Start-Up episode 12 recap – Dal-mi breaks up with Do-san in a sombre chapter

November 22, 2020
Daniel Hart 2
K-Drama, Netflix, TV Recaps


There’s plenty of drama and sadness in Start-Up episode 12 that triggers a new future for the characters.

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There’s plenty of drama and sadness in Start-Up episode 12 that triggers a new future for the characters.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series Start-Up episode 12 contains significant spoilers.

We will be recapping this weekly — check out the archive.

The opening

This was always going to be a dramatic chapter. Start-Up episode 12 is also a transitional chapter as the previews for next week’s story is years later, which will be interesting. Characters will be in different places in their lives.

At the start of episode 12, Dal-mi and Do-san sign the contract with 2STO. You cannot help feel that this is Han Ji-pyeong’s fault after he spent most of the last episode hiding — he could have warned them. When Han Ji-pyeong reaches 2STO, it’s too late. In the next scenes, Do-san and Dal-mi get ready for America, not knowing that this is the end. 

A new idea 

Late into the night, Do-san rings Dal-mi who has a wonderful idea; to give NoonGil a new feature that can recognise different medications. She realised this new idea when her grandma struggled to differentiate from pill bottles. The pair discuss how they can stop worrying about finances now that they have the 2STO acquisition. 

It’s painful watching this — knowing what we know, seeing so much hope and ambition is a sad viewing experience.

A fractured sibling relationship remains. 

The next day, Dal-mi speaks to her sister In-jae. She expects a congratulatory message, but none comes, and the past is brought up. In-jae wants her sister to stop using the past in every situation. As the series has progressed, In-jae seems to want to form bridges with her sister more than Dal-mi. As episode 12 demonstrates, it took something extreme and desperate for Dal-mi to grab on to an olive branch. 

Han Ji-pyeong’s fears come true

Jung Sa-ha tells Do-san that Han Ji-pyeong was worried about the contract. Do-san is unaware of the issues as he walks into Sand Box. When he walks into the office, there’s a weird atmosphere; Alex has dismissed Dal-mi from the company, and he’s only taking three developers with him to Silicon Valley — Do-san, Chul-san and Yong-san. Jung Sa-ha and Dal-mi are the victims of the acquisition to hire. 

Do-san tells Alex that what he has done is fraudulent. There’s dismay amongst the team. There’s a further blow; Alex does not believe that NoonGil needs any further development. Alex asks them all to look at it rationally and tells Do-san that if he cancels the contract, they’ll have to pay the penalty of six billion won. This is a corporate tragedy — it’s unethical and wrong; you have to wonder if these business practices happen often. 

Blame game 

Han Ji-pyeong confronts Alex about the takeover. Alex tells him to be a mentor and to make them understand. After the meeting, Do-san gets angry with Yong-san as he didn’t trust Han Ji-pyeong. Yong-san defends himself, stating that they have no idea what type of person Han Ji-pyeong is, and he brings up his brother’s situation. 

Han Ji-pyeong walks into the room, and Dal-mi asks about Yong-san’s brother — he responds and states he was only giving investor advice. He tells them all to stop blaming each other and that the contract is already in place with 2STO; Han Ji-pyeong then explains how Alex wanted accuracy of the application, not the services of NoonGil. As Dal-mi bursts into tears, her sister watches on the sidelines; Start-Up episode 12 shows that amongst the tragic situation, there is hope for the sisters. It isn’t necessarily over. 

I built NoonGil for Ms Choi 

Outside, Han Ji-pyeong and Do-san have a brutal fight, and both men are bleeding. When they calm down, Han Ji-pyeong tells him that the contract itself is fine. Do-san tells Han Ji-pyeong that he started NoonGil for Dal-mi’s grandmother because her eyesight is terrible. He asks him for help. Han Ji-pyeong is conflicted as he cares about Ms Choi. 

Accepting defeat 

Jung Sa-ha and Chul-san talk about how frustrated they are, but Jung Sa-ha wisely concludes that a lawsuit will take years while sleep deprivation will only last a few months. After talking to Ms Choi, which is an emotional conversation, Han Ji-pyeong tells Dal-mi that he shouldn’t have said what he said. Dal-mi asks if he’d like something to eat. She’s a forgiving character and this scene speaks volumes. 

Do-san’s birthday 

The next day, Dal-mi asks Do-san about his bloody face. She now knows he and Han Ji-pyeong fought. Dal-mi has got herself dressed up and ready to celebrate Do-san’s birthday. He has his birthday due to the stress of previous events. Do-san is not seeing what’s in front of him — someone who is willing to put all aside for his birthday On the bus, Do-san speaks about a lawsuit he read about that’s similar to what happened to Samsan Tech, but Dal-mi doesn’t seem interested. She wants to celebrate his birthday, and she’s cancelled work. 

