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«Start-Up» review

Discover what it is like and learn how to start your own company.

Yohan Yuki Xie

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Start-Up (스타트업) is a 2020 Korean drama starring Bae Suzy (배수지), Nam Joo Hyuk (남주혁), Kim Seon Ho (김선호) and Kang Han Na (강한나). This show is about two sisters who dream of starting the next highly successful startup company, but learn that being a successful CEO means first and foremost being human.

Discover what it is like and learn how to start your own company.


Set in South Korea’s fictional Silicon Valley called Sandbox, Start-Up tells the story of people in the world of startup companies.1

Seo Dal-mi is a bright and ambitious young woman who dreams of becoming Korea’s Steve Jobs. Dal-mi doesn’t have a fancy background but she’s passionate about her work. She has bright energy and is a person of great vitality, having experience in a wide range of part-time jobs.1

Nam Do-san is the founder of Samsan Tech. A ‘math genius’ as a young boy, Do-san was once the pride of his family but became their shame now, as his business has been going down for the past two years. He finds out that Dal-mi mistakenly remembers him as her first love, so he decides to work his way up in hopes of turning that misunderstanding into reality.1


Episode stories

The stories per episode were mostly good. Out of 16 episodes, I like the story of 9 episodes.

Series story

From the title, “Start-Up” (or “Sandbox”), it gives the impression that it is primarily about starting up a business or about joining a sandbox program. However, the overarching story is more about [1] a love triangle and [2] sibling rivalry. The impression from the series title only takes tertiary importance. It would have been better if the importance was as follows: [1] sibling rivalry; [2] start-up/sandbox/business; and [3] love triangle.

Regardless… the way the overarching stories were delivered and the choice of story per episode were enough to pull up the score for this rating.

They should have avoided introducing important facts and then never mentioning it again. For example, Ji Pyung and the sisters have met when they were kids but that important encounter was never used later even though it would make sense to do so. It was also weird that a bloodied person can pitch his company and the company’s key persons ignored the presentor’s bloodied face, that does not happen in real life.


Acting! This is where I had to give a low rating. There were too many crying scenes where the facial expressions were neutral. It was obvious they were only “acting” instead of actually feeling and letting their emotions out.

I’m a fan of Suzy but I have to mention this: she needs to relax more during the kissing scenes, make us feel it; it doesn’t need to be “wild”. The kissing scenes can still be romantic even if there wasn’t too much lip action. A room for improvement. I love her acting and the way she brings life to the characters she plays but the kissing scenes need improvement.

As for Joo Hyuk, great job in portraying what appears to be an eccentric, possibly even an autistic, character. It is never easy if an actor is not in the autism spectrum–in particular asperger syndrome. Very geeky, logical, all about facts, and clueless about everything else, especially fashion and social skills. Those scenes where Dal Mi was sending signals and Do San missed it all–those were all great. Sometimes annoying but all of it were relatable. Neutral face, going back to the discussion he was focused on, definitely a character with aspergers syndrome. Well done there.

For Han Na, excellent job in keeping the character mysterious. It was not easy when the character In Jae had a change of heart, especially when it comes to her sister. There were clues but the next moment it’s the total opposite. This happens in real life and so it’s great to see it on screen.

Start-Up (2020) (left to right) Kim Seon Ho, Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, Kang Han Na

Start-Up (2020)

(left to right) Kim Seon Ho, Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, Kang Han Na

The work shown above is Copyrighted to HiSTORY D&C.


This one is hard. I can not remember any memorable music other than the theme songs. It was probably because the acting and dialogues were great that any music playing were not reaching me, or it simply does not fit. Listening to the tracks directly, many are very good to listen to.


Overall, the production, story, and acting were awesome. The inclusion of business terminologies and explaining each, that was a very good idea. Explaining the processes, the whys and the hows, definitely a plus. It would have been better if they toned down the “young adult” giggles because that very rarely happens in-real-life. They should’ve used sandbox and showed the idea behind it and what’s happening in it more as well, instead of just providing a free office and free funding.

The “revolutionary” ideas were well thought out especially the app helping those with vision challenges. I do hope such an app exists but we haven’t achieved that speed of AI recognition still something to look forward to. Great choices on scenes and I wish they added more, like a team building session where they could feature the beauty of Korea instead of the exact same office.

From a dramatic episode 1 and funny episodes later, to the building up of the trials and tribulations, to the eventually resolution in the latter episodes. it was enough to pull up the overall rating to 9 out of 10 stars.

Official trailer

Start-Up | Main Trailer | Netflix

«Start-Up» trailer

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.


Check out «Start-Up PH» on the same level as the original

・ Cover image: The cover image used in this article is Copyrighted to HiSTORY D&C.

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