First Impression: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Drama Profile

Title: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (English title) / Seaside Village Chachacha (literal title)
Main Cast: Shin Min-a, Kim Seon-ho
Writer: Shin Ha-eun (The Crowned Clown)
PD: Yoo Je-won (Hi Bye Mama)
Timeslot: Saturday/Sunday 21:00
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Genre: Romance-comedy; slice-of-life

Plot Synopsis:

In the hopes to start over, dentist Yoon Hye-jin decided to move from Seoul to Gongjin. As she tries to adapt to the small town, she meets local fix-it guy Hong Du-sik. With the scenic ocean as their backdrop, the two seemingly opposite individuals start seeing each other in a different light.

Major trope: small town romance; opposites attract

Maknae’s Impression:

One of K-dramaland’s OG romcom queens is back! And she brought with her another dimpled charmer.

It’s Shin Min-a’s comeback to romcom territory and she delighted us with a light-hearted story and a gorgeous view of the ocean as the backdrop. It doesn’t hurt that she has paired up with Kim Seon-ho in this project.

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha’s premiere week gave us a solid impression that this is your classic romance comedy series with a splash of heartwarming life stories. The first two episodes followed the romance formula but matched it with refreshing execution. The formula I mentioned always includes our lead hitting the rock bottom and an adorable meet-cute. Episodes 1 and 2 of HomCha have that. Our female lead Yoon Hye-jin hit rock bottom early on; which made me root for her from the start so even if she did a blunder later on in the episode, I still cheered for her. That’s a standard rom-com trick and I totally fell for it. Now, I’m excited to see her grow and change from her character’s point A – the city girl with a your-business-is-not-my-problem attitude – to her potential point B – someone who isn’t afraid to get attached to place or to people.

We all know that Hye-jin will not be alone in that journey because Hong Du-sik is there with her. Our male lead is not your typical suit-wearing-rich-guy, he’s the real deal. And I’M ALL IN ALREADY. At first glance, he has this When the Camellia Blooms’ Hwang Yong-sik vibes and I thought that’s why I was swoony for him. But then as the episode went on, I realized he’s a character on his own. Another softhearted male lead everyone will fall in love with including our new beloved female lead Hye-jin. I really enjoyed watching their banters. It was the show telling us their differences without being too direct. Hye-jin is definitely our Miss Don’t-Be-Nosy type who encountered Hong Du-sik, who is the definition of Mister Nosy (but in a good way) type. It’s exciting to seem realize that these first impressions are not the totality of their personality. I know that at the moment, it’s currently Du-sik who is teaching Hye-jin how to adapt in Gongjin but I think the story will eventually shift to Hye-jin helping Du-sik get over whatever hang-up he has in his past. That scene with the black suit where Du-sik looked at it with meaningful eyes is there to show that Du-sik is longing for something. A dream he never fulfilled? A past decision he regrets? A mistake he can’t forgive himself for? I’m still not sure but Du-sik definitely has his own story to tell. Just like the other Gongjin village people.

I’m excited to see the show explore each one of the locals. The subplot about Oh Chun-jae (Jo Han-cheul) got my eyes misty there for a moment. And then Du-sik said these lines: “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.” That ultimately send me to tears town. And at the same time, the scene made me realize that yes this is a rom-com but the show is also promising poignant moments like this. It also felt like a foreshadowing for more life stories to come as the village people seem to have different histories worth telling. (Side note: Can K-drama genies protect Kim Young-ok here? Please. She’s a treasure.)

What makes Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha a refreshing watch is it doesn’t try to impress me with over-the-top meet-cutes or experimental plots. It sticks to the classic romance formula. And when it comes to romance, sometimes the simpler it is, the better. You only need compelling characters to make clichés worth watching all over again. And that’s what Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha has – characters you’d root for no matter what.

Afterthoughts

-There’s a lack of Lee Sang-yi in the premiere week. I wonder what his role would be.

-This series is based on the movie Mr. Hong starring Uhm Jung-Hwa and the late Kim Ju-Hyeok. That’s why is no surprise there’s a tinge of nostalgic romcom feels in it.

-It’s nice to see you here Kang Hyung-suk-ssi. And it’s nicer that you’re not a bad guy here.

-A little detail I noticed is that Dung-sik drives a pick-up truck and has the habit of running his hand through his hair so am gonna leave this Tay country song lyrics here: “’Cause I hate that stupid old pickup truck you never let me drive” or my fave lyrics: “But you’re just so cool. Run your hands through your hair. Absent-mindedly makin’ me want you!!!”

-Can anyone from 2d1n make a cameo? Or at least sing an OST?

Image credit: tvN

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