‘Once Upon a Small Town’: A Detailed Recap of All Episodes

By Nathan Sartain
Published: April 23, 2024
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Once Upon a Small Town Season 1 Recap
Once Upon a Small Town Promotional Image (Credit - Netflix)


Once Upon a Small Town comes across as your typical K-Drama romance, and to be honest, that’s the best way of describing it. Spanning 12 episodes, the story follows a veterinarian who relocates to the countryside from the city, which comes with a lot of change. While there, he crosses paths with a policewoman who holds a secret. I’ve watched every episode of season 1 and compiled a recap and breakdown of everything that happened.

Episode 1

We begin with a vet checkup on a dog named Mr. Walnut, which has Brachycephalic Syndrome. The appointment is constantly interrupted by the sounds of the doctor’s phone, but he perseveres, labeling the disruption spam as he explains the need for the snort-snouted animal to undergo a throat exam.

When Ji-yul does manage to get to his phone, he ends up rushing out of his workplace, nervously attempting to get a hold of his grandfather while driving. Then, he arrives at the elder’s house, enquiring via phone if there were any accidents reported in Huidong, clearly worried about what might have transpired. In the background, the police wait, ready to pounce on the veterinarian they believe could be robbing the house.

Unfortunately for Ji-yul, an overeager policeman unintentionally knocks him out before the situation is properly cleared up, leading to an impromptu hospital visit. When awake, the vet does get to hear the truth, though, that his elderly relative has went on a cruise, and that the ominous message of “there’s not much time left” was just a reference to his grandfather’s impending departure. Subsequently, given the keys to the house, as well as the hospital (Ji-yul’s grandfather is the director), the vet is suddenly informed that he is to be left in charge of the village’s one veterinary healthcare setting while his relatives are away.

On the way back to Ji-yul’s temporary address, Ja-young’s gesture of giving the vet a lift doesn’t quite go to plan. She ends up, when distracted, stunning Sang-hyeon into falling onto a sea of mud, staining the youngster’s new shirt to the point it needs a hefty wash. Nevertheless, the trip does prove useful, as a pit stop at Mr. Cho’s address shows the need for a captured “feral” dog to be treated for the injuries it sustained.

Afterward, Ja-young and Ji-yul bicker about the canine’s rights, with the former believing that it should be sent to a shelter once treated, while the latter disagrees based on his belief that such a thing would only lead to the animal being euthanized. Irritated, Mr. Cho soon throws his two cents into the ring too, stating that the dog will only come back if it is released, disappointed that the vet isn’t looking at his chickens per his initial request.

In time, Ji-yul expresses his desire to take the dog to the hospital temporarily, to at least check if it has a microchip. Then, he departs, warning his police acquaintance to not to go easy on Mr. Cho just because he is her neighbour.

At the veterinary setting, the canine is revealed to have avoided a fracture, yet Ji-yul swiftly shifts his focus to something else. Noticing the looks afforded to him by Ja-young, he wonders if there is something she needs to say, hearing in reply that there is, though she would rather not vocalise it.

When an issue involving a goat is brought forward, which means an increase in work for Ji-yul, he notes that it is time for him to go home. Unfortunately for the vet, he is informed that this is a hospital with its workers always on-call, so the luxuries of getting off work will be scarce over the next few months. “Around here, you go wherever and whenever they call you,” his new colleague adds, somewhat shocking the man used to life in Seoul.

While attempting a shortcut on the way to where he is needed, Ji-yul asks why the police are always called for animal emergencies, and is told that this is the “quickest solution.” Reflections on these words are not afforded, however, as before long the vet suffers the same fate as Sang-hyeon, and falls into a patch of mud. As such, Ji-yul is required to work dirty when faced with the live wire injured goat.

