Disclaimer! Watch out for spoilers beyond this point as we recap the riveting episodes 13 and 14 of 'Start-Up'!
As the story of 'Start-Up' reaches a boiling point, please keep reading to be in the know about the latest developments in this mega-hit drama, in case you missed it!
3 Years Later
Carrying over the determination and zeal from the previous episode, Episode 13 begins at the point where Seo Dal Mi takes one more step towards success as she applies for a job at her sister's company. When asked why she wants to pursue this position, Dal Mi answers by saying that In Jae seems to share the same ideals as their father - the vision of a new world. A successful interview follows and Dal Mi gets the job. In a voice-over narration, we are told that NoonGil had been upgraded to recognize pills and other medication and is going to be a continued service under the acquisition of the application by one of the world's topmost private foundation, K Jonse, who sympathized with the vision towards making the world a little more accessible to the visually impaired. In Jae's company hits it big, and Dal Mi becomes the COO of In Jae's company as well as the CEO of a subsidiary joint company CheongMyeong, working towards the development of the self-driving car. While Morning Group is visibly upset at this incredible success, they also open the largest AI center in South Korea. In San Francisco, the Samsan Tech boys enjoy a leisurely vacation on a yacht, having completed their 3-year residency at 2STO. Chul San has a VLOG channel on the side, Yong San works out daily, but for Do San, not much has changed. He has carried his laptop all the way to the yacht in order to code while on holiday. Chul San shows a glimpse of their lifestyle on his vlog, which reaches all the way to South Korea, where Sa Ha sees it with a fond smile, having just broken up with her boyfriend. Quite magically, the sister's Dal Mi and In Jae seem to work perfectly well together, both of them relying on each other. They plan to shoot a promotional video for their self-driving car, and Dal Mi suggests that the guy to direct it should be Do San's cousin, the same person who shot Samsan's video for their CODA win. In Jae is reluctant at first but finally gives in to his 'Frozen' concept with the sisters as Elsa and Anna. In Jae's section of the video is hilarious by virtue of its special effects. Still, Dal Mi's part isn't as laughable because she almost crashes her car while advocating the efficacy of the self-driving system, not trusting in its judgment herself. Meanwhile, the twin developers at In Jae's company seem to be acting a little shady, which Dal Mi initially catches on to. Elsewhere, a man at work relentlessly pursues Dal Mi but to no avail.
As a matter of fact, when she constantly denies his advances and is visibly uncomfortable, Han Ji Pyeong saves the day. The two exchange a warm smile, indicating that their relationship, whatever it may be, has matured quite a bit. Having heard that Dal Mi likes big hands, he looks at his own, comparing them to the man's and resting satisfied that his are definitely bigger. We later find out that Han Ji Pyeong has been promoted to the position of Director and that Mr. Good Boy has been visiting Dal Mi and her grandmother quite often, gorging on the food during festivals without ever lending a hand. She asks him whether he'd like to come over to help with Chuseok preparations. He affirms, happy to be around her. At this point, it is clear that Ji Pyeong still has strong feelings for Dal Mi, but like Yong Shil correctly points out, he's afraid of rejection. Dal Mi watches Chul San's vlog, focusing and pausing on Do San, whereas Do San in San Francisco does the same with their promotional video, focusing on Dal Mi.
