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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha" Episode 16

Gam-ri, the eldest lady of the core Gongjin cast, passed away peacefully in her sleep last episode. The first act of the finale is devoted to her funeral, which is actually a traditional Korean funeral, generally only practiced in the countryside these days. You might have heard that Koreans wear white when they die- well, that's only for traditional funerals. They wear black for modern funerals, which are far more common these days, although the style of dress is the same.

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Beyond the aesthetic the story of Gam-ri is surprisingly poignant. We actually meet her son, who last spoke to her in regards to the dental implants, and now regrets his selfishness in that conversation. The overall funeral, while genuinely sad, isn't particularly melodramatic. Nor is it celebratory. Following all the contrived tragedy of the last episode, there's an obvious comparison to be made here about dying in relative dignity and peace.

After that "Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha" just goes about wrapping up the remainder of its dangling plot threads, mostly romantic subplots. The third mystery of Gongjin is resolved. If you forgot what that was, somebody in that area won a lottery ticket but no one knows who. The other two, in case you forgot those too, were the origin of Chief Hong's background, and the actual reason why Hwa-jeong and Yeong-gook got divorced.

But the actual main event is, of course, Chief Hong and Hye-jin getting married. Director Yoo Je-won decides to prioritize cuteness over the more interesting aspects of the premise, like how their wildly differing lifestyles are supposed to intersect in the context of a serious long-term relationship. Come to think of, basically the entire drama between their getting together and the climax was just aggressive cuteness bereft of conflict.

As much as that annoyed me then, that tone is much more tolerable now than then, just due to the finality of the presentation. The happy ending feels like a reward for Chief Hong and Hye-jin being able to stick together through thick and thin, even if the only actual test of the relationship was in the fifteenth episode. I'm still ambivalent about a lot of "Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha" and particularly the ongoing scandal of lead actor Kim Seon-ho's abortion bullying. But overall I think the drama accomplished what it set out to accomplish.

Review by William Schwartz

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"Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha" is directed by Yoo Je-won, written by Sin Ha-eun, and features Shin Min-a, Kim Seon-ho, Lee Sang-yi, Gong Min-jung, Seo Sang-won-I, Woo Mi-hwa. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/08/28~2021/10/17, Sat, Sun 21:10 on tvN.

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