International Dramas: Hometown Cha Cha Cha

Screenshot of (left) Kim Seonho and (right) Shin Mina from ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha’. Copyright goes to tvN and Studio Dragon.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’m back and currently avoiding any and all spoilers from the BTS concerts that will be happening in a few days! Which means I’m going to have to find more things to entertain me because Twitter and TikTok are full of spoilers. So that at least means that this drama review I promised you guys will be somewhat of a distraction for me! ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha’ is definitely one of the most popular K-Dramas out right now. And I finally got around to watching it! One thing I’ll say right off the bat is that this is full of escapism. If that’s what you’re looking for right now, go ahead and watch it. It takes place in a really cute and small seaside town with such an adorable community feel that you’ll never want to leave. Before I even get into this review, I will say that I liked the show. So if you are at all interested in watching this show, go watch it now because this review will have MAJOR SPOILERS!!! You have been warned.

Summary: Hyejin, a dentist who loses her job after accusing her boss of charging patients too much and then becomes blacklisted, finds herself in a small seaside village where things immediately don’t go to plan. In the midst of one of the worst days of her life, she there meets Hong Dusik (more popularly known as Chief Hong), who is well known in the town and is good at pretty much everything. When she finds out the town is in need of a dentist, she realizes this may be her only chance at starting her own business and moves to the seaside town along with her best friend. While she and Chief Hong initially don’t get along, they slowly learn to rely on each other to help out the other members of the community. And possibly even fall in love.

The Good:

Male Lead- Chief Hong is my favorite character in the series and one of my favorite male leads I’ve ever seen in a K-Drama. And that’s saying something. What I like about him is how effortless and charming he is without feeling too unrealistic. Dusik is very likable from the moment you meet him and you can see why everyone else in the village likes him too. He’s very kindhearted and goes out of his way to look out for everyone, even the people he doesn’t necessarily like at first. He’s like a big brother to the entire town and also any and every stranger he happens to meet. This caring nature is not often explored in dramas; most dramas typically center on types that are bit more mysterious and introverted. And that’s fine too! But it’s always nice to see a main male lead that’s just outwardly kind to everyone he comes across. The story also focuses on mental health issues with this character in a way that I thought was very beneficial. They didn’t have him immediately solve his issues and actually showed him dealing with past trauma. He’s also absolutely hilarious. Finding a male lead this sweet is difficult, and I loved every moment this guy was on screen.

The Town- Like I said before, this show is great for escapism almost purely because of this town. It’s gorgeous. Between the beaches and the architecture, this is a place that anybody would never want to leave. Escapism into this town is half of why you watch this show in the first place.

Sub-Plot Romance- My favorite sub plot romance happens with the second lead. Which you don’t often see happen! Usually, once a second lead is spurned by the main female lead they just kind of mope around for the rest of the show and then start to learn to get over it by the end. This second lead is actually very adult and mature about his feelings through the entire show. When he figures out she doesn’t have feelings for him, he immediately backs off. And then he finally fully sees his coworker, who has been with him through all the major moments of his life and career. And one of my favorite things about her is her intelligence as well as her unwillingness to pine after him. She never begs him to notice her, she just waits until he’s smart enough to actually notice her worth. Though we never really see much of a full confirmation of this couple, we see all that we need to. They have finally learned to respect each other equally in a romantic way and I really want to see love story arcs that have more about respect in them.

The Kids- There are two kids in this show and they are seriously the cutest thing I have ever seen on any drama. Their friendship is wholesome, they are constantly there for each other, and any time one of them cries you are also bound to cry with them. So cute. Must protect.

The Community- The community shown in this show is so cute and tight knit. Some of the storylines here are also really touching as well. I specifically loved a storyline about pregnancy that highlighted just how difficult it is for women and how much men can sometimes take for granted. The stances the show took about seniors who often don’t receive care or can be forgotten, were also important. This show sought to create a close knit group of friends while also standing up for important issues. And I thought it was incredible how much the show was able to focus on, while still making everything feel connected.

K-Pop Group- This show depicts a K-Pop group filming a variety show and I loved how kind the show was towards the group and their fans. No one was portrayed as crazy or mean here. It was over-all a pretty respectful depiction. They even showed that the group had adult fans, which is really important when most K-Pop groups are accused of only having teenage girls as fans. Which is an argument that is so wrong on so many accounts that there’s almost too much to unpack there. Anyways, I have respect for the way this show treated K-Pop groups.

