Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha: Episode 5
In a village as small as this one, rumors spread like wildfire – and, apparently, so do romantic feelings. While new flames are being kindled, old ones are on the verge of flaring up again. Throw in a few handfuls of embarrassment, a tablespoon of envy, and a heaping dose of foot-in-mouth, all seasoned with gossip, and we’ve got a recipe for lots and lots of complicated emotions.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Hye-jin wakes up on a mattress on Doo-shik’s floor… right next to a sleeping Doo-shik. She appears to have rolled off the bed during the night, but that doesn’t make her feel any better about it. She quickly jumps up, grabs her purse, and tiptoes out the door, unknowingly leaving her umbrella behind. Nam-sook happens by as Hye-jin leaves the house, and an enormous grin spreads over her face. She whips out her phone and texts everyone in the village. By the time Hye-jin gets back home, the news has spread so much that Mi-sun meets her at the door, asking, “You slept with Doo-shik?” Hye-jin sinks to the floor, mortified.
Doo-shik wakes sometime later and finds Hye-jin’s umbrella. He smiles and starts cooking breakfast, but realizes he’s out of tofu.
As Hye-jin nurses a headache, memories from last night start to come back: namely, calling Doo-shik “oppa” while dancing drunkenly around the village. But she can’t remember how they went from walking around outside after dark to sleeping back at his place. She considers taking the day off, but Mi-sun reminds her of her credit card bill. Then she rushes to the bathroom with a stomachache, leaving Hye-jin to brave the village alone.
Hye-jin tries to ignore the cluster of villagers who have gathered in the street to gossip about her. But Doo-shik appears right then and loudly complains about her shirking dishes duty and drinking his ginseng wine. Hye-jin suggests grabbing breakfast, hoping to get away from the villagers (who are not doing a very good job of pretending they aren’t listening intently). They relocate to a nearby restaurant, where the spectators plaster themselves to a sliding glass door.
Hye-jin has to explain to Doo-shik why they’re being gawked at, making him sigh in frustration. She gulps and asks if anything happened last night, so he recounts her entire cringey drunken spectacle. He also says she was the one who wanted to drink more, which is why they went back to his place and drank the ginseng wine. Spotting a drop of soup on her lips, he holds out a tissue (the onlookers jump excitedly), and Hye-jin quickly grabs it from him, certain he’s just ruined her attempt at dispelling rumors.
But outside, the villagers turn away from the door, suddenly unsure of any chemistry between the couple. They even liken Doo-shik wiping Hye-jin’s lips to a father caring for his daughter. Hwa-jung scolds them for gossiping, and they all disperse, disappointed but not entirely discouraged. Nam-sook creates a new group chat without Hwa-jung (but including Mi-sun) and invites the group over to her store, where they argue over whether Hye-jin is good enough for Doo-shik.
Hye-jin insists on paying for her own meal. Doo-shik suggests they follow up with “hangover coffee,” to which she bluntly asks if he likes her. He calls that delusional, so she lists out all the things he’s done to help her. He debunks them all, adding that she’s always around him, not the other way around. Hye-jin explains that she doesn’t think they’re a good match due to their different social positions. Seeing his face darken, she quickly says she was being realistic, not judgmental, but It’s clear he’s insulted.
At the clinic, Hye-jin asks Mi-sun’s opinion, confessing that she does think herself out of Doo-shik’s league. She scoffs when Mi-sun says the villagers think it’s the other way around, but to her shock, Mi-sun reveals that Doo-shik studied engineering at Seoul National University. Turns out he went off to university as the pride of Gongjin with academic awards, scholarships, and a reputation for beating up bullies.
And Mi-sun’s new knowledge doesn’t stop there: she excitedly shares that there are three great mysteries of Gongjin. The first mystery is why Hwa-jung and Young-chul divorced. The second mystery is where Doo-shik went for five years after graduation. Rumors abound, some heroic, some dark, but no one knows for sure.
Hye-jin, aghast at all this information, prods Mi-sun to say who she thinks is better (her or Doo-shik). Mi-sun says that love should be about what’s in the heart, not who’s “better.” Hye-jin teases her about falling for Eun-chul because of his looks, and says that qualifications like background, job, looks, etc., simply filter out her options. But then Mi-sun takes the teasing too far by saying Hye-jin hasn’t learned from what her ex-boyfriend did to her. Hye-jin’s face falls, and Mi-sun flounders for a new topic, asking if she wants to hear the third great mystery of Gongjin. Hye-jin excuses herself to the restroom instead.
