Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha: Episode 6
Our protagonists take a step back from each other as they attempt to work through their feelings. Though they try to keep each other at a distance, a big annual event pulls everyone together in unexpected ways.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
The two stand in the rain, and Hye-jin looks away, after hearing Doo-shik say nothing happened that night they were together. She excuses herself and walks off, leaving him standing alone in the rain under her umbrella.
Mi-sun comes home to find Hye-jin sitting alone in the dark, looking dejected. Hye-jin is sure Doo-shik remembers their kiss but is pretending not to, and Mi-sun says that must be the reason why Hye-jin’s so down. Does she like Doo-shik? Hye-jin doesn’t give an answer and instead vows never to get involved with Doo-shik again.
Doo-shik tries to focus on a book, but the passage that catches his eye is about a first kiss and he puts it down. He sets Hye-jin’s umbrella outside to dry, looking troubled all the while.
The next morning, Hye-jin puts her sparkly heels away and stops to get coffee. Doo-shik is working the counter, but something about his cheery, too familiar manner seems to bother her.
A distraction comes by in the form of Joo-ri and Chun-jae arguing about Joo-ri’s recent poor grades. Joo-ri and Doo-shik believe it’s important to find your purpose in life, while Chun-jae and Hye-jin think Joo-ri should focus on good grades and going to college.
Hye-jin changes the subject to her coffee order–and requests that Chun-jae make her coffee, not Doo-shik (she ignores Joo-ri’s urgent warning that her dad’s coffee is awful lol). Doo-shik takes that in and clocks out without a word. Once he’s outside he mutters to himself, “So she remembers.”
Hye-jin completes her examination of Hwa-jung and the good news is that her issue isn’t severe. Relieved, Hwa-jung says she’s glad that she decided to rent out the clinic space to Hye-jin. She marvels that this all started because Doo-shik gave Hye-jin her restaurant’s slippers.
On her way out, Hwa-jung notices that one of the plants at the clinic is blooming. Hye-jin’s not sure what the plant is called. But Doo-shik knows, of course, and he’s popped up for a walk-in appointment.
As he settles into the patient chair he’s almost obnoxiously cheerful, which is a stark contrast to Hye-jin’s subdued manner. Hye-jin tilts him back, momentarily getting distracted by his lips, and asks if there’s anything troubling him. He replies that there is: their relationship.
Doo-shik refers to their kiss as a drunken mistake and says that it was nothing, really. He keeps emphasizing friendship and says that they needed to get past this “biological crisis.” Now they can become true friends.
Hye-jin sits silently for a beat, and when Mi-sun enters the room, she orders a scaling for Doo-shik and walks out without another word.
Over lunch, Mi-sun checks in on Hye-jin to see if she’s okay. Hye-jin flatly shares that Doo-shik told her they should be friends. As if the town gossip network heard her, the group chat comes alive with news that Doo-shik is taking a pretty girl around Gong-jin. Hye-jin laughs bitterly to see the real-time updates of everywhere the pair visit.
Young-guk sees the notifications and sighs at his gossipy neighbors. He pops open a notebook where he’s stashed an old photo of himself with Hwa-jung and Cho-hee, all wearing matching friendship bracelets.
He moons over the photo until Yong-hoon interrupts to have him look over and sign off on filming permissions from a TV network. Young-guk’s still preoccupied with the photo and wonders aloud what it means for someone to have cherished and worn a bracelet for 15 years.
Doo-shik’s walking along when he hears a commotion at Gam-ri’s place. He rushes in to see her beating up an intruder: Sung-hyun. The flash of recognition that passes between the two men is enough to make Gam-ri pause her beatdown.
The three sit down for a conciliatory home-cooked meal. Gam-ri apologizes for hitting him, but she was frightened when she saw a strange man standing in her house. Sung-hyun apologizes too and says he was just so taken by her home that he lost himself. Before he can properly introduce himself, Doo-shik does it for him and says Sung-hyun is a mukbang Youtuber lol.
Doo-shik gives Sung-hyun directions to his hotel…but Sung-hyun veers off in the wrong direction once again. Doo-shik decides not to bother correcting him this time, heh. Hye-jin arrives home and is greeted by an unexpected guest: Joo-ri.
Chun-jae is freaking out because Joo-ri has gone missing and he’s sure she could be anywhere since she ran off with the cafe lockbox. Doo-shik helps out and starts calling around to find her.