Later on, Ji-yul finally arrives at his temporary home, even scruffier than when we lost saw him. It’s clear that it has been a difficult day at work, but the worker is further unable to unwind thanks to the unannounced visit of three middle-aged women. Huidong Women’s Association President Jang Se-ryeon is one of the guests who gifts the veterinarian side dishes alongside a message to not confuse his Seoul life with the one he will be experiencing here.

When the Women’s Association are leaving, Se-ryeon imparts one more piece of wisdom: “If you say you don’t need something, we give it to you. If you say you do, we give you more than you need.” That’s the lay of the land, something that will need to be learned by the fresh-faced capital city doctor.

Alone, Ji-yul gets an opportunity to read the note left by his grandfather. It turns out that the elderly man wanted to belatedly make his wife of 50 years come true by traveling the world as a way to repay the hardships she had faced from living through her children passing away. Naturally, the young vet does seem to be understanding, proven by his late-night visit to the hospital to care for the animals being kept there.

On a walk, Ji-yul spots Ja-young swimming in the river, and the episode ends with a look of recognition between the two.

Episode 2

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 2

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 2 (Credit – Netflix)

We begin with the village head waking up the residents of Huidong, watching as a disappointed Ja-young, who was awkwardly ignored last night near the river, doesn’t seem fussed over the warm welcome instructed to be given to Ji-yul. Here, we see that the two actually knew each other some time ago as “secret friends,” though now it is only the police officer who remembers those days. Meanwhile, the Seoul-based veterinarian properly begins his life in the remote village, attempting to accustom himself to the unfamiliar surroundings, as well as the extremely friendly locals.

During a jog, Ji-yul bumps into the Women’s Association, in a scene which establishes a petty rivalry between Huidong’s Jang Se-ryeon and Park Mal-geum of Majeong. Following that, the vet watches a young boy, Seon-dong, enter his home by sneakily unlocking the gate, yet is unable to properly confront the child due to the emergence of Ja-young. Instead, Ji-yul comes across negatively, upsetting the minor, who misconstrues the situation as a scolding, when asking him to knock in future. “I have committed a grave sin,” Seon-dong says, departing solemnly alongside the police officer with claims that the temporary resident has a skill of making the right thing sound mean, and that he is not as handsome as others have said.

After it’s established that there will be vaccinations for Mr. Yang’s pigs taking place during the day, Ja-young unsubtly tries to mask her desires to join in, before leaving the police station to assist a nervous Ji-yul with the admittedly large task. Expectedly, the job proves to be difficult, with the two helpers still irritated by each other and the animals near impossible to round up. Eventually though, the jabs are completed, in part thanks to a noticeably efficient level of unexpected teamwork. Nevertheless, the police officer does clumsily knock Ji-yul down into faeces at one point, proving that things aren’t quite seamlessly rosy between the two for now.

When finished with work, Ji-yul follows Ja-yang to a remote cafe in search of some decent coffee. There, the vet meets Sang-hyeon, the man in charge of Huidong Young Men’s Association, in addition to his own peach farm, which finds itself advertised on the side of cups. “That face will be the one you see most often while you’re here,” the multifaceted worker tells Ji-yul at the culmination of their introductions, ensuring he is aware that Ja-yang will always be around. There’s a subtle nugget here too, as Sang-hyeon is noticeably energized when hearing that there’s a chance the police officer isn’t interested in the short-term Huidong townsman.

Unfortunately for Sang-hyeon, he does have to worry about the fact somebody stole a small sum of money from him. It’s the same kind of petty crime Ji-yul found himself accused of upon his arrival in the village, a fact which is humorously brought back up in conversation. Succeeding this, the vet leaves the cafe, somewhat taken aback by the act of “sterilization” he ended up watching between Ja-yang and the peach farmer. When he’s gone, the other two talk about Ji-yul’s jerkish behavior, but the police officer does appear somewhat deflated at the thought that her former “secret friend” will only be sticking around temporarily.

