The charm of small towns and the strength of friendships formed in those small towns is like no other. To those of us who are tired of the city grind, small towns call us with open arms and with a promise to teach us how to take life one step at a time. There’s a new drama on the block which takes us through a virtual journey of a cute hamlet named Samdal in Jeju Island. In Samdal, everyone knows everyone. There are legends and stories told to the day which keeps the spirit of the town alive. From this small town hail our leads Cho Sam Dal and Cho Yong Pil. Welcome to Samdalri tells us the story of Cho Sam Dal (Shin Hye Sun) and Cho Yong Pil (Ji Chang Wook) and how it inadvertently affected those around them.Welcome To Samdalri Review: Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hye Sun rekindle small town romance with humour, chaos and warmth
In the first two episodes, the story starts when Sam Dal and Yong Pil are born in Samdalri. Their families were close and hence they grew up to be close friends as well. But their aspirations were different. There were feelings of love and companionship for each other but their goals differed which led to a separation. Sam Dal found a life for herself on the mainland aka the city of Seoul whereas Yong Pil decided to stay back in Samdal and find his living there. Sam Dal is now a successful fashion photographer whereas Yong Pil is a passionate weather forecaster. Sam Dal’s name is dragged through the mud after one of her assistant's attempts to take their life and accuses Sam Dal of abusing her power. Sam Dal and her sisters go back to Samdalri to escape the brunt of the scandal. She comes back to the town after so long that everyone is excited to meet her. Of course, her return marks the return of unresolved feelings between her and Yong Pil. The two were joined at the hip at a young age, but now things are different.
The townsfolk of Samdalri are the quintessential people who have a set way of life. They have their businesses, jobs and personal lives to lead. Many of them went to the city to try their luck but returned when they found none. The only people to go to the city and succeed were Sam Dal and her sisters. The townsfolk admire the sisters for their success. As the story progresses we are introduced to the lead characters’ background story and what events led to their current situation. The exact reason for their separation is still ambiguous for we see on one hand that Sam Dal called for it whereas another scene shows Yong Pil took the call. For two individuals who lived all their lives together and cared for each other, it is quite difficult to think that one misunderstanding could cause such a big rift.
Two of sixteen episodes have aired so far. The one-hour-long runtime of each episode gives ample time for the story to progress at its speed. The pacing of the drama is slow and steady which is adequate for a slice-of-life drama. The frames captured are aesthetically pleasing and make one want to head to Jeju Island right that instant. The shared feeling of oneness between the inhabitants of Samdalri, the paced-out way of living, and the contentment that they have with what they have, all make the town of Samdalri come alive. The hardworking people are grateful for what they have and are not greedy. The lifestyle in Samdalri feels like something out of a slice-of-life novel.
So far there has been only a few minute-long interaction between the leads, Sam Dal and Yong Pil. All that we know about their history is from the flashbacks and the townsfolks’ stories. We have yet to hear it firsthand from them. There is a palpable tension and awkwardness between them as they meet again after eight years. Despite their separation, we see that Yong Pil still cares for Sam Dal. So much so that he went to the city of Seoul to check in on her (but from afar) \after the news of her scandal broke.
Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hye Sun play their characters well and show promising chemistry from the flashbacks that we have seen. Their performances are commendable blending their chaotic energies with past romance, bringing their characters to life with authenticity and charm. It will be an indulgent experience to see them together on screen for both their characters have impeccable coming timing and are also quite headstrong in their approach.
Cho Sam Dal and Cho Yong Pil are two ambitious people with one thinking head first, and the other with their heart. The series is a welcome escape towards the end of the year. The feel-good vibes and warm fuzzies of Welcome Of Samdalri leave you with a heartwarming afterglow. This conflict of head over heart between them will be interesting to see as it unfolds further. How will Sam Dal get her reputation back? Will Sam Dal and Yong Pil become friends again? So, grab your popcorn, settle in, and let the show transport you to a world filled with chaos, humour and warmth of true love.
What are your thoughts on Welcome to Samdalri? Do you like Shin Hye Sun and Ji Chang Wook’s pairing?
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