Back at Hye-jin’s place, Joo-ri is making herself at home and Hye-jin quickly susses out that something’s up. Right after she stubs her toe on the lockbox, she gets the truth from Joo-ri that she’s on the run with her dad’s money.
Before Hye-jin can fully process the situation, her doorbell rings. Doo-shik spots Joo-ri’s shoes and invites himself in so he can take Joo-ri home.
Joo-ri’s not about to let herself get taken in so quickly, and she pushes Hye-jin into Doo-shik’s arms as a diversion before locking herself in another room. Doo-shik and Hye-jin lock eyes and then he pushes her away like it’s nothing.
Doo-shik pounds on the door, telling Joo-ri to come out. Completely fed up, Hye-jin declares she’ll take care of Joo-ri for the night and calls Chun-jae to tell him. She’s so worked up she sounds more like a kidnapper than a concerned unni and she only says: “I’ll take care of Joo-ri tonight” before hanging up. Doo-shik gets kicked out and a panicked call from Chun-jae about Joo-ri’s “kidnapping” in short succession.
After calming down, Hye-jin clears things up with Chun-jae and he asks her to take good care of his daughter. He is every inch a nervous mama hen and he sends text after text with instructions on how to look after Joo-ri.
Thanks to the texts, when Joo-ri can’t sleep Hye-jin knows to settle her down with a glass of warm milk. Joo-ri’s already heard through the grapevine that the two of them have something in common: they both grew up with just their dads. What Joo-ri most wants to know is why Hye-jin helped her.
Hye-jin admits that she sees herself in Joo-ri and she’d also run away from home before too. In high school she took a trip from Seoul all the way to the beach because her dad had just started dating. Joo-ri scolds her for being so close-minded. If Chun-jae ever started dating, Joo-ri would support him 100% because it’s too sad for him to always pine for someone who’s passed away. Hye-jin marvels at Joo-ri’s maturity and wonders how such a thoughtful kid ended up running away with her dad’s money lol.
Joo-ri explains that she loves her dad but he can be so overbearing sometimes; she just really wants braces right now but her dad won’t agree to it. Hye-jin gets the frustration, but can’t understand why Joo-ri wants to get rid of her cute snaggletooth. Joo-ri says she’s just like everyone else—she wants to look pretty. When she tries to finagle a discount, that prompts Hye-jin to shoo Joo-ri back to bed.
Doo-shik checks in on Chun-jae, who’s drinking alone in his cafe and crying. It’s not about Joo-ri spending the night elsewhere; instead, he’s worried about her immaturity and how Joo-ri will manage when he’s gone. Doo-shik muses it must be nice to have parents and Chun-jae tells him sincerely to date and lean on someone for once.
Doo-shik shrugs off the comments but later on when he gets home, he thinks of Hye-jin when he sees her umbrella in his front yard. He goes to his bookshelf, pulls out a book and opens it up to a photo. It’s a couple and a baby and he only opens the book up enough so the woman and baby are visible. He cries silently as he stares at the photo.
Hye-jin drops Joo-ri off at the cafe and she tells Chun-jae that Joo-ri’s not a little kid anymore. She’s more thoughtful and mature than he might realize. Of course, Joo-ri runs down and undercuts that argument by freaking out at her father for clearing out all her June photos. Hye-jin shakes her head and excuses herself from the argument, heh.
Hye-jin has a mini crisis of her own when she spots Doo-shik walking around with the strange woman. She ends up at Yoon-kyung’s supermarket and buys out all the sausage snacks. Sung-hyun misses her by a couple of minutes and he’s puzzled when he’s told all the sausages are sold out. Throughout the day, Sung-hyun and Hye-jin manage to just miss each other as they wander around Gongjin.
It’s neighborhood meeting time, and it’s the first time they’ve all gathered since the gossip about Hye-jin and Doo-shik started. Young-guk announces the details of the upcoming annual music festival, and everyone starts buzzing when he shares that there will be cash prizes for the participants this year.
Hye-jin sits as far away from Doo-shik as possible, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by the other villagers. When Nam-sook says that things are obviously over between the two, Hye-jin bristles and angrily asks that people stop trying to pair them together–there was never anything between the two of them. She excuses herself abruptly and Doo-shik runs out after her.
The two of them fight, with Hye-jin taking issue with Doo-shik calling himself her friend, because she doesn’t befriend just anyone. That sets Doo-shik off and he returns her umbrella before storming off.
As the day of the festival creeps closer, our Gongjin friends sign up, rehearse, and prepare to put on a grand show.
