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Welcome To Samdal Ri: Ji Chang Wook & Shin Haesun Give Us The Perfect Comfort Watch | Movies News

“Does it hurt your pride to see your friends again? It doesn’t matter why you came back. We’re just happy to see our friend again.” says Ji Chang Wook’s Cho Yong Pil to Cho Sam Dal( Shin Hae Sun). A poignant statement in “Welcome To Samdal-ri , a slice-of-life drama, which revolves around these two characters, one who wants to soar and escape her life on Jeju Island, and the other who is content and makes the most of where he is.

Cho Sam Dal is a hotshot photographer in Seoul until a conniving and manipulative assistant accuses her of bullying. Overnight her one soaring career is in shambles, and Sam Dal also discovers her boyfriend has also been cheating on her with the very same assistant.

She along with her two sisters move bags and baggage back home to Samdal-ri, a small town in Jeju Island. Though her pride in tatters and her spirits down Sam Dal is also hiding from her ex-boyfriend Yong Pil.

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Yong Pil is a forecaster at the Meteorological Department, a bit headstrong when it comes to work, but the town favourite. Everyone loves Yong Pil for his caring nature and have been fiercely protective of him, ever since Sam Dal broke his heart.

It is not before long the two come face to face, and old feelings are bound to resurface. Sam Dal who had changed her name in Seoul, and has always seen her destiny away from her hometown, is confronted with a surge of emotions. Was she running away from the town and its people, or herself? Why is she putting up fake pretenses in front of her people?

Yong Pil seems like her alter ego, telling her truths that she would rather not face. Sam Dal, who always aspired to be a dragon that arises from a small stream, understands that it’s Yong Pil who wants to be her small stream.

In the meantime, their mother played by veteran actor Kim Mi Kyung who is the leader of the “hayenos”, (female divers of Jeju) has to contend with not only the town gossip about the return of her three daughters but also her health condition which keeps hidden. Sam Dal’s two sisters, one a divorcee and the other a single mother too, are dealing with their issues and seem unaware of the plight of their mother.

Welcome To Samdal-ri is a feel-good drama which envelopes you in its warmth. Set in the lush landscape of Jeju, the scenic visuals are the healing balm to the emotional wounds of the lead characters.

Sam Dal’s situation highlights the rampant bullying and the cancel culture which has become a part of S Korean society especially when it comes to famous people. How careers are destroyed and the toxicity of social media only amplifies the same. Shin Hae Sun once again gives an uninhibited performance. A moving moment when she confronts her assistant and asks, “Did I compel you to die”, you feel her pain,

Yong Pil may come across as a man not driven by ambition, but he is very secure in himself. Ji Chang Wook is endearing and the actor who has a remarkable screen presence once again shines as the simpleton.

Written by Kwon Hye Joo, who once again brings out the emotional dynamics between the characters to the fore in a subtle manner.

Produced by SLL, “Welcome to Samdal-ri “, endears for its simplicity, and is relatable at so many levels. Bogged down by the pressures of a competitive world, one tends to lose one’s way. Seek your tribe, find your people and self is the message loud and clear.

The bonus being the chemistry between Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hae Sun, which gets top points.

Welcome to Samdal-ri is streaming on Netflix.

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