The Bad:

Female Lead- Trust me, I am also getting tired of how many times I’m not the biggest fan of a female lead in a K-Drama. But this time it was surprisingly not because she was a blank slate character. Because she actually had a character of her own. My issue with her was that she wasn’t relatable and often felt spoiled. And every time I thought the show was going to humble her, it never really did. Or at least didn’t do it successfully. She looks down on many people in the community throughout the series and she’s easy to be caught in a misunderstanding because of her complete lack of communication skills. She breaks up with Chief Hong because she’s angry that he won’t open up to her about his trauma. Even though they’ve only been dating for about two weeks at that point and it is very clear that he hasn’t even come to terms with his own trauma yet. The ultimatum she gives him with a time frame in which he should tell her about his trauma just feels cruel. Eventually she learns that forcing him to come out with his trauma is due to her lack of patience. But the narrative doesn’t really punish her for it, because he tells her pretty soon afterwards anyways. I didn’t at all hate her. She isn’t here because I hated her. There were some nice lessons about patience that I felt was relatable to me. Especially right now, I can seriously lack patience. And the way she helps some of the members of the community is sweet. But in the end, she never has a satisfying switch from spoiled to helpful. She’s just kinda both.

The Romance- Now, when I say this I’m not talking about the buildup of the romance. Because the friendship between the two leads is actually very cute. This is entirely about how they are as a couple. I’ve said in several past reviews that I absolutely love when a show really depicts how a couple is as a couple. They don’t keep breaking up their couple or finding drama, instead they show how this couple actually works romantically as a team in regular domestic situations. Because that stuff is important too! This drama still has soooo much drama, but they do take the time to show domesticity. Which I would usually like! But for some reason, this couple’s form of domesticity is Hyejin constantly talking in baby talk to Dusik. I understand that there are actual couples out there like this that exist. And if that’s what you like in a romantic relationship, go for it! I’m just not the biggest fan of the idea of the constant babying and cutesy talk. It gets a little annoying to me after a while. Sorry. I seriously have never seen a relationship depicted like this in a drama before, and now I’m pretty grateful for that.

Too Much Drama- I know this is a K-Drama, but they seriously went too far here. And not just with the whole “we met before” storylines, even though that does happen here more than once. I still really don’t understand why it’s important for K-Dramas to have their leads meet as kids. It’s weird. The fact that they “knew” each other as kids doesn’t matter, what matters is that they are in a relationship together now. But on top of that, the latter few episodes of this show kept throwing random tragic things in the backstory of Dusik. He is an orphan that lost his parents and his grandfather also died when he was pretty young. Yikes, but ok. He got into a weird freak car accident with his best friend when he got older and his friend also died. Ok? He also advised an older man to invest in stock that eventually plummeted, driving his family to ruin and driving both Dusik and the old man to serious depression and now he’s being confronted with this man’s grandson. What? Oh, and the second lead was also somehow related to his old best friend who died and his best friend’s wife blames him for the death, so now the second lead is also mad at him. Oh my god, where does it end???? This is starting to read like a soap opera. I think some romantic K-Dramas still haven’t mastered the art of consistency in tone and a concise story. It’s weird to say that a drama has too much drama, but this is way too much. Some of this might have been ok, but they decided to really pack it on here for some reason.

The Community- They are also here too. Sometimes I liked them, but there were certain characters that I really didn’t care about or were really annoying. There was a divorced couple where I couldn’t stand the ex-husband and cringed every time he came on screen. And the main character’s friend really doesn’t have much in the way of her own arc except for a sexual assault storyline that wasn’t given nearly enough time for the writers to properly deal with it. Sometimes the brand of comedy with these characters was way over the top as well.

Like I’ve said in many reviews of mine before, the good versus the bad above probably gives off the wrong impression. I actually really liked this series and I definitely recommend it. It’s setting is lovely and it packs plenty of powerful stories as well. But it definitely isn’t a perfect watch and it covers so much that there will definitely be characters and storylines that you don’t care as much about. But, I think it balances so many storylines very well and I think many of the characters are lovable. You will at least fall in love with the town itself. It isn’t the most profound and astounding watch, but it is a cute watch all the same and I would say I liked my watch of it very much! Now I just have to hopefully find something else to watch so that I can avoid concert spoilers!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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