At the hospital, Ji-yul attempts to learn more about Ja-yang from Yeong-seok, and is told that she is “pretty much a human civil complaint window.” The Seoul-based doctor puts a different spin on the definition, believing that his frenemy is nosy, though this is a sentiment debated with. Suddenly, the vet is back on the job anyway, taking care of a baby goat frustrated by colic. Elsewhere, Ja-young is on hand to comfort an old woman who saw the silhouette of the red hat-wearing thief fleeing after a robbery.

In due time, Seon-dong passes on the potential location of the culprit, kickstarting Ja-young’s attempts to catch them. However, all she does is draw the ire of Ji-yul, who believes that his house is beginning to become a hotspot for locals to pass through. With that being said, the frustrated vet is swiftly made aware of what is really happening, allowing for the thief to be caught at the end of a clunky escape at an exit. Labelled someone named Jun-ho’s friend, the pocket money stealer is taken away by the police.

To end the episode, Ji-yul refuses to accept Ja-yang’s offer of a helping hand, claiming that he has learnt his lesson. Yet he soon has no choice but to hold on to her grip, pleasing the police officer as she smilingly stares the vet down.

Episode 3

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 3

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 3 (Credit – Netflix)

We start at the police station, where the petty thief, Gi-taek, is confronted over misdemeanours he said were committed for the purposes of having enough money to buy his girlfriend a gift. The family of the youngster insist that his friend, Ju-ho, should also be questioned, though the culprit indicates he acted alone. Then, the Women’s Association arrive, using the situation to tease that Gi-taek is a Majeong resident, which in turn kickstarts a juvenile back-and-forth touching heavily on each area’s support funds. Nevertheless, the bickering eventually stops, as everyone in the room swiftly becomes transfixed on whether or not Ji-yul will choose to press charges.

Fortunately for the looter, the veterinarian can see enough repentance to drop the matter. However, this only fuels the fire for another argument between the two village representatives, this time over topics ranging from where Ji-yul should live, to the attractiveness of the locals that he could potentially date. In time, a full blown altercation breaks out, one only stunted by a hearty scream from the Seoul-based doctor, who wishes to be kept out of “regional conflict.”

Outside, a tired Ji-yul rebukes an offer of a ride home from Ja-young. The vet is frustrated that he sees the police officer too often, going as far as to question if she has “any personal feelings” for him, so expresses his desire to head back to his temporary residence for the clean-up job alone. Naturally, Ja-young is a little upset by this, so wonders why her former “secret friend” hates the village, and the friendliness of the people within it, so much. “I never said I hated it. But come to think of it, I do,” is the blunt response, which is followed up on with a claim that Ji-yul does not have any good memories of the place, in addition to a proclamation of his belief that the locals cannot seem to understand his preference for boundaries. Subsequently, the vet is allowed to go his own way uncontested.

That night, Ja-young sits at the cafe alongside Sang-hyeon, discussing the retention of significant memories, in addition to the ability people have to recall events differently. It’s alluded to in this scene that the police officer has had to deal with some sort of hardship involving her mother, yet the conversation does end on a happier note, the two friends happily acknowledging that they share more memories with each other than anyone else, and hold onto them too.

After finishing a day that included 150 pig vaccinations, the intubation of a goat’s airway, routine visits to three barns and the tidying of a burglarised house, Ji-yul talks to his friend Yun-hyeong about the ditching of the “nosy” person in his life, hearing back that the fresh-faced doctor always makes “an enemy or two” wherever he goes. Yun-hyeong then wonders if this decision to cut off such an individual will be regretted, though is unable to get a response due to his acquaintance suddenly dozing off.

The next morning, Ji-yul awkwardly bumps into Ja-young when she is picking up Seon-dong, with the police officer quick to state she is not crossing any boundaries prior to her straightforward exit. Later on, while the vet is departing from a house call in Majeong, he overhears that the person he cut off was abandoned by her mother. Seeing the resilient, persevering Ja-young in a new light, there appears to be some regret on the face of Ji-yul, who ends up clumsily brought into the candid conversation he was a silent witness of when Gi-taek’s mother spots him. Deflated, Officer Ahn hastily leaves.

