Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha: Episode 12
Our dentist and handyman bask in the glow of new love as they grow into their coupledom. But it’s not all love and sunshine in our seaside village, a certain divorcé comes to terms with his past mistakes and how they contributed to his failed marriage.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Love is in the air, with Hye-jin and Doo-shik engaging in lovey-dovey activities: a water hose fight, watermelon tasting, and cuddles under the sunshine. As they embrace, Doo-shik blissfully closes his eyes.
When he opens them, he’s alone in a black void. An unseen child begins to wail. Doo-shik covers his ears and calls out for Hye-jin and from the darkness, his stoic doppelganger emerges and asks a tearful Doo-shik if he thinks he deserves happiness.
Doo-shik wakes from the nightmare in his own bed and to the sound of Hye-jin calling his name. He immediately hugs her. He admits that he had a nightmare, and she comforts him, patting his back as though he was a child. Once he calms down, he realizes it’s 4:30 in the morning and asks her what she’s doing there so early.
Cut to the beach, where Hye-jin pouts over missing the sunrise with Doo-shik. She tells him that they should come back every day until they are able to watch it together, and suddenly Doo-shik claims he’s able to see the sunrise — Hye-jin just needs to squint a little bit. She playfully hits him when she realizes he’s just messing with her.
At her clinic later that morning, Hye-jin compiles a spreadsheet titled, “100 things I want to do with my boyfriend.” Mi-sun calls her list outdated, and points out that Hye-jin is missing the most important item: going all the way. Hye-jin insists that they’re taking things slow and connecting on a personal level, which Mi-sun finds completely ridiculous when the end goal — no matter the pace — is always sexy times. After Mi-sun leaves to care for a patient, Hye-jin calls her friend a pervert, but the single heart emoji she adds to the end of her list is very suggestive.
Bora bursts into Hwa-jung’s restaurant with some good news: Yi-joon won silver in the mathematics competition! Hwa-jung is proud of her son, and video calls Young-guk to share the news. He’s initially a total sourpuss when he sees his ex-wife’s face on the screen but he does a 180 when she points her phone at their son and learns of Yi-joon’s recent accomplishment. Hwa-jung and Young-guk bicker over who he inherited his genius from before deciding that they should celebrate together over the weekend. Yi-joon has a tiny grin on his face.
After the call with Hwa-jung, Young-guk brags about his son’s accomplishments to Yong-hoon, who offers him some PPL joint pain tonics. Young-guk suspects that Yong-hoon is gunning for the Best Employee Award, and he chortles that Yong-hoon is a dummy since the award is won by a popular vote. (That glare from Yong-hoon definitely says something is up though.)
Doo-shik’s job of the day is at a woodshop. He notices a pile of wood in the corner with attractive growth patterns. When the shop owner says it’s all heading to the dumpster, Doo-shik tells him it’s a waste.
Hye-jin is waiting for Doo-shik when he arrives home, and he jokes that he should start charging her rent because she’s there so often. She tells him to hurry up and take a shower, because there’s something they have to do. Her request triggers a few naughty thoughts and has Doo-shik running to comply.
And what activity was Hye-jin planning? Couple’s yoga. It’s clearly not what Doo-shik had in mind, but Hye-jin assures him that it’s good for intimacy and flexibility. He’s doubtful and begs to stop, but she doesn’t let up until he cries that he pulled a muscle. They switch to meditation, which quickly turns flirty as they begin kissing each other’s dimples.
Doo-shik leans in for a kiss on the lips, but Hye-jin ruins the moment when she covers her mouth, embarrassed that she hasn’t brushed her teeth. Doo-shik isn’t one to be put off by a little stinky breath, but she insists that they brush their teeth together.
And by that, she means they should brush each other’s teeth. Arms entwined, Doo-shik questions the effectiveness of Hye-jin’s chosen method. She insists it’s romantic, but Doo-shik has a hard time finding the romance when his gums are bleeding. Hye-jin goes into dentist-mode and begins brushing his teeth more attentively.
