This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1, episode 14 contains spoilers.
We always define times with numbers. “How much time do we have left?” “What time is it?” “How many days till we meet again?” As if everything about time is definite and precise. But what if I say time is an abstract, vague, formless creature that works in the most mysterious ways? Our concept and perception of time is somehow contradicting, isn’t it?. It is always between numbers nor space like the “past, present, and the future.” Whenever we say “See you next time,” “Remember that time when,” “Let’s be happy for a long time,” “There’s time for everything,” How do we define it? We always talk about time as if it is something under our control. Episode 14 is one of my favorite from Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1 so far. It shows us how time is something that binds our path more than just a particular number.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1, episode 14 recap
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1, episode 14 starts with the fallout of Hye-Jin and Du-Sik. The two lovers clash in between the past, the present, and the future. Not just relationship-wise, but also as an individual. Du-Sik, who afraid of showing his true colors, while Hye-Jin is uncertain about the future.
After the arousing confrontation, Hye-Jin leaves Du-Sik’s house and starts to break down in tears after bumping into Hwa-Jeong. She invites her to have breakfast. There goes the saying, good food heals the brokenhearted.
Hwa-Jeong serves her seaweed soup. The same meal that she cooks for her on her first day arriving in Gongjin. It’s also the day she loses her job and misses her mother. Now, she cooks it to comfort her heart because of the uncertainty of her relationship. The two of them reminisce about how things have unfolded for the past five months. Hye-Jin asks her about the reason behind Du-Sik quitting his job and goes back to Gongjin. Unfortunately, Hwa-Jeong and the villagers have no idea. All she remembers is that Du-Sik is a wreck, unlike the Hong Du-Sik that they used to know on the day he arrives at Gongjin. “He is no longer somebody that we used to know. It’s like he ditches everything,” says Hwa-Jeong.
Hwa-Jeong recalls that Du-Sik is smeone who matures early. He never had anyone to share his pain and struggle with before. “Talking may seem easy for someone while it is hard for others,” Hwa-Jeong says. She reassures Hye-Jin that Du-Sik has never been this happy before he meets Hye-Jin. She gently advises Hye-Jin to be patient and gives him time to open up because she believes that Hye-Jin can become his “bamboo forest” or his haven.
The start of something
So we get our first twist not even 10 minutes into the episode. After failing to reach Hye-Jin through the phone, Du-Sik goes outside to do his job with heavy steps. While Du-Sik is walking, a car passes by. It’s not about the car, but the person inside it. It’s Seon-Ah. The woman in the photo that Du-Sik hides. The two are unaware of each other’s presence. But, the surprise does not end there. Guess who she is visiting? It’s Sung-Hyun. And guess their relationship? Siblings.
The sibling is having a chit-chat at Chun-Jae’s cafe. Seon-Ah brings his son, the baby inside Du-Sik’s hidden photo. Sung-Hyun asks him the reason why she comes to Gongjin. She later says that she’s been wanting to visit Gongjin for a long time because someone of someone story about it. Sung-Hyun asks her what she thinks about Gongjin and she says, “It’s great.”
Later, Hye-Jin wakes up in Hwa-Jeong’s living room. She calls Du-Sik after noticing his miscall. He quickly answers her and apologizes for not holding her back. Du-Sik asks her to meet but Hye-Jin refuses. She does not want to hear any apology because it’s not the issue. She wants him to open his heart to her that’s why she asking him to take a break from each other but she quickly says that she doesn’t want to break up. She just wants to gives both of them some time to think about where their relationship is going. Du-Sik agrees.
“Loving someone is not a sin”
Finally, after clowning myself for almost the 14th episode, I am relieved that one of my predictions turns out to be right! One day, Cho-Hui visit Hye-Jin’s dental clinic for a checkup. Hye-Jin advise her to have her wisdom tooth removed. Cho-Hui does not have any idea what a wisdom tooth is and Hye-Jin explains it as a tooth that grows in your 20s. The time when we receive wisdom because of true love. Cho-Hui is suddenly taken aback and walking down memory lane to her 20s. Finally, we know the reason behind her leaving Gongjin. It turns out, she’s been in love with Hwa-Jeong all along.
Truthfully it’s heartbreaking how Cho-Hui’s sexual orientation is being seen as a disease to her family. When her mother finds out that Cho-Hui still likes to sneak out and visit Hwa-Jeong, she starts to blame herself because of her daughter’s sexual orientation. Cho-Hui is being threatened by her brother that she will be put in a mental institution due to her sexual orientation. But I admire how the writer decides to make her speak up for herself that it’s not anyone’s fault, neither her fault that she likes a woman. “Liking someone is not a sin!” Says Cho-Hui to her mother while both of them end up hugging one another.
