Love by the seaside blooms for an unlikely pair and unfolds in this heartfelt drama set in a small rural town.
An adaption of the 2004 film, Mr. Handy, Mr. Hong, Hometown Cha Cha Cha centres around hardworking Yoon Hye-Jin (Shin Min Ah) who is committed to enjoying the toils of her labour, and is a respected dentist who winds up taking a fall after protecting the interests of a patient. Thrown out of her eliminate and hoping to escape humiliation, she visits a seaside town in Gongjin that holds precious memories and decides to set up her practice there. However, little does she know that the man she keeps asking favours for is none other than the town’s Jack of all trades referred to as Chief Hong, sparking misunderstandings and frequent encounters between the two.
Hong Du Shik (Kim Seon Ho) is Gongjin’s go-to man for just about anything, skilled in everything from brewing coffee to home renovations but the man who does it all maintains an aloof demeanour towards the new dentist in town, successfully masking the obvious when they run into one another.
I’ve been taking a peek at dramas or watching them as a means to fill a void thanks to lockdowns but I’ve experienced more upsets than ever and haven’t found a single drama this year to really get interested in but this one has me hook, line, and sinker.
After disappointing fantasy romances, I am more than ready to welcome a slice of life show that brings realism and love in a thought provoking series…and yeah, I’ll just admit it here that I am entirely biased when it comes to the actors and will do my best to avoid bringing up killer dimples, but I make no promises.
Not going to lie, the show had me a little worried as it swiftly gels through Hye Jin’s Seoul life but began to progress a lot more smoothly once she arrives in Gongjin. I know a lot of people found the beginning boring and wanted immediate sparks and energy but the drama takes slow burn nuances and places it within the context of a healing series. So it’s not just about the main leads but the whole town and in order to establish this objective, it starts off by introducing all the characters and really setting up the basis for the main love-line.
What makes the show such a treat to watch is how ordinary people are given such depth even when we don’t see it coming, so think of each character’s story like that of the Reply series combined with a bit of comedy and a slow but steady romance in the present, and you get Hometown Cha Cha Cha.
And the icing on the cake has to be just how realistic the characters are written; they’re ideal but nowhere near perfect and react in ways that anyone watching can easily relate to. Even the exceptional male lead has flaws that are delivered to us from the start, making him not merely a product of pure fiction but one with a humanistic touch.
Yoon Hye Jin
Prickly on the outside but soft on the inside, Hye Jin has a heart of gold even when she’s convinced herself that she doesn’t care about others. She tries her best to maintain a distance, determined to avoid getting involved with others because she’s afraid of attachment but this makes her all the more endearing.
You can see her turmoil as she dwells over the jabs she makes through her actions and commentary, immediately regretting nettling someone once the damage has been done but since she’s fairly introverted, Hye Jin has a hard time repairing her social life in Gongjin and struggles interacting with others because she finds it mildly unsettling at times…same girl, same.
Thankfully, she isn’t timid or extremely shy and is willing to stand her ground or even deploy a few kicks when her or those close to her, have been wronged.
I think the most relatable thing about Hye Jin is that she’s every modern woman who feels gratified through shopping – she likes treating herself and it’s a type of self-love to replace what’s missing in her life and it might come across as morbid to some if you read to much into it, but I think it’s a part of her that isn’t superficial per se as she appreciates life differently, but of course that becomes slightly altered once she meets Chief Hong.
There are definitely fine lines to Hye Jin that if any other actress were to be portraying the character, Hye Jin couldn’t have gained the positive reception that she has, so definitely props to Shin Minah for inflecting the right emotions and truly reacting in ways that are ordinary and by ordinary, I mean expressing the emotions we would in normal circumstances instead of a bubbly facade that hardly exists.
Hong Du Shik
The man who does it all doesn’t have it all but he’s content with his life in Gongjin, wrapped in mystery as someone who is talented but doesn’t leave his quiet hometown. The entire town relies on Du Shik to function and he’s kind of an acting emergency centre where people can go to in order to get help. But who takes care of him? By episode 3 and 4, you can really sense that Du Shik is self-sacrificing and keeps himself busy in order to escape demons of the past despite the many therapeutic hobbies he has. He battles his own issues in private while solving problems for others on a daily basis.
That’s not to say he’s a damaged soul looking for someone to apply pretty bandages but he’s in need of the same love and care he gives out and Kim Seon Ho has once again, nailed it.
Du Shik can come across as professional and the strictly business type but the undercurrents of flirtation and all the subtle actions he undertakes to treat Hye Jin differently from others feels like a bone thrown to a dog – entirely irresistible to watch. Their relationship starts off weirdly but it forms into a friendship and alliance that contains loads of tension and hidden emotions…so you can definitely expect to get a toothache from all the sweetness and sugar oozing out.
It might be too early to dive in head first since we still haven’t been introduced to the second male lead but I am absolutely here for everything the drama is giving us and I have a great amount of faith in Lee Sang Yi’s abilities once he makes his appearance in upcoming episodes since he did one heck of a job in Youth of May.
The acting alone in Hometown Cha Cha Cha is so natural, delivered flawlessly without feelings of something being lacking and the heartfelt stories conveyed in each episode leave you with something to think about.
With some comedy sprinkled here and there and aspects of what make K-dramas so unique and worth watching, I’m going to go ahead and say this is by far, my favourite series this year – the hype and anticipation are all legitimate. It’s not merely lip service, this is a show worth checking out, plus how do you say no to a perfect dimple couple?
Release Date: August 28, 2021 (Eng Sub available on Netflix)