Mi-sun drags Hye-jin along to watch the festival with her. Doo-shik and Hye-jin have an ignore-off and Mi-sun is disappointed to hear that Eun-chul couldn’t make it because he was unexpectedly called on duty.
Chun-jae opens the event with a few songs of his own, and Joo-ri is backstage, waiting to go on. She’s thrilled to see on social media that her oppas, DOS, will be holding a guerilla performance shortly, and she hopes she’s done in time to catch the live.
She limps away, which Doo-shik observes. Geum-chul takes the stage and his performance drives everyone (minus his wife Yoon-kyung) wild. As the contest goes on, Cho-hee steals glances at Hwa-jung and Doo-shik tries to get Hye-jin to go somewhere with her. She’s not interested until he tells her that someone’s hurt and he needs her help.
Joo-ri’s ankle is in bad shape, but she refuses to go to the hospital until after she’s performed. She has to win because she needs that money for braces. Joo-ri limps onstage but after squeaking out a few bars of a DOS song, she freezes. A voice sounds out, saying they’ll take it from the top. It’s Hye-jin and she confidently strides out, Doo-shik in tow with a folding chair. Doo-shik helps Joo-ri sit and to Hye-jin’s suprise, he strikes a pose.
He whispers to her that the key to victory is excitement rather than skill. Joo-ri starts again and as she sings, Hye-jin and Doo-shik work hard as her backup dancers. People are a little confused (Yoon-kyung: “Is Dr. Yoon a good dancer or a bad dancer?”), but soon everyone’s cheering and enjoying the show.
The trio are ecstatic with their performance and the audience reaction. But their excitement quickly fades as the next act begins. Bora, with an angelic voice, moves more than a few people to tears with her song. And little Yi-joon stands, utterly enthralled and seeing his friend in a new light.
Joo-ri, Hye-jin, and Doo-shik finish in second place (Bora wins first place, with her dad Geum-chul third). Joo-ri’s disappointment is written all over the face. To Joo-ri and Doo-shik’s horror, Hye-jin wrenches the prize out of Joo-ri’s hands.
Hye-jin says she’ll do Joo-ri’s braces in exchange for the prize money. She continues that this is only the first installment and she expects to be repaid when Joo-ri makes it big later. Doo-shik smiles at Hye-jin and all the contestants take a big group photo.
Joo-ri has to limp off the stage, but with DOS’s performance about to start, she’s completely focused on her phone and not her injury. She’s so preoccupied that she misses the festival MC announcing a special guest.
DOS walk to the stage and begin their song, and Joo-ri looks up to see her beloved June right in front of her. It’s a fangirl’s dream come true.
The festival winds down and Hye-jin looks around for Mi-sun, but she’s nowhere to be found. Doo-shik takes the opportunity to sit and talk to Hye-jin, teasing her that her words and actions don’t match. He brings up her drunken Kim Yuna impression and he tells her she should cross lines instead of drawing them. He’s called for help and when he goes, she gives a little smile.
Joo-ri is struggling to get face time with her oppa and she falls to the ground after attempting to hop to DOS. June and the rest of DOS are about to drive away when Chun-jae makes a heroic entrance and piggybacks her. They both scream for June and he turns to look back at her. Joo-ri breathlessly introduces herself and June studies her face and says he knows her snaggletooth from somewhere.
He realizes she was the one who called him a fake at the cafe. June tells her he’s only letting it slide because she’s adorable and he casually says he’ll see her later before heading off.
Chun-jae and Joo-ri tend to each other’s injuries (Chun-jae’s bad back, Joo-ri’s ankle), sticking pain patches onto each other. Chun-jae says he has a surprise for her and he shows her an envelope that’s stuffed with cash. It’s his appearance fee from the festival and he tells her she can use it to get the braces. Joo-ri pauses and says she’s not interested anymore. She doesn’t need the braces; after all, June only remembered her because of her snaggletooth.
They head back home, with their arms around each other, limping all the way. Hye-jin watches them with a thoughtful expression.
Flashback to Hye-jin’s runaway trip. Her dad had been waiting for her at the Seoul bus terminal. When she got off the bus, instead of scolding her, Dad had given her his jacket and told her the nights were still cold.
Hye-jin walks through Gong-jin, along the harbor, and gives her dad a call. He’s happy to hear from her and when she shares that the plant he sent for the opening of her clinic started blooming, he’s thrilled. He continues that the plant blooms so infrequently that if you see it flower, the greatest luck in your life will find its way to you. She’s only half-listening to the explanation as she sees Doo-shik walk towards her. She turns the other way and ends her phone call.
