“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” (New Korean Drama) First Look
Hello there! We’re back again with another first impression. I am so excited to bring you a recap of Episodes 1 & 2 for **drumroll please** “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”. The drama’s Korean title “Gaetmaeul Chachacha” actually literally translates to “Seaside Village ChaChaCha”. I personally find this title way more fitting than the English title being used. However, regardless of my feelings on the matter, the later title is the one we will be using during our recap.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is a original Netflix series, set to air its 16 episodes between August 28 and the 2nd half of October 2021.
Since this is a mixture of recap and review, there will be spoilers galore. You have been warned!
Yoon Hye-Jin (Shin Min-Ah) is a confident and outspoken 34-year-old dentist who enjoys popularity among her patients. Her skills as a dentist, her professionalism, and her honest nature have earned her this popularity. As a result of her well-paying job, Hye-Jin is able to lead a independent and comfortable lifestyle.
Life takes a downward turn when Hye-Jin confronts her superior at work regarding unethical practices the same has been implementing. She subsequently quits her job, thinking that it will be rather easy for her to get hired somewhere else.
However, in a unfortunate twist, she ends up posting about the matter on a dentist forum while being drunk. This causes her to be branded a whistleblower within the dentist community, and she is rejected wherever she applies.
Unable to get hired and without the sufficient funds to open her own clinic in Seoul, Hye-Jin feels like she is at an impasse. To lift her mood, and to commemorate her mother’s birthday, she decides to go on a daytrip. Her destination is a small seaside village in Gongjin that she used to visit with her parents when she was little. Her Mom sadly passed away not long after their last trip there.
Sitting at the beach, surrounded by the calm atmosphere of the small town, Hye-Jin’s disposition does improve greatly. Little does she know that it will be short-lived.
Firstly, her new and expensive heels end up in the ocean. With the help of a local surfer she is able to locate one of them but the other remains gone. Due to this she ends up wearing unflattering slippers from a local bathhouse that he offers her.
Secondly, her car does not start when she is trying to leave, and her phone has no service to call for assistance. Hye-Jin goes to a nearby coffeeshop in order to use their facilities and their telephone. To her dismay, it turns out their landline is also not working.
When she tries to pay for the [horrible tasting] americano she ordered, their credit card machine is down as well. Hye-Jin has no cash on her but is allowed to quickly try and withdraw some from a nearby ATM.
After several failed attempts at finding a functioning ATM, Hye-Jin returns to the coffeeshop. While there she comes across the surfer once again. He informs them that there is a fire at a nearby telecommunications center which is causing the service interruption for their entire town.
Out of options, our female lead once again turns to the one person in this town that has already helped her before: the surfer. But, who is this guy that keeps being her knight in not-so-shining armour?
The Popular Local
Hong Du-Sik (Kim Seon-Ho) is 35-year-old and was raised in the seaside village by his grandfather. After the grandfather’s early passing, one of the elderly townsfolk took it upon herself to look after him. It is no secret how beloved Du-Sik is all over the village.
The elderly treat him like their grandson, while the younger ones admire and respect him for his dedication to their small hometown. The friendly young man is a indisputable favourite in everyone’s eyes.
Due to his work all over town, Du-Sik has become a Jack-of-all-trades. Whether it’s fishing, doing renovations, or even working as a realtor, he has the skills and certifications to do all of these. He also seems to have knowledge of sign language and some foreign language phrases. It is due to his multiple occupations that he ends up running into Hye-Jin time and again.
Du-Sik first noticed her as she was sitting by the beach while he was surfing in the ocean nearby. When he subsequently returned one of her lost shoes to her, he was unimpressed by her request to go back and find the other one.
His kind nature makes him unable to just walk away, and he instead offers her the shower slippers he is wearing. Seeing her obvious reluctance to wear the plain footwear, does nothing to improve his opinion of her.
However, as he walks through town a little later, he witnesses her taking care of a little boy who got his tooth knocked out. She also comforts the boys friend who accidentally caused her friend’s painful dental incident.
Despite still being torn about her real identity, he agrees to help her out when they meet again at his friends coffeeshop. Instead of lending her the 4000 Won though, he takes her down to the docks so she can earn the money herself.
Along the way, Hye-Jin is witness to the genuine care that is shared between the villagers and Du-Sik, who they refer to as “Chief Hong”.
Once at the dock, she is introduced to three elderly ladies busy gutting squids. Du-Sik informs her matter-of-factly that she can work with them for an hourly wage of just over 8000 Won. Although initially not happy with the prospect since she hates the fishy smell, Hye-Jin ultimately sees no other way out.
After the works is done several hours later, she is the proud owner of 20-some thousand Won. She gives Du-Sik the money owned to the coffeeshop owner, and has no choice but to ask him for help with her car.
Getting the car going is a quick fix since it was simply a matter of the battery being drained. However, while looking at the tires, Du-Sik finds a screw in one of them. He strongly discourages her from driving all the way back to Seoul with a practically defective tire.
Since it is already late, she won’t be able to take her car to a repair shop until the next morning. A serious problem due to her limited amount of funds. But once again he comes to her rescue by pointing out a nearby sauna where she can spend the night.
The next morning Hye-Jin bids goodbye to the seaside village and makes her way back to Seoul. On the way she receives a nasty call from her former boss, intent on mocking and taunting her.
