The moment I saw the trailer for “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”, I already knew I was going to like it, because I loved “Reply 1988“.
Sure, it’s a tried-and-tested formula: city girl goes to live in a small town where she meets a handsome stranger who seems to have an interesting backstory, and they fall in love. Because of course they will fall in love.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” takes us back to our own childhood (by “us” I mean members of Generation X like myself), when life was still simple and our neighbors became our friends and family. Everyone knew everybody else, and yes, while it got to be annoying that you couldn’t keep a secret from anyone who lived on your street, it was also comforting to know that, aside from your own family, you had a whole community to help you out if you ever needed a hand.
I love all the halmeonis in “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”, maybe because I grew up with my maternal grandmother. They represent everything good about grandmothers: someone to feed you all the good stuff, someone who asks whether you’ve had dinner, someone who won’t hesitate to tell you off when you’ve grown too big for your britches.
I couldn’t really tell from the first episode what exactly Hong Du-sik’s (Kim Seon-ho) job was in the town, but soon saw that he could do anything for most everyone — the informal leader, handyman, town guardian, and protector, the one we’d affectionately call “Mayor” if he were with us in Barangay Ususan, even if he weren’t officially elected.
Of course, you can just tell that there’s something more to him than his ever-present smile, lighthearted laugh, and can-do attitude. I’m dying to see what was the reason for the suit and to learn why he lived for some time away from the island. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and just savor the next episodes.
Hye-jin and Gongjin
The leading lady, Shin Min-a, who plays the dentist Yoon Hye-jin, is cute, but not annoyingly so. When you begin to get a little irked at her for being so stuck in her city ways, she does something unexpected, and you get a glimpse of the girl behind the woman and what drew her to Gongjin in the first place.
Gongjin is the other star in this story. The seaside village that the series calls “Gongjin” is fictional, but the team did an excellent job in selecting a location with breathtaking views of the sea, the houses, and the landscape of pine trees — which always make me want to be back in Baguio.
After Episode 4, you just know that things are starting to get slightly more complicated. I think we’ll be seeing the relationship between Hye-jin and Du-sik developing soon. And that they’ll be good for each other and heal each other through their love.
A simple life with the one you love, in a small town by the sea, with neighbors who treat you as family — what’s not to love?
That’s the ultimate draw of “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” for me — the hope that someday, maybe, the world will come back to valuing a quiet life where the most important thing is to nurture your relationships with yourself and the ones you love, and the most important task you have for the day is making sure your neighbors have what they need, that Haelmoni is well taken care of, and that everyone gets their chance to shine in their own way.