Doo-shik asks where she’s headed and she points in the direction he’d been walking away from. He promptly does an about face so he can walk with her and he tells her he was about to start disliking her again but what she did today was cool. He gives her a head pat, and he swats her hand away.
A fireworks display grabs their attention. Hye-jin takes in the explosions of color, while Doo-shik takes in Hye-jin.
Someone knocks into Doo-shik and Hye-jin grabs his arm, but she’s not strong enough to pull him back to safety. He teeters over the water’s edge but someone grabs Doo-shik’s waist. Doo-shik natters that he saw his life flash before his eyes, but his savior only has eyes for Hye-jin. It’s Sung-hyun. He smiles as he says, “I’ve finally found you.”
Earlier on, when Sung-hyun made a wrong turn, it wasn’t a wrong turn–he’d seen Hye-jin walking in the distance. At the singing contest, Sung-hyun had stood up and smiled when he saw Hye-jin on stage.
High school-aged Hye-jin had run away to Gongjin. At a convenience store, she’d been short on money but when she started to put one of her snacks back, a boy had spotted her the change. He told her to enjoy, then walked away. The two sat a distance away from each other on the beach, staring out at the ocean. The boy’s name tag: Hong Doo-shik.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha has been pretty light on plot, but the characters keep drawing me back in. I love the friendship and sisterly vibe between Hye-jin and Joo-ri. It’s getting clearer with each episode that Hye-jin is a loyal and supportive person who is willing to go to great lengths to help the people she cares about. I had been a little disappointed in Hye-jin in the last episode with her thoughts on social status and class. I’m hoping that being exposed to different attitudes about life and status will prod her into realizing that people aren’t so easily categorized and that there’s more than one way to lead a successful life. Different strokes for different folks, if you will. One thing that I have appreciated is that Hye-jin has been opening up and adapting to Gongjin but in her own way and on her own terms. She may not be the most social person in the world but she cares about her neighbors.
I found Doo-shik’s actions frustrating this episode. I know there must be some reason for him to not want to pursue a relationship with Hye-jin right now but he’s not communicating anything well. At first I couldn’t put my finger on why Doo-shik’s denials of any attraction annoyed me more than Hye-jin’s. I think it’s because he’s been prodding Hye-jin into opening up and making connections while he’s keeping his walls up. He seeks her out and crosses boundaries; he wants her to open up while refusing to do that himself. It’s as though he wants the fun flirty times, the closeness, without making himself vulnerable to Hye-jin in any way. If I’m being more generous, it could be that he’s scared at of the prospect of getting romantically involved with her. Doo-shik is usually so sharp and aware that I have trouble believing he couldn’t see that Hye-jin was asking about the kiss because she was trying to sound out his feelings. If Doo-shik wasn’t attracted to her, I could understand it. Everything he’s telegraphing says he does like her, but when there’s a chance for them to speak more honestly about romantic feelings, something seems to shut down in him. The last two episodes have been a bit of a regression with their relationship, so Sung-hyun’s appearance worries me. I really hope that Sung-hyun doesn’t become a catalyst for Doo-shik to confront his feelings. I’d rather not see the two men become “competitors,” but the drama has been taking a more old school approach to tropes so I’m fairly certain there will be some sort of love triangle entanglement. But maybe the drama will surprise me with a fresh take on the second lead.
Speaking of possible unconventional takes, could it be that Cho-hee likes Hwa-jung? Though it’s been stated that Cho-hee was Young-guk’s first love, that could mean almost anything. First loves span everything from unrequited crushes to full-fledged relationships and we haven’t gotten any details beyond the first love connection. Young-guk was putting a lot of meaning on their friendship bracelets, but I haven’t seen even a spark of interest in him from Cho-hee’s side so far. I have seen a lot of Cho-hee being considerate of Hwa-jung’s feelings and checking in on how Hwa-jung is doing. It could be friendship but I could see it meaning more than that. Beyond that friendship/love triangle, I hope we get more backstories on the rest of our Gongjin crew because I suspect the third Gongjin mystery may be right in front of us, hiding in plain sight.
- Premiere Watch: D.P., Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
- Rom-com vibes in a seaside village for Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
- Dimples and smiles with Shin Mina, Kim Sun-ho in new promos for Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
- The cast of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha gathers for first script read
- Shin Mina, Kim Sun-ho courted for new tvN drama Mr. Hong