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‘Start-Up’ Episode 2 review: Too good to be true?

Can "Start-Up" Episode 2 live up to expectations? Image credit: tvN
Image credit: tvN

“Start-Up”, the new tvN drama streaming on Netflix, set the bar high with its picture-perfect first episode. Can “Start-Up” Episode 2 live up to expectations?

I’m happy to say that “Start-Up” Episode 2 is just as charming and well-written as the first episode. Even if Seo Dal Mi, the main character played by Bae Suzy, does learn that some things are too good to be true. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode.

‘It’s just one day’

As we saw last episode, Dal Mi has been living a lie all these years. She has happy memories of exchanging letters with her pen pal Nam Do San. These letters made that tragic spring bearable.

After all these years, she still doesn’t know that “Nam Do San” doesn’t exist. At least not as the boy who wrote all those letters to her. While he got the name “Nam Do San” from the math genius who was featured in the newspaper, it was a young Han Jip Yeong who wrote those letters. This was a favor to Dal Mi’s grandmother, who helped him write them.

The only problem is that now Dal Mi wants to meet Nam Do San. She told her estranged sister Won In Jae that Nam Do San became her boyfriend. To call her bluff, In Jae invited Dal Mi to the startup networking event she has organized. And told Dal Mi to bring Nam Do San with her.

Now Dal Mi is determined to contact Nam Do San. And unknown to Dal Mi, upon hearing this, her grandmother has asked Jip Yeong to find the real Nam Do San. And he only has five days to do it.

‘It’s nothing weird’

Image credit: tvN
Image credit: tvN

Yes, it sounds ridiculous when you describe the plot of “Start-Up”. But trust me, it works because of the wonderful storytelling and performances from the actors.

“Start-Up” Episode 2 shows how great Kim Seon Ho is as Han Jip Yeong. The “the Gordon Ramsay of investments” who is cynical, ruthless, and selfish, but who has a soft spot for Dal Mi’s grandmother, Mrs. Choi. To Mrs. Choi, he will always be the “Good Boy” she met when he was young, even though he kept telling her back then that he was not.

Kim Seon Ho succeeds in making us empathize with what he is also convincingly portraying as an unlikeable character. He also has great comic timing, making us laugh at his character’s frustration and the ridiculous situations he finds himself in for the sake of Mrs. Choi.

‘We want to enter Sand Box’

Image credit: tvN
Image credit: tvN

“Start-Up” Episode 2 is also where we get to really meet Nam Do San, who is played by Nam Joo Hyuk. At this stage of the drama, he is a lovable loser who has founded his own AI startup Samsan Tech with his two friends.

Apart from the three of them, no one believes his startup will succeed — not even his father, who, in a funny exchange, thought that AI stands for avian influenza. Do San has to explain to him that it’s not “that AI”, but artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, his father decides to stop investing in what he sees as his son’s failed business, forcing the three friends to start selling their stuff to keep their startup operating.

Nam Do San, however, now has a dream. He wants Samsan Tech to enter Sand Box, the fictional startup incubator around which “Start-Up” revolves. The idea behind Sand Box is to be a safe place for startups, helping founders pursue their dreams and aim high by cushioning their fall in case their ideas fail.

‘Dal Mi will be there’

Image credit: tvN
Image credit: tvN

As for Won In Jae, Dal Mi’s estranged older sister played by Kang Han Na, most of what we know about the character is from the flashbacks to the young In Jae and Dal Mi in Episode 1.

As a second-generation chaebol CEO who has everything people desire, her main function at this point is to show the contrast between her life and Dal Mi’s. Because of the choices they made when they were young, that drove the two of them apart.

In their first meeting after so many years, In Jae thanked Dal Mi. She said seeing her younger sister has convinced her that she made the right choice when she was young. This cruel statement is what makes Dal Mi even more motivated to find Nam Do San. She doesn’t want to lose to In Jae. This would be like admitting that she made the wrong choice in staying with her father, whom Dal Mi loves so much.

How will past and present collide when the lives of these four young people converge at Sand Box? And what does the future have in store for them?

Start watching “Start-Up” now.