Showing posts with label Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (Kdrama) 4.3 || 4.7. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (Kdrama) 4.3 || 4.7. Show all posts

18 October 2021

K Drama Review: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021) 4.3 || 4.7

If you're heartbroken about Kim Seon Ho's fate in Start-Up, you've probably been waiting for a drama that will have a happy ending for him. So the news of a new romantic drama for him probably made you very excited. (Obviously, that little out-of-nowhere cameo in Run On does not count.) 

What further piqued our curiosity about this show was Shin Min A, the female lead in this drama. We've never seen her before. But we were very interested because she's so pretty (especially with those dimples) and intriguing. It definitely helped that the show was very easy on the eyes (and ears and mind and heart). 


Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha tells the story of area chief Hong Du Sik (Kim Seon Ho) and  dentist Yoon Hye Jin (Shin Min A), whose paths have crossed several times in the past (although unknown to them). They meet again in Gongjin where Hye Jin opens a dental clinic. They clashed initially, with the elitist Hye Jin often criticizing the simple and very informal Du Sik. The drama takes us through how these two overcome their prejudices against each other and how they help each other recover from their past traumas and heartaches. 

Kim Seon Ho as Hong Du Sik 

Yes, Kim Seon Ho is still as handsome as ever (or maybe even more!). I admit that I was initially wary when I read about his role here because he might be too pretty for a villager. But he did it. 

I love how Kim Seon Ho gives justice to whatever role he plays. I would like to think that I've seen him on both ends of the spectrum and I can say that he can handle being sleek and classy like in Start Up yet he can also be an average joe (or even below average) as he's shown here.  

Yes, he needs a bit of work on his bawling scenes. But his quiet dramatic scenes are good enough. And he does everything else really well. 

Du Sik is a very lovable character. I love how helpful he is with everyone like how he helped Hye Jin regain the trust of the Gongjin folks by buying snacks (charged to her of course) for the town meeting. Or how he's everyone's reliable temp who's on-call anytime. And he seems to genuinely enjoy what he's doing. He's not doing it for the money or for fame. He's just really happy to help. 

Most part of the show would lead you to believe that despite his earlier misfortunes, Du Sik has remained a happy and emotionally strong person. That's why it was so sad when his story slowly unfolded. That trauma of bringing death and/or misfortune to the people around him must have been a very heavy burden that Du Sik's been carrying for so long. And for his story to be revealed and for him to be shamed in front of all the people who respected and trusted him must have been even more difficult. Especially since he did not really do anything wrong. Yet he still chose to support the guard's (Kim Hak Sun of Juror 8, Hospital Playlist 2, Something in the Rain, Suits, and Fight for My Way) family even if his bankruptcy had nothing to do with Du Sik. 

I was genuinely happy for Du Sik's happy ending. He deserved it. However, while I acknowledge Hye Jin's great role in that swift recovery, I have some reservations. I felt that it might have been too abrupt for someone who's been broken since he was a kid. Yes, I don't discount the fact that a fast recovery might be possible. But at the same time, I also don't want to give false hopes to others who might be misled into thinking that these kinds of traumas are easy to overcome. It would probably not hurt to be more conservative about this topic. 

But having said all of that, I still enjoyed Kim Seon Ho as Du Sik a lot. Can't wait for his next drama. :)

Shin Min A as Yoon Hye Jin

Aside from her adorable dimples, the other interesting thing about Shin Min A is her physique. She looks like a model. And she acts so well too. I loved her solid and natural acting. Even her dramatic scenes were so controlled. She remained poised all throughout. Shin Min A was perfect as the classy and elegant Hye Jin who looks like a snob but is actually very kind-hearted. 

While it was easy to love Du Sik, we can't say the same thing about Hye Jin. She thought she was better than everyone else because she's an educated dentist from Seoul.  

During the initial episodes, Hye Jin's biggest problem was her inability to think before she opened her mouth. She often got into trouble because of that like when she criticized Gongjin with an open microphone with speakers blasted outside such that everyone heard her rants. 

Hye Jin can be too harsh and brutally frank as well like when Gam Ri (Kim Young Ok of Squid Game, Love Alarm, Ms. Hammurabi, Reply 1988, and Coffee Prince) initially refused to get implants. 

She gets defensive even before someone starts attacking her. She's built walls around her and won't let anyone get through them. She actually reminded me of Kim Seon Ho's character in Start Up.

