Updated: October 13, 2021
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is a viral hit romantic-comedy Korean drama and an outstanding remake of the 2004 film, “Mr. Hong”, starring Kim Seonho and Shin Mina.
Since its premiere on August 28, 2021, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” consistently holds the highest nationwide viewership ratings in its time slot across all channels, with Episode 14 achieving the highest record so far of 11.6%, according to Nielsen Korea.
It also remains on the Top 10 TV shows on Netflix in several countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and a lot more. As of writing, 98% Google users liked this show with a rate of 9/10 through the IMDB.
Here are five reasons to love and watch “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”:
1. The screenplay is simple but engaging.
We have enough Korean dramas this year that are heavy to watch, involving intense crime scenes, fight scenes, high drama, killings, and the like. It’s time for a lighthearted show that is simple yet extraordinary and engaging in its content—an improved classic, slice of life, feel-good kind of drama.
As Chief Hong stated in Episode 12, ““Rather than detailed paintings, I like simple ones like this. Adding elaborate details is easy. It’s harder to express the essence of something with ordinary drawings.”
Without sabotaging the original storyline from the film “Mr. Hong” in 2004, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” managed to create its own tweaks, twists, and turns, making the drama more mysterious, engaging, and amusing to watch.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” centers around two opposite lives, a perfectionist dentist from the fast-paced city of Seoul and a free-spirited jack-of-all-trades from the humble countryside. It also takes us to the daily life of residents at the seaside village of Gongjin where life is calm, slow-paced, and less stressful.
The smart doctor but clumsy woman, Hye-jin, moves to this town to start life afresh and set-up a dental clinic. Residing anew in the countryside, she meets the nosy but heartwarming villagers where she learns to adapt, learn, grow, and heal.
A damsel in distress? Not at all. Hye-jin’s character reflects an independent and strong woman who happens to meet a countryside hero smitten by her uniqueness and warmth.
As Doc Hye-jin expressed in Episode 12, “This type of cliche is known as classic these days.”
Despite coming from a broken family, she managed to grow into a responsible, self-sufficient, and intelligent daughter—who made it on her own to achieve a college scholarship, become a competent dentist, stand for her right amid workplace maltreatment, fight for her worth against emotional abuse from an ex-lover, speak up for her bestfriend against sexual harassment, defend Chief Hong from her father’s prejudicial remark, and start over again from a failing career.
She is a determined person who knows what she wants, achieves her dreams, sets boundaries, speaks up her mind, and conscientiously leads her life. But just like the rest of us, she is no perfect at all.
Her flaws and vulnerabilities will be exposed as she crosses paths and gets to know Chief Hong Dusik through a series of unfortunate events and inconveniences, unfolding romance. This is where she begins to lay down her spines, experience, and embrace the kind of love that she never had but so deserves.
2. The intriguing mysterious character of Chief Hong Dusik.
Chief Hong Dusik was introduced to us as a jolly and reliable handyman who assists everyone around the village with his tireless hands, adorable smile, and empathetic heart.
He is a talented man who is engaged with several activities such as surfing, reading a book, biking, fishing, photography, candle-making, soap-making, coffee-making, bidding, singing, guitar-playing, collecting books, wines, and records. He also knows how to speak French, Chinese and communicate using sign language.
The unemployed Chief Hong we thought we knew is no ordinary man at all. He got into Seoul National University as a scholar with the highest grades, studied, and graduated Engineering. He then returned to Gongjin five years after graduating.
The villagers revealed that he was an extraordinary and smart kid. At age six, he memorized Cheonjamun. In school, he won the gold medal at the Mathematics Olympiad and always gets the highest score or first place during classroom exams.
“Then why does he live the way he does?” Hye-jin asks. We have the same question as viewers and we can’t wait for this mystery to unfold.
Aside from this, there are other several mysteries in the life of Chief Hong that convey a seemingly deep and heartbreaking story.
The boat on top of the hill, the suit he wanted to throw away, the photo of a woman holding a baby kept inside the pages of his book, the regular visit with a psychotherapist in Seoul, and his chronic nightmares all need a clearer picture as the story progresses.
The undisclosed five years in the life of Hong Dusik is also something to anticipate in the next episodes. How his unknown backstory will be exposed, how it will shaken the image of a know-it-all, charming town hero, how it will affect his relationship with the villagers at Gongjin including Hye-jin, and how he will manage to face his fears will be an interesting move in the storyline.
It will surely bring us to the most heartbreaking character and scene of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, perhaps a major highlight in the drama.
3. It has a refreshing vibe—a visual and musical treat amid a world in crisis.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” offers a refreshing atmosphere, a momentary escape amid the troubles around the world.
