Good Ol’ Review: Excellent Cast, Strong Writing Power the Warmth and Sincerity of “Welcome to Samdal-ri”

Welcome to Samdal-ri Review

No spoilers.

It’s always a welcome treat when a series like Welcome to Samdal-ri (웰컴투 삼달리) comes along and offers up a thoroughly enjoyable and wholesome viewing experience. The 2023-2024 JTBC drama is an excellent series that follows the journeys of an engaging and eclectic group of characters through healing, romance, self-discovery and community. Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hae Sun lead an outstanding ensemble cast that elevates the already strong material and breathtaking visuals.

Welcome to Samdal-ri centers around Cho Yong Pil (Ji Chang Wook) and Cho Sam Dal (Shin Hae Sun), two childhood friends from Samdal-ri, Jeju Island who reunite after years of separation.

Yong Pil is a passionate weather forecaster dedicated to his hometown and its people. Sam Dal, on the other hand, has always dreamed of escaping their small town and making it big in Seoul as a photographer. Though Sam Dal is able to reach those dreams, a scandal drives her to return home to Samdal-ri where she reconnects with Yong Pil and must face the lingering feelings they once had for each other.

With Yong Pil and Sam Dal as our entry point, the series leads us to a vibrant world in the town of Samdal-ri. The characters in the town include Yong Pil’s widowed father, Sam Dal’s parents, two sisters and niece and the three best friends who complete Yong Pil and Sam Dal’s childhood squad. There’s also the group of haenyeos, female divers led by Sam Dal’s mother, who harvest mollusks and seaweed in the waters off the coast of the island.

Welcome to Samdal-ri Review

Through this diverse collection of characters, the series delves into themes of healing, friendship, community and the complexities of many different types of relationships. For Yong Pil and Sam Dal, they must navigate their lingering feelings for each other while also dealing with personal struggles.

Welcome to Samdal-ri is very much a character-driven story. Fully developed and multi-faceted characters are able to effectively express the feelings of moving on and second chances. As well as depict the many ways the relationships you forge influence your life, both in positive or negative ways.

Though Yong Pil and Sam Dal are our two lead stars, the series does not leave the other characters hanging. The large ensemble supporting cast of characters all get strong and engaging stories of their own. And the series is able to take their individual stories and effortlessly intertwine them into a well-paced narrative. It’s like a vibrant and colorful canvas where seemingly separate parts are able to come together for one full and satisfying presentation.

Welcome to Samdal-ri Review

Many characters embark on journeys of self-discovery while never forgetting the community they so love to be a part of. That feeling of community gives the series a wonderfully nostalgic and hometown feel. And as always with the best series that take full advantage of that hometown nostalgia, Welcome to Samdal-ri has plenty of heart and sincerity to support all the diverse stories even more.

Jeju Island even serves as a character on its own with the beautiful scenery and landscapes telling its own story while also driving the other characters’ stories in many ways as well.

Ji Chang Wook and Shin Hae Sun have a charming chemistry. It’s easy to become immediately invested in their relationship. And the series is able to tell their story in a way that feels natural and avoids contrived situations and quirks that could otherwise derail not only their story, but many others as well.

Shin Hae Sun and Kim Mi Kyung, who plays Sam Dal’s mother, deliver some of the series’ most powerful performances. And again, the series features a large, talented and very strong ensemble cast who really do make the town of Samdal-ri feel like a fully realized and multi-faceted place. You will have no problem immersing yourself in Samdal-ri thanks to the wonderful cast.

Welcome to Samdal-ri Review

Dramatic and funny. Witty and charming. Emotional and romantic. With its strong cast, compelling storylines, beautiful cinematography and well-paced narrative, Welcome to Samdal-ri will easily find a spot on my year-end favorites list. And for anyone who might join these lively and relatable characters on their journey, a fully satisfying and fulfilling viewing experience.

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