I understand some of the viewers might not like the way Cho-Hui is represented or how her love ends, unlike in Nevertheless. But it portrays the realistic situation of the majority in a society where gender minority is often excluded from the society, but also shows the bittersweetness of the art of letting go. Love is something unconditional. To set your love free means to free yourself. Cho-Hui also knew all along that her love is one-sided, it’s been years after everything that happens. She needs to let go in order to heal herself and to love again.
“It’s not over until it’s over”
Another thing that some of you might like or dislike is Hwa-Jeong and Yeong-Guk’s (Mr. Chang) relationship. But first, let’s appreciate how Cho-Hui encourages Yeong-Guk to come clear with his feelings and intentions towards Hwa-Jeong, “What Hwa-Jeong wants to hear is not your apology,” says Cho-Hui. This scene also marks Cho-Hui letting go of her love for Hwa-Jeong. She tells Yeong-Guk that she will also muster the courage to remove her wisdom teeth which refers to her love for Hwa-Jeong, so he needs to find the courage to face her too.
The next MVP is Ms. Cho. Even though her lips need to be zipped due to all the rumors, she has the most sensitivity towards what’s happening around Gongjin. She gives the pressures that Hwa-Jeong needs to be more honest about her feelings. Later, Yeong-Guk comes to Hwa-Jeong’s restaurant. He finally throws himself out of his way and sincerely shares his feeling of guilt after taking her for granted and desperation of wanting a second chance. Hwa-Jeong breakdown into tears and starts to curse him, saying that only an idiot that needs 15 years to realize everything. Yeong-Guk embraces her. The couple shares an arousing hug. I know some of you think that Hwa-Jeong deserves better than getting back together with the man that wasted her, but things like this happen in real life. Some people and relationships take time to mend and finally come clean for their past mistakes. It’s humane.
The same thing goes for Sung-Hyun. After realizing his feelings, he starts to act differently and show consideration towards Writer Wang. From cleaning her eyeglasses to accompanying her to buy stuff from Gongjin. He also finally shares his honest thoughts: Director Ji is nothing without Writer Kang. He also comes to the conclusion that it’s not over until it’s over and he indirectly puts his feelings upfront by saying that he’s joining the long list of candidates who are trying to court her. We all know what he means by this, right? He’s not talking in writer and directors tone anymore.
“You’re the only person who knows her the most right now”
Sung-Hyun comes to visit Du-Sik after hearing his fallout with Hye-Jin. It’s the moment we finally hear Du-Sik’s thought about himself. For the first time, he starts to feel insecure about himself. Sung-Hyun reminds him that he can also become as courageous as Hye-Jin. All he needs is to show her his true colors. He also reminds him that nobody in this world knows Hye-Jin more than him. It’s a wake-up call for Du-Sik because Hye-Jin already showed everything to him, the part of her that she doesn’t show to anyone. Du-Sik is the only person that knows her more than anyone right now while she’s still halfway there.
Hye-Jin’s parent sends packages of homemade side dish for her and Du-Sik. Over the phone, Hye-Jin’s father asks her to pass the messages that his plants are growing well thanks to his advice. He also wants Hye-Jin to bring Du-Sik next time she visits them during the holiday. She begins to remember the times where her parent visit her and all of them had a good time together with Du-Sik. Hwa-Jeong’s words of advice to her also stuck with her. She realizes that Du-Sik is slowly opening up to her during the time where he tells her about his guilt over his grandfather’s death or the times when he anxiously hugs him after having a nightmare.
Du-Sik is hurt emotionally not just physically. Although he’s always busy doing all the jobs, surfing, helping Gongjin, he is emotionally stuck and lost. He has been disconnected from himself for a long time. All the things we’ve seen are his way of coping and being in control. Because that’s what people who experienced trauma do. They need routines to survive to keep things under control, or the other way around. They free themselves and remain uncommitted. Hye-Jin has been great progress that’s ever happening to Du-Sik, but she realizes that Du-Sik needs more time to finally get out from his circumstances.
Don’t make me wait too long.
Later, we witness Du-Sik travel back to the memory of his college days. The times where Jeong-U, the name of the man in a suit and his beloved Hyung, preparing his grandfather’s memorial service for him. Remember when Du-Sik says that Hye-Jin is the second person that he opens up to about his grandfather? Well, Jeong-U is the first person he talks about. He is deeply touched and cries upon his consideration towards him since it’s the first time someone is there to share the feelings and momentum with him.
The memory lane continues to the day of his upcoming first internship at Jeong-U’s firm company. That is the day where they buy the expensive suit that he wants to throw out. So, Seon-Ah, the woman in the photo is Jeong-Gu’s wife. And the next thing we see is, Du-Sik attending the funeral with heavy steps while Seon-Ah is seen emotionless until Du-Sik enters the room. She emotionally asks him to leaves while her baby is crying in the back. She starts to blame Du-Sik for everything that happens. He helplessly apologizes. “If you’re sorry, bring Jeong-Gu back to me! You should be the ones who die instead,” she yells. Both of them break down in tears and the words that ever come from Du-Sik are only, “I am truly sorry,” It’s heartbreaking, indeed.
