How “Start-Up” Failed Kang Han Na

Published Categorized as Kdrama Reviews

tvN’s currently airing drama “Start-Up” is one of the most talked about kdramas among the international community.

Each Saturday and Sunday, fans would trend the episode’s hashtag on twitter to discuss the episode, the hashtag ends up on the top twitter trends, which is pretty impressive because that doesn’t happen often for kdramas.

I’ve been itching to talk about “Start-Up” and actress Kang Han Na specifically but I tried to wait as much as I could so I don’t come off impatient, however, after watching this week’s episodes (11 and 12), I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.

So before I start, I want to clarify that my judgment of “Start-Up” and Kang Han Na’s character specifically are of the episodes I’ve watched thus far, my opinion could change depending on how the next episodes fair out.

Kang Han Na is an interesting mysterious actress in my opinion, I think she’s a good actress who has great potential but hasn’t been able to shine properly despite starting out a while ago.

She’s one of those actresses I wish to see shine more and do more of a variety of characters other than the usual snobby/arrogant/difficult/scary character.

According to Kang Han Na, she cut her hair short specifically for her role in “Start-Up” which makes me feel even worse about how her character ended up despite what appears to be a lot of hard work on her part.

Thus far, I don’t think Kang Han Na should’ve been cast in “Start-Up” because I don’t think this role added anything to her resume. I said the same thing about Kim Seon Ho in my review of the first half but the screenwriter completely turned around his character and gave him the growth and arc he deserved.

The only major underdeveloped character in the drama is Kang Han Na and this is not her fault.

Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun (the one who wrote this drama) has done cute scripts in the past, I don’t think any of her dramas were breakthroughs or left me in awe but I know that’s not the case for everybody. Many love love her dramas and that’s totally cool. I sometimes sense that she’s the type of Screenwriter who falls back on typical clichés and stereotypes to use, they’re not bad, they’re just so predictable, and at times, too long.

Her method of writing would’ve been labeled outdated but the choices of actors she usually ends up working with overshadow that. Suzy is someone whom she worked with a number of times already. I see improvement in this particular drama on her part, but still, I don’t think the script is at the maturity level I’d like it to be especially considering the fact that she’s been writing since 2005, a really long time ago. I would’ve loved for her to write a more mature story in the future.

I love the research she did for “Start-Up” but she definitely butchered some parts and one of the parts we’re here to talk about is Won In Jae.

If you watched the first episodes of “Start-Up” then you’ve definitely had high hopes for Won In Jae, she’s driven, smart and doesn’t rely on her ‘daddy’ money, she takes a gamble and starts a business on her own. In the first episodes, I was honestly super excited to see the two sisters go up against each other and for them to get closer in that process. The series ended up being more about romance rather than start-ups which is kinda disappointing but the cast chemistry kept it going.

I am curious about what changed all of a sudden. Because at first, it looked like she had great plans for the character and you can clearly see that in the first episodes.

I struggle to figure out why she cast such a talented actress for the role only to make her sit on the side watching all the other characters before her get properly fleshed out.

Won In Jae is in my opinion a more interesting character than Suzy’s Dal Mi. Kang Han Na could’ve easily overshadowed Suzy but she couldn’t because there are episodes where she literally felt like an extra on set. I kept waiting and waiting and nothing happens, nothing happens.

Won In Jae is barely on screen and when she is, she is merely used as a prop to Dal Mi, which is such a waste if you ask me since she’s the more interesting character that never got its chance to shine properly. It appeared that in the first episodes, the screenwriter had better plans for the character but by episode 4, she just ditched the idea altogether and focused on the romance.

What we ended up with is this, Won In Jae completely thrown into the background despite the effort Kang Han Na has put into her.

I don’t know if I am projecting my ideas onto Kang Han Na, but whenever I see her on screen, I get the sense that the character wants to be more and she wants to be acknowledged, but the actress hands are tied since its not up to her how her character gets written.

Now, Dal Mi will be working for Won In Jae, which I bet would escalate things for the two characters and I hope we’ll get some well-deserved content from Won In Jae.

I have slight hope because I said similar things about Kim Seon Ho and how I felt he was miscast for the role, it was in my review of “Start-Up” first half. We only got to see his character get the attention and focus it deserved in episode 9 and 10. Which is a little late, but at least, it happened. I was afraid Kim Seon Ho was becoming that ‘extra’ character that’s only there to further the plot without adding much to it. Used as a tool rather than treated as a proper character when he is the second lead.

I am hoping for a miracle with Won In Jae.

We have only four episodes left, I hope to god Screenwriter Park Hye Ryun focuses now on Won In Jae.

So this is what I had on my mind in regards to Won In Jae. I like doing characters analysis and if you guys would like to see more of it, please let me know.

What about you guys, what do you think of Won In Jae?

Whats your reaction to this article?

By Jass K.

Hi, I am Jass k. I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas on this site in form of reviews an/or recaps, join me in the discussion~


  1. I have a lot of regrets for second and other characters. They cast so many talented actors and did not take any advantage of it, even though they had 16 episodes of almost 1h20 each to develop them. In-jae, but they also “dropped” the Mother of Dal-mi, she almost disappeared. They could have given more substance to the CEO of SH Venture capital – the lady with grey hair – what a good actress she is. Even Alex could have had more lines, he was fun to watch. The drama could have only been better. Why bother finding and hiring all those great actors if you use them as some simple decoration…?

  2. Finally someone spoke about Kang Han Na’s character in Start-up. Kang Ha Na is such a superb talent and I feel her little screen time as well as her story that has been put on the side, doesn’t give her justice at all. What a waste!

  3. I agree 100%. Won In Jae is prettier and so much more interesting than Dal Mi. I was already over Dal Mi and Do San by episode 11. Those two deserve each other because they’re just annoyingly immature. The characters that I loved more were the minor characters, and I just feel like Won In Jae was kicked to the curb. I hate the ending of Start Up. It was a lousy ending. In my opinion, a tragic ending would have been better than this. I just wish Won In Jae had a better story. I wanted to see her more than Dal Mi. Dal Mi’s story should’ve been over by episode 13. Also, Do San, the geek, all of the sudden morphed into this great kisser (for someone who has never had a girlfriend in his life) and macho man and these don’t match his computer geek character. I just don’t understand why Dal Mi and Do San had so much more episodes when their story was so boring. I’m happy about Saha and Cheolsan but extremely annoyed with Han’s story, especially Won In Jae. I wished the story of the sisters and Han were more developed since the story began with them. It would’ve been amazing if the only ones dating were Saha and Cheol San and Dal Mi would have been cooler if she just didn’t date any of the guys. It would’ve been better if the last episodes focused on the sisters’ relationship and building a company that their dad dreamt of doing rather than doing it just for the grandma. The dad died but I felt like the only tribute he got was the short glimpse of the grandma seeing him bring chicken home. That was a great scene, but it was rushed. Overall, Start Up started to drag at episode 12. The ending sucked. Who cares about Do San and Dal Mi? Han deserves better than Dal Mi and he shouldn’t have had the need to explain himself in the end to Dal Mi. Dal Mi and Do San were good for each other because they’re just annoying and their story dragged on too long when other characters deserved the screen time more because they were more interesting.

  4. In a sense, it is also realistic. Not everyone under goes character development when they need to in real life. We like to have everything wrapped up in a neat bow in a show but it’s equally as likely that they don’t really have immediate redemption in the moment that people think they should.

    In Korean dramas, in particular, we often get a lot of redemption for the initial antagonist and maybe we’ve become too used to that. Not all people in real life find proper redemption.

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