As Sang-hyeon curiously watches on, Ji-yul tries to correct his wrongs by offering Ja-young a ride to Huidong on his bike. However, it doesn’t work, with the police officer remaining adamant she will travel alone. Concurrently, caught in two minds, the peach farmer who has observed this whole ordeal opts not to intervene. As such, everyone heads back in their own differing ways.

Following on from establishing that he can borrow a truck from the village head, Ji-yul begins to ask Yeong-suk about Ja-young. Or at least he looks set to until he decides against it, focusing instead on the recovering dog that is now able to eat properly again. Content, the vet heads out to the cafe, fetching himself a drink as he observes the happy pictures of the locals, and Sang-hyeon’s light-hearted instructions for how to work the coffee machine.

At that point, Ja-young arrives, curious as to why Ji-yul is at the remote truck. Though she never hears back, as the two end up rushed into joining the mission to protect the area’s peaches from stink bugs thanks to Cha Yeon-hong. The situation does allow for the two to slowly begin to bond, however, with the pairing agreeing to keep the conversation about abandonment a secret, and the Seoul-based vet shown how to wrap the fruits by his friendly acquaintance.

When Ja-young teases Ji-yul over how she must be crossing the line, the vet admits that he reacted too emotionally, saying that he wishes for what he said to be forgotten now that he knows there is no such thing as boundaries in Huidong. It’s a subtle, unspoken apology, but nevertheless, one accepted by the police officer, who assures her former “secret friend” that he can rely on her “a little” while he is staying in the area. Then when Ji-yul vocalises his curiosity over who Ja-young can lean on, the pair become somewhat flustered, as Se-ryeon watches on with a marked enthusiasm. It’s an excitement not precisely shared by Yeon-hong, who decides to tell Sang-hyeon to be careful or risk “losing” the village favourite.

Continuing, Yeon-hong tries to further explain to Se-ryeon why Sang-hyeon is perfect for Ja-young, worried that the median age of the village would “shoot up” should the police officer move to Seoul with the vet. The head of the Women’s Association still holds out hope for the capital city worker’s chances, though, saying that he is not really a man if he doesn’t feel something when looking at Officer Ahn, and that she can change her usual stances if the right person comes along.

Later on, Ji-yul asks Sang-hyeon directly for a truck, explaining that he didn’t want to cause a misunderstanding by asking through Ja-young. In the background, Se-ryeon laughs, informing the vet that the whole village “egged on” the two kind-hearted residents for over 10 years, but that there is no hope for them romantically. “Maybe when they turn 60, they might shack up together because they’re tired of visiting each other,” she adds, content by her wit. When the young trio are then left together, Sang-hyeon takes the earlier misconception as a compliment, claiming that he and Ja-young are indeed extremely close. The police officer shrugs off the comment, though, moving quickly back to the topic of Ji-yul’s need for a truck.

With jealousy obviously a factor, Sang-hyeon sets a high price for the vehicle Ji-yul wants to purchase, only for the president of the Young Man’s Association to be pulled aside by Ja-young in a bid to have the fee slashed. Feeling awkward, the veterinarian opts to just exit the potential transaction altogether, favoring a used-car lot visit alongside the police officer instead, where the two will pretend to be a married couple in the hopes of a discount.

Naturally, this gets a reaction out of Sang-hyeon. Comedically decreasing his initial asking price to a low level, the peach farmer practically gives the truck to a content Ji-yul, putting an end to the pretend marriage charade he clearly didn’t want to happen. Nevertheless, Sang-hyeon doesn’t avoid a talk from his close friend after the vet has left, as she wishes to know whether he is worried that she will become close with the temporary Huidong resident. Then, Ja-young opens up, revealing to the peach farