characters in kdrama history, which is ironic given that I started this for them in the first place.

  45. I agree with your comments. There is another review were the ending perspective was put as realistic but we don’t wacht a drama to be realistic but for entertainment and why not “idealism” as for realism we read the news or hear our friend stories or IG.

    However, I do find that the writing was at times disconnected or Dalmi lack expression. HJP was a good boy with a traumatic upbringing very confident or at times, greedy, but hesitate towards following his feels and love. He tried but was crossed by the luck of DS.

    DS, I could not connect to this character neither In Jae as DS was put in his “destiny” by the hesitation of HJP and from there he just took advantages. I concede that the writer give him some “maturity” development but the charm was by far more natural to HYP

  46. I loved it! All the actors did great as I felt all their emotions while watching every episode. I hope more people enjoy watching, and also enjoy the story as it unfolds, not demanding for changes because of your personal love for an actor.

  47. I completely agree with this review.
    I thought that I was the only who felt this way while watching this series. It’s comforting to know that I am certainly not alone.
    Thank you for writing EXACTLY how I felt.

    I absolutely loved this show & it had such great promise and potential. From episode 1 to episode 9, it truly was a wonderful series with heartfelt moments & great writing.
    Then from episode 10 and on, it started to go downhill. It almost felt like the series was being led by a completely different writer or producer.
    (I’ve also noticed that this show started with an IMDB rating of 9.2 and it dropped down to an 8.6)

    I’m neither team Nam Do San nor team Han Ji Pyeong. I’m a fan of good writing. And this show ended with such disappointment. Your 2.5 rating for this finale episode is spot on 👍

    I’m looking forward to your series review!

  48. The end of this k-drama was exactly what I was expecting… Awful, but I wasn’t counting with the marriage which makes even more awful, this series begun so well… But after episode 7-8 was going downhill. I don’t recommend this drama for anyone, Jipyeong didn’t have a happy ending to be proud of. He served as a stairway to the dreams of others. In my opinion it was a really poor writing. And I’ll be always team Jipyeong, at least he had the comfort of the grandma 👵 otherwise it was a very meaningless ending. Anyway I’m very disappointed and again I don’t recommend this drama!

  49. I think the show needed a rating of 4. Having read your reviews, which I enjoyed in bits, I don’t agree with your perspective.

    Dosan changed for the better. Overcoming his weaknesses. He was always honest. Even forgoing his medal if he didn’t feel that he deserved it. He was willing to forgo the girl. But ultimately his love was reciprocated.

    I thought it was a well written drama. Everything tied up nicely. While it would have been nice to see a romance between injae and pyeong , maybe that would have looked too contrived and I agree that this show had a natural, realistic and heartwarming end. It will see great success as more ppl watch it. I’m watching it from UK and absolutely loved it! Perfect ending 👍

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