Doo-shik begs her not to come up with any more weird couple activities, but Hye-jin isn’t done. Next up: A couple photo shoot. Hye-jin chases Doo-shik around his house, trying to get him to wear a school uniform with her. Once again she successfully persuades him to do her couple activity, and they pose for photos (adorably) while wearing the uniforms.
As they swipe through the pics later, Hye-jin wonders what they should do next. Worn out, Doo-shik suggests that they do nothing and just relax together on the couch. This upsets Hye-jin, and she feels as though he doesn’t have anything special he wishes to do with her.
She gets up to leave, but she drops her relationship bucket list. She’s embarrassed, but Doo-shik finds her, and the list, so cute that he says they should complete every activity that’s on the list. Hye-jin suggests that they should go on a date in Seoul the following weekend. He agrees, and she warns him to brace himself because they will be checking off a lot of items. He advises her not to rush the experience so they can savor everything.
Hwa-jung and Young-guk share a meal with Yi-joon, who decides it’s finally time to ask his parents if he can have a hedgehog. Hwa-jung is happy to accommodate his request, but she lets him know that it’s not because he won the math award. Instead, both the meal and the hedgehog are a reward for his hard work. Not wanting to be outdone by his ex-wife, Young-guk agrees that grades aren’t important and Yi-joon should have a carefree childhood. Hwa-jung points out he was quick to brag to Yong-hoon, and Young-guk finds it curious she knows that.
On her way to work, Hye-jin runs into Sung-hyun and Ji-won. The conversation is awkward as they discuss the weather, but Sung-hyun still reminds Hye-jin to not skip her meals. As Hye-jin walks away, Sung-hyun stares after her, which does not go unnoticed by Ji-won. Next, Hye-jin encounters Bora and Yi-joon, who are excited that they can officially take Seumseum home.
As Hye-jin and Doo-shik wait for the kids to come pick up their pet, Hye-jin admits she’s going to miss Seumseum, but it’s probably for the best since it still puts up its quills when she tries to pet it. Doo-shik realizes Hye-jin is no longer like the hedgehog, and he affectionately pats her head to demonstrate how she has lowered her quills.
Doo-shik carries the hedgehog cage while Hye-jin educates the kids on proper hedgehog maintenance. Bora and Yi-joon offer to bring Seumseum by for visits, and Hye-jin tells them to bring the hedgehog by Doo-shik’s place because it’s become her den.
Doo-shik and Hwa-jung have called an emergency neighborhood meeting. The idols will be hosting a meal for five Gongjin residents in the next episode of The Seashore Grasshopper. At June’s request, Gam-ri has been invited, so Sung-hyun needs Doo-shik to choose the remaining four dinner guests.
Everyone — except for Hye-jin, Cho-hee, and Yi-joon — is eager to appear on television, so to make things fair, they decide to draw names. Much to Joo-ri’s disappointment, her father’s name is the first to be drawn, followed by Nam-sook and Yoon-kyung. Doo-shik is about to read off the last name when his assistant Hwa-jung loudly complains that Young-guk is the winner, but something about Doo-shik’s facial expression indicates that Hwa-jung’s name was on the slip of paper.
The day of filming arrives and Do-ha is prepping the nervous townspeople for their television appearance. Doo-shik tries to calm them down, but their anxious chatter has Do-ha worried for the show. When they’re led onto the set, Young-guk immediately trips over a large metal pot and that sets the tone for the impending cringe-fest. Nam-sook, who has a bad case of the nervous sweats, flashes the camera her giant pit stains whenever she raises her arms, and Yoon-kyung’s foul mouth will need to be snipped out too. Only Gam-ri, who offers June some of her marinated crabs, passes muster.
As Chun-jae begins to serenade everyone with a song, Doo-shik apologizes to Sung-hyun for the on-set disaster, but Sung-hyun loves the rawness and authenticity. “Even Nam-sook’s pit stains?” Doo-shik asks, and Sung-hyun’s finger-scissors signal that Nam-sook will be tastefully edited.
