Nam Do San – The Misunderstood Beautiful Soul

Firstly, I must take off my hat to the creator team of Start-Up series. To the writer, the director, the production team and of course the actors and actresses, I give my big applause to you all. I am happy watching this series because I learned a lot from the characters and the story. Although I must say, the fan-war between Team Do San vs Team Ji Pyeong has put me off too. It was at first the usual taking sides of the first lead or second lead, but later, it became somehow more toxic. In many platforms of social media, I often saw hatred comments from one team toward another. Even some of verified accounts of social media made me disappointed by how they use the words in reviewing the certain characters. I must say that, it is the first time for me to find this toxic behaviors amongst the Kdrama fans. The place that once I thought could be my forever safe and happy place, suddenly turned into a scary place filled with filthy words and disrespects (even towards the actors itself, unbelievable). I have been processing my thoughts for days, asking myself why do I get annoyed by them, why do I feel that something is wrong. Not many people in my surrounding is Do San’s supporter like me. So I have this long conversations between some of my closest persons (you know who you are, thank you for being born, LOL) who thinks and feels like me which got me concluded that what happened so far has been crossing the line. Their comments have somehow underestimated my values in life and that’s when I get offended personally. Just like everybody else in this world, who holds certain values in their life. I believe, I too, have to explain and defend my own values. Not to be validated as the more significant towards the other, rather to be listened, to be understood, and to show the people who might share the same values with me, that sometimes, we have to speak up our mind.

So, this article is fully dedicated to all the people who supports the character ‘Nam Do San’ in Start-Up Kdrama series. To the people who shares the same values with me and Nam Do San, who often feel misunderstood by the society we live with. To the people who feels discouraged by their emotion, or by the thoughts they have, and feel like an alien in this world. I want to say it out loud to you, that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! So please don’t be lonely, and let this my long preach started. LOL.

Below are the reasons of why do I prefer Nam Do San over Han Ji Pyeong all this time (Please be note that in my opinion both actors Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Seon Ho played really well for their roles, although I have to say that Nam Joo Hyuk nailed it. His acting is so much improved since the last I saw him in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, I believe that he’s gonna be great if he keeps practicing to act. I hope he doesn’t discouraged by the toxic fans who say bad words to him.)