The thing is, most of the time, Hye Jin actually means well. You can't really dislike her because just when you're about to hate her, she'll do something to win you over. 

Like the issue with Gam Ri's implants. I was about to cancel her for saying Gam Ri was selfish. But when she further explained her side - that she thinks she should not scrimp on her health just to give her kid a decent life because parents need to be healthy for their kids - I finally saw where she was coming from. Especially since her mom died when Hye Jin was a little girl. 

I also loved the things she did to help Ju Ri (Kim Min Seo) - letting her stay in her place when Ju Ri ran away from home, embarrassing herself by performing on stage with her, and agreeing to do her braces to be fully paid when she grows up. It's nice how she mentored Ju Ri because she saw herself in her. 

And how she still cared enough to save Nam Sook (Cha Chung Hwa of Train to Busan, Hospital Playlist 2, Crash Landing on You, Itaewon Class, and Hotel Del Luna) from a scammer even if she was pirating her patients. And how Hye Jin set aside her pride and hurt feelings when she learned about Nam Sook's past. 

I super loved how Hye Jin's character evolved from someone so selfish and self-centered to someone who now cared a lot for Gongjin and its residents - so much that she even bravely helped Yun Kyung (Kim Joo Yeon of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol) give birth. 

Gam Ri described Hye Jin perfectly - she's cold outside but she's actually very soft-hearted. And yep, she's like a hedgehog like Du Sik said - she's prickly but once you gain her trust, she will let you into her life. 

We're definitely watching more of Shin Min A because we just can't get enough of her dimples and her acting. 

Du Sik and Hye Jin 

Aside from their physical chemistry, the greatest thing about Du Sik and Hye Jin is how good they are for each other. 

Du Sik helps everyone but he's always extra with Hye Jin - how he researched about drying her shoes or how he cut his day off short (which he never did in the past) to rescue her from a sexual predator patient or how he exerted effort in cutting up wood to prepare something that would relieve her back pain or how he finished the porridge she prepared when he got sick even if it did not taste good. 

And oh, how she moves him. I super loved that drinking session where Hye Jin bared her heart about her mom and her connection to Gongjin. Du Sik had tears in his eyes as he listened to her. And how he also opened up to her about his grandpa. 

I loved how level headed Du Sik was despite Hye Jin's judgments and tantrums. How he understood her even if she was so full of herself (or how she has this princess syndrome as he calls it) by always saying that they had different social positions, that he should not cross the line, that she doesn't make friends with just about anyone, etc. And how he never gave up in trying to break through her walls. (Even if it was annoying that she was so clingy yet she'd insist on drawing lines and boundaries). 

I loved the nuggets of wisdom Du Sik imparted to Hye Jin. Like that input-output discussion where he told her that life is not always measured by money and success. And how Du Sik slowly taught her to loosen up. 

I loved how Du Sik and Hye Jin comforted each other - whether intended or not. And how they've actually been relying on each other all these years - little Du Sik making little Hye Jin laugh when his grandpa took their family photo on the beach, teenage Du Sik paying for teenage Hye Jin's milk when she ran away from home, Hye Jin calling the police to report a man (Du Sik) in a patient's gown standing by a bridge along the Han River, Du Sik finding her missing shoes, Du Sik helping bridge the gap between Hye Jin and the neighbors, Du Sik saving Hye Jin countless times from bad guys, Hye Jin taking care of Du Sik when he got sick, and Hye Jin comforting Du Sik when his past was finally revealed. 

I loved how gradually these two became comfortable with each other. They didn't really need to say it out loud. It was just evident with their body language - like how Hye Jin sat beside Du Sik in the restaurant even if Director Ji (Lee Sang Yi of Suits and Prison Playbook), whom she knew longer, was also there. 

I also loved that episode with Hye Jin's family. It started out funny with the neighbors getting into the pretend relationship drama. Although Du Sik and Hye Jin's dad (Seo Sang Won of My Mister, Vagabond, and Record of Youth) were always bickering and showing off, I took that as a sign that they both cared for Hye Jin. And I loved how they ended up somehow fond of each other - how Du Sik admitted that they were not a couple but he wished that warm-hearted Hye Jin would find a good-hearted person she deserved and how the dad said that that person could be Du Sik. I loved that silent/indirect affirmation/blessing from her dad. 

