Director: Yu Je-won
Cast: Shin Min-a, Kim Seon-ho
Language: Korean with various subtitles
Streaming on Netflix from 28 August
3.5 out of 5 stars
This review covers the first two episodes of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is a remake of the 2004 South Korean film Mr. Handy, Mr. Hong, and follows the story of an ambitious dentist Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-a). After she loses her job in the city, Hye-jin meets jack-of-all-trades Hong Du-sik (Kim Seon-ho) at the seaside village Gongjin.
Du-sik is well-loved by the villagers as he takes care of the elderly, and assists them wherever possible. As Hye-jin is unable to find a job in the city, she decides to open her own dental clinic in Gongjin, but faces difficulty adapting to a different lifestyle. Time and again, the seemingly nonchalant Du-sik helps Hye-jin out of trouble, and the two develop an unlikely relationship.
As Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is set in a seaside village, the drama features calming and relaxing scenes by the sea. Even the sound of waves crashing onto the shore is pleasant to hear, especially during the pandemic when travel restrictions are still in place.
But the story paints more than a therapeutic picture, adding cute and amusing moments common to a rom-com. Most of these moments come from Du-sik, who is peculiar in a good way and unpretentious. The first two episodes have paved the way for great character development for Du-sik. The subsequent episodes should reveal more on his past, and why and how he became a jack of all trades in this little seaside village.
On the other hand, Hye-jin is relatively less interesting. While she is definitely capable as a dentist, she seems to lack basic social skills — something she clearly needs in a tightly knitted, small community, even more so when she is setting up a business there. This results in a misunderstanding with all the villagers, except Du-sik, who apparently helps her reconcile with everyone else. If the subsequent episodes are going to continue with this style of events, it won’t be long before it becomes too predictable and cringeworthy.
However, hopes are still high for Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha as many are keeping their eyes peeled for the performance of Kim Seon-ho. After shooting to fame as Han Ji-pyeong in Start-Up, Kim takes on the male lead in Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. Based on his ability to bring out the character of Du-sik in the first two episodes, this might be a test to see if the “Prince Dimple” actor can take more leading roles.
With top viewership ratings in South Korea (the drama airs on tvN as well), Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is off to a good start, and has the potential to garner the attention of international audiences.
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