Start-Up Episode 2: Nam Joo-hyuk saves the day

The second episode of Start-Up stays as interesting as the first. We get a proper introduction to Nam Joo-hyuk‘s character Nam Do-san and learn a great deal more about the lives of the rest of the main characters. The episode culminates in an exciting first meeting between Suzy and Nam Joo-hyuk, laying the groundwork for next week’s episodes!

Seo Dal-mi’s Trials As A Part-Timer

Despite knowing Dal-mi’s childhood story, we don’t know a lot about her life as a grown woman yet. This episode gave us a glimpse and it’s… sad. For all her optimism and never-say-die attitude, Dal-mi’s life seems to be following the trajectory of her father – she’s exceptionally hard-working and competent, but doesn’t get often get to reap the fruit of her work.

It turns out that she had to give up on university, I’m assuming because of financial troubles after her father’s accident, so despite working her butt off, she’s sidelined when it comes to promotions. I love that she keeps her spirits high despite her discouraging reality, but I desperately want good things to happen to her. Suzy’s acting has endeared me to Seo Dal-mi very fast and I’m excited to get to know her more.

Won In-jae And Her Mother

The two women who left Dal-mi’s father for financial stability are now richer than they ever dreamt, but unsurprisingly, happiness still eludes them. In-jae’s (Kang Hanna) life is a huge social media image, while her mother (Song Seon-mi) is stuck with a husband who openly cheats on her. Both of them display a longing for their old lives – with In-jae’s mother even mentioning her ex-husband – but I think it will be a while before either of them is ready to consider the possibility that they made the wrong choice all those years back. This love-is-greater-than-money arc is kind of cliched, but I’m still invested in seeing how In-jae and her mother make the journey.

Finding Nam Do-san

Much of this episode is about the life of Nam Do-san and I must say, for a former math whiz, the guy lives a pretty adventurous life. Nam Do-san is currently the floundering founder of a failing start-up. It’s obvious that he still enjoys math and coding, but doesn’t seem to have a good business sense. Nam Joo-hyuk embodies the sensitive Do-san perfectly. I think the actor has gotten typecast in lonely and sad boy roles, but he does them so well that I can’t bring myself to complain.

The characters in Do-san’s life are pretty hilarious as well and I’m very excited about their addition to the show. His parents (Kim Hee-jung, More Than Friends and Kim Won-hae, Stranger 2) seem like the typical caring but nagging type and also have amazing comic potential between them. The two friends who Do-san runs his start-up with – Yong-san (Kim Do-wan, She Knows Everything) and Chul-san (Yoo Su-bin, Crash Landing On You) are riots as well. These are all dynamics I’m really looking forward to.

Ji-pyeong’s Dilemma

Ji-pyeong (Kim Sun-ho) is willing to do anything for halmeoni, which is super sweet of him, but I like that he refuses to compromise on his ethics. When Do-san demands to be allowed into Sandbox in exchange for helping Dal-mi. Ji-pyeong tells him to his face that he thinks Do-san’s company is likely to fail. I know the show will eventually get Ji-pyeong and Do-san on the same team, but there is potential for conflict here. Dal-mi’s letters comforted Ji-pyeong as a kid, they seem to have rung a bell with Do-san too, so I’m sensing a penpal/love triangle in the mix. Will watching Dal-mi become close to Do-san awaken feelings in Ji-pyeong?

The Big First Meeting Between Dal-mi and Do-san

Dal-mi and Do-san’s first feeling is every bit as cinematic as the meeting of two people who have been pen pals since they were kids can be. It’s a bit heartwarming that just Dal-mi’s letters were enough to make Do-san go to the networking party with her. And wow, he cleaned up pretty well – not only does he get his ratty, overgrown hair cut and styled but also dresses up spiffy for the event. Nam Joo-hyuk brought out all his charm for this scene!

Now things will get interesting, because Dal-mi and Do-san are on completely different wavelengths. In her head, he has been her first love for years, while he has just met her. There is bound to be awkwardness and more than one moment where Do-san’s pretense will slip. But if Dal-mi’s letter really made an impression on Do-san, maybe they will get along better than I’m anticipating. Next episode will be so exciting, I can’t wait.

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Indoor Enthusiast

Indoor Enthusiast (Esha) is usually found going on rants about how Ji Hae-soo from It's Okay That's Love and Sung Bora from Reply 1988 are the best heroines to grace our screens. Thrillers like Secret Forest and rom-coms with sprinklings of feminism à la Because This Life Is My First hold a special place in her heart. She can be reached at [email protected]