The Return of the Samsan Boys
Chul San, Yong San, and Do San agree to return to Korea but with uncertainty about when to go back to San Francisco. The same day that Ji Pyeong gathers his courage, buying a present to confess to Dal Mi, he reaches SandBox only to find out that Do San has returned. This throws an obvious spanner in the works, but Ji Pyeong decides to be assertive and shows off the present he bought for Dal Mi to Do San as a way of saying that he's not going to run away from his feelings anymore. Do San seems evidently a little startled, accepting his defeat, for he truly wasn't the Do San from the letters, like Dal Mi pointed out quite sharply 3 years ago. However, Dal Mi, upon suspecting a man walking by to be Do San himself, runs after him, only to have coffee spilled all over her blouse when the man, who isn't Do San, turns around in shock. While Do San is at SandBox, Chul San and Yong San visit their old office, live streaming from the site before going over to the BBQ restaurant that they so yearned for. While the meal isn't really all that they made it up to be in their heads, and the bill is quite expensive, they admittedly appreciate the experience much more than anything else, confessing that they can afford to eat at expensive places now. Right as they're leaving, they run into Sa Ha, who is apparently there for some drinks with her friends as well (although it is unsure whether she just came rushing over after the live stream just to meet Chul San). Either way, Yong San suggests that Chul San drive Sa Ha home, and she agrees. While in the car, the two discuss her insomnia (and his solution to the same) and Chul San's English speaking skills (after which Sa Ha volunteers to tutor him for the time he's here).
The Ransomware Attack
CheongMyeong's system is attacked by ransomware, threatening to delete the decryption key for all their files if 300 Million Won is not deposited to the hackers within the given time. The twins seem to insist that the attack is not salvageable and it would be wiser just to send them the money. Before Dal Mi can think of anything, the hackers reduce the time limit, now demanding double the money. It is absolutely ludicrous to just waste 600 Million Won on a ransomware attack, and Dal Mi calls Sa Ha to ask her whether she knew anyone who could help. Quite obviously, Sa Ha turns to the best, letting Chul San know about the situation. Back at the office, Dal Mi is debating whether to call Ji Pyeong after he assured her the previous night while preparing for Chuseok at her place that he would like to be the first person she thinks of when she's in any sort of trouble. However, before she can call him, an unknown number calls Dal Mi and she picks up in case it's someone that could help. The world seems to stop when Do San speaks from the other end, promising to come help her, bringing tears to her eyes from hearing his voice for the first time in years.
Samsan Tech Saves the Day
Do San shows up first, demanding to know the details of the situation and whether the files were backed up. The twins react aggressively to his presence, leaving the premises when Do San ignores their comments. Eventually, Chul San and Yong San show up, with all three of them teaming up to do what they do best. Do San notices that the nature of the attack looks quite similar to how Chul San's previous company had been hit by ransomware and Do San had saved the day. Inevitably, they wonder if it's the same person orchestrating these attacks. In no time, the attack is prevented and the decryption key is secured. Dal Mi almost passes out and Do San carries her to the nearest bean bag, bringing her a bottle of water.
After a moment of silence, they exchange their first significant conversation. Dal Mi expresses her gratitude for them saving NoonGil and Do San tells her that she looks just the same. Dal Mi is embarrassed at the state of her appearance - a coffee-stained blouse with a button missing in the cuff, whereas Do San tells her that that's not what he meant. After some small talk, the scene cuts. Having heard of the attack the next morning, Ji Pyeong rushes over to find Dal Mi, who lets him know that Do San saved their system. Ji Pyeong is visibly looking defeated, with Do San now back to effectively claim what belongs to him. Do San, Chul San, and Yong San decide to stay back in Korea for the ties that hold them down to their motherland are way too precious to sever. Besides, the thrill of being out of their comfort zone is way too addictive. At the end of the episode, Ji Pyeong grows more and more desperate to win Dal Mi over and pushes Do San into an elevator, demanding a conversation. Do San is not intimidated as before and stands his ground, looking right into Ji Pyeong's eyes. Bring it on!
Han Ji Pyeong and Seo Dal Mi are together?
Dal Mi breaks down in front of Ji Pyeong about the fact that Do San chose to return at a time when she was at her worst, not knowing what to do. Ji Pyeong is right by her, comforting her. Cut to the scene where the previous episode ends, Ji Pyeong is adamant about not letting Do San speak to Dal Mi at this time. Do San is baffled as to why he needs his permission to go see her and Ji Pyeong, in turn, explains that their relationships have changed. Do San takes this to mean that Dal Mi has finally chosen Ji Pyeong over him. Ji Pyeong immediately calls Dal Mi after misleading Do San, admitting to the same and adding that it still wasn't too late to go see him. Dal Mi says that it would be useless since Do San would be returning to America anyway, and besides, they broke up three years ago already. Do San calls Dal Mi and she switches her phone off in response.