  1. Nam Do San is a manifestation of some of us who often feels misunderstood by our society. Because this society is often ruled by those who are extroverts, who is more vocal, who use their ‘Thinking’ more often than their ‘Feeling’, who believe that their way of life is the most perfect without even try to know or understand the various of perspectives in this life. Being the young ones, we tend to do everything recklessly, not everyone but I believe that when we were young, there was a time when we want to explore ourselves, to try everything we want, to run, to fall, to get up, to fall and to get up again, and finally learn from the mistakes we have made. Not everyone is lucky to find their strength from the very early age. Therefore, to grow and to be more mature is basically a learning process from our mistakes. And this life is indeed a long learning process, even when we became adult, the lesson still keep coming, to achieve our best self. I’m so glad to the character development of Nam Do San that the writer’s made for this story. We could see how that the pure heart is not changed even when he became successful and more confident.
  2. They said that Do San is a crybaby and manipulative sad-boy: For me he is the one who have successfully implemented one of the hardest life lesson which is ‘being vulnerable’. Being vulnerable in Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” is not a weakness, on the contrary it is one of the strengths that a human can have. Vulnerability is defined by her as uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposures. There are so many quotes on her book that really resonates me and encourage myself, and I hope you too.. One of them is “Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.” From here we might have understand, that being vulnerable means to show up at the arena, to do something we believe in even if we might come to fail. Moreover, we can see that after Nam Do San admit his cheating in Math Olympiad, he was actually have started to stepping up his way to embrace his true self, to do what he wants, to follow his dreams, he knows that he might fail, but still he keeps doing it. There is this one of other Brene’s words that resonates me too, “We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us – that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough – and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable.” I believe that we only can learn to feel worth when we are starting to be vulnerable, to know that there are risks embedded but we keep going anyway. Moreover, there is something that always intrigued me in the meaning of “tough love”. Sometimes, to showing our emotion in a right measurement and in the right place, is needed to grow up.
  3. They said that Do San can’t separate his personal feelings with the business: In my opinion, the most perfect job is when we are doing it wholeheartedly, whatever it is. See my keyword here ‘wholehearted’, it means that we are using our heart, our feelings in it. Establishing something (be it a business, a community, a movement, whatevs) is like raising a baby. Especially in the very early stage, we will be required to put our 100% of time to take care of it. It’s a cliché when we say ‘work life balance’ or ‘separating between personal emotion and business’ because in fact, as Susan Fowler wrote in one of the articles that I read in, what a manager said to his individual team member could affect their work, livelihood, opportunities, status, income, mood, health, and/or well-being. So how come it is not personal? Moreover, in a normal condition (maybe not on this pandemic era), we spend 75% of our waking hours to do everything that connected to works – getting ready for work, getting to work, working, returning home from work, and decompressing. We as employees often spend more time interacting with coworkers than family members. “Yet managers believe their actions are not personal and just business? Are you kidding?” yeah, this is what she wrote and I really agree with this. We are not robot, and we shouldn’t try to be. Oh, and recently I listened to one of Pak Gita Wirjawan said in his interview with Putri Tanjung in youtube, that “ should be emotional. Both emotional and rational.” He is a businessman and an educator himself, I believe that he said that because he has spent years in doing business and finally found the core of it.
  4. They said Do San is too immersed in his love and acting like a slave of love (bucin, in Bahasa): In my eyes, he’s just showing his love sincerely with his own way (which is coding), and I think it is very beautiful. He knows when he has to stop being beside his love and go away just like Seo Dal Mi wanted through their break up. He didn’t push his feeling towards Dal Mi, instead he keeps doing what he can to showing his love through coding, through NoonGil apps. That’s why he put his pride down and begging to Han Ji Pyeong to save the NoonGil apps. Because it is the only way he can connect to Dal Mi, to keep him showing his love to her. I imagine by the time he write coding for the apps, he actually write a love letter to Dal Mi. I also noted how he chose Seo Dal Mi to be Samsan Tech CEO over Won In Jae. Not only because he thought he might have a feeling towards her. He is logical enough to compare both of languages they used towards the team. Seo Dal Mi who put the tech team to be equal with her CEO position, not the In Jae’s language who already put the team as her subordinate. Oh, and let me say my opinion about the bad “slave of love” that actually embodied in the character of Han Ji Pyeong. In a couple of scenes, I found HJP with his rude nature forced his subordinate (Mr. Park Dong-Chun, his assistant) to take off his ‘Mentor’ T-shirts in public so that HJP could observe Seo Dal Mi at a close distance. Really in my opinion, his action is way more dangerous than NDS’s. He only thinks about Seo Dal Mi and negating other people feelings and dignity (even his own assistant who have worked with him in a long time). Moreover, the way that he volunteered to work in self driving cars project at 2STO because he thought just in case Dalmi doesn’t forget about their dream to work together with Samsan tech. His love toward Dalmi, I think is not making him a slave. Rather, he becomes stronger and more mature.
  5. They said Do San is a liar and taking what he doesn’t deserve : Back to the moment when NDS was admitting his cheating in Math Olympiad. What I see from his action is that he didn’t mean to steal the answer in the first place. I’m sorry but I have to make a comparison with what HJP did 15 yrs ago, using Halmoni‘s bank account to invest with real money. I, who happens to work in a bank could say that what he did is a fraud. It is actually a crime and he could be sentenced with Jail. Although Halmoni forgave him in the end, the fact that HJP also accused Halmoni taking his money is somewhat still unacceptable for me. Moreover, Do San also punished himself enough and forgetting the fact that he already solved another questions by his own. As a mere child, his heart was too pure that because of one simple line he accidentally say, he thought he didn’t deserve the prize (the line, which could mean nothing or might be not helping other contestant even if they saw it too, but in this case it was the Genius Do San that saw it). What little Do San did in the Olympiad made him down and he already imprisoned himself with his own feeling. But what HJP did for the last 15 years? I saw that HJP didn’t even think that he was wrong, he keeps shining brightly to make more money without feeling guilty. So looking at the both cases, if we have to fairly judge, NDS has already pay for his sin but not in HJP’s case. As for the relationship with Seo Dal Mi, NDS was wrong to use the fake Do San’s letter to start their encounter. That’s why, again, because his heart is too pure, he doesn’t feel comfortable all along. He keeps thinking that he should say the truth anyway. But, his first meeting with Dal Mi, I must say that it could be happened because of his own decision. He is moved by Dal Mi’s letters, he can sense that Dal Mi is a special soul that needed help from “Nam Do San”, he himself believe that he can help Dal Mi in a way (even before what HJP finally did to help him constructing the lie towards Dal Mi, which making it more complicated in the end). In my alternate universe, if HJP didn’t come at that night and helping NDS, I think NDS would tell the truth sooner to Dal Mi, even as soon as telling her the truth in that night. But again, HJP is getting in the way.. And for the Dal Mi’s feelings and actions towards NDS.. Dal Mi herself at first was confused when Halmoni asking her which NDS that she would prefer. However, the fact that the one who stood up for her often, was the real NDS, is something that Dal Mi knew by heart from the very beginning. The main reason that I think NDS is deserved Dal Mi’s heart is because we all know that after years has passed, and NDS was “letting Dal Mi go”, Dal Mi still thinking about him too. So, when we see that in the end Dal Mi choose NDS over HJP, it was because of NDS’s sincere actions after all that successfully moved Dal Mi’s heart. Also it is said that the couple are meant to be when something breaks them apart but they could eventually found to each other in the end. It is a destiny.
  6. They said Do San doesn’t use his brain: Well, for me I think, this comment is purely a groundless hatred from the toxic fan of HJP. Because NDS is indeed a genius who could create such algorithms to solve many problems. Why he makes algorithm to solve a problem itself has shown us the deep and future thinker he is. He choose to approach a problem with a long term solution instead of solving it case by case with a short term solution. Yet, he is so humble that he still say that coding is the only thing he can do to help other, the activity that not everyone is as gifted as him to have a privilege of doing it. This is where I find the old proverbs from my country is so true.. Like the Rice Plants, the more they have contents, the more they will bow down (Seperti Padi, Kian Berisi, Kian Merunduk). In most scenes, I thought that not only Do San used his brains, he also use his compassion towards any event on his life. The thing that I almost miss from HJP character, to be compassionate. The fact that HJP doesn’t apologize to Dosan for whatever shady moves that he’s been doing, or even, I don’t see that he feels guilty at all. Rather, I get to see the scene where Dosan is asking her mother to prepare favorite side dish for HJP in the morning, even after he told HJP that he feels envy because he thought Dalmi has chosen HJP. But what, Dosan still remember this little detail about HJP and kind enough to give him the packed side dish. Can’t you all see how beautiful soul Dosan is?
  7. Whatever, Nam Dosan is just a big failure. Hmm, my heart.. please be still. How should I put this. Nam Dosan is one of the many characters that I’ve met in Kdrama that is very pure and kind. He has so much flaws yes of course. That is why I am more attracted to his character. He failed many times, but he learned, he back to the field, getting stronger than before. Like the machine learning concept that he’s told Dalmi. He showed that we, the humans, we have millions possibility to learn too. So what if we have to fail? He showed us that failing is not the end of the story. Because when we failed, we could learn. Life is a continuous development of ourselves after all.

