Welcome To Gongjin
Episode 1 of Hometown Cha Cha Cha begins with Doctor Yoon Hye-Jin, living the good life and working as a dental nurse. Her superior isn’t exactly happy with the way she handles her clients, questioning Hye-Jin’s methods. This inevitably leads to her losing Ms Kim, her latest patient, to the Chief doctor Min-Young.
It’s very clear Min-young is just trying to make more money and not thinking about the welfare of these patients. In fact, Hye-Jin loses her temper and walks out.
After quitting her job (and buying some brand new shoes online) she meets Mi-Seon to break the news. Only, she ends up getting blind drunk that night – which causes massive problems. In her drunken stupor, Hye-Jin posts incriminating messages against Min-Young on the public forums.
This reaches out far beyond a simple forum though, with Min-Young doing her best to make sure Hye-Jin can’t get another job at a dental clinic.
Meanwhile, at the port of Gongjin, Hong Du-Sik shows up bright and early on the docks to meet all the different workers. He’s kind, helps out a newcomer and eventually ends up surfing.
As he does surf however, Hye-Jin shows up down at the shore, reminiscing about old times with her family. Well, just like Cinderella and her lost slipper, Du-Sik shows up like Prince charming and hands back her shoe. Given it’s only one, she asks him for help finding the other. Instead, he kicks off his sandals and hands them over instead. It’s a wickedly funny first interaction, one that immediately sets the tone for what kind of pairing we’ve got in store for us going forward.
In town, Hye-Jin finds a child crying outside holding his tooth. He’s clearly upset and in need of dental care. Isn’t that ironic! Well, Hye-Jin helps the boy out and brings him back to his parents. Only, his parents just so happen to be the same family that own the restaurant that Hye-Jin’s borrowed slippers belong to. Oh dear!
Well, they invite her in for food as a way of saying thank you. As fate would have it, Gongjin doesn’t actually have a dental clinic and many people tend to have issues with their teeth. Hye-Jin debates about whether to open a clinic in Gongjin, but eventually talks herself out of it. At least for now.
Hye-Jin’s car breaks down which keeps her in Gongjin for the time being. She stops by the local cafe, where the owner Oh Yoon happens to be an old star. Well… by old star then a guy who had a sort-of one-hit wonder back in 1993.
Through a series of unfortunate events, Hye-Jin finds herself unable to foot the 9000 won bill. So who should show up? Yep, Du-Sik. In fact, he outright asks if he can pay her bill but he has a better idea – Hye-Jin can earn her keep. And what better way to do this than to remove innards from squids down at the docks.
Hye-Jin is absolutely shocked but Du-Sik is having none of it and leaves her in thee care of the squid-removing women. They shoot disapproving glances her way, especially given she’s an outsider. Hye-Jin works for 3 hours and receives her wages.
Du-Sik also offers to check her car too, although it soon becomes clear that the pressure has gone and she’s forced to stay overnight at the local hotel.
There, Du-Sik immediately begins talking to her casually, as the pair get engaged in some pretty funny banter.
Around town, Du-Sik is a saintly knight in shining armour. He’s called to an incident involving one of the elderly residents, Kim Gam-Ri, and carries her to the hospital.
In the morning, Hye-Jin heads down to the docks where she finds Du-Sik already working, auctioning off food. She gives a bright smile from afar, which is only exacerbated further by seeing the kids from the previous day. After losing his tooth, Yi-Joon is getting along much better now and promises to repay her kindness.
Speaking of repaying, Hye-Jin receives a call from Min-Young who promises that Hye-Jin will never get another dentistry job in Seoul. She’s ben blacklisted by the entire community. The only way to proceed will be to drop to her knees and apologize.
This is enough for Hye-Jin to stay in Gongjin or the time being and open a clinic. Well, it just so happens that Chief Hong – Du-Sik – is also the real estate agent in town. How about that!
The Episode Review
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha gets off to a really fun and vibrant start here, channeling those small town vibes alongside a heavy dose of humour. There’s some great chemistry between the two leads already, and you can tell that this dental clinic in Gongjin storyline is going to play a much bigger part in the episodes to come.
Seeing Du-Sik and Hye-Jin dance around their fate-driven encounters is really good fun too and given Kim Sun-Ho’s immense popularity after Start up, it’s great to see him in a completely different role. He plays this part well too, and Shin Min-A is a great co-star in the opposite role. The pair complement one another perfectly and it’ll be interesting to see how their relationship grows and evolves over time.
After the melodrama of The Devil Judge in this time-slot – and Netflix swiping the International streaming rights to this one – it looks like Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha could just be a really endearing feel-good weekend drama!