While Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-a) has a good heart, Episode 2 of the rom-com “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” shows us that she really has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth.
Hye-jin basically manages to offend everyone she talks to in the seaside village of Gongjin, where she has set up her own dental clinic after losing her job in Seoul. After witnessing firsthand how Hye-jin has hurt the feelings of the village residents who look up to him and whom he loves, Hong Du-sik (Kim Seon-ho) decides to tell Hye-jin point blank: “You think you’re better than everyone.” She protests, but falls silent as Du-sik gives one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard in a K-drama.
“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.”
Your privilege is showing
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” Episode 2 continues the journey that Hye-jin is undergoing as a person. Episode 1 showed how used she is to the good life and the urban lifestyle in Seoul. It was nerve-wracking for her to suddenly be deprived of access to technology when the systems went down in Gongjin last episode. From someone who used to take money for granted, she suddenly had to learn manual labor, earn minimum wage, and carefully budget her cash.
It’s clear that in dealing with her new neighbors, Hye-jin doesn’t realize what a privileged life she has led. As someone who is intelligent, hardworking, and driven, she assumes that those who don’t succeed must not have tried hard enough, or are making excuses for not pursuing their dreams.
So it’s a rude awakening when Du-sik rightfully tells her that life isn’t always fair. That it’s not always a meritocracy that rewards everyone for their hard work.
While she might not mean to hurt people, her success has made her judgmental, and living in Seoul has also made her feel superior to the inhabitants of what she considers a backward place.
It also doesn’t help that just as Hye-jin is experiencing culture shock, so too are her new neighbors.
In Seoul, jogging was an everyday routine for her, and so she continues it in Gongjin. Unfortunately, while her outfit wouldn’t cause anyone to bat an eyelash in Seoul, that’s not case in this seaside village.
“Did I see that right? She’s only wearing her long johns, right?” the scandalized grandmother asks her two equally elderly friends when they see Hye-jin jogging.
Later, they report what they have seen to Du-sik.
“Her top barely covered her while her pants clung to her body. I could see her sheer bottom which had me looking away! How can one run around wearing something like that?”
Du-sik explains to them that it’s modern sports wear and it’s no big deal in cities. He understands, of course, that this is something that will be hard for them to get used to, particularly at their age. So later he advises Hye-jin to try to consider how people will react to what she is wearing. He points out that it will take time for them to adjust to her.
With Du-sik’s help, Hye-jin makes amends. It’s clear, however, that he will have to continue teaching her how to become part of her new community.
How quickly will Hye-jin be able to adjust to life in Gongjin? And how will her relationship with Du-sik evolve?
Let’s find out together when “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” Episode 3 streams on Netflix on Sept. 4.