'Start-Up' Episode 1: Bae Suzy is Dal-mi, an aspiring entrepreneur from a dysfunctional family, in this K-drama
One of my favorite quotes about Cherry Blossom is from the 'Tale of Genji'. “It is true, as they say, that the blossoms of spring are all the more precious because they bloom so briefly.” 'Start-Up', the latest Netflix Korean drama reminded me of this quote as in its first episode it portrayed how fleeting both happiness and sadness can be, how fleeting emotions are and to attempt to capture either is like attempting to hold to spring forever. Seo Dal-mi as a young girl had one best friend, her older sister, Seo In-jae. The two of them shared everything and lived a content life together, that is, when their parents were not arguing about the father wanting to quit the company that he works at to start a business of his own.
There comes a point when Dal-mi and In-jae's parents decide that their marriage is not working out and that is when the two of them decide that is better to get divorced. At that point, the mother gives her daughters the choice — to follow her or to stay with their day — who is still struggling to find a footing financially. In-jae decides that she will follow her father while Dal-mi stays behind with her father. Despite being young, the decisions that the two of them make take them on different paths and In-jae ends up living an easier life, just as she had wanted as a child when her mother remarries a financially stable man. So In-jae's rich stepfather opens her eyes to how easy the world is to live in if only one follows a path already paved instead of wanting to make a new one. However, In-jae doesn't reveal her thoughts to her once close sister.
It is on the day that In-jae is ready to leave to the US that she confesses her thoughts to her sister and to assuage the guilt that she is feeling at leaving her father and sister behind, she picks on Dal-mi. She tells Dal-mi how her life has gotten better because of the choice that he had made and taunts Dal-mi about making a wrong decision by following her father. She is unnecessarily cruel and her selfish intentions are fulfilled when she manages to cut off from her sister at this time. What is interesting here is the dynamics between the two sisters. From being best friends to becoming each other's nemesis, it took just a divorce between their parents. The animosity is deep-seated and over time has only become more intense. For some reason, In-jae (Kang Ha-na) has always doubted her decision, and after she returns to Seoul, she continues to assuage her doubts by looking at Dal-mi's (Bae Suzy) situation. Dal-mi is struggling to start her own business, depends on their grandmother, and takes on all kinds of part-time jobs to support herself.
In-jae, on the other hand, has become one of the most hated figures in the IT world for using her stepfather's fortune to get an in into the startup world and becoming a part of Sandbox, a thinktank that invests in start up companies which have the potential to grow. It is at a startup rally/talk that Dal-mi meets her sister again after years and just to taunt her, she refers to her sister by her birth name Seo In-jae. The world knows this popular figure as Won In-jae and from how irked she looked, it doesn't seem as if she advertises the fact that the man who opened the purse strings for her is her stepfather. However, the fact that Dal-mi is struggling is the only thing that helps In-jae reiterate that her decision was in fact the right one.
When the sisters are busy acting like strangers in public, one man seems to recognize Dal-mi from when he was young and that is Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Sun-ho). He is an orphan who was taken care of by Dal-mi's grandmother when he was kicked out of orphan with all of 2 million won to support himself. All she asks him is a favor and that is to write her granddaughter letters as a friend to help her move on from the hurt that has been caused because of her family that separated. Dal-mi's grandma and Ji-pyeong decide to use the name of a kid who was popular at the time for winning the math olympiad — Nam Do-san — and soon, Dal-mi is able to move on from the hurt and even learn a thing or two from Ji-pyeong. It is one such that thing that she had learnt during that Spring when cherry blossoms were in full bloom that helped her cope through the tragic loss of her father.
After working hard for months, her father manages to find an investor for his business but before the meeting he gets into an accident. It seems as if he is fine momentarily except for tremor in his hands. However, but the end of the day, instead of celebrating his success with his daughter over fried chicken, he dies alone in a bus. It is heartbreaking, but what really helped Dal-mi, is the fact that she was able to tell her father that she loved him despite his financial standing, or his ability to buy fried chicken. She made her father's final moments happy and that is because she remembers words that she had seen in the first letter that Ji-pyeong had wrote to her. To not let things from the past or future worry him, but to enjoy the present fully because moments are fleeting and if don't live fully in the present than what are you taking to your future really?
The episode ends with Dal-mi writing another letter after years, as an adult thanking Do-san for helping her enjoy the bloom of the spring instead of grieving the fall that comes at the end of it. We are now excited to find out how the real Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk) will fit into all of this!
'Start-Up' will air on tvN on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 pm KST, and can be streamed on Netflix in the US.