Too Late to “Start Up”? Step Up!

It has been a long time since last movie review. This time, I’d still like to focus on international titles! Also, to prepare my new venture, watching K-drama series “Start Up” on Netflix would be rewarding for me, I supposed. My “indulgence” in the 16 episodes of this tech-based rom-com was meant to explore such a globally evolving streaming platform, as well as life inspirations.

Start-Up (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

1- From Start-up to Scale-up

From my past courses in National University of Management, a startup would mean simply a new business or one that are being created or up and running. In the last decade, the term seems to have now evolve to rather designate a technology-based new enterprise (if not, business). Regardless of these different definitions, all “startups” seem to take a common direction, from a simple (product) idea to a scalable and sustainable business model, with cost/resource efficiency. The series perfectly outlines just that pattern, with all its twists and turns, struggles and joy. You may even find some jargons simplified in action or pop-up texts such as “heckathon“, “elevator pitch“, “burn rate“. What stroke me most in the first few episodes is this statement: “If you succeed, you are called a CEO. If you don’t, you are called a fraud”.

2- Drama Series Re-Defined

As that was my first time following such a streaming series, I found its format different from other countries. Each episode takes over 60 minutes, compared to 45 minutes per Thai or Chinese episode. Although its intro and outro remain there, they tend add up subtle interesting information from each previous episode. Still, I find the dramatic axes a bit overrated in such a tech-based content! Kindness to strangers and sister feud, despite its plausible justifications, seem rare these days. On the bright side, rarity highlighted by celebrities may infuse more humanity in us?!

3- Business and Life Lessons

If you manage to complete all the series, you’ll find different lessons in different episodes. Below are my personal takeaways from “Start-Up”:

  • “Happiness is a choice.” Dal-mi chooses to be happy in poverty, yet determined to change. Her sister, In-jae chooses to live rich as a sign of happiness.
  • “A contract is a Bible to live by, of course, with its consequences.” Near the end, Do-san and Dal-mi decide get their startup acquired without realizing its professional consequences over their next steps.
  • “A healthy business will first be loved, then profitable.” This principle seems stretched over the whole plot, as Sam-san Tech, later incorporated into “Chung-myung Company”, bases their concept on care for vulnerable people.
  • “Even though startuppers need a mentor, they still need to make their own decision over their business direction.” As Ji-pyeong mentors Dal-mi to elevate a CEO’s share as much as possible, she decides to own up less. She confidently rationalizes that her decision may affect only him as a mentor!

Overall, it feels like a nice and complete package for my current situation. The future is unavoidably streaming. We only need to prepare our present for the best to come. Until I wish you all a happy and safe New Year. Let’s (re) start up 2021 together!

PS: My next post will be about my life lessons from my 40 years on Earth!

A local culture longer than Angkor

Ever heard this proverb before: “The grass is always greener on the other side”? This reflects our current worry about Cambodian culture loss. Actually, looking deeper, other local ethnic identities are also endangered. Requested by Conserve Indigenous People’s Languages (CIPL), we, at SFA, trained indigenous filmmakers last month in Banlung. This ad-hoc Docu-FilmCamp by Mr. CHHORN BunHom, allowed us to understand a little more about their communities through 3 Cs.

From left to right: SAM Leakhena, SFA’s training assistant, CHHORN BunHom, SFA’s trainer, myself, SIN Bolai, CIPL’s Program Coordinator, NAUNG Sam Oeung, CIPL’s Executive Director, CIPL’s Administrator

1- Cousins and Co-Owners

From the dawn of time, Cambodia has been home to varied ethnic groups. Of which Khmer people make up for the majority. Historically, Khmer, Tampuan, Phnong, Kuy, Jarai and many others share this land once called “Khmer Empire”. Khmer people seemed to be most exposed to external cultures. Hence, we have been dominating territorial administration. In spite of Khmers’ countless historic milestones, our indigenous cousins have kept their traditions dear. Therefore, if one wishes to unearth the roots of Khmer, they might start with our indigenous fellows.

Traditional Weaving Method Currently Preserved by Tampoun Families

2- Community Issues

Despite centuries of co-existence, our indigenous fellows tend to face this recurrent dilemma: conservation of minor identities or mainstreaming into Khmer. When we went to document their lives, we could see some traditions preserved. Those include ethnic weaving methods and gongs as their basic music instrument. Yet, a few changes have been obviously spotted: Khmer casual clothes and fancy substances like drugs. Surprisingly, these issues have been raised by their young fellow filmmakers.

