Thanks for enjoying my recent sharing of my episode 1 notes on Yumi’s Cells, you guys.
With Hometown Cha Cha Cha just ending its run, I thought it might be a good time to do the same, with my episode 1 notes on Hometown Cha Cha Cha, since some of you might be missing the show already – and my own review won’t be out for a while yet, since I’m only 7 episodes in.
I thought this might be a nice way for those of who you love the show, to soak in the feels a little longer, while keeping me company for the rest of my watch. 🥰 Most of us on Patreon are enjoying this one very well too, and I thought it’d be great to invite everyone else to the party. 🤗
These are my episode 1 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review). I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1. I’d actually been rather nervous to start on this one, because I’d heard a smattering of negative things, and I’d wondered how I’d feel when I watched those specific items for myself. Also, there’s the thing where some people are loving this show, and others are like, eh, this is a show about nothing. The last show that I’d tried to like, that everyone else seemed to like, was You Are My Spring, and I just.. didn’t take to that one.
Happily, now that I’ve checked out this first episode, I do think that I’m going to like this one quite well. Huzzah! And, phew. 😅
So, what were the negative things that I’d heard, you ask?
First of all, I’d heard that our female lead Hye Jin isn’t very nice. I.. don’t see that at all, actually. In fact, I think that she’s solidly nice.
Perhaps the negative impression comes from the way she doesn’t seem to comfortably engage in conversation with strangers, like in the elevator with the lady who turned out to be the mother of her neighbor, or in the restaurant, when the restaurant owner sits down with her and makes conversation while she eats.
The way I see it, she’s just an introvert. As a fellow introvert, I can attest to the fact that an introvert typically doesn’t feel all that comfortable having personal conversations with people they’ve just met. The lady in the elevator, while well-meaning, asks her all kinds of personal questions, like where she works, and comments on her eating habits, when she sees signs of regular food delivery outside Hye Jin’s apartment.
From the gregarious older lady’s point of view, she’s just being friendly and making conversation, but from our introverted female lead’s standpoint, this is all rather invasive and uncomfortable. I feel like some people, in Hye Jin’s shoes, might be more clear about drawing the line, and might even tell the lady to mind her own business. However, Hye Jin doesn’t do that. She tries to deflect the older lady’s interest, without being too obvious about it, and she continues to smile pleasantly, even though she’s not exactly thrilled with the conversation.
I actually found that pretty decent of her.
The fact that Hye Jin quits her job on a principle, that she refuses to over-treat her patients for profit, makes me admire her as well. It’s not easy to stand up for your values, especially when your values clash so fundamentally with the values of the person who pays your salary, but she does it anyway. This also tells me that Hye Jin can be a bit of the spontaneous, impulsive type, who acts first, then angsts over the consequences later, when she realizes the actual extent of the consequences.
Because Hye Jin’s in a bit of a Poignant Mood since it’s her mother’s birthday, and because she’s now suddenly unemployed and struggling to find work, I can understand why she’d make that very impractical choice, to wear those expensive glitzy heels to the beach. She just wants to sit and soak in her thoughts and feelings for a while, and those heels represent her being true to herself.
Understanding Hye Jin’s context, it’s easy to see how she’d feel lost and nonplussed when thrust into a situation where she’s basically homeless and practically without resources, while in Gongjin. She’d thought she was going there for a quick day trip to commemorate her late mother’s birthday, so I can understand how bewildered Hye Jin feels. She’s a city girl through and through, and has no experience of country life; of course she’d be overwhelmed.
The other thing I’d heard, is that Kim Sun Ho’s character is a jerk who’s mean to our female lead for no reason.
Now that I’ve watched the episode for myself, I don’t think he’s a jerk at all.
What I do think is at work, is a bit of prejudice towards city folk. From what I’ve seen in other dramas, like Racket Boys, it’s not uncommon for country folk to dislike city folk. I think it’s partly because city folk not only tend to be pretty helpless when in the country and faced with countryside things, and they also tend to have a lack of appreciation for the country life, with some of them even looking down on the country life as being backward.
Taking that existing common preconception of city folk, and layering on the impracticality of Hye Jin going to the beach in high heels that look completely out of place, I can understand why Chief Hong (well, he’s listed as Du Sik) might view Hye Jin with some disdain. Plus, I imagine that there might also be some frustration around the way her shoe ended up in the sea. If he’s a true-bred country boy, which he is, it’s easy to imagine that he’d feel upset at more trash getting stuck in the ocean, because of the careless actions of a city girl.
And so, the way Du Sik treats Hye Jin, being a little hard on her, almost feels like a form of hazing, if that makes sense. It’s like, he’ll help her, but she’s got to earn it, and if she’s just going to look at him pleadingly with her doe eyes and hope that that will be enough, it just annoys him.
That said, I think Show does a nice job of pulling back the layers a bit, on both sides, over the course of Hye Jin’s misadventures in Gongjin.
As Hye Jin does what she needs to do and gets her hands dirty in spite of her initial hesitation, I feel like Du Sik softens towards her a bit. He’s still a little hard on her, because of that whole preconception and disdain towards city folk, but he’s definitely starting to see that she might not be so bad, after all.
On Hye Jin’s side, as she sees Du Sik capably handling just about every job that she comes across in Gongjin, in the space of a day, I feel like she starts to see that he might have more substance about him and not be as mean as she’d thought.
I’m actually pretty happy with what we get, in terms of the OTP set-up. There’s enough mutual appreciation at the end of the episode, for me to want to see these two actually become close, and at the same time, there are enough walls between them, that would make that journey actually feel interesting and worthwhile.
Because we’ve already seen how Hye Jin can be impetuous when making important decisions, and because we’ve seen her have some actual pleasant interactions with the people in Gongjin, I can easily believe that, when faced with the option of her ex-boss’s snide offer to give her her job back, if she’d kneel and beg for it, or a potential career dead-end in Seoul, Hye Jin would choose to sidestep the whole thing, by deciding to open her own dental clinic in Gongjin. After all, she’s already found out the rent is within her financial means, and there is a demand for a dental clinic.
This is a huge decision for sure, and so, there will definitely be lots of unexpected challenges and obstacles that Hye Jin hadn’t anticipated, that she will have to deal with. And I’m pretty sure that somehow, Du Sik will be involved in helping her work through those challenges, because.. he works in practically every job in Gongjin, doesn’t he?
*This show is being covered on the VVIP Early Access (US$20) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
You can find my Patreon page here, where the notes for episodes 2 to 7 notes are already available. Just look for the tag “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” or click here. Episode 8 notes will be out on Sunday, 24 October 2021! I hope you’ll consider joining us! It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for October, which you can find here!