5 Reasons Why “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” Is The Best Comfort K-Drama Of All Time

Updated: November 17, 2021

“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is a hit romantic-comedy Korean series and an outstanding remake of the 2004 film, “Mr. Hong”, starring Kim Seonho and Shin Mina.

It consistently took the highest nationwide viewership ratings in its time slot across all channels, from the premiere in August to the finale episode in October. It also attained its highest record of 12.7%, according to Nielsen Korea.

Here are five reasons why viewers love this show and why it is the best comfort K-drama of all time:

1. It presents various stories with relatable characters.

“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.

But there’s more to this romantic-comedy show where the writer takes us to the daily life of residents at the seaside village of Gongjin—a place where life is calm and slow-paced but warm and profound stories abound.

During the press conference, Director Yu Je-won unveils the meaning of the drama title. “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” connotes togetherness or community—a warm message that says you can’t do it alone in life. He further explained that the drama has multiple characters whose stories represent our daily lives and are set to bring healing.

“The stories of every character are warm and alive,” states Shin Mina in the Elle Magazine interview.

A lot of realistic issues in life were tackled in the series such as marriage problems, divorce, relationships, shattered dreams, work maltreatment, loss of loved ones, effects of broken family to a child, discrimination, and others. It’s a drama packed with life-giving lessons through several stories beautifully written and crafted into one.

It also tells us that not all drama characters can be perfect all the time. And so is life. Every character represents us.

Hye-jin, the perfectionist 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-jeong, 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 in our journey of healing.

Whereas, Chief Hong is a relatable character that represents people who appear to have it all together but sometimes hide a lonely battle within. 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.

2. It illustrates women empowerment through inspiring female roles.

Women have always been generally perceived as inferior to leadership, influence, and power, or resembled as a princess waiting to be saved by her prince charming.

Eventually, heroines are being produced on-screen, featuring fearless women that defied gender norms such as the famous Katniss Everdeen, Mulan, Captain Marvel, and a lot more. No challenge is too great for these empowered women in the film.

Hye-jin (the dentist), Yeo Hwa-jeong (the divorcee), Jo Nam-sook (the one who lost a child), Yungyeong (the pregnant woman), Miss Gam-ri, and Writer Wang, to name a few, are strong female characters that inspire.

They represent the brave women of today who play significant roles in the society and at home. They may not possess the supernatural powers of fictional superheroines but these women carry knowledge, love, skills, faith, and a strong voice to fight for equality, transformation, and healing in the community.

For instance, Hye-jin’s character reflects an independent and strong woman who happens to meet a countryside hero smitten by her uniqueness and warmth. A damsel in distress? Not at all.

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.

3. It raises awareness on mental health and healing.

The narrative of “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” also takes us to the most charming yet heartbreaking character of all, Chief Hong Dusik. He 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 kind, but too nosy,” says halmeoni.

“Chief Hong is everyone’s fixer,” Mr. Chang states.

However, we learned that there are several mysteries in the life of a dependable and charming Chief Hong that convey a seemingly deep and heartbreaking story.

He lived with undisclosed feelings of trauma and fear of abandonment, rooted from high stress producing situations. This involves traumatic words he received from certain people, making him internally believe that he is the one to blame for the loss and death around him. He felt unworthy to live life that he kept himself in the dark.

Hence, the drama is realistic in portraying that damaging words from people are psychologically powerful. It raises awareness that mental health matters in dealing with people.

“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,” the drama says.

The wonderful thing about this drama is that it highlights how healing involves having the courage to be known and loved. It is in relationships that we get hurt the most. But it is also in relationships that we learn to mend the broken parts in us and restore.

This is where the community in Gongjin including Hye-jin steps in to help Chief Hong arise from his fears. It takes the love, understanding, acceptance, and support of significant people in life that sets a person free from inner entanglements.

“I had decided to kill myself that day. But Ms Gamri and Gongjin saved me. That’s why I came back. I didn’t kill myself. But I didn’t know how to carry on either. I locked myself in that dark house. But people kept knocking on my door. They didn’t ask any questions. They just brought food and checked on me. It was as if they were taking care of a stray cat. They were indifferent yet warm to me,” Chief Hong shares his story to Hye-jin.

That’s the power of a loving relationship and community. It brings healing and growth.

4. 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 were 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. Remarkably, the show’s OST captivated the hearts of many that several YouTubers and musicians around the world did covers of the songs.

On November 4th, the song “Wish” by Choi Yuree has been nominated for “Best OST” at the 2021 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA).

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 fictional characters squabble and fall in love.

Everything from the cinematography, OST, characters, storyline, romance, to location just warms your heart.

5. The entire cast stands out in portraying their roles.

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.

On November 5th, the tandem of Kim Seonho and Shin Mina was selected as the #1 “Best Drama Couple of 2021”, according to a survey conducted by Joy News 24. The outstanding rom-com couple gained 103 votes out of 200 participants of entertainment industry employees, broadcasters, reporters, and content producers.

Special mention to Kim Seonho for portraying the charming yet heartbreaking role of Chief Hong and how he was able to deliver it differently and uniquely from his popular role of Han Jipyeong in “Start-Up”. He is truly a one-of-a-kind actor.

On November 16th, Kim Seonho attained two popularity awards at the 2021 Asian Artist Awards (AAA). His impact as a skilled actor continues to shine and be recognized worldwide.

“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 is a lighthearted show that is simple yet extraordinary and engaging in its content—an improved classic, slice of life, feel-good kind of drama with several lessons to draw from.

Moreover, it has a perfect blend of humor, romance, drama, and mystery. Epilogues are brilliant. Casting is excellent. Cinematography is perfect. OST is soothing and beautiful. It has a satisfying ending. The chemistry of the main duo is exceptional. Kim Seonho shines all the more as an actor with his superb performance as “Chief Hong”.

It’s definitely worth the stream and rewatch on Netflix—a perfect treat in distressing times. Good job to the creators, director, writer, production team, and entire cast!

Overall Rating: 10/10
Rewatch Value: 10/10

Drama Creators: Director Yu Je-won, Writer Shin Ha-eun

Photo cover: TVN Drama / Hanible Photography