When was the last time you felt a serious crush on the 2nd lead and wished that he/she ended up with the hero/heroine? Once in awhile, kdramas like that sprout up out of nowhere and it hits you hard because you wish a different outcome for the show. If you’ve been tuning into Start-Up korean drama, I know some part of you has been pining for 2nd lead, Han Ji Pyeong, to get the girl of his childhood, Seo Dal Mi😊
Kdramas don’t have a good track record of true love triangles though, meaning that there’s no real conflict for the protagonist when it comes to choosing who between the 2 men/women they want to be with. The actors/actresses’ roles and TV posters alone will tell you who the main couple is and who is the odd man/woman out. I wish that this show will break the mold but I’m not too hopeful about it, haha!😜 Read about my Start-Up kdrama recommendation post if you haven’t started watching yet.
What’s at play is the classic love triangle with a case of identity mix-up. The lead female character, Seo Dal Mi, had a childhood pen pal name Nam Do San who comforted her at a time in her life when she needed a friend. Unbeknownst to her knowledge, this pen pal was set-up by her grandmother who asked a kid whom she took in (because he was an orphan) to write and reply to the letters. They used the name Nam Do San because they saw his name in the newspaper as a genius kid who won a prestigious math competition.
Fast forward to their adult years, the orphan kid, Han Ji Pyeong, has grown successful and is known to be a harsh yet fair venture capitalist. He meets Dal Mi’s grandmother again and the latter asks him to find the real Nam Do San as Dal Mi is intent on meeting him now. Turns out that the real Nam Do San is a struggling developer (but has no girlfriend & is handsome, haha!) who Ji Pyeong is able to contact and convinces to meet Dal Mi. After a series of events, both men find themselves falling for Dal Mi with the latter having no idea that Ji Pyeong is her real pen pal and thinks that Do San is her childhood & now turned adult love.
The last time I came down with second lead syndrome was for Baek Kyung in Extraordinary You, hee. I didn’t expect that I would feel this way, I think it’s because the way the story was crafted where Ji Pyeong was the original childhood penpal of Dal Mi. I just feel like she deserves to get to know the actual guy who wrote her the letters because it gave her a great deal of comfort as a kid and carried on to the present. Even if it stemmed from a fake identity, Ji Pyeong’s replies were honest to what he felt at the time. Having no family & friends himself, I know that the letters brought him a lot of comfort too🤗
When it comes to the sincerity of both men’s feelings, there’s no doubt that they have Dal Mi’s best interests in mind, they just express it in a different manner. While Do San is supportive and nurturing towards her, Ji Pyeong isn’t afraid to be blunt as he guides her on a realistic perspective in starting a business. I don’t think Dal Mi would have treated Do San the way she does if she knew their secret. Granted, she’d also feel awkward around Ji Pyeong knowing that he wrote the letters as a request from her grandmother because she had no friends before. But at least this way, perhaps both men will be on equal footing when it comes to courting Dal Mi’s heart.
Episodes 7 and 8 give us a tiny, data of hope that maybe Dal Mi can still learn to like Ji Pyeong. As her grandmother asked her who between the 2 versions of Do San (The one from the letters or the real, adult Nam Do San) she prefers, she answered that she’d choose the childhood one. She does get excited about the adult Do San version even if she is still getting used to him. Having spent more time together, Dal Mi and Do San have a deeper connection currently and I know that even if she discovers the truth, the relationship that they’ve built won’t just go away. Also, Do San is not in denial of his feelings for her unlike Ji Pyeong.
Dal Mi’s current state of feelings for Ji Pyeong are platonic because she sees him as her mentor and friend. Would she look at him differently if she finds out the truth? I’m sure she’d feel confused & betrayed ar first and this is where Ji Pyeong ought to step up and show her that what he wrote weren’t lies. He has to show her that he is an option and I hope that he admits his true feelings for her in the coming Start-Up kdrama episodes!
An Uncertain but Promising Future
For now, I’m leaning towards #teamJiPyeong even if I also like Nam Do San a lot too. Would Dal Mi pay more attention to Ji Pyeong if she knew early on that he was the Do San behind the letters? I’d say it’s still 50/50 honestly. Tha fallout from knowing the truth won’t be pretty but if it gets Dal Mi to look at Ji Pyeong differently, in a good way after she forgives the guys & her grandma of course, a love triangle dilemma is finally established! I only wish for Dal Mi to at least struggle a little bit on her feelings and consider Ji Pyeong romantically too. I’d be okay with her ending up with Do San, but I’d like to see the other guy in this case, win the leading female’s affections❤️