An interesting episode that smartly adds a new character to heighten the drama.
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 8 contains spoilers.
After yesterday’s chapter, Once Upon a Small Town goes back to focusing on its leads in episode eight, but this time with a slight twist. Adding a new character into the fold, one who has past with Ji-yul, the drama heightens at a time when it seemed like Ji-yul was close to finally expressing his feelings for Ja-young. As such, there’s a decent amount of intrigue now, particularly for how things might change going forward.
Once Upon a Small Town season 1, episode 8 recap
After watching a distracted Ja-young recall the events from the previous night which saw her lend a bike from Ji-yul, who expressed his happiness in seeing the police officer, we move to see the vet at work. Here, he overhears what Mal-geum had said about his friend during the heated argument between Huidong and Majeong over who would host the national singing contest. This then leads to a test of mental toughness for Ji-yul, as he is requested to look at a dog belonging to the mother of the village representative he is now upset with, a task that would require a fairly lengthy commute.
Worried about travelling in case of an emergency happening where he is meant to be, Ji-yul struggles in agreeing to head to Gupyeong to check up on the sick dog. That, and he also wonders whether Ja-young resents Mal-geum, given the fact she always says hurtful things, then feigns kindness when wanting something. However, the police officer soon leaves her acquaintance with no choice, agreeing on his behalf to make the trip so that the canine can be treated.
On the way there, Ja-young dismisses Mal-geum’s negative qualities, instead focusing on the fact that she’s ultimately not a bad person. With that in mind, Ji-yul makes it clear that he’s going to Gupyeong primarily for the dog, but also because he is worried about the old lady. Humorously, the tone soon shifts, with the pair lightly discussing how formally (or informally) they should speak to each other now that their age difference has been re-established.
Following on from treating the dog, the two friends run into an issue when Ji-yul notices his truck’s flat tire. What follows is a 90-minute wait for a replacement, though this positively allows the pair to spend some time alone together. As such, the vet gets to talk about how, despite nothing ever going to plan, he doesn’t dislike his life in Huidong. Content, Ja-young smiles warmly, before the duo enjoy a period at the beach kicking back from their busy lives.
When the two head back to the village, they find themselves cut off by a car, one that we soon see belongs to a woman claiming to have travelled to the remote destination because she misses Ji-yul. Awkwardly, Ja-young decides to leave the pair alone to talk. Elsewhere, Yun-hyeong also arrives at Huidong, heading over to the veterinary hospital to the surprise of Yeong-suk, who hasn’t a clue who the Seoul-based worker is.
Curious as to why his ex has appeared in Huidong when they broke up a year ago, Ji-yul hears of how Min wishes for the pair to get back together. “Let’s start over with just the good things. Properly,” she says, only to be interrupted by the visiting Yun-hyeong. As it turns out, it’s the Seoul-based worker’s fault Min is here, as his livestream preview of a visit to Ji-yul’s veterinary hospital informed the vet’s ex of where he could be found.
Continuing, Ji-yul is frustrated about his friend talking about him on a stream without permission, but this is brushed past quickly, as Yun-hyeong wants to know what will be done about the “tenacious” Min. We see that the answer is attempting to send her back home, as Ji-yul ignores comments about how he has gotten more manly in favour of requesting that his ex travels back before it gets dark. However, such a remark falls on deaf ears, as Min says that she will be staying in the village for a week, and will do her best to win over the Huidong vet in that time. Then, she gets ready to depart from the hospital, having said all that she needs to for one day.
Thanks to a burst pipe at Se-ryeon’s house, Ja-young is required to offer her place up for the “bed-and-breakfast guest,” which the police officer unfortunately discovers is Min. Hearing the Huidong Women’s Association fuss over the person they soon think is Ji-yul’s girlfriend, Ja-young is obviously deflated, especially considering the vet is unable to do anything to clear up the truth of the situation amidst all the hubbub.
As it’s being established that Min has already met Ja-young, with the former being curious as to how the police officer knows Ji-yul, Sang-hyeon arrives, and is instantly dubbed the “soulmate” of the popular Huidong resident. This naturally leads to Min confusing the peach farmer as Ja-young’s girlfriend (Sang-hyeon perks up at this labelling, however, putting an arm around his long-time friend), adding more tense awkwardness to an already unique situation.
While the two women get mildly acquainted, discussing Ja-young’s clean, simple home, Sang-hyeon talks with Ji-yul. Here, the vet admits that he does not have a girlfriend when the peach farmer smugly mentions how much Min must have missed him, but points out that Sang-hyeon is without a partner too, referring to his false act earlier. “I think you’re wrong,” the Young Man’s Association President says in response, now clearly believing he has won the affection of Ja-young.
Next, Yun-hyeong, in an attempt at being helpful, states that he thinks there’s “room for reconsideration” in terms of Ji-yul getting back together with Min, who was the vet’s first love. “It’s not like your relationship crashed and burned,” he adds, trying to rationalise the restarting of the fractured relationship. Yet Ji-yul does not seem to take any of it on board, even if Yun-hyeong points out that he seemed offended by the idea of someone else hugging Min. Then, the conversation changes, as the vet’s guest becomes interested in how old Yeong-suk is.
When Ja-young is brought up by Yun-hyeong, Ji-yul appears to realise that it’s the police officer on his mind right now, not Min. So, while Ja-young is walking Nurungji with Sang-hyeon, ready to give an answer to the peach farmer’s confession, the vet intervenes. Bluntly stating that he does not have a girlfriend, Ji-yul brings an end to the episode by looking into the eyes of Ja-young, seemingly ready to express his own feelings.
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