In a flashback, we see what happened: she’d been out at a club with her then-boyfriend, and overheard him trash-talking her looks and style to his friends. She’d left without confronting him, asking Sung-hyun (who’d also heard everything) to let them know she’d left. Speaking of Sung-hyun, he’s currently out exploring Gongjin, taking in the sea breeze with a smile.
As our granny trio go for a walk, Sook-ja asks about Doo-shik’s secret years. Gam-ri knows more than anyone, but refuses to talk about it, saying what matters is he’s here now. They pause to admire the flowers, and Doo-shik snaps photos from across the way, calling them prettier than flowers and making them blush.
Nam-sook asks Hwa-jung what she plans to do about Young-guk’s first love being back in town. Hwa-jung rolls her eyes, asking if she’s the next gossip victim, and Nam-sook irritates her further by saying that Cho-hee is prettier than she is. Meanwhile, Young-guk is trying to figure out how to ask Cho-hee out on a date. He agonizes over what kind of date to suggest and how to word the text, and his colleague Yong-hoon nags him to just send it. He points out that Young-guk has been divorced for three years now, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Doo-shik wanders the harbor taking more photos. But he stops when he spots Sung-hyun through his viewfinder. Sung-hyun is also taking photos, and not paying attention to where he steps. He backs up right off a ledge, and Doo-shik lunges to catch him just in time. Sung-hyun thanks Doo-shik for saving his life, though Doo-shik says what he saved was his camera, prompting Sung-hyun to notice Doo-shik’s own (rare) camera. He offers to buy it for double the price, but settles for momentarily trading cameras with Doo-shik just so he can hold it. They inspect each other’s cameras, and in response to Doo-shik’s questions Sung-hyun says his job is similar to a photographer.
Learning that Doo-shik is a local, Sung-hyun asks for directions to a lookout point. But as soon as he heads off, he takes a wrong turn. With a sigh, Doo-shik runs after him and personally shows him the way. They take in the view at the lookout point, where Sung-hyun says he’s actually been to Gongjin three times before, but not on purpose. He gets lost often, even with the help of a GPS, but he says optimistically that life always takes him somewhere interesting anyway. Doo-shik says drily that he hopes self-driving cars will become mainstream soon, since people like Sung-hyun worry him.
On their walk home, Mi-sun notices Hye-jin’s long face and asks if she’s embarrassed about what she said to Doo-shik. Hye-jin says that’s not it, though it’s certainly not helping. She admits she doesn’t remember everything that happened that night at Doo-shik’s – and that what she does remember is mortifying enough – so Mi-sun says it’s best to stop thinking about it. They run into Cho-hee, who introduces herself as their new neighbor and the teacher of a class Hye-jin will be visiting tomorrow.
Doo-shik takes Sung-hyun to Hwa-jung’s restaurant and confuses him by offering to take his order instead of sitting down. Then he further dumbfounds Sung-hyun by saying he’ll just bring his own favorite dish and taking back the menu. Once Sung-hyun tastes the food, however, he’s so impressed that he declares this a great location for his show. Doo-shik assumes he must be a mukbang YouTuber and advises him to work harder at being recognizable, and Sung-hyun gives up trying to explain. It seems that’s an actual sore point for him, but he quickly shrugs it off and goes back to enjoying the food.
While Yi-joon practices calligraphy, Hwa-jung asks about his new teacher, freezing when he says her name is Cho-hee. She stares unhappily down at the characters he’s written, which mean that people who parted will meet again and people who once met will part ways. Meanwhile, Cho-hee looks through her students’ information and sees that Yi-joon is Young-guk’s son. Just then, she gets Young-guk’s text asking if she’s free for dinner this weekend. She sighs heavily.
Doo-shik asks Sung-hyun how the food was, bristling when Sung-hyun says it was “just okay.” They argue over the best way to prepare fish, and Sung-hyun suggests they settle it by calling famous chef Baek Jong-won. He makes the call with a self-satisfied smirk, only to sink back in defeat when the call won’t go through. Doo-shik tsks that he didn’t take Sung-hyun for a liar, and heads back to the kitchen in a huff.
