Netflix’s Korean import stole our hearts with its city girl–meets–country boy meet-cute and equally adorable interiors. If you haven’t been turned on to it yet, you’re in for a delightful binge. Meantime, get inspired by this quirky set.
Any fan of a romantic two-step will fall hard for the Korean Netflix rom-com Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. The story follows Yoon Hye-jin, an uptight big-city dentist who ends up in the small seaside town of Gongjin and strikes up a romance with local jobber Hong Du-sik.
The series is nonstop charming, including its interiors, created by set designer Ryu Seon-kwang. In fact, the locations have so caught Korean fans’ attention that producers have had to issue statements begging them to stop visiting the real houses where they filmed because it’s annoying to the actual residents. Here, Seonkwang takes us inside Hong’s bungalow, a cozy ode to small-space living connected by sliding doors to a wide world just beyond.
An important element of Hong’s character is his respect for his elders—in fact, he lives with his grandfather in a hanok, a traditional Korean house. “This space existed long before Hong was born,” says Seon-kwang, “and it’s assumed that Hong repaired and remodeled the house as he settled in.” Seon-kwang created a space that looked very lived-in, but in several stages, first by the grandfather and then adjusted by Hong, a mish-mash, fit for someone who works many odd jobs.
The producers wanted Hong, a dreamer, to be immersed in the view outside his door. They changed the narrow door to the exterior, normally made of hanji (a traditional Korean paper), to a wide sliding glass door “so he could look at the outdoor landscape in the back lawn,” says Seon-kwang. Here, the barriers between exterior and interior fall away, nature nurtures, and fantasy and reality combine.
Cameras & Photographs
Hong is a collector of cameras, which he amasses and repairs himself and then uses to take photos around Gongjin. The cameras on display were yet another way to bring an older world together with a contemporary one, taking Hong’s interest in art and making it into interior decor. Meanwhile, for the photos, the production designers took pictures around Pohang, the town on which Gongjin is based, bringing the local scenery into the interior space.
To make the rafters, beams, and pillars come to life (in traditional hanoks, they’re often made of uneven wood), Seon-kwang sourced wood from an old hanok. Because Hong would have purchased, or picked up, only the most comfortable furniture, they went with a combination of old and new. “We thought it should look awkward,” he says. “But there is familiarity in that awkwardness.”
“Hong is more of a bookworm than a visual person,” says Seon-kwang. Hence, his books are prominently featured. Hong is also not the kind of guy to run out to Ikea. Instead, he would have built his own shelves from discarded wood that he’d found outdoors. “So we did just that,” he says. Again, the outdoors meet the indoors, this time with a good amount of DIY.
By John Ortved | Images courtesy of Netflix
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.