The scenes are mostly filmed in the picturesque Pohang City, located in the province of North Gyeongsang, South Korea. The breathtaking cinematography, beautiful shots of the sky, ocean, moon, boats, lighthouse, and sounds of the waves definitely add a touch of charm and warmth to the story.
The quality of OST is also good that it makes you want to travel to the beach, sit back, chill, and reflect on life. The following songs are a hit:
Romantic Sunday by Car The Garden, One Sunny Day by Kassy, My Romance by CHEEZE, Wish by Choi Yu Ree , Be The Light by Kim Jae Hwan, Here Always by Seungmin.
Remarkably, the show’s OST captivated the hearts of many that several YouTubers and musicians around the world did covers of the songs.
The chemistry of Kim Seonho and Shin Mina is also lovely and fun to watch. They make you squeal even in simple moments such as the beach scene, the first kiss, exchanging bickering dialogues, and a lot more. It is not boring at all to see these two strangers squabble and it is exciting to see how these two “in love” characters will grow more as a couple when the hidden life of Chief Hong unfolds.
Another visual treat in this drama is the overflowing handsomeness of Kim Seonho. He is more glowing, radiant, and bewitching in all angles since he rose to fame. No bias but his charming smile is so contagious that it makes you smile while watching.
4. It is warmhearted with relatable characters.
There’s more to this romantic-comedy show where the writer takes us to various metaphors and mysteries and where warm stories abound.
“Life isn’t so fair for all of us. Some spend their whole lives on unpaved roads, while some run at full speed only to reach the edge of a cliff.” – Hong Dusik
Every character represents us.
Hye-jin, the dentist, mirrors our insecurities veiled behind fancy clothes, bag, and shoes. She is a strong, independent, and outspoken person but needy inside who aches for the absence of mother’s tender love and father’s protective presence.
Chun-jae (a.k.a. Oh Yoon), the frustrated singer, conveys our broken dreams. He is all of us in times our talent, skills, and abilities are challenged, rejected, or denied and whose hope is left behind in the past. Nevertheless, he is an empathetic father whose love for his daughter is unconditional. He represents the kind of father we wish we had.
Yeo Hwa-jung, the seafood restaurant owner, reflects our fighting spirit amid the uncertainties of life. She knows pain but refuses to face it and moves on in life, as if undisturbed. Life goes on no matter what. Like her, sometimes we keep ourselves busy not to feel the pain.
Jo Nam-sook, the chinese restaurant owner, portrays a loud person but empty inside. She is a nosy person who meddles in the life of others, trying to conceal and avoid the painful void at home. It’s her way of coping. Sometimes, talking too much is our way of coping.
Kim Gam-ri, the oldest granny in town, communicates our pain of aloneness, whose home is empty. She is all of us in moments we long for some affection and attention from the people we love the most.
The rest of the villagers at Gongjin resemble the nosy yet supportive people in our lives who lovingly correct us when we do something wrong, fight with us in the face of combat, rejoice with us when we achieve a goal, and serve as an instrument to our journey of healing.
Whereas, Chief Hong characterizes our hidden lives that we refuse to be exposed. He is a broken person hiding behind a mask of a vibrant town hero who identifies our pain of rejection, abandonment, and trauma. He is all of us in moments we help others during tough times but unable to help ourselves and in certain situations where we bottle up our emotions instead of naming them to heal.
“Why is this suit out here?”, one of the grandmothers asked Hong Dusik.
He seriously replied, “I’m throwing it out.”
But later on, he advised Oh Yoon about his tape album, “I didn’t think it belonged in the trash.”
On a wider perspective, the hometown in Gongjin teaches us to slow down, pause, and appreciate the small details of life, often unnoticed.
5. The cast performances are outstanding.
It is no doubt that the entire cast is superb in portraying their characters from the main leads to the supporting roles. Each one stands out.
The kids and grandmothers (halmeonis) are also adorable to watch. They make the drama more fun, engaging, and heartwarming.
The roles of Chief Hong and Hye-jin perfectly suit Kim Seonho and Shin Mina. No bias, but they are both equally astounding in their performances.
Special mention to Kim Seonho for portraying the jack-of-all trade role and how he is able to deliver it differently and uniquely from his popular role of Han Jipyeong. He is truly a one-of-a-kind actor.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is definitely a huge break from the heavy, dark, suspenseful thriller, gripping conflict, crime-filled Korean dramas that we have this year.
It has a warm storyline with a perfect blend of humor, romance, drama, and mystery. Epilogues are brilliant. Casting is excellent. Cinematography is perfect. OST is soothing and beautiful. SikHye chemistry is exceptional. Kim Seonho shines all the more as an actor with his superb performance as “Chief Hong”.
It’s definitely worth the stream on Netflix—a perfect treat after a busy week. Good job to the creators, director, writer, production team, and entire cast!