But, knock-knock, Du-Sik. The present is here to pick you up again. Hye-Jin always comes at the right time. She brings the packages from her parents to his house. Later, she says that she already has a conclusion about their relationship but she’s willing to give him more time until he’s ready to open up as long as he wants Hye-Jin to be a part of his future. Although he still can’t give a proper answer, he agrees. “I will wait. But don’t make me wait too long,” she says. Good job, Hye-Jin!
We’re halfway there.
Sung-Hyun decides to throw a final party to thank Gongjin’s residents for their cooperation and warmth during his filming. It’s heartwarming seeing the differences in the Gongjin community. From Hwa-Jeong and Yeong-Guk starting over, Gam-Ri gaining another grandchild which is June, Mi-Seon and Eun-Cheol finally having their first kiss and balancing their relationship, to Sung-Hyun finally finishing his filming. He sings his heart with a song that surprises the entire Gongjin due to his exceptional voice. It even pushes Du-Sik to open his heart to Hye-Jin.
He finally approaches her and both of them separate themselves from the crowd. The scene is shot with a meaningful wide-angle where they’re standing halfway to each other in the frame. It is to represent that they’re halfway there to reaching one another. Du-Sik asks her to come over to his place after the party is over because he got something to tell, but it’s going to be a long story. Hye-Jin happily agrees to listen. She also has something to say regarding the job opportunity in Seoul.
Just when everything is about to find its closure, the writer decided to clown us with, “Nope. Let me give you some twist to look forward to for another week.” As usual, Gongjin’s squad is talking sweetly about Du-Sik and Hye-Jin’s relationship. They notice how Du-Sik has started to call Hye-Jin by her name, while Hye-Jin still calls him “Chief Hong”, but with a loving tone. They jokingly say it’s probably because Du-Sik’s real name is outdated. Ho-Da and Writer Kang overheard the conversation. She agrees that Du-Sik’s real name does not fit his image at all. Ho-Da asks her, “What is Chief Hong’s real name?” She answers with, “Hong Du-Sik,”
The ending of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1, episode 14: You can’t run away forever
Since I am writing this recap on Mental Health Day, I feel the urge to write this message: Humans are a form of time itself. We walk on our own phase. Some people are moving forward, some moving backward, and others are stuck in the same place. Moreover, you can’t run away or be still forever. Sooner or later, you need to confront yourself. A tiger never comes out from the forest unless it is threatened. You can’t tame a tiger with a gun or a trap. You need to let it be, let it come to you, and befriend it. The same thing goes for our past, our wounds, fear, grief, or any form of emotion that scares us. It stays with us. It has become the part of us that makes us who we are now. Instead of fighting it, why don’t we learn to befriend and accept it as it is? Acknowledging your wounds is the first step to taming them. As much as we want to be the source of help to anyone, nothing will change until the victim decides to come out from their shell. It takes months, years, some might take forever. Because we’re human. We need to accept our heroes and our villains inside of us to become whole.
Du-Sik is running away right now and finally, his past is saying “hi” to his face. Yes, with a freaking punch in the face. After Ho-Da knows Du-Sik’s real name, he straightly goes to Du-Sik that arriving with Hye-Jin. “So your name is Hong Du-Sik?” He asks. Du-Sik nods, not knowing anything. He later brings up the name of Du-Sik ex-company right to his face, “YK Asset Management.” Du-Sik bewilders unable to respond to anything. Ho-Da brings up another name, “Kim Gi-Hoon,” the name of Ho-Da’s father. Du-Sik’s stunned and suddenly Ho-Da punches him and blames him for his father’s condition. Du-Sik suddenly travels back to his office days where he is walking in a suit while carrying a two-pack of fresh milk. He later gives one to a security officer, Kim Gi-Hoon, who is thankful and smiling for the free milk as Du-Sik proudly enters the office.
Remember in the previous episode Ho-Da, one of Sung-Hyun’s workers, came to eat lunch at Du-Sik’s house where he sees that Du-Sik has seeds that he needs for his paraplegic father? After hearing them, Du-Sik generously gives him the seeds. But have you ever wonder why he’s collecting those seeds in the first place? It’s because he is haunted by his guilt. Du-Sik knocks out to the ground while everyone is bewildered to see what’s happening. And that’s a wrap for the most annoying cliffhanger and twist ever in the Gongjin universe.
Du-Sik continues to write his bucket list with Hye-Jin. He lists many things he wants to do with her: From surfing to cooking his favorite sauce together. Sounds very “Du-Sik”, huh? But he later hesitates when he is about the write another list. He firstly writes down “Make you happy,” but quickly changes it to “To be happy with you for a long time,” and then smiles while looking at it. Yes, Hye-Jin is already a part of his future. He just needs some time and time is working on him. Be patient, SikHye’s supporters!
What did you think of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha season 1, episode 14? Comment below.