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‘Start-Up’ Episode 3: Sail off without a map

"Start-Up" Episode 3 serves as a major turning point for all four of the main characters in tvN's charming K-drama about startups. Image credit: tvN
Image credit: tvN

“I think I’ve figured out the keyword.” For me, that quote pretty much sums up “Start-Up” Episode 3, which serves as a major turning point for all four of the main characters in tvN’s charming K-drama about startups that is streaming on Netflix.

Seo Dal Mi. Nam Do San. Won In Jae. Han Jip Yeong. Somehow, fate has conspired to bring the four of them together because of one spring fifteen years ago. And “Start-Up” Episode 3 sees the four of them “figuring out the keyword” in their own ways, making big decisions that will change their lives. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode.

‘What am I going to do with you?’

One of the best things about “Start-Up” Episode 3 is the hilarious interactions between Jip Yeong (Kim Seon Ho) and Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk). Particularly at the networking event organized by In Jae’s (Kang Han Na) company.

A surprised Dal Mi (Bae Suzy) is happy that Do San decided to go to the networking event after all. And asks him to play along because she has told her estranged older sister In Jae that Do San is her boyfriend and that the two of them are founding their own company.

What Dal Mi doesn’t know is that this isn’t the real Do San. Yes, his real name is Nam Do San, but he isn’t the actual person who wrote those letters to her fifteen years ago. That “Nam Do San” was Jip Yeong. In this sense, both the fake “Nam Do San” and the real Nam Do San are frauds.

Last episode, Jip Yeong explained the situation to Do San and asked him to pretend to be that person for just one day. Jip Yeong thought that this charade was over when he refused the condition that Do San set: to have his AI startup Samsan Tech enter Sand Box.

Though thrown for a loop by the unexpected arrival of Do San, Jip Yeong saves the day when In Jae is grilling Do San. He lies to In Jae, Dal Mi, and their mom, saying that his company is interested in investing in Do San’s startup. Then pulls him away.

‘Do you work for UNICEF or something?’

Image credit: Netflix
Image credit: Netflix

This sets up a hilarious exchange between the two fake Nam Do Sans as they go to another cocktail table.

Jip Yeong: People already think you’re a hotshot CEO.

Do San: Me? Why?

Jip Yeong: Because you’re with me.

Do San: Are you boasting now?

Jip Yeong: I’m just being honest. Keep talking to look like a hotshot.

Do San: Talk about what?

Jip Yeong: Just… say anything. The lyrics of the national anthem.

Do San: “Until Mt. Baekdu is worn away and the East Sea’s waters run dry.”

Jip Yeong: “May God protect and preserve our country.”

And, yes, the people at the networking event stealing glances at them think they are having an intelligent conversation.

‘Why are you being like this?’

A lot of things happen in “Start-Up” Episode 3. And just as in the first two episodes, things happen in parallel. It’s another testament to masterful storytelling.

The two estranged sisters, Dal Mi and In Jae, both decide to quit their jobs. And both decide to apply for a slot in Sand Box so they can found their own startups.

Meanwhile, the two fake Nam Do Sans are both doing their best to preserve the illusion and keep Dal Mi happy. Jip Yeong is stressed beyond belief by the need to help Do San pretend to be the boy Dal Mi fell for in her youth, and to transform him into the hotshot CEO she now believes Do San to be.

Dal Mi’s grandmother Ms. Choi tells Jip Yeong she will tell Dal Mi the truth. She thanks Jip Yeong for making Dal Mi happy for that one day.

Do San, however, doesn’t want Dal Mi to learn the truth. While he can’t be the boy from the past, he says he can at least become a successful CEO now if Samsan Tech enters Sand Box. And Jip Yeong, surprisingly, wants to help him keep Dal Mi happy.

When Jip Yeong tells Ms. Choi, she asks him why he would want to keep doing this. He tells her that Dal Mi was so happy because of that day.

And in parallel scenes, Ms. Choi asks Jip Yeong, and his co-founders ask Do San, if they are doing this because they have feelings for Dal Mi.

One of them says yes. One of them says no.

Start watching “Start-Up” now.

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