Start-Up is a South Korean television series starring Bae Suzy, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Seon-ho and Kang Han-na. The series revolves around a woman who has dreams of becoming an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs, and her love triangle between a man who is secretly her first love and another man who is pretending to be her first love. It aired on tvN from October 17 to December 6, 2020, every Saturday and Sunday at 21:00 (KST). It is available for streaming on Netflix.


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

Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) 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.

Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk), is the founder of Samsan Tech. A ‘math genius’, or genius savant, 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.

Review: by TeoKajLibroj (link)

Start-Up succeeded where Itaewon Class failed

I don’t know if people have noticed this, but there’s a lot of similarities between Start-Up and Itaewon Class. In fact, the plots cover similar ground, albeit in different settings and with a different tone.

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They both are shows about a group of misfits who set up a new business and clash with a larger rival. A group of strangers gradually become strong friends as they work create a business that benefits the wider community. The main character has a desire to live up to the ideals of their father, who dies in the first episode. There are themes of independence, self-realisation and family. They both have a love triangle where the female lead must choose between someone she knew as a teenager and a new work colleague, both ending in a way that caused controversy on this sub.

The main difference is that Itaewon Class has a major revenge plot, which eventually works against it.

Itaewon Class started extremely well and I was hooked on the first few episodes, but it gradually lost its way (at least in my opinion). The final two episodes with the kidnapping plot were a complete mess and made hardly any sense. Several characters failed to have satisfactory resolutions and a lot of important plot-points came out of nowhere or were not well built up.

While Start-Up is by no means a perfect show, I felt it was far more successful in what it was trying to do. It was very good at sticking to its main themes and using it to build character development. For example, the main theme of the show is the importance of taking risks to follow your dreams and the main characters grappled with this in practically every episode. In contrast, Itaewon Class was less focused and didn’t follow through as well, for example revenge is finally brought on Jangga and Geun-won not by Saeroyi, but by Soo-ah and Yi-seo without any input from Saeroyi.

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While the romantic plotline in Start-Up was controversial and I was rooting for Ji-pyeong, the show did signpost where it was going very early on. The eventual ending also fitted neatly with the theme of the show, Do-san succeeded because he was willing to take a risk, whereas Ji-pyeong’s fatal flaw was his fear of failure. In contrast, Saeroyi’s feelings for Yi-seo come out of nowhere in a single scene and don’t fit with the direction the show seemed to be going (rejecting Yi-seo and telling Soo-ah to wait for him).

Anyways, I wonder if anyone else noticed the similarities and what they think about comparing the two shows. To me, it suggests that Itaewon Class might have been a better show if it had cut the revenge plot and just been a show about people trying to run a restaurant.

5/5 - (1 vote)

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