I also found it really special that Du Sik invited Hye Jin to his grandfather's memorial service. And how she helped him prepare stuff. And how she introduced herself to grandpa. And how Du Sik talked to grandpa about Hye Jin after she left. Little things but they really go a long way in showing how special they are to each other. 

I also loved that build up to Hye Jin's confession. How being away from Gongjin helped her realize that her world now revolved around Du Sik - looking for clothes for him, telling stories about him, finding the Gongjin sea better than the Han River. Then she hurriedly went back to Gongjin and ran to him like an excited kid. I was scared that Du Sik would push her away because of his traumas but I was proud of him for admitting that he felt the same way too. 

As an aside, let me say that I'm not a huge fan of aegyo. Most actors tend to overdo it that it ends up cringey. But Shin Min A surprisingly pulled it off. Given that she's an older actress, I loved how she injected just the right amount of aegyo into Hye Jin - she'd stop just before she gets annoying. It came out cute because she did it well. 

That dating bucket list was cute. It was like a reminder that you don't need to be a teenager to enjoy these things. And I loved how thoughtful Du Sik was in preparing a tent for Hye Jin to watch the sunrise and how he made a jewelry box for her when he could not afford to get her the expensive necklace she wanted. 

I loved how secure Du Sik was as a person. He told Hye Jin that she deserved to buy herself expensive stuff like her necklace because it was money that she worked hard for. He didn't feel inferior at all. 

I liked how realistic their confrontation was about Du Sik's past. It started out light with Hye Jin asking if he was the mystery lottery winner. Then it progressed to something deeper and more serious. It's like how couples avoid talking about big stuff until the weight becomes too heavy to bear that it just comes out flooding in one go. I get how Du Sik had traumas that kept him from revealing more about his past. But I also get where Hye Jin's coming from. Du Sik should have at least explained that he was not yet ready and he should have assured her right away that he will open up when the right time comes. 

I loved Hye Jin's maturity in handling the issue. She acknowledged her impatience but she also gave him time and space to think things over. Her willingness to wait for him and her security in his assurance that he will open up some day were really admirable.

I loved Hye Jin even more after Du Sik's story was revealed. I liked how she assured him that it was not his fault and that it's okay to cry and be sad when he's with her. Yes, Du Sik's story might have been the show's centerpiece, but Hye Jin was definitely the glue who put back together his broken pieces. 

I also loved how Hye Jin selflessly gave up the professorial chair position (even if the show tried to put us off track by making it appear that Hye Jin was leaving, only to reveal right away that she was only going on a seminar). 

And I absolutely loved the super cute proposals. With Hye Jin's shoe proposal and Du Sik's necklace proposal. And Du Sik telling Hye Jin how many hours he had to work to buy the expensive necklace. The proposals were both so sincere and full of love. 

I especially loved the real talk about how things won't always be good and happy but everything would be okay as long as they're on the same boat. I love how they're not blinded by the sparkle of their new love. 

I'm sorry if I've gone overboard here. I just really love Du Sik and Hye Jin and how their love story grew and progressed. 

Lee Sang Yi as Director Ji

I admit that I was not initially fond of Director Ji. First, he was not as dashing as Du Sik. And second, I resented how Du Sik was being relegated to the sidelines when he arrived since he could also do the things Du Sik did. I know Director Ji meant well and he did not intend to take the limelight away from Du Sik. I'm also sure the Gongjin gang didn't think Du Sik was inferior. I just felt bad because Du Sik felt bad and I know that helping others made him genuinely happy. 

But I eventually warmed up to Director Ji. I appreciated his thoughtfulness in remembering the little things about Hye Jin. It was also nice to see Hye Jin so giddy in finding a connection to her past. I saw how excited she was to show off that she's matured and how she's become more sophisticated. 

I also liked how Director Ji was thoughtful with Gam Ri. He was not pushy when she initially refused to allow him to use her house for his show. He wooed her patiently until he got what he wanted. 

I enjoyed Du Sik and Director Ji's bromance and chill love triangle. While they acted all petty and silly as they tried to outdo each other, I loved how they put their friendship beyond that rivalry. I loved that poignant scene between them after Hye Jin rejected Director Ji and how they admitted that they were actually fond of each other. 

I appreciated Hye Jin's sincerity when she rejected Director Ji. While it probably hurt him more, I loved her honesty. 