A New Start
Do San, Chul San, and Yong San decide to start their own business once more and ponder upon who should become the CEO. Both Chul San and Yong San agree that it should be Do San, but he doesn't seem to want the position. Neither do the other two and the only solution is Rock-Paper-Scissors. Yong San wins, but he pleads them to go for best of 3 rounds and they unanimously refuse. Do San suggests they go for some advertising to attract investors for their new business. They contact Cheon-Ho, who gladly obliges with a photoshoot for a magazine interview. The sequence that follows is absolutely adorable as the boys pose in different scenarios, something awkward, sometimes cool. When asked for a solo shot of the CEO, Do San takes the seat out of impulse, but they soon realize their mistake and Yong San switches with Do San. While Yong San has his pictures taken, Do San notices that Ji Pyeong was also published in the same magazine. Cheon Ho tells them that when the magazine editor found out that he knew developers from 2STO, he decided to replace the planned interview and feature them instead. We soon find out that the ones that were relaced were none other than the twin developers from In Jae's company.
Morning Group Rips Off CheongMyeong
CheongMyeong holds a ritual for a successful test drive of Tarzan, the self-driving car. The name is obviously inspired by Do San's analogy of Tarzan and machine learning, but when asked about it, Dal Mi sticks to saying that she just liked the sound of it. The team soon finds out that Shin Hyeon and Shin Jeong, the twins, teamed up with Morning Group to develop their self-driving system, which now has a temporary permit. Dal Mi's instincts were correct. Won In Jae walks right into Morning Group's office to tell her step-father and brother off for hiring mediocre developers and assures them that the result will not be as great as they think. She returns from the scene and tells Dal Mi to sort everything out as she's done her bluffing. This effectively means that she wants Dal Mi to recruit Do San, Chul San, and Yong San as their new developers. In Jae informs her that the three are not leaving Korea but are settling down and looking for partners for their business. Dal Mi takes In Jae to a separate space to tell her that she has been too cruel to him and she can't bog him down again. In Jae takes offense to this statement and gives her an ultimatum, telling her to recruit them at any cost or she's fired from the company she thinks only bogs their employees down. Back at home, both her mother and grandmother agree with In Jae, pointing out that the way Dal Mi spoke of her company was truly uncalled for.
The Tables Have Turned
Dal Mi plucks up the courage to do what is right and contacts Do San with no response from the other end. She eventually visits their office, where a huge line of investors are waiting in queue to meet the three. Do San rejects her call and leaves her text message on read. Finally, Dal Mi's turn to meet them comes. Back at SandBox, In Jae speaks to her mother about home, her divorce, and work. Her mother requests her to meet her grandmother before her eyesight gets worse. On the other hand, Dal Mi presents the recruitment opportunity to the three who understandably seem uninterested in being recruited as their situation has changed quite a bit. Do San asks to speak to Dal Mi in private. She reminisces about the time they discussed self-driving cars in that very room three years ago, and Do San cuts in to finally express how hurt he felt all those years back when she broke up with him. He admits to realizing that he wasn't the one she loved and she wasn't the one he loved either, so he does not want to be confused anymore and, as such, does not want to see her anymore. Dal Mi confesses to feeling just as hurt as he must have felt back then, hearing the same words. Dal Mi apologizes and leaves. Do San is stuck in a loop of playing her words repeatedly in his head, regretting what he said as he tries to rub off the whiteboard, which only reminds him even more of Dal Mi. Yong San visits Ji Pyeong to ask whether they could rent an office at SandBox and asks his opinion of them now. He's positive, but only so because he's uninterested. At the parking lot, Ji Pyeong speaks to Dal Mi, who clearly looks exhausted and she tells him that they're planning to recruit Do San and the guys for their company as Morning Group stole their own. Ji Pyeong, however, approves of Do San's decision. Do San asks his father for advice on overcoming his longing for something that he can neither throw away nor forget. Following what his father used to do himself, he decides to take a bike ride hoping that fatigue will take away the pain in his heart. However, the result is counterproductive as the more exhausted he is, the clearer his thoughts become. In Jae bumps into her grandmother as she struggles with her eyesight and immediately decides on dissolving her adoption.