An exhausted Doo-shik arrives at Hye-jin’s house and proclaims that the villagers’ lost dignity will make for excellent reality television. She rewards him for his hard work with a hug that is interrupted by Mi-sun’s arrival. Mi-sun immediately leaves so the annoying couple can be lovey-dovey in private. She grumbles that it might be time she got her own place.
She runs into Eun-chul and explains she’s avoiding some cockroaches at home. He gallantly offers to kill them before they reproduce and take over, but Mi-sun assures her white knight that she’s safe from insects and was only trying to avoid Hye-jin and Doo-shik’s excessive PDA. With no pests to slay, Eun-chul offers to escort her to her destination.
Hye-jin realizes they are making Mi-sun uncomfortable, so she suggests that they move to his place for the night. Unfortunately, Doo-shik has an after party with the villagers and film crew to attend. Hye-jin worries that Sung-hyun hasn’t been eating and asks Doo-shik to look after him at dinner, instructing Doo-shik to offer a drumstick to Sung-hyun if they have chicken.
A jealous Doo-shik suggests she play caretaker for Sung-hyun herself since she’s so concerned. Hye-jin protests, but Doo-shik pouts that it’s a reasonable response to having his girlfriend worry about another man in front of him. He slams the door as he leaves.
Mi-sun orders two chickens from the rotisserie stand so Eun-chul can take one home with him. He doesn’t understand the significance of the gesture, prompting Mi-sun to wonder why he gave up so easily after she played a little hard to get. Eun-chul denies that he gave up, explaining that he may be a little dumb but he makes up for it by being extremely tenacious. Mi-sun bemoans the frustration that comes with dating a nice guy, and Eun-chul apologizes, assuming he’s being rejected.
The chicken guy takes pity on the dense Eun-chul and explains that he isn’t being rejected — Mi-sun is buying him the chicken as a sign of approval! As Mi-sun thanks the man for the chicken — and his extra service — comprehension slowly dawns on Eun-chul, but he struggles to form words. “Must I be the one to ask you out, too?” Mi-sun wonders, and Eun-chul immediately drops to his knees and asks her to go steady. She accepts but pulls him to his feet, embarrassed by his overly dramatic proposal.
At the after party, the film crew is surprised to hear that Yoon-kyung will have to drive an hour-and-a-half to a birthing center because her OB-GYN shut down, but Geum-chul’s claim that he’s doing all the work by chauffeuring her triggers a fight with Yoon-kyung. At the other end of the table, a few snide comments from Hwa-jung about Young-guk and Nam-sook’s recent TV appearance are the catalyst for a separate round of bickering.
Chun-jae arrives with a plate of fried chicken as a peace offering, and Doo-shik immediately spots the two drumsticks. Chun-jae offers the first drumstick to Sung-hyun, but Doo-shik steals it and shoves it in his mouth. Everyone laughs that he must have worked up an appetite, but they’re less amused when Doo-shik snatches the second proffered drumstick away, too. Sung-hyun appeases the townspeople’s rising ire by admitting his preference for chicken breasts.
Outside the cafe, Sung-hyun squats next to a pouting Doo-shik and requests a bite of Doo-shik’s snack. Doo-shik reluctantly shares, grumbling that Sung-hyun’s appetite seems fine. Sung-hyung suspects Doo-shik is upset, and after some coaxing, Doo-shik admits he’s annoyed that Hye-jin is worried about Sung-hyun.
Surprised that’s the reason for Doo-shik’s sulky behavior, Sung-hyun wishes he could trade places; he’d much rather be the jealous one than the one receiving pity from the woman he likes.
Ji-won joins them outside, and Sung-hyun worries about her bad back and offers to get her a chair. Doo-shik sports a small, knowing smile as he watches Sung-hyun fuss over her. Do-ha squats next to the trio and complains that he had to escape the arguing inside.
