Start Up Finale: Why the writing FAILED Nam Joo Hyuk's Nam Do San, Kang Han Na's In Jae and the audience

Start-Up aired its finale episode over the weekend. While fans were prepared for Seo Dal Mi to choose Nam Do San over Han Ji Pyeong, the final few episodes did not do justice to the characters.
Start Up Finale: Why the writing FAILED Nam Joo Hyuk's Nam Do San, Kang Han Na's In Jae and the audience
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Warning: Spoilers Ahead: 

Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, Kim Seon Ho and Kang Han Na took a final bow as Start-Up ended over the weekend. The tvN drama revolved around four individuals who want to make it big in their respective careers or so the promos promised. Start-Up begins with a self-made Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Seon Ho), who writes letters under the cover of Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk) addressed to Nam Dal Mi (Suzy) after she is separated from her sister In Jae (Kang Han Na). 

Over the duration of 16 episodes, the four characters battle with personal and professional problems while making it big in the AI industry. Through the series, the infamous second lead syndrome took over, leaving fans divided over Team Nam Do San and Team Han Ji Pyeong. While the ending was obvious, Dal Mi was going to walk away with Do San, the writers did not give enough chances to Nam Do San to prove his worth, put audiences in peace with Dal Mi's choice and more. 

Start-Up is undeniably endearing. The breezy approach makes the K-drama a light watch. However, writer Park Hye Ryun did not do justice with the series, at least in the second half of the show. Instead of approaching the series as a writer, Park Hye Ryun, unfortunately, treated this drama from a viewer's perspective. On one hand, this approach gave fans enough to learn about each character's insecurities, self-doubts and growth. But as a character on the show, especially when given a chance to pick between two men, Dal Mi wasn't offered the complete picture. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

If that wasn't enough, as a viewer as well, the writer doesn't do justice to Do San. Pegging him as the male lead, Do San's character is beating around the bush with his own immature issues. The first half laid a good foundation, setting him on a path of exploring his own talents and watching him coming-of-age, with the support of Dal Mi. He gives "good boy" Han Ji Pyeong a tough competition when he develops the NoonGil app for Halmoni. However, as we approached the second half, the writer shifted to focus on Ji Pyeong and his coming-of-age. This left Do San hanging in the air. There's only so much romance that could keep the story going. 

The leap only made things worse. Instead of the time shift, Start-Up could have advanced Do San's shift to the US and focused on him tackling his inner issues while balancing his successful professional life. The final few episodes emphasised on him returning to South Korea as a changed man. The writer could have spent a little more time in establishing scenes that helped viewers understand the catalyst behind the change. Did Dal Mi rub off on him, making him a better businessman? Did events at 2STO force him to take risks? Did he cross paths with failures? Did Alex mentor him well? These questions could have been addressed, giving Do San a better character graph. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Parallelly, Ji Pyeong's attempt to woo Dal Mi could have also been established. With passing references of Ji Pyeong spending holidays at Dal Mi's home hinting at the family's growing bond, I wondered if thoughts about Ji Pyeong's attraction led to Dal Mi's change in behaviour towards him. As Ji Pyeong himself says, "Three years is a long time. It's long enough for relationships to change." Didn't their mentor-mentee relationship grow into a friendship, at least? 

While the battle for Team Do San and Team Ji Pyeong continued, a crucial member of the quadrant got lost. Seo In Jae/Won In Jae, played by Kang Han Na, felt like a character limited to an extended cameo. The character could have supported the pace of the storytelling, giving viewers a break from the prolonged love triangle. In Jae had a decent backstory that could have been explored in episodes focusing on her mending relationship with Dal Mi. 

Start-Up could have been a perfect blend of emotions clashing with rationality in a working environment. The series had the potential of telling relatable day-to-day stories of four individuals, but it failed to hit the mark. The rushed ending, the unnecessary digression from the "Start-Up" to the toxic love triangle and the underdeveloped characters weigh Start-Up down.

What did you think of Start-Up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

ALSO READ: Start Up Ep 16: Suzy & Nam Joo Hyuk get their happy ending; Kim Seon Ho smiles bright because of Yeo Jin Goo

Stay tuned to Pinkvilla for more updates. 

Anonymous 2 months ago

Start-up adds to my list of the worst endings, along with Game of Thrones and presumably, Attack on Titan.

Anonymous 2 months ago

its fine its fine.

Anonymous 4 months ago

NDS.

Anonymous 4 months ago

I sympathize with the writer of this series because of all the flak and criticism she's been getting, especially from the fans of Han Ji-Pyeong who believes he should be the one to win the heart of Seo Dal-Mi. I mean, hey guys, it's been clearly stated in the beginning that the real and main reason why he wrote the letters was because of the urging (can also be called coercing) by sweet little ol' Granny. He did all of it because he was able to sleep and eat in Granny's shop. If Granny didn't do that, would he write those letters on his own? I don't think so. Seo Dal-Mi didn't even interest him in the beginning. And in the ten years gap that followed, she didn't even cross his mind. In fact he clearly stated that it was Granny's who, for all intent and purpose, wrote the letters for her. He was simply the conduit. The writer made it clear in the very beginning. Okay, for the sake of realism, since most of the fans associate the story in real life, let's just take the following into consideration. Fact, he wrote the letters that comforted Seo Dal Mi. He has a very long association and is close to Granny. It's true that Han Ji-Pyeong was first in Seo Dal-Mi life. He made everything possible for the latter part of the story But the fact remains that he chickened out when it matters most. He should have stepped in and revealed himself as the true writer of the letters -- when Seo Dal Mi was desperately looking for the imaginary Nam Do-San. Come on, she is already an adult...