In The Woods
Dal Mi finds Do San, who is seemingly going to spend the night where he last rested, in the woods. She walks towards him breathless and he wonders whether what he's seeing is merely a hallucination because he's hungry. She tells him that his parents told her where he would be because she begged them to. Dal Mi uses the excuse that Do San had left his jacket at her office and that's what she had come to return. She also wants to talk because even though he thinks they're done, she disagrees. Do San starts to leave, overthinking about just how hard it is to forget her even though they only spent a few months together. He tells her about the painful 5-hour bike ride he undertook to try to forget her, whereas it must have been quite easy for her to show up in front of him just as it was easy for her to forget him. Dal Mi admits that it wasn't easy for her either. The two sit next to a campfire and discuss why Dal Mi named her self driving system Tarzan and, similarly, why Do San decided to work on self-driving cars at 2STO. Before long, Dal Mi dozes off and Do San tucks her hair behind her ear, admitting to the fact that he worked with self-driving cars because her idea fascinated him. She leans on his shoulder in her sleep and he goes through her recruitment proposal in earnest. Chul San waits outside Sa Ha's workplace to "bump into her" by chance and the two reconnect at a cafe, admitting that neither of their encounters were truly coincidental. He asks whether she'd be interested in working with them again, and if she does, she would be compensated exceptionally well.
CEO Yong San
Yong San, the CEO of their new business, seeks out Ms. Yoon's help regarding investment. She tells him that they should look for the investor they'd like instead of the other way around. If they're turned down, they should ask why and only then will they be able to create a successful business. Yong San's immediate thought goes to Ji Pyeong and he asks whether they can talk for a while. Ji Pyeong tells him that he's uninterested, but Yong San insists. He tells him that he no longer resents him and that he did so because he needed someone to blame. Ji Pyeong, urged by his sincerity, also apologizes for being too harsh. Yong San earnestly asks him for his honest criticism this time around as they start a new business. Ji Pyeong tells him that if what makes them excited is writing programs and seeing them run, they should work as developers at a company that pays them well. If entrepreneurship and the thought of establishing and leading a company thrills them, they should launch another start-up. Sa Ha similarly points out to Chul San that she only joined Samsan Tech because Dal Mi was desperate to recruit her and not for compensation. As such, it would make no sense to join them again as there wasn't anyone desperate enough like the first time. Both Yong San and Chul San are now slowly reconsidering whether they should start a business at all.
The Final Pitch
Dal Mi asks Do San to honestly tell her what it would take for him to work with her. She presents a 10% stock option and shares in the company and requests him to at least look at their business plan. Do San tells her that he's already read it and the look in his eyes is proof enough that he doesn't need to be persuaded anymore. At SandBox, Yong San asks whether it would be a good idea to work with CheongMyeong, and even though Ji Pyeong admits that he wouldn't want that personally as a man. As an investor, it doesn't seem like a bad idea at all. Finally, the scene cuts to the self-drive test. Dal Mi is the safety driver and she gets into the car where Do San is sat with his laptop, ready to go. Evidently enough, the car moves perfectly. The epilogue shows Dal Mi asking where Do San is. Back in the woods, Do San gives Dal Mi a piggyback ride back. He tells her that he'd like to invest the money he made at 2STO for shares in her company. At the end of episode 14, a romantic reunion is obvious and we just have to wait and see how it comes about.