“Nah,” Doo-shik says, “they aren’t arguing; they’re just talking loudly.” But inside the cafe, the earlier bickering has been rekindled, and Chun-jae attempts to send them all home. Sung-hyun wonders if it would be rude if they just left without saying goodbye. “Absolutely,” Doo-shik says, “but I’m leaving anyway.”
Hye-jin is thrilled to learn that Mi-sun and Eun-chul are dating. Mi-sun suspects that the novelty of being the more experienced one will be fun, and because Eun-chul is friends with Doo-shik they can now double-date. When Mi-sun proposes a joint camping trip, Hye-jin’s enthusiasm is shaky. She’s still uneasy with the way her earlier conversation with Doo-shik ended, so she’s quick to pop outside when Doo-shik texts her that he’s at her house.
As soon as she steps outside, he apologies. He’s sorry for being jealous and for, among other things, slamming her door when he left. She accepts his apology but admits she was surprised by his uncharacteristic behavior. Doo-shik is also surprised by his own behavior and confesses that he stole Sung-hyun’s drumsticks. Hye-jin appreciates the adorableness of his jealousy.
The next day Hye-jin is overflowing with energy and aegyo; she’s excited about the Seoul date. Doo-shik is all compliments, and she hands him her keys. His status has been elevated and he now has permission to drive her car, but it appears to be a strategic move allowing her to freely stare at him during the road trip.
Their first stop is at an art gallery, where Hye-jin admits she isn’t interested in the art and is more keen to have the fancy date experience with her boyfriend. Doo-shik, however, reveals another facet to his personality with his cultured commentary on the artwork, which he attributes to an art history class he took in college. Surprised, Hye-jin wonders if he took the class because of a girlfriend, and Doo-shik’s question-dodging suggests a woman factored into his class enrollment.
Next they visit a department store. Assuming they’re there for her, Doo-shik is surprised when Hye-jin leads him to the menswear section. She wants to transform him from top to bottom in her style. He tries to retreat, but he reluctantly concedes when she reminds him that it is on her bucket list. Each outfit change is punctuated by some flirting before Hye-jin shoves him back into the dressing room. They settle on the first outfit Doo-shik tried on, and Hye-jin buys it for him as an early birthday gift.
Hye-jin guides him to a jewelry counter next, eager to buy the necklace she’s been eying for a long time. Doo-shik makes a move for his wallet, but Hye-jin beats him to it and his eyeballs nearly pop out of his head at the necklace’s price tag (roughly $5,000). Oblivious to Doo-shik’s reaction, Hye-jin readily hands over her credit card, and Doo-shik looks forlorn about Hye-jin’s preference for real diamonds.
Young-guk heads to Hwa-jung’s restaurant, where he hopes to find Yi-joon. Outside, he sees Yong-hoon returning a familiar thermos to Hwa-jung. Young-guk corners Yong-hoon and demands to know what’s going on. Yong-hoon admits the soup was from Hwa-jung. Young-guk is immediately suspicious of her motives, but Yong-hoon says she cares, despite her harsh words. Young-guk pressures Yong-hoon to reveal everything he’s hiding.
Back at the department store, Doo-shik is recognized by an old college sunbae. The man, Tae-kyung, reacts like he’s seen a ghost and asks where Doo-shik’s been living and why he disappeared. Doo-shik looks uncomfortable but reveals he’s been living in his hometown, and Tae-kyung hands him his business card so Doo-shik can call when it is more convenient. Hye-jin is curious about the exchange, but Doo-shik just says they went to college together and says no more.
Over dinner, Hye-jin is happy to report that they have made a lot of progress on her bucket list. They’ll finish 100 items in no time, but that’s okay with her because she can come up with lots more. Hye-jin realizes that Doo-shik is spacing out, but she doesn’t pressure him to talk to her.