Behind-the-Scene of a short documentary on drug issues faced by indigenous youth, shot by the lake of Yeak Laom, Rattanakiri’s landmark

3- Civilization or Constraints?

By all means, we can only help them with filmmaking skills. So we’d rather leave the decisions and action to our indigenous trainees. We, as Cambodians, (not Khmer), believe documentaries would highlight their issues better. These can lead to more holistic solutions. For instance, after training in Bophana Center, Tumpoun filmmaker named Lean made a documentary titled “Endure“. Eventually, some authorities raised (financial) support of his female subject. Her background is worsened with divorce, after domestic violence and poverty.

A gong show in front of a Tampoun ancestor statue, shot for another documentary

Overall, the issues faced by our indigenous youth feel as big as mainstream Cambodian people. If we think every human being deserves their birthrights, indigenous people should be treated the same way. Then, we can proudly state their cultural identities and human development contributes to Cambodian diversity.

PS: Since last year, we have decided to tackle indigenous community issues in our next phase of Let’s Document Cambodia. So stay tuned for these updates on our Page from January on!

Image may contain: text that says 'ជួបគ្នាឆាប់ៗនេះ នៅដើមឆ្នាំ២០២១! 2021! early you this See ET DOCUMENT'

PPS: Check out this impromptu gong performance for your relaxation!

A Resilient Family Trip From Northwest to Northeast of Cambodia

Due to our current lockdown, our family trip for important holidays such as Pchum Ben turned inbound! This year, we roamed Northwest to Northeast of Cambodia, covering Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri. Although this itinerary felt personally familiar with me, revisiting these four charming provinces with family felt like a total package!

1- Preah Vihear

The province is named after its temple complex, known for its bordering disputes. The ruins sit on a steep hill overviewing inland Cambodia. Before getting there, we dropped by Koh Ker, marked with its own historic uniqueness and architectural style. On a professional level, the two last times I visited this latter temple complex were dedicated to producing our documentary called “Koh Ker the Lost Wonder” in 2014. Recently, Ahkara was lucky enough to have translated the book on the same complex. Between these two sites, we stopped by a new site called Poeung Preah Koh, thanks to its outstanding huge rock on land!

Full House in Preah Vihear Temple

2- Stung Treng

We would rather consider this province our transit if it was not for Sopheakmith waterfall or Lbak Khaon. This natural site boasts its ceaseless water flow, especially in the rainy season. In contrast, the dry reason will reveal more rocks blocking this waterway. I still felt mixed on the way from Preah Vihear to Stung Treng. On one hand, I doubted the unusual silence for over 100 kilometers of a road paved with jungles on either side. On the other, we could spot some wild animals like monkeys or birds from time to time.

Squeezed Shot at Sopheak Mitt Waterfall, Stung Treng

3- Rattanakiri

I didn’t expect us to stay in such a delicate place as Ratankiri Boutique Hotel. Yet, our swimming experience at night was all the fun we could make out of our stay there. Of course, the following day, we followed a familiar itinerary like Kachanh waterfall and Yak Loam lake. The lengthy rains of our late monsoon didn’t keep us, though, all sane from breakfast till we left this indigenous province.

3/4 Family Shot at Yak Loam Lake, Rattankiri

4- Mondulkiri

There was where I found the lodging contrast of a guesthouse labelled as a (three-starred?) hotel! Anyway, all the landscapes we visited in this cool land memorized us all along. Once there, keep in mind: Dos Kramom hill, Bou Sra waterfall, Coffee Plantation Resort. This time, I got to see a second Sea Forest less eye-catchy, yet more organized, on Bai Chhao hill. Also, the zig-zag to a grassland hill, named Anlong Snae, felt fresh to me/us.

Anlong Snae, from a Hill Top, Mondulkiri

To wrap up this journey, despite its intensity, we all learned to love each other’s company better. Although this may be our first time to travel with a local agency for an indoor tour, we were pleased to support this threatened industry, once reliant on international tourists. Come what may, life goes on, with more heart-warming trips ahead!