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[Drama Tour] ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha’ spotlights remote villages of Pohang

By Lee Si-jin

Published : April 13, 2024 - 16:00

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Characters Yoon Hye-jin (left) and Hong Du-sik from Characters Yoon Hye-jin (left) and Hong Du-sik from "Hometown Cha Cha Cha" meet each other at Seokbyeong-ri Village in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province. (tvN)

POHANG, North Gyeongsang Province -- Pohang, a coastal city in the southeast of North Gyeongsang Province, is a popular New Year’s celebration spot, drawing hundreds of people to Homigot, the main venue for the annual sunrise festival at the easternmost point of the Korean Peninsula.

While Homigot is a beloved tourist destination, its sunrises alone have never managed to attract hoards of visitors.

Understandably, Pohang's popularity as a travel destination has been rather muted compared to coastal cities such as Busan, Yeosu in South Jeolla Province and Gangneung in Gangwon Province.

Things changed, however, after “Hometown Cha Cha Cha,” a tvN rom-com series released in 2021. Viewers were captivated by the hit series' setting -- Pohang -- and the spots featured in the show went viral.

Drama fans were mesmerized by the tranquil and cozy atmosphere of the seaside town shown on the small screen.

These villages in Pohang might not have some of the eye-catching tourist attractions that popular travel destinations boast. But for those who wish to take a sneak peek at the villagers' lifestyle or seek emotional refuge from busy city life -- like Hong Du-sik (Kim Seon-ho) in “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” -- Pohang may just be the answer.

Seokbyeong-ri and Cheongjin-ri Villages

Seokgyeong-ri Village (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) Seokgyeong-ri Village (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Seokbyeong-ri Village, a small town located at the southern end of Pohang, is home to “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” couple Hong Du-sik and Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-ah).

This may be a symbolic tourist spot for some drama fans, but the village is not a set.

From early in the morning to the afternoon, villagers can be seen tidying up fishing nets, maintaining their boats and drying seaweed under the sun.

Anglers draw in their fishing lines while others patiently wait for the right moment to pull in their catch.

A group of women gather at the village's community center to chat about what to have for lunch.

Drama fans might not be able to meet the beloved “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” couple in real life, but the daily life of the little seaside town in the show unfolds right before their eyes.

Visitors can spot red lighthouses while traveling around different areas of Pohang, but the Seokbyeong-ri lighthouse is special for fans of the drama.

This is the place where the character of Hye-jin confesses her feelings for Du-sik.

The lighthouse and the coastal embankment still serve as a romantic photo zone for couples.

Seokbyeong-ri Village's red-colored lighthouse shown in Seokbyeong-ri Village's red-colored lighthouse shown in "Hometown Cha Cha Cha" (tvN)

Meanwhile, Cheongjin-ri Village in Cheongha-myeon, northern Pohang, became popular for its welfare center -- the set for Hye-jin’s dental clinic in the drama.

The Yoon Dental Clinic is now a local restaurant, where everything is slow and relaxed.

The Yoon Dental Clinic restaurant, the set of the dental clinic in The Yoon Dental Clinic restaurant, the set of the dental clinic in "Hometown Cha Cha Cha," at Cheongjin-ri Village in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
A mural of A mural of "Hometown Cha Cha Cha" in Cheongjin-ri Village (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Cheongjin-ri villagers collect seaweed, Wednesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) Cheongjin-ri villagers collect seaweed, Wednesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Walking along the road, feeling the soft sea breeze on your face and breathing in the scent of the ocean, you will come upon iconic scenes from “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” painted on the coastal embankments.

Cheongha Market

A 10 to 15-minute ride from Yoon Dental Clinic, visitors can immerse themselves in the laid-back atmosphere of Gongjin in “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” at Cheongha Market, where small stores featured in the drama are located.

From Oyun Cafe, Cheongho Hardware Store to Bora Supermarket and Gongjin Chinese Restaurant, the shops have been preserved for drama enthusiasts.

A visitor poses for a photo in front of Bora Supermarket at Cheongha Market in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald) A visitor poses for a photo in front of Bora Supermarket at Cheongha Market in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
Gongjin villagers gather at Bora Supermarket in Gongjin villagers gather at Bora Supermarket in "Hometown Cha Cha Cha" (tvN)

Cheongha Market beckons with mouthwatering desserts and a wide range of local food and merchandise.

Though fried chicken may be the go-to for many people, old-style barbeque chicken is still very popular at the market, according to a resident.

“The market is widely known as a filming location for ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha,’ but I think Cheongha Market offers visitors a chance to travel back in time,” the resident told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

Proving the show’s popularity, countless Post-It notes on the walls of Oyun Cafe express fans' gratitude for a wonderful travel experience, showing their love and support for “Hometown Cha Cha Cha.”

Post-It notes at Cheongha Market in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, written by visitors and fans of Post-It notes at Cheongha Market in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, written by visitors and fans of "Hometown Cha Cha Cha." (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

In this series, The Korea Herald introduces travel destinations featured in hit drama series with the hope of inspiring readers to immerse themselves in the popular scenes and scenery of their favorite shows. -- Ed.