Young-guk drinks alone at the cafe while recalling what Yong-hoon had told him earlier: the joint tonics were also from Hwa-jung. Chun-jae joins him, and the two men brag about their children. Chun-jae forlornly admits that Joo-ri reminds him more and more of his late wife, and he looks forward to the day he can rejoin his wife after raising their daughter. Young-guk accuses Chun-jae of lying because there’s no way he still misses his wife. Chun-jae wonders why they are having this conversation again, but Young-guk doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
A flashback to several years earlier shows a similar conversation playing out between Young-guk and Chun-jae. Chun-jae had been visibly more distraught over the memory of his late wife and their wedding day, which he could still recall vividly. Young-guk disagrees that love has anything to do with marriage. He’s bitter that he missed out on his first love and had to marry a woman he was just friends with because he wasn’t getting any younger. Anyway, he felt sorry for Hwa-jung whose mother had recently died. “Marriage has no grand meaning,” he says. “It’s boring.”
In the present, Chun-jae admits he doesn’t remember much from that night because he was so drunk, but he definitely recalls Hwa-jung dragging Young-guk home. It was raining, he says, but for some reason she was soaked despite having an umbrella.
Another flashback to the same night shows Hwa-jung standing in the rain outside the cafe. She had overheard the conversation and dropped her umbrella from the shock of Young-guk’s words. Tears and raindrops run down her cheeks as she clutches a spare umbrella intended for Young-guk.
The next day, she stares at Young-guk’s dirty socks on the floor when Young-guk emerges from their bedroom. He complains about his hangover, but he’s delighted to see she prepared some soup from him. He praises her cooking, but as he eats, Hwa-jung reaches her limit. She dumps a basket of dirty laundry over his head and yells at him for taking his socks off inside-out again. Young-guk is bewildered by her seemingly excessive response to a pair of dirty socks.
Present day Young-guk, however, stands outside Hwa-jung’s house, finally realizing he’s a jerk and an idiot.
Doo-shik is quiet as he walks Hye-jin home, so it’s not surprising that he rejects her offer to come inside. He thanks her for the gift and wishes her goodnight instead. After he leaves, Hye-jin wonders about the cause of his sudden depression and worries that he may be feeling insecure after seeing her buy the expensive necklace.
The next day, Doo-shik is at his woodworking job when Hye-jin texts him good morning, reminding him to stay hydrated and to come visit if he misses her. His response is a brief, “Yes, you too,” which Hye-jin over analyzes. Mi-sun logically concludes he’s busy and that the briefness of the text is entirely in line with his character. But then Mi-sun loses her cool when her own man responds to her text — full of hearts and emojis — with a simple “Good morning.” She gripes that she’s not his boss or colleague, and Hye-jin turns Mi-sun’s words against her, saying the text is befitting Eun-chul’s personality.
In her office, Hye-jin admires her new necklace. She puts it away and calls Doo-shik to invite him to dinner. He says he’s working late, causing Hye-jin to worry that he’s intentionally putting some space between them.
Do-ha is excited that their show was praised by the higher ups, but Sung-hyun warns that it is still too early to celebrate. Do-ha spots Ji-won talking to another director, and wonders if he is trying to scout her. Over coffee, Ji-won apologizes to Sung-hyun for missing the meeting with the executives, but she’s happy to hear that they were pleased with what they saw.
Sung-hyun asks if she was unable to attend because she met with Director Yang. She admits that he has been trying to recruit her and that she has decided to accept his offer. Sung-hyun worries that she’s leaving because of his recent behavior and tries to convince her to stay, but she assures him that it’s not his fault and that he’s an excellent producer who will do well with any writer by his side.
Hye-jin is waiting for Doo-shik outside his house when he arrives home, and she’s pleased that he wasn’t lying about working late. Instead of inviting her inside, Doo-shik asks her to follow him. He leads her to a spot on the beach where he has arranged a romantic picnic and bonfire. He explains that he was going to fetch her later, but she was already waiting for him when he went home to get more lights.
She releases a loud pent-up sigh, which makes Doo-shik worry that she doesn’t like his surprise. She assures him that she loves it, explaining that she is relieved he isn’t upset with her for flaunting her wealth. He insists that she should never fear spending her hard-earned money around him, and she apologizes for assuming she had made him feel inferior.
