Hometown Cha Cha Cha VS. Welcome to Samdal-ri

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Firstly, I would like to clarify that this writing is not to point out which series is better, but simply to justify the fine lines between the two series as people deemed them both to have a similar plotline.

Note: Hometown Cha Cha Cha premiered in 2021 while Welcome to Samdal-ri in 2023.

When I first saw the trailer for Welcome to Samdal-ri (from now onwards, it will be addressed as WTSR), I kept stumbling on people’s posts, all bring the same meaning; “If you like Hometown Cha Cha Cha (HCCC), you’ll like WTSR”.

Sure enough, I do love HCCC, so I dived into WTSR as soon as I could even though the series were not even completely released at that time. Did I suffer in the waiting for the next episodes every week? Yes, I absolutely did. Why? Because I was so invested with the plotlines. If I remember correctly, I was also tortured during the HCCC series since I also started watching it during its running.

The Similarities

Both series tell a story about the main female characters who got a setback in their career that forced them back to a rural area. In the rural area, they reunited with an old flame and overcome their differences later strengthening the romantic relationship.

While navigating their relationship, the story of each character in the series is unfolding, exposing more bittersweet life lessons – the relatable life struggles that make the viewers feel like they’re in the same shoes.

Despite the similar genre with both series being in a circle of family-drama-slice of life genre, the plotlines are, yet not obvious, very different from each other.

The Slump

While the HCCC plot pointed towards resetting the life of the main character, the WTSR plot pointed towards rehabilitating the life of the main character. This fine line is very important in driving the rest of the story as it sets out the base emotion of the series.

Hometown Cha Cha Cha vs. Welcome to Samdal-ri
Hye Jin is being judgy again

HCCC is a story about a realist dentist who had it done with the capitalist way of running a dental clinic and decided to open her clinic in a rural area named Gongjin. With her realist perspective, she always thought that her way of life was the right one compared with the villagers’. Only when she met the main male character who has many skills and is considered the jack of all trades on the island, did her perspective start to change little by little.

Yeah, It would be hard for me to stop doing what I’ve been doing for 8 years too, Samdal aa..

WTSR is a story about a passionate daughter from a village called Samdal-ri on Jeju Island, who is adamant about proving that even a person from a small village can become a big name. If she’s not back in Samdal-ri, the villagers will deem her as a successful person. Indeed, she proved them right. She became a renowned photographer not only in South Korea but also in some international fashion companies until her assistant director spread a malicious (false) rumour about her due to jealousy and caused brands to boycott her service. Which then forced her to go back to Samdal-ri, giving up her once-in-a-lifetime chance exhibition by an infamous brand, and hiding from persistent reporters.

Ergo –  resetting vs. rehabilitating.

The Sacrifices

Hong Banjang of HCCC – Another level of flex

The hero of HCCC – the jack of all trades, sacrificed his high-paid salary in the capital due to the trauma and anxiety of an unfortunate incident. He then decided to go back to his hometown and work closely with the villagers so he wouldn’t ever have to face his reality. His past is even considered as one of the 3 big mysteries of the village. Of course, not until he met the heroine that he needed to open Pandora’s box of his suppressed dark pasts.

Hometown Cha Cha Cha vs. Welcome to Samdal-ri
Yong Pil of WTSR – When he cries, he CRIES

The hero of WTSR – he sacrificed his love, job, and future to stay back in his hometown, which is the same village as the heroine – Samdal-ri. He ended up working as a weather forecaster in the meteorology department on Jeju Island. The motive of his choice is later revealed that he worked there to protect and prevent the past from happening again. (SPOILER) which he did, in the end. He protected everyone.

Can you see the fine line? One is running away from the past, while the other confronts it and fights like a boss!

The Focus of the Storyline

If I were to draw a Venn Diagram (try to remember your high school math subject to know what a Venn Diagram is. JK, I’ll draw one later), HCCC is multiple disjoint sets within Set A. Whilst WTSR consists of 4 sets – Set A, Set B, Set C, and Set D joined as an intersect in the middle.

I hope you can see the difference in the story focus between HCCC and WTSR. For those who don’t understand, let me try to put it simply.

HCCC storyline focuses on the heroine’s life and the side characters’ stories are mixed in briefly towards the end just to make the drama not too personal and in one direction. 

Whilst the storylines in WTSR are more complex, it really focuses on each character’s struggles without the drama being draggy or boring. As it blooms, you can see the relations between each character.

The Casts’ Vibes

Hometown Cha Cha Cha vs. Welcome to Samdal-ri
The cute main casts of Hometown Cha Cha Cha (Source: Soompi)

If you like a cute-romantic relationship that makes you go delulu, you will LOVE characters in HCCC. Supported by funny side characters and catchy taglines. It will satisfy your search for light-hearted rom-com drama. 

Shin Min-a is famous for her cuteness in all of her dramas like My Girlfriend is A Gumiho, Oh My Venus, Tomorrow With You, and others. The hero, Kim Seon-ho was a rising star during the year 2021 because of his acting in 100 Days My Prince, Start-Up, Welcome to Waikiki, and he was also a regular member in one of the big variety shows in South Korea – 2 Days 1 Night.

Hometown Cha Cha Cha vs. Welcome to Samdal-ri
The natural and realist main casts of Welcome to Samdal-ri (Source: Soompi)

WTSR casts are actors and actresses who are famous for their natural and realistic acting. Also, high skills in emotional delivery. The heroine, Shin Hye Sun, is admitted by many that her character-building and seamless body language don’t make her look like she’s acting at all. All of her dramas are gems. To name a few; Mr. Queen, See You in My 19th Life, Angel’s Last Mission: Love, and many more. And by gems, I meant some might not be under the spotlight for other issues of the drama and definitely not on her side.

The hero of WTSR, Ji Chang Wook is similar to the heroine. He is also famous for his natural and realistic acting, making both characters complement each other like the frosting of a cupcake. His other works that show his ability are; Suspicious Partner, Healer, The K2, and The Worst of Evil.

I think each director targeted each artist for two different reasons. Director Yoo Je-Won (HCCC) targeted cutie-sweet casts, and Director Cha Young-Hoon (WTSR) targeted natural-realistic casts. Both patterns can be seen in their other drama directions.

Conclusion

If I were to include all of my comments regarding these two series, I could write up to an hour-read article, but I don’t want to torture you into reading and spoiling more.

To sum up, both series are kind of similar, but not the same. Saying WTSR is the same as HCCC is a bit downplaying for WTSR since WTSR is more complex and more emotions involved. More plot twists to uncover and more onion peels to shed.

However, I can say this though, if you would like to watch a casual rom-com with a zest of emotions and mental health awareness, you will LOVE HCCC. But if you are a bit of a thinker and in need of inspiration in terms of a career slump, friendship, and how to deal with toxic people, you will LOVE WTSR.

In a nutshell, both dramas did well in their lane and it’s only a matter of preference.

P/S: We will be posting more about K-Content moving forward, don’t forget to check them here once in a while! TTO BOJA!

Author

  • Dianさま

    Dian - a 98% introvert with a mind like a black hole, she is like the lovechild of Senku and Hisoka, armed with ideas and logics sharper than a lightsaber. Social gatherings? Nah, it's either dissecting the latest anime/manga/kdrama breakthrough or debate the merits of time travel. 200% INTP.

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