Updated: August 28, 2022
A year ago today, tvN and Netflix introduced to us Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021), the seaside drama that touched the hearts of many viewers, old and young alike, for its heartwarming experience that celebrates the beauty of life, love, community, and healing.
Here are five reasons why this “Hallyu Excellence Award” winner gained huge attraction and captivated the audience across Asia and the world:
1. It presents various stories with relatable characters portrayed by amazingly talented actors.
As Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021) connotes togetherness or community, it introduces multiple characters whose stories represent ordinary daily lives faced with lifelike issues such as marriage problems, broken dreams, death, discrimination, trauma—portrayed by amazingly talented cast from the lead to supporting actors who made weekends alive, exciting, fun, at the same time, emotive as every story moved us on the edge of tears, giving us timeless life-giving lessons.
Every character represents us. “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.
Shin Mina as 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.
Jo Han-chul as 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.
Lee Bong-ryun as 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.
Cha Chung-hwa as 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 Young-ok as 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.
Kim Seonho as Hong Dusik, the town hero, 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 in certain situations where we bottle up our emotions instead of naming them to heal.
The rest of the villagers 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 success, and serve as an instrument in our journey towards healing. Gongjin is the place to be.
2. It illustrates women empowerment through inspiring female roles.
Hye-jin (the dentist), Yeo Hwa-jeong (the divorcee), Jo Nam-sook (the one who lost a child), Yungyeong (the pregnant wife), Miss Gam-ri, and Writer Wang, are strong female characters that inspire. They represent the brave women of today who play significant roles at home and in the society. They may not possess the supernatural powers of fictional superheroines but these women carry knowledge, love, skills, faith, and a strong voice that fights for equality, transformation, and healing.
In particular, Hye-jin played by Shin Mina 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—an empowered woman worthy of commendation.
3. It raises awareness on mental health and healing.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021) may seem simple but it holds a powerful message on on mental health through the story of the most charming yet heartbreaking character of all, Hong Dusik, played by Kim Seonho.
He was introduced to us as a jolly, nosy, but reliable handyman who assists everyone around the village with his tireless hands, adorable smile, and empathetic heart. However, he lived with undisclosed feelings of trauma and fear of abandonment, rooted from high stress producing situations and damaging words from certain people that shattered his sense of worth and pushed him to keep himself in the dark.
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 of Gongjin stepped in to help Hong Dusik arise from the dark pit of trauma—imparting a powerful reminder that it takes the love, understanding, acceptance, and support of significant people in life that sets a person free from inner entanglements.
The power of a listening and loving community like Gongjin brings healing and growth.
4. It has a refreshing vibe—a visual and musical treat amid a world in crisis.
One of the many treats that Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021) offers is the visually refreshing atmosphere provided by its talented cinematographers, displaying the beauty that the seaside holds—a weekend escape amid the hustle and bustle of city life and troubles around the world. Interestingly, the drama created a cultural impact on the increase of tourism in the picturesque city of Pohang, where the show was mostly filmed, becoming a popular destination for seafood, seaside scenery, comfort, and rejuvenation.
Similarly, the OST tracks are captivating and enjoyable to listen to. In particular, Romantic Sunday by Car, The Garden makes you want to pack up, travel to the seaside, and unwind by yourself or with someone special. It reminds you that life is best spent in the simple things that often go unnoticed. Perhaps, a trek to the hilltop where you get to see the vast ocean, horizon, sunset, and feel the sea air will give you all the simple yet happy vibes of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha while singing the iconic lines: Lalalalalalala, it’s a beautiful and shinning day.
5. It has a perfect pair and a beautiful, satisfying ending.
We all know that Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021) follows the romantic story of two opposite lives who grew from strangers to lovers—the SikHye couple whose dimple charms and chemistry are insanely ravishing and powerful. They seem to hold this one-of-a-kind spark whenever on screen, making it nearly impossible to keep your eyes off them. Acting wise, they made us believe in the beautiful relationship that Hong Dusik and Hye-jin share.
The shoe became the symbol of their first encounter and portrayal of their love journey from start to finish. “I’d love it if our shoes were always side by side at the door together. So that neither of us would be lonely,” Hye-jin tells Dusik.
At the end of the story, we were granted two pairs of shoes and two individuals gorgeously dressed in a wedding gown and suit—a perfect visual and timeless moment of SikHye happily healing, sharing, running, and holding hands together on the road to forever. It was one of the most heartwarming and satisfying finale ever told. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-laaa, romantic Sunday. 🎶
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Slice of life
Synopsis: At a crossroads, a dentist moves to a seaside village where she meets a handyman intent on helping his neighbours.
Based on: 2014 Mr. Hong film by Kang Seok-beom and Shin Jung-goo
No of episodes: 16
Starring: Shin Min-a, Kim Seon-ho, Lee Sang-yi
Written by: Shin Ha-eun
Directed by: Yu Je-won
Date: August 28 – October 17, 2021
Network: tvN, Netflix
Photos: tvN Drama