Doo-shik notices that she’s not wearing the necklace, and she admits that she sold it. A bit awkwardly, Doo-shik removes a gift from his bag. He couldn’t afford to buy her a diamond necklace, so he made her a wooden jewelry box to keep it in. She clutches the precious gift to her chest, confident that she can fill it with all of her other jewelry.
In sync with one another again, they admire the ocean together from Doo-shik’s favorite spot. He knows that some people believe the ocean looks the same everywhere, but Hye-jin understands that a place becomes special once memories are made there. She declares this spot one of her favorites because she likes everything there, including Doo-shik.
“In that case,” he says, gazing at her meaningfully, “I should be the one to say this first. Hye-jin, I love you.” She tells him she loves him, too, and they kiss.
Doo-shik is sitting at his coffee table, writing his own bucket list. The scene cuts to a montage of him crafting Hye-jin’s jewelry box before returning to a closeup of his list. The first item reads: “Give her a present I made myself.”
It was never more apparent than with this episode how completely self-aware this drama is as it acknowledges, embraces, and exploits the clichés so prevalent in the romantic comedy genre. The opening scene, for example, was very reminiscent of the first few minutes of the 1978 classic Grease, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye if Doo-shik and Hye-jin had busted out in a duet of “Summer Nights.” (Actually…I’m going to need that fan-made music video ASAP.)
The episode then managed to work in just about every known Korean drama dating trope into a single episode via Hye-jin’s list of “100 things I want to do with my boyfriend.” And yet, it still felt refreshing because of how the dating tropes were portrayed. Your typical K-drama often sends the message that such dating activities are inherently romantic, which is likely the mindset Hye-jin had when she created her list. In contrast, the romance of this episode was exhibited through Doo-shik, as his initial unwillingness slowly transformed into compliance and then enjoyment, the simple act of being with Hye-jin — no matter how unpleasant the activity — bringing him joy. So instead of a makeover montage where the outfit changes take center stage, we were blessed with some of the cutest on-screen flirting I’ve ever seen. And the little meta reference about Pretty Woman was icing on top.
This episode also showed some progress for Mi-sun’s relationship, and I have to commend her for her patience and her top notch communication skills. Without her in the driver’s seat — and rotisserie chicken guy’s help — I hate to think of how many episodes it would have taken marathoner Eun-chul to finally work up the courage to ask her out on his own. I’m curious to see how their relationship plays out, especially if Eun-chul tries to step out of his comfort zone and be more aggressive and it results in comedic gold. That said, I do prefer Mi-sun bucking traditional gender roles and being the more aggressive one.
It was equally refreshing that Doo-shik wasn’t intimidated by Hye-jin’s income and found a way to give her a meaningful present that was within his means. He’s proud of his woman’s accomplishments, so it’s a bit understandable that he would get a little irrational and jealous. After all, the threat of someone wanting what you have increases with the object’s value, and Doo-shik knows he’s got a very desirable woman at his side.
Not all the relationships were happy ones this episode, though. We all knew Young-guk was a bit of a turd, but I always kind of assumed he married Hwa-jung because he eventually developed some romantic feelings for her after Cho-hee moved away. So I was surprised that his present day bitterness predates his divorce and stems from disillusionment and a distaste for the institution of marriage. Hwa-jung’s melt-down over Young-guk’s socks was such an amazing, well acted scene. Even if we hadn’t known the true source of her emotions, it would have been very clear to everyone — everyone but the dense Young-guk, that is — that there was something more important than inside-out socks upsetting her. It’s all the more heartbreaking to know that after the sock incident, the divorce was likely her way of “setting him free.”
This episode began with a romantic montage that quickly cut to Doo-shik’s nightmare. I hope these two contrasting scenes were meant to mirror the two main relationships from this episode, but I fear this episode’s beginning is foreshadowing for what’s next to come. This episode gave us happiness, so will the next one bring heartache for our leading couple as we learn more about Doo-shik’s time in Seoul?
- 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