It’s still too early to tell but tvN drama Start-Up could become my favorite K-drama of 2020. It’ll have to beat a few other stalwart successes this year but it has that combination of sweetness, humor, and positive spirit that is so heartwarming to watch in these trying times. Episode 5 continued the Hackathon competition at Sandbox pitting Dal Mi and Do San’s team against In Jae and her more savvy guns. I loved learning that Dal Mi got into a good college but chose to work odd jobs to take care of Granny, so she is smart though not conventionally educated. Then learning that Do San was always a bleeding heart, hence his decision to show up for Dal Mi’s date at the end of episode 2 makes even more sense. But that strength is also his weakness and we see how finding something to fight for (his pride and Dal Mi) could be the trigger to “activate” his full potential.
I’m firmly resigned to Ji Pyeong being the hyung/oppa/mentor of this drama even though he has my heart because his hesitation (which Do San has none of) is what makes the difference between who gets the girl. Every scene with Ji Pyeong resonates because Kim Sun Ho is such an incredible actor (holding his own against Granny legend Kim Hae Sook) and his journey just like the other characters isn’t rooted in the binary formula of romance but of family/connection. In Jae is also a formidable rival withnot any rancor, she has done nothing to hurt anyone else but simply chosen her own path with no looking back and continuing to forge her own road. This drama is about more than the usual topes which is why is why I love it so, and the storytelling continues to make me laugh and cheer.