October 25, 2021
Disclaimer: This article is a reflection on the positive values and messages in the drama series, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.” We recognize that some episodes contain scenes and depictions that may not be aligned with our faith and values, so we encourage wisdom and discretion in watching.
Furthermore, the team is aware of the current controversies involving the series’ lead actor. The article is a commentary on the series and its positive message, not the personal life of the characters in the drama. Thank you.
If you’ve watched the series, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, I don’t think you can read that without bursting into song.
It’s the sound that instantly gave us comfort and feel-good vibes in the show’s eight-week run. It even made us want to finish as much school work as we could during the weekdays so we can spend our weekends binge-watching the show.
The creators of this K-drama said from the start that it was meant to be a “healing drama.” We found that out for ourselves as we journeyed with the people of Gongjin (Pohang in real life) through the relaxing and vibrant visuals and a well-written intertwining of storylines.
The drama was both timely and timeless. Timely because it was a breath of fresh air during a very dry season due to the pandemic. Timeless because it portrayed the highs and lows of life.
This drama does not only tug at your heartstrings in one scene, make you laugh in another, and then flood your eyes with tears. It also makes you realize the realities of life that we can all relate to despite the differences in our culture and traditions.
Here are a few lessons that we can bring home as we leave the borders of Gongjin:
(Caution: Spoilers beyond this point.)
1. Everyone has their own struggles that we know nothing about.
This is one of the major themes of the series. Whether it’s grief, guilt, frustration from unfulfilled dreams, or just the struggles that a person faces every day, we can’t assume that we know what’s really going on in a person’s life.
The show reminded us that it’s easy to pass judgment on anyone, and treating everyone equally with kindness and respect is more difficult but really does go a long way. Honestly, we probably wrongly judged a few characters with the way the series unfolded, just like in real life.
2. Pain, as difficult as it may be, needs to be eventually confronted.
Every struggle has its own pain. As we got to know more about each character, we saw a glimpse of the pain that comes with their burdens. In the last few episodes, everyone’s struggles were eventually resolved when they got to the roots of their pain and faced the realities of their situations.
I was reminded of Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthian church when he went through different kinds of pain and suffering:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison . . .
2 Corinthians 4:16–17
3. Forgiveness is a destination but is also a journey.
Forgiveness was a strong theme throughout the drama. Whether it’s in simple misunderstandings, insensitivities, or guilt and blame over the circumstances of another person’s life, the drama demonstrated how liberating forgiveness is.
Towards the end, we saw Du-Sik was finally set free from his guilt when he received forgiveness from the wife of his friend. Even if Du-Sik is just a character in a K-Drama, his experience of freedom by receiving forgiveness resonates in real life.
Forgiveness is both a destination and a journey because not everyone gets to receive or release forgiveness immediately. Forgiveness requires us to take the step daily towards releasing our grudges so that we can experience freedom in full.
Forgiveness, regardless if it is received or given, produces freedom.
4. Greed makes you risk it all and then lose it all.
We saw this with the dad of Do-ha, the assistant director of Director Ji. In that short story, we see how Du-Sik warned the dad against high-risk investments. When the market crashed, we found out that the dad risked so much including their house and many loans, which almost destroyed himself, his mental health, and his own family.
Greed corrupts even the sincerest of intentions. It blinds us and hinders us from making wise and well-informed decisions that will shield us from losing everything we worked hard for.
5. Reaching out can save a life.
We learn that because of the pain and heaviness of the circumstances, Du-Sik wanted to end his life. Unbeknownst to Gam-Ri, the villager elder who took care of him in his youth, her message of checking in was timely. At the very moment he thought no one cared about his existence, her message showed that someone does care.
To us today, in this time of isolation, let’s not become weary in reaching out to our friends and family. The desire to know one’s condition is good enough reason to send a message or make a phone call.
Simply checking in and making sure that our friends and family know that we are here for them can go a long way.
6. We’re better together.
When Du-Sik first came back to Gongjin, the people just brought food and checked in on him. They didn’t ask questions, but they showed their support. And then eventually, and maybe even intentionally, he became Chief Hong because they asked him to help them in their everyday tasks. In a way, they helped him recover and get back on his feet again.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha showed us what a healthy community looks like. It isn’t perfect at all, but it does demonstrate what home is like. You don’t have to share the same blood in order to treat people like family. We could be a Gongjin to others when we express our support and concern for one another.
7. There’s so much we can appreciate around us.
In the first few episodes, Du-Sik showed Hye-Jin that life doesn’t revolve around how much is in your bank account, what you have achieved in life, or the size of your goals. Life is too meaningful to be defined by anything that is fleeting and shallow.
The show reminded us that despite the overwhelming negativities and difficulties we face, there is still much to appreciate about our lives. We are reminded that profound joy in life is usually found in simple things.
While it is true that our reality is far from the plot of this K-Drama, it still gives us a simple picture of what true hope and happiness can do to our lives. The kind of hope and happiness that overflows from the love of Jesus to us.
These are just a few of the lessons we could gain from the series. It’s worth watching and worth reflecting on. Make sure, though, you’re ready to wipe those tears!
I will definitely miss Gongjin.
It’s a beautiful and shining day.