by ownes, November 25, 2020

"Start-Up" is a drama based on the world of business, most specifically start-ups – but, if we’re being honest so far it’s been much more focused on each of the main casts’ struggles with success, romance, and life generally. A particular note about this drama is that almost everyone is connected to each other by shared pasts, lies, secrets, misunderstandings, or words not spoken. Spoilers ahead for whoever hasn't watched up until episode 10!

Without going into many details, the main conflict in Start-Up started with a grandmother who wanted her granddaughter, Dal-Mi, to have a friend after being separated from her sister. By either chance or odds, she took a young orphan boy named Ji-Pyung under her wing and, by her request, he began writing letters to Dal-Mi under the stolen identity of a boy named Do-San and befriended her. After many years separated, fate has led them all to meet and the web of lies to intertwine even more: the real Do-San performs now under the identity of the writer of Dal-Mi’s letters – under Ji-Pyung’s own request, who didn’t want to reveal himself, and that now took a role similar to a Fairy Godmother that tries to help and “protect” Dal-Mi from the truth.  

No lie can stray away from the truth forever. If you aren’t familiar with the drama or the chemistry of love triangles, both Ji-Pyung and Do-San take interest in Dal-Mi romantically, and she begins to feel a shift, a “Do-San from the past and Do-San from the present” sense that torns whatever feeling she had. This is leading their facades to collapse, as honesty is fundamental in a relationship, and the web to slowly rip itself to shreds when Dal-Mi finally finds out the truth.

And to think that it all started with an act of kindness from an old grandmother….

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That is a non-specific theme in the drama: Kindness. It can be seen as the engine and the fuel that has moved everything to the point where we are now. And I wonder: What is Kindness? Are you a kind person because you help others unexpectedly, as the grandmother did to the young orphan boy, or are you kind to others because you never say no to a request, to a favour, much like what Ji-Pyung does now to Dal-Mi? Are you kind because you are willing to do anything, even lie, just to make someone happy, as Do-San did? And do you need a reason to justify kindness? If so, what should it be? What does it truly take to be kind?

If I had to give a widespread notion of kindness, I’d say it is to help others for the sake of wanting them to feel happy. In its fundamental basis, kindness is about believing. We believe that others should find their own happiness, contentment, and success. We believe they deserve to feel good, to not suffer. And, although we can’t make others happy by ourselves, for happiness is something that blooms within, we can make their hardships easier to bear and their smiles easier to reach. We can give them reasons to feel happiness.

Throughout the drama, I’d say kindness has been portrayed in many ways: we were shown kindness when the grandmother gave Ji-Pyung support like the parents he didn’t have, when Do-San showed up at the party and made Dal-Mi feel better and much more confident, even when she was still a stranger, when he gave away his medal to his rival upon winning, when he based the nam-san app on the grandmother upon thinking about her struggles when Ji-Pyung offered more than once to be a “plan b”, a cushion in case their journey faltered, when he put his feelings aside to defend Do-San’s instead once Dal-Mi found out the truth.

But can we really call that kindness? And if so, what leads each of us to be kind? We have also been shown a multitude of reasons: they’ve been kind because they had goals of their own, feel indebted to others, don’t want them to suffer too much, are attracted or don’t want to disappoint them, they want to be the person someone else believes they are. They’re kind, but do it through secrecy, through lies that, even if they’re white, hurt nevertheless once they come afloat. They are kind without realizing that, often, it isn’t just the action that matters itself, but its reason and means too. They’re kind without thinking: will this really, truly make them happier?

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In this light, we can see how the validity of kindness is fragile. Life is not black and white. Each of us has our own beliefs and feelings to deal with, so as much as we might wish to, we’re often mindlessly kind. We don’t think before we act, and we don’t often have the time to micro-analyze each of our actions with a telescope-ish state of mind. We don’t consider that the means and reasons we have can invalidate the feeling within, that it can make the other person feel reduced, small and incompetent.

Do-San and Ji-Pyung wanted to keep Dal-Mi from the truth because they didn’t want to hurt her. They thought the truth would disappoint her, break her heart to shreds. But, by keeping a lie alive for so long under the guise of kindness, they only ended up hurting her further.  

And that’s when we must open up because no one can tell what goes on inside our heads or hearts. They only feel our actions, not whatever lies within. The best intentions to some can be the worst for others, and whatever we do for or towards someone is something that is up to them to accept.

What we’re seeing now in the drama is communication kicking in, the so-needed clarity. We are seeing Dal-Mi weighting whatever is within her, for people that she trusted have fooled her into wanting what was best for her. It is now up to her to decide if that kindness was valid after all.

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Besides not being the best judge of character, I’m far too much of a negative person to predict anything. As a viewer that is very passionate and emotional, I really just felt like speaking about this! “Start-Up” has its own set of complexities that makes it interesting, besides the usual drama troops we’re all very used to and have grown to either love or hate.

This article was written at the time of the 10th episode.

What do you think? How does this drama make you feel? What are your own views rewarding everything that has happened? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to read them! To those that made it here, thank you for reading my second article! I hope you liked it! ^-^

Editors: BrightestStar (1st editor)

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