It is during this phone conversation that Hye-Jin decides to open up her own clinic in the village she just departed from. Having made up her mind, she resolutely turns her car around and heads back into town.
Walking around town the previous day, Hyr-Jin came across a little boy with a dental emergency. It was here that she discovered the town’s need for a dental clinic since the nearest one is 30 minutes away. A thought started forming in her mind and further developed when talking to the boy’s mother afterwards. Upon realizing that Hye-Jin is a dentist, she immediately offered her services to help her find a good location in their village, should she ever decide to open up a clinic there.
Once back in the village, Hye-Jin goes to the aforementioned woman, who happens to be the owner of a local fish restaurant. Said lady takes her to meet the real estate agent, who is none other than Hong Du-Sik.
In short order, Du-Sik presents her with an available office space with view of the sea, and also a house for her to live in. Although both require some renovations, choices are limited, so Hye-Jin accepts and signs the contract.
She then returns to Seoul, where her close friend Pyo Mi-Seon (Gong Min-Jung) is stunned to hear about all these sudden developments. Nevertheless, Mi-Seon being the supportive friend she is, assists Hye-Jin with packing up her belongings in preparation for the move.
Once settled in her new home, Hye-Jin looks forward to the opening day of her clinic. However, due to her rather blunt personality, things do not go as smoothly as planned.
During a local event where she advertised for her soon-to-be-available dental services, she commits a mayor faux pas. While conversing with the townsfolk, she inadvertently insults them. The local store lacks certain items, the fishy smell from the fish restaurant is unappetizing, etc.
However, none of this compares to the moment she is overheard on the towns loudspeaker badmouthing the coffeeshop owner and his aspirations to be a musician. Hye-Jin was on the phone with Mi-Seon and unaware the room she stepped into to get away from the noise of the event outside hat a small broadcasting station in one corner. Having been used earlier by the Village Chief to invite everyone out to join the event, he forgot to turn off the microphone.
Not surprisingly, the locals make no effort to hide their dislike for her after this day. Even Du-Sik is upset with her somewhat uppity behaviour, and reprimands her for it.
In the following days, Hye-Jin halfheartedly attempts to reconcile with her neighbours. It also just so happens that her friend Mi-Seon moves in with her after she finds out her boyfriend in Seoul has been cheating on her. Mi-Seon is a experienced dental hygienist and perfectly fits the role of assistant Hye-Jin needed to fill at her clinic.
Even though Du-Sik clearly did not agree with her way of acting, he can also tell that Hye-Jin did not have malicious intentions. Noticing her embarrassment and regret over the incident, he once again steps in to help her.
He recommends her clinic to his friends, who afterwards praise the new dentist’s skills. With the behind-the-scenes support of Du-Sik, Hye-Jin manages to smooth things over with the locals. Before she knows it, her clinic is filled with patients.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” has more than met my expectations so far. I’m in love with the beautiful seaside setting, the story, the main leads, the side characters, and also the overall pace of the drama.
Hye-Jin is confident, accomplished, speaks her mind, and is no pushover. She has moral professional ethics, and does not shy away from defending these.. At the same time she is portrayed as human with flaws like prejudice and a rather blunt way of stating her opinions. Overall I found her very real and therefor extra likable.
The leading man:
Du-Sik is bound to catch your heart immediately with his kindhearted actions and his dazzling smile. Every interaction between him and the locals shows his genuine love and care towards them. They are essentially all his family and he wants nothing more than to see them content. When Hye-Jin moves into the village, he soon includes her in this group of people he wants to look after.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” made me fall in love with it’s side character as soon as they were introduced. There is the spunky owner of the Fish Restaurant, who immediately offers Hye-Jin her support upon their first meeting. Then there is the awkwardly endearing coffeeshop owner, who makes horrible coffee and is more focused on talking about his musical past. We also get several ‘halmeonis’ [grandmothers] who despite being bossy and gossiping, I cannot help but like.
In addition to the ones mentioned, several other minor characters provide laughter and insight into the mindset of a small town such as theirs. They are just the thing needed to complete the background setting of “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”.
I truly enjoyed the orderly fashion in which characters were introduced.
Firstly we were given a look at the female lead, her day-to-day both at work and on her own time. Her interactions at work drew a clear picture as to her moral compass, and her overall personality.
Next up was the male lead. Again, a quick look at his daily activities and the obvious friendly connection he shared with the other villagers. Despite living in a small town, he is obviously a man with a broad understanding of the world out there.
As the female lead got into town, we were introduced to the side characters through her eyes. Subsequently we also saw the male lead interact with the same characters which gave further insight into their personalities.
The pace of the introduction was perfect! Not rushed at all but slow enough to get a feel for each character. This is definitely a theme throughout the episodes so far. The story is told in such a relaxed tempo yet does not induce boredom. A feel-good drama in the making.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” does not disappoint on the usual cliché K-drama moments either. There has already been a shower scene **gasp**, and a I-fell-and-you-caught-me scene. And we are only two episodes into the drama!!
Last but not least, I could not help but take note of the fact that both our leads are the owners of the cutest dimples. **fangirl scream** I’m looking forward to be dazzled by them again and again.
On that note, I will be ending this review/recap of “Hometown Cha-Cha-cha”. If you made it all the way through this, you are a true trooper and I thank you.
Until we drama again,
P.S.: Should we continue to recap “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”? Let us know in the comments or via any of our social media. We look forward to hearing from you.