All in all, I realized that as a Feeler person (someone who might have ‘F’ in their MBTI personality type) would prefer Nam Do San because he showed to us what a Feeler mostly experienced in their life. As a Feeler, we have compassion and a strong empathy towards others. These kind of people exists too in the world. Our feelings are valid, although it might get misunderstood or even get mocked by other type of people. Like I said in the beginning of this article, please don’t be discouraged by your personality and let yourself down. Let’s just embrace our souls, be true to ourselves and showing to the world our mind and compassions. Those people who are mocking our way of thinking is just having their own perspective in life and that’s okay. Every type of personality has its own strength and this world is doing well because we can collaborate with other type of personality as well.

What I also want to highlight is that there is no better between the Thinker and the Feeler, and I want to say it to you out there, the one who often misunderstand others: Stop insisting that your opinion is more valid than other’s. Stop thinking that you are the most righteous person in the world. Because, after all, even though you think you are smarter, more experienced, older, richer, etc. doesn’t mean that you know everything. Not everything you see with your own eyes is right because actually this world already full of deception. And like Little Prince said: what is essential is invisible to the eye.

The phenomenon of people who are team Dosan being bullied in social media platforms is something that made me lost for words too. I could make one long post itself to argue why I think that HJP character is so much flawed. But the fact that HJP fans are failed to see the flaws in this character and bullied the Dosan team mercilessly is way beyond my logic. And it brings me deeper to even the problem in our society. Why was team HJP is so in love with his character but why I think that this character is so no-no? Moreover, there are some of the fangirls of HJP who don’t even think that some of what HJP did is wrong, instead they worshipped him endlessly. Like, it got me more confused too. But, for now, I have to settle with the culprit as being ignorant. It is so sad, to see the fact that this behavior could lead us to the more destructive issue such as violence against women. They who don’t even see that what HJP did are some examples of psychological abusive, are somehow also mind blowing for me. It could also lead to victim blaming if we make this habit grows. And no wonder why this society still have not overcame with this problem, because in the first place, many of the people in our society don’t see anything wrong with the abusive itself, they even support this actions. Many people thought that it should have been left as it is, that we can’t really change much. But I refuse to that belief. Yes, we can change, the first step is to be aware and realize what is the real problem in our behavior. As the final episode has came, I’m so glad to see the reconciliation between Dosan and HJP. In the end, it is Dosan that grab HJP’s hand first and they hugged with each other. It’s not the most ideal like I had hoped for, but with that scene, I really hope the fan war out there is stopped immediately.

Lastly, as Pak Iskandar Waworuntu (the founder of Bumilangit Institute) also said that ignorance means the loss of wisdom. Which I super agree on this. The loss of wisdom is the root cause of a crisis, the beginning of the destruction of our realm. Where we have been exposed and surrendered to the system that established based on financial gain only. We often overlook nature and other creatures that might live even before us born into this world. So let’s together we practice to harness our conscience that might be ignored for all this time. To be an alarm for us whenever we cross the line, or when we are taking something from the nature excessively more than what we can digest, or even when without us knowing, when we are making other people or other creatures miserable. Therefore, I hope, we could make this world a better place than when we entered it.

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