Anonymous 4 months ago

this is also the case for Nam Do San,would he pursue DalMi if he had not met her? He wouldnt even know her. So its equal for them both. They both not interested in Dal Mi at the start and both forced to do things they dont initially like but fall for her along the way.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Lol. Whatever.

Anonymous 4 months ago

This is totally a writer's epic fail.. if they want the audience to root for the main lead they should have build his character from the start. It should be the other way around. It should have been NJH with the back story. But everything was done already, we already fell in love with han ji pyeong. The only thing I was thankful for the story is introducing Kim Seon Ho to us.....

Anonymous 4 months ago

"the writers did not give enough chances to Nam Do San to prove his worth, put audiences in peace with Dal Mi's choice and more." I think you mean Han Ji Pyeong? I feel like he wasn't given enough chance to actually prove His worth. Nam Do San wasn't really in the picture for 3 years... so how come HJP didn't get a single chance of getting closer to her? T_T

Anonymous 4 months ago

Hmm... Suzy's character's name was Seo Dal Mi and not Nam Dal Mi..

Anonymous 4 months ago

The chemistry of NJH and Suzy was on another level!!! Dodal all the way.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Honestly, I love this K-Drama. I don't need other nuances mentioned on this article as it could have turned boring and can go more than 16 episodes. The only thing I would have like to see in the period of 3 years while Do San was in the US is Han Ji Pyeong and Dal Mi's relationship as to why it didn't grown into something more and Dal Mi's mending her relationship with her sister In Jae. But, as is I still love it as it gave a lot of lessons in business and life in such engaging manner. I believe it is a matter of taste of one wants to see in the development of the story.

Anonymous 4 months ago

i think the writer went downhill after putting HJP on a pedestal. She created a character who outshined the lead. Both ML and SML cry and there is nothing wrong with men showing vulnerability. It's just that the writer created HJP to have the traits to outshined even the FL, connecting him with her past. Half of the world rooted for HJP. Dalmi's character became weaker with each episode as the Love triangle dragged on. The story had more product placements than actual startup related stories. It's cruel how it ended and many orphans who watched the show are heartbroken including new KSH fans

Anonymous 4 months ago

I honestly think Do San's character build up is weak makes me disgusted with who Dal Mi chose at the end.. I'm just rooting for a 2nd season though.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Same, so the person she choose is changed.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Yeah true

Anonymous 4 months ago

Its only a twisted and disgusting writer that forces the female lead to go with the person with the worst character in the whole drama. After Dosans return and supposed "growth" as a person, he tells JP that he will keep the letters Dalmi wrote JP from him. The guy is trash. The writer wrote Dosan as a geeky nerd who doesnt understand people, women, personal relationships or metaphors. All of this is proven/shown. Dosan leaves Dalmi alone, drunk in a park in the middle of the night so he can go put on a suit because she used a suit as a metaphor. The guy is a fool. So we know the last thing Dosan is good at is philosophy or things like understanding what Sailing off without a map means. Yet the writer plays GOD forcing the mental dichotomy to coexist and it doesnt go well. If she wanted to make Dosan the end game then what is so hard making him....NOT the skum of the earth??? I mean she does it convincingly for JP. In the end to cover over Dosans huge flaws the writer made Dalmi an oblivious pathetic person who dispite dosan asking repeatedly, why do you like me, Dalmi cant think of a single reason and comes up with "Big hands". Of course Dumb Dosan is fine with that but eventully even he wants a better reason. He askes her again why she likes him and she says she doesnt know, she just does. How many women in the world when asked by anyone, Why do you like your Boyfriend or husband could not find a single attribute that they love? The drama is so poorly written that any d

Anonymous 4 months ago

It's true start up has been the worst drama of 2020, apart from the longest and unwanted love triangle. Suzy's acting which never seems to improve, like girl how many chances do you want, still a mediocre. Nam JooHyuk's acting has improved so much he is really working so hard so many projects in a year and more to come. He is atleaaast trying hard.

Anonymous 4 months ago

I think NJH acting was actually quite poor. THis was a guy written as not understanding people, emotions, metaphores etc yet he blubbers like a dainty romance novelist about 99% to much.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Get a life! Korean dramas have a limit of 16 episodes and they can only show this much. I understand you wanted HJP to win the heart off Dalmi but if you see how the love story was portrayed then it was team Do San all the way! Lastly that they attempted a series on AI without making it a sci-fi is commendable enough. I doubt any other country has even tried to make a drama series on this topic.

Anonymous 4 months ago

I've watched shows with only 10 eps or less in one season and saw way better character development, more complex plots and less predictability. This show is just poorly written in all fronts albeit the interesting attempt to showcase the AI industry.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Exactly!But Korean dramas don't have a limit of '16' episodes. Some have 2,4,10, 12,16,20 and more as well. There are only quite few with 50+ episodes like Empress Ki, Father is strange, Lovers in bloom etc.

Anonymous 4 months ago

Exactly. Couldn't have said any better.

Anonymous 4 months ago

How bout you get a life? K-dramas do no not have a limit if 16 episodes. Stop the lies just say you don’t like HJP and leave...Imp

Anonymous 4 months ago

Your opinion is in the worldwide minority. And remember even Hiter had Eva Braun liking him. Doesnt mean he was a good guy.