I also loved how Director Ji was sensible and reasonable with regard to Du Sik's role in the accident that killed the director's cousin-in-law and in the issue with Director Ji's subordinate. Any other evil guy would have used those incidents to take Hye Jin away from Du Sik. But not Director Ji. 

And because he seemed like a genuinely good person, he definitely deserved that happy ending in his love story. 

Mi Seon and Eun Chul 

Aside from Du Sik and Hye Jin, I also enjoyed watching Mi Seon (Gong Min Jeung) and Eun Chul's (Kang Hyung Seok of Do Do Sol Sol, Itaewon Class, and Crash Landing on You) love story. I liked the gradual and natural build up and how cute they looked together. 

The progressive/liberal Mi Seon was the perfect fit for the awkward and old-fashioned Eun Chul. I loved how honest Mi Seon was about her feelings and how she vowed to back off. And it was great how Eun Chul respected her and never took advantage of her feelings. It was so thoughtful of him to be with her during her mom's surgery. 

His semi-confession with his face covered and his mouth wide open as he sat on the dental chair was hilarious. And his grandiose confession with him kneeling on one knee on the street was the cutest ever. I loved how Eun Chul was always so earnest towards Mi Seon. 

It was also hilarious when Mi Seon thought Eun Chul engaged in illegal stuff just so he can afford to buy her expensive things. 

I loved that little revelation in the end that Eun Chul was the mystery lottery winner and how he brought her to a vacant lot and asked her if she wanted to build their home there. Aww.

And let me just say that it was truly refreshing to see Kang Hyung Seok in a sweet and light role. I'm so used to seeing him in action stuff and it's nice to know that he can do sweet characters too. 

The Gongjin Squad

I absolutely loved the nosy but very caring and helpful Gongjin neighbors. It was hilarious how news traveled fast in their gossip network. Their relationships seemed so authentic that you can actually imagine having neighbors like them. 

I loved the grandmas and how they brought life to the community and the show. It was sad to see Gam Ri pass away especially after knowing how instrumental she was in saving Du Sik. But I know she died happy knowing that Du Sik already had Hye Jin to watch over him. 

It was nice to see Lee Bong Ryun (Run On, Reply 1994, Exit, A Taxi Driver, and Samjin Company English Class) again as Hwa Jung. I enjoyed watching her here more than I did in Run On. 

I loved Hwa Jung's relationship with her smart and super respectful son Yi Jun (Ki Eun Yoo). I also enjoyed watching her love triangle with her ex-husband Young Guk (In Gyo Jin of Fight for My Way) and Young Guk's first love Cho Hee (Hong Ji Hee of Hospital Playlist). Even if she was hurting and she tried to keep her distance, Hwa Jung still could not help herself from caring for Young Guk and Cho Hee. 

I loved how genuine Hwa Jung's friendship was with Cho Hee. No matter how Hwa Jung tried to push her away, Cho Hee stayed. And in the same way, Hwa Jung also could not resist caring for Cho Hee. I was really surprised with the revelation that it was actually Hwa Jung that Cho Hee liked and not Young Guk. And I loved how Hwa Jung handled the confession - so full of respect, love, and affection. 

It was painful to find out the reason behind Hwa Jung's divorce. To hear that you're only plan b because plan a left and you were chosen because you were his closest friend and he was running out of time. And to hear that your marriage is boring and you're only married for company. Those were very painful. And I was amazed that Hwa Jung still found some love in her heart to continue watching over her ex-husband. And to forgive him eventually. 

Yes, I was happy that they got back together although personally I don't think Young Guk deserved her. I felt that he was too selfish. I would have probably been happier if Hwa Jung ended up with Cho Hee. 

But seeing how happy Yi Jun was with their reconciliation made it worth it. It was heartbreaking to hear him say that he just wanted to have meals with his parents and for them to live together. It was surprising to see him break down knowing how mature, quiet, polite, and so put together he seemed most of the time. And his loyal friend Bo Ra (Go Do Yeon of Hospital Playlist) crying as well because she wanted to eat and live with him for the rest of their lives so he'll never be lonely. I loved their genuine friendship like how Yi Jun comforted her when her mom gave birth. 

It was nice to see Jo Han Cheol (Vincenzo, Juror 8, and The Producers) in a lighter role as Cheon Jae. There were still some slapstick moments but they can be excused as part of his character. 

