Over the years, Korean dramas are increasingly promoting the culturally rich and scenic fringes of South Korea, a comforting departure from the usual cosmopolitan and bustling backdrops of big cities like Seoul and Busan.
In this post, let's explore the filming locations of one of the more popular romantic comedies of 2021 — Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, which is exclusively set in the serene and picturesque backdrop of a seaside village.
Starring the charming Shin Min-a and the up-and-rising Kim Seon-ho, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is a present-day remake of the 2004 film Mr. Handy, Mr. Hong.
The story captures the romantic journey of Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-a), a "Seoulite" who quits her dentist job and takes a road trip to the seaside village of Gongjin to revisit the nice memories she had there as a young child with her family.
However, unknownst to her (until later), she had met the young version of Chief Hong (Kim Seon-ho) during the same time when Chief Hong's grandfather helped the family take a family photo at the Gongjin beach.
Fast forward to present day 2021. While in Gongjin, she crosses path and develops a budding romance with Chief Hong Du-sik (Kim Seon-ho), a capable and versatile young man who, albeit under the shadow of a dark past, is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone at the village, especially the elderly residents.
A rustic seaside village with great waves for surfing and scenic beaches for strolling, a warm community of villagers and freshly hauled seafood — sounds like a perfect place to chill out for an idyllic weekend? That's Gongjin, the filming backdrop for Hometown Cha Cha. Except that, it isn't a real place at all!
The "Gongjin" location is actually a mix of several locations along the seaside coastal fringes of Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province (경상북도 Gyeongsangbuk-do). Let's run through these locations and see how they match up to the the scenes in the drama.
In Episode 2, at the break of the dawn, as the rays of the morning sun peek above the horizon, the camera pans gently over the peak (with a derelict boat) of Sabang Memorial Park, revealing the bay area of a small fishing village.
Compare the above still image with the map view below and you will find matching inlets and jetties. The location is along 1884 to 1900, Haean-ro, Cheongha-myeon, Buk-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
As a licensed property agent (one of many licensed professions Chief Hong is qualified to perform — others include renovation contractor and plumber), Chief Hong helps Hye-jin find a location for her new dental clinic and that is the building below which overlooks the beautiful coasts and lapping waves of "Gongjin".
Compare the screenshot with the Google Street View imagery below, particularly the "Hello" signboard of the ground-floor unit next to Yoon Dental Clinic. You can almost match feature for feature between the two images. .
The actual location is the Cheongjin 3-ri Community Welfare Center at 1884-2, Haean-ro, Cheongha-myeon, Buk-gu Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do — a place that offers welfare assistance to the residents of the village region.
The live café and pub (Coffee in the Middle of the Day and Beer in the Moonlight) is a place frequented by the villagers and the regular meeting place for the Gongjin Business/Shop Owners association headed by Jo Nam-sook (Cha Chung-hwa). The café pub is owned by Oh Cheon-jae (Jo Han-chul), a former unsuccessful singer in the 1990s.
At first glance, you may not find close similarities between the drama screenshot and the Google Street View screenshot below. But if you re-watch closely the scenes (1:07:50 mark of Episode 2) in the drama relating to the cafe pub, observe the brown building on the right, the blue structure on the left and the block with a flight of stairs and a lamp post in front and you will be really duly convinced.
Do note that the Google Street View imagery is dated to 2018 so the "café pub" building might have undergone changes today. The building is located in Cheong-ha market along Cheongha-ro 192beon-gil, Buk-gu Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
In the 49-min mark of episode 3, Hye-jin goes to meet with Chief Hong, who sits at the rocky banks of the jetty leading to the lighthouse. This lighthouse can be similarly seen along 1884 to 1900, Haean-ro, Cheongha-myeon, Buk-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do. based on the Google Street View imagery below.
In the first episode, we can see Chief Hong paddle-surf along the gentle waves of a serene, idyllic clean beach. That's Wolpo Beach, one of the key tourist attractions of Pohang. The beach has a shore width of 70 meters and stretches 900 meters along its length. On the busiest days, you can find close to 50,000 visitors doing all kinds of water and sand activities at the beach.
Peer into the distant inlet in the backdrop of the screenshot and you will find that it matches the Google Street View imagery of the same inlet. This segment of the beach is in near the northern tail end of the Wolpo Beach.
Hometown Cha-cha-cha is still be released weekly as we speak. We hope to spot more of the locations in the show and share with everyone here. Do bookmark this page and check back soon!