The French restaurant

Dal-mi has made a reservation at a French restaurant; Do-san is not reading the signs that she’s making an effort for him as he keeps bringing up the similar lawsuit. Dal-mi keeps changing the conversation and asks what the chances of being born a genius like him are — she gives him a statistic — one in ten million. Dal-mi then closes the book and tells him it’s like winning the lottery; she tells him to take his opportunity. Do-san tells her that he’s no genius and that he’s a “Moron”. He walks out of the restaurant — he’s angry that he’s losing the dynamic he had with Dal-mi — two loving business heads ready to build a company; he’s grieving that they’ve lost it all. 

The break-up

And it gets worse, and the emotions peak in Start-Up episode 12

Dal-mi chases Do-san outside. Do-san asks her if it was the other way round, would she give up NoonGil. She admits she would and screams at him; she’s embarrassed by what’s happened and raises how Alex wants him, not her. She wanted a nice restaurant to end things. Dal-mi then says one last sentence to hurt Do-san — that he isn’t the boy from the letters and she is not his dream. Do-san’s eyes fill up, realising that she’s breaking up with him. Dal-mi is putting on a tough face as she walks away from him. 

It’s apparent that Dal-mi’s words were not genuine; she was hurting Do-san so that he would move on. She’s making a sacrifice to ensure he does not give up his dreams for her.

Don’t be a failure 

Do-san then catches Yong-san looking over the ledge on top of Samsan Tech’s building, and he fears the worse. But he wasn’t trying to kill himself. There’s so much emotional stress in this chapter. Do-san tells him about the break-up and how they are all about to be part of a cog. Yong-san tells his friend not to be remembered as a failure.

Clearing up

The next day, Samsan Tech pack up their things in the Sand Box office. Chul-san asks Jung Sa-ha if they can keep in touch, but she shuts the door on that idea. There’s still a sombre feeling in the place. Do-san notices that Dal-mi hasn’t taken her stuff from the office yet.

Later on, Chul-san sends Jung Sa-ha a video on YouTube as a goodbye — he’s trying to find a way to keep in touch as he has feelings for her. What’s quite blatant is that these characters seem to have ensured that their relationship relied on the success of Samsan Tech, which is a shame, and with maturity, we’d expect the later episodes to show how they can still be friends. 

You are the logo

In-jae looks at the Sand Box logo and touches it. She tells Yoon Seon-hak that Dal-mi is the girl on the swing, not her. The next day, Yoon Seon-hak speaks to Dal-mi about the logo; how she knew her father and how he inspired her. She brings up fried chicken and remembers the time that her father asked about a chicken place nearby. 

This is a touching moment for Dal-mi, but it was also a call from her sister — she’s offering an indirect olive branch by admitting she wasn’t the girl on the swing — this is more of a turning point in Start-Up episode 12 than all the other dramas.

Job opportunities 

Back to being unemployed, Dal-mi hits the recruitment website. She’s showing her resilience. She sees an experienced strategic planning manager position for In-jae’s company, and she drops her pride and decides to apply for it when she sees how the job spec matches her. She remembers Han Ji-pyeong telling her “If you can’t beat them, join them”. 

This scene shows how In-jae removing her pride in a moment where she offered sympathy encouraged her sister to do the same.

A favour

The next day, Do-san apologises to Alex for the mess so far, and he tells him he is ready to be a team. When he enters Alex’s office, Han Ji-pyeong is there. They ask Alex for a favour regarding the NoonGil application. 

The ending 

Do-san, Chul-san and Yong-san head to America. It’s the start of a new era. Dal-mi heads to Sand Box for a job interview for the Strategic Planning Manager. In-jae is shocked that her sister is putting her pride aside, but she’s showing that small inkling that she wants her as part of her team. 

There’s plenty of drama and sadness in Start-Up episode 12 that triggers a new future for the characters. Many questions now remain for the remaining four chapters. How will the characters deal with their new future? Is it truly over for Do-san and Dal-mi? Will these characters work with each other again? Evidently, time will tell as episode 13 is a few years into the future.

Developer notes
  • Dal-mi shows her grandma how to use the app and shows her all her medication in the preparedness of moving to America. She’s worried about leaving her. 
  • Jung Sa-ha tries to buy Chul-san an iced latte on a two for one deal, but Do-san takes one off her when he tries questioning her about it. 
  • When In-jae’s colleagues laugh about the tragic takeover, In-jae doesn’t find it funny. She still cares about her sister.

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2 thoughts on “Start-Up episode 12 recap – Dal-mi breaks up with Do-san in a sombre chapter

  • November 26, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    I hope that jipyeong and dal mi end up on the last episode.. make it happen!!!

  • November 27, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    I don’t think the blame for the acqhire can be put on Han Ji Pyeong by saying that it happened because he was in “hiding”. He just took one day sick leave. I think everyone is entitled to that.
    Also as a mentor, he can’t and he isn’t supposed to look over them all day every day. The mentee is supposed to approach the mentor to ask for guidance if there is a pressing issue/query, as Seo Dalmi has been doing all the time before.
    Samsan Tech should have considered taking help from Han Ji Pyeong in reviewing the contract before they signed it. They definitely lack in business knowledge and experience which HJP has. That’s why they have a mentor.

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