I loved his relationship with his daughter Ju Ri and how he's making up for the loss of her mom and how Ju Ri resents him for trying to be her mom too. I loved how they were able to patch things up with Hye Jin's help and how Cheon Jae finally understood why his daughter was acting that way. My favorite scene for these two would be when he carried her to help her catch up with her favorite K pop group. 

Yep, Nam Sook was funny especially when she was being extra nosy. However, while I understand her sad story, I just felt that it was not an excuse for her to malign others whenever she wants to. Gossip can be harmless unless they hurt other people already - like how Hye Jin lost patients because of the fake news Nam Sook was spreading. 

I loved Yun Kyung especially when she broke down because her husband (Yoon Seok Hyun) refused to tie her shoelace. It was a perfect depiction of how women may seem petty sometimes but this is actually due to bottled up feelings that they've endured for so long and they just surprisingly come out at seemingly weird times. Why does she need to explain why she needs help with her shoelace? She would have done it herself if she could. 

One reason why this show was so great was because of its amazing supporting cast. They were all important and they all contributed in developing the story and the main characters. 


When I first started watching the show, I was reminded of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, where the female lead left the city to settle in the countryside. But what made this show better was how it was able to execute the story in a more organic and relatable way. 

I absolutely loved the community feel. And the place - the beach, Hwa Jung's restaurant, Nam Sook's restaurant, Bo Ra's shopping mart, Cheon Jae's coffee shop - everything. Gongjin was a character. It was healing and it provided solace to so many people - people who went back after leaving like Du Sik and Cho Hee and those who settled there like Hye Jin and Mi Seon. It welcomes and embraces you as its own such that you'd never feel alone again. I loved its simplicity and how it was like going back to basics. It made me want to pack my bags and settle somewhere idyllic. 

I loved the epilogues and how they gave us a glimpse of the past or of the other perspective in the story. It helped me understand the story and the characters more - like how Du Sik and Hye Jin have actually met several times in the past (yes, it reminded me so much of Crash Landing on You). 

The characters and relationships all felt so organic and real. It was a nice touch to make Hye Jin's hair messy during a blackout or upon waking up or make Du Sik wear dirty clothes because he worked a lot. 

The funny stuff felt natural too like how the grandmas made Hye Jin make so many stops on their way to Seoul. Or how Hye Jin was beating up Du Sik to avoid suspicion that they were already dating. 

I loved the warm conversations between Du Sik and Hye Jin like their wine session or that moment in the restaurant where she made him solve math problems to prove that he had an engineering background. They were all light and easy. 

The only problem was because we were too attached to Du Sik and Hye Jin, we felt that when the show shifted its focus away from them, it tended to drag a bit and it came out not as interesting as when they are the centerpiece. 

The treatment and presentation of Du Sik's story felt quite heavy for me at first. I felt that it could have been spread out through a number of episodes to lighten the burden. There was a stark contrast between the super good vibes earlier episodes and the sad later episodes. The general positive vibe could have probably been maintained if his story was revealed bit by bit. 

But when we reached episode 15, I came to realize that the timing was probably just right. Everyone and every little thing that happened added value to the story. It was just a relief that Du Sik finally came to terms and was now at peace with his past. I loved how the show ironed out most issues by episode 15 to make way for a happy ending.  

The ending started out sad with Gam Ri's death. It was poignant to see everyone celebrate her life. It was great to see Du Sik finally realize that it's okay to cry to release his pain and grief. 

I loved that scene where Gam Ri's son lamented about not seeing his mother often. It's a trap most adult sons/daughters fall into as life happens and we assume our parents will always be there. Such a heavy guilty feeling that's difficult to deal with. 

I loved how everyone's stories were resolved in the end, even Hye Jin and her step mom. I enjoyed the proposals both for Du Sik and Hye Jin and Mi Seon and Eun Chul. 

I loved that self photo shoot for Du Sik and Hye Jin and how it ended up as a community affair with everyone following them and helping them out. Yes, Gongjin can be too in your face sometimes but trust that they always mean well and when you tell them to back off, they will respect your decision and give you space. 

Oh, by the way, I felt that the product placements were quite excessive during the finale, especially the Domino's one. It was quite off putting. 

Overall, however, Hometown Cha Cha Cha was a great feel-good drama that's perfect for distracting us during this crazy time. 

I loved Romantic Sunday. Perfect for the chill vibe this show exudes. :) 

Oppa says...4.3.

Noona says...4.7.