Hye-jin tries to meditate, but can’t stop cringing about what she’d said to Doo-shik about their different social positions. Then, as she prepares for her class at the elementary school, Mi-sun again bails on her, because she’s stuck on the toilet. She did, however, find a replacement to assist with the class. Hye-jin doesn’t even seem surprised when it turns out to be Doo-shik, though she is more than irritated.
Cho-hee and Young-guk meet in the school hallway. She says she didn’t respond to his message because it was late in the evening, so he tells her she can text him at any time of the day. He starts to explain that he has a son, just as Yi-joon arrives and runs to him for a hug. And right behind Yi-joon is Hwa-jung. Young-guk sweats as Yi-joon introduces his parents to his teacher, and Hwa-jung acts as though this is the first time they’ve met.
As Hye-jin and Doo-shik walk to class, he makes a point of putting extra space between them, saying that he doesn’t want to cause any more misunderstandings. Much to her annoyance, he has fun teasing her for thinking that he likes her.
Young-guk sits uncomfortably between Hwa-jung and Cho-hee at the back of the classroom while Hye-jin and Doo-shik start the lesson with an enthusiastic song and dance. When Yi-joon correctly answers a question, his parents share a proud look. But then Young-guk notices a bracelet on Cho-hee’s wrist, and his smile makes Hwa-jung frown again.
As Doo-shik demonstrates tooth-brushing technique, Hye-jin puts her hand on his to correct how he’s holding the brush. She doesn’t seem to think anything of it, but his eyes get big for an instant. Finally, question time comes around, but the kids don’t want to know about teeth – they want to know if Hye-jin and Doo-shik are dating or getting married. Hye-jin and Doo-shik are literally saved by the bell.
Young-guk offers to help Cho-hee put away their chairs, making Hwa-jung scoff that he never helped around the house when they were married. As they start to argue, Hye-jin and Doo-shik whisper about the movie-material love triangle going on. Cho-hee, visibly uncomfortable, cuts into the argument to ask both Hwa-jung and Young-chul to dinner this weekend. Hwa-jung suddenly grabs her jaw in pain, so Hye-jin takes her to the nurse’s office to have a look at her teeth. She figures out that Hwa-jung is having muscle pain from clenching her jaw, not a toothache. As she explains that finding the real cause of pain is the first step to fixing it, Hwa-jung sees Young-guk and Cho-hee talking together outside, and nods sadly.
While Mi-sun is at the pharmacy buying diarrhea medicine, Eun-chul stops by to pick up dental floss. He notices she’s unwell, and she tries to pass it off as a headache… only for the pharmacist to come back asking for more clarification on exactly what kind of diarrhea she’s experiencing. Mi-sun runs out, but Eun-chul follows and offers his own advice. He doesn’t feel awkward about the subject at all. Mi-sun tries to brush off her embarrassment by saying he’s much nicer than any guys she’s dated before and asking about his ideal type. He thinks for a moment, then says he likes women who are well-mannered, gentle but strong on the inside, and look good in a hanbok, because he watches a lot of sageuks. Mi-sun goes home to watch one such sageuk (nooo not The Crowned Clown!) and decides they aren’t going to be compatible.
As Hye-jin and Doo-shik leave the school, he holds out his hand to her. She starts to reach for it, then pulls back and asks shakily what this means. But he wants the payment Mi-sun promised him. Hye-jin doesn’t have cash, so Doo-shik asks her to buy him dinner instead. She drives to a restaurant outside of Gongjin to avoid prying eyes. After he orders for the both of them, she apologizes for being high and mighty about social positions. She asks about his university and tests him with a CSAT math problem, which he solves with a marker right on the tabletop. Amazed, she hands him problem after problem. He aces them all, which just frustrates her more, since in her eyes he’s wasting money-making potential.
He calls that narrow-minded, because there are other things to live for. Things like happiness, world peace, and love (which makes them both freeze for a split second). He says unlike math problems, life doesn’t always have clear right answers: “You’re given a problem, and it’s up to you how to solve it.” He then gives her a math problem to solve, and while she struggles with it, their waitress arrives and scolds them for writing on the table. They laugh together as Hye-jin claims she definitely would have been able to solve the problem given a little more time.
Still in a self-conscious mood, Hwa-jung fusses over a few gray hairs, thinking about Cho-hee’s youthful appearance. She sighs over a concerned text from Cho-hee (and her recent texts with Young-guk about trash bags), and then turns her attention back to Yi-joon. She urges him not to grow up too quickly.
As Hye-jin and Doo-shik finish their meal, she notices sauce on his lip. He can’t seem to find it with the tissue, so she grabs one and reaches across the table herself without thinking. Surprised, he says he’ll do it himself, seemingly more affected by the close contact than she is.
It’s raining when they come out of the restaurant. Hye-jin rummages through her bag for her umbrella, only realizing now that she’s lost it. Doo-shik pulls it out of his own bag, but then takes her hand and runs straight out onto the beach, telling her to enjoy the rain instead of complaining about getting drenched. He splashes her with water until she laughs and joins in, and they frolic in the waves.
Eventually, Hye-jin calls time so they can catch their breath. He prods her to admit she had fun, and not wanting to give him full satisfaction, she says that she could still catch a cold and be miserable tomorrow. So he steps closer and puts his hand on her forehead, triggering a memory of the other night, when he’d put his hands on her face to feel how warm she was. After he’d pulled his hands away, she’d leaned forward and kissed him. Shocked, she slowly asks if it’s true nothing happened that night. His smile fades a bit as he says it’s true, and they stand there staring into each other’s eyes.
That day in Seoul, Doo-shik’s doctor had asked about his recurring nightmare. In the nightmare, Doo-shik groped around in the darkness until a bloody hand clamped down on his shoulder. He woke in a sweat to find Hye-jin sleeping beside him (we’re back to the night she spent at his house). He moved his arm out from under her head and replaced it with his pillow. The he smiled, turned over, and went back to sleep.
Okay, Mi-sun, I’ll bite – what’s the third great mystery of Gongjin? I have a feeling it’ll either be a punchline or the key to some major plot point down the road, but now I really want to know.
Speaking of keys, I think that conversation between Hye-jin and Hwa-jung about treating a problem at its root (pun intended) helps unlock a lot about this episode, and these characters in general. I’m not sure Hwa-jung and Young-guk necessarily need to get back together, or if that’s the direction the show will end up going, but it’s clear there are some unresolved feelings between them that will need to be addressed before either of them can fully move on.
For another example, Hye-jin likes to think she’s being realistic when she places herself in a class above Doo-shik (well, all of Gongjin), but really she’s still hurt by how inferior her ex and former classmates made her feel and trying not to let herself ever feel that way again. And perhaps Doo-shik has spent so much time learning and achieving and fixing everyone else’s problems to avoid facing his own darkness head-on?
One thing I found interesting was how similar Doo-shik’s “just have fun and enjoy the rain” attitude was to Sung-hyun’s outlook of finding an adventure every time he gets lost. The scenes between those two were probably my favorites of the episode, because they somehow simultaneously connected at a deeper level and were unable to communicate the simplest things. I hope we’ll get more of them becoming friends and less of them competing for Hye-jin’s heart (or, you know, none of the latter at all), but I’ll admit I’m not terribly optimistic on that front.
I’m also enjoying a lot about the relationship between our main couple, especially when they giggle together like conspirators. They make a great team when they’re on the same page – it’s just getting them there that tends to be the problem. And that brings me to the main thing I dislike about their relationship, which is Doo-shik’s habit of making decisions for her. It irks me when people have this idea that a person can only enjoy themselves in one way, or that someone who is more reserved just needs to be forced out of their shell so they can let loose and finally be happy. Because I’ve been that reserved person someone was trying to force out, and it generally only intensifies the urge to retreat further in.
You could argue that Doo-shik is this way with everyone – he kept talking over Sung-hyun, too, for example – and that this is one of his “symptoms” caused by a deeper trauma or insecurity. But you could also argue that it’s not being presented as a flaw, since Hye-jin did enjoy herself playing in the rain. It doesn’t completely ruin his character for me, but I do hope he’ll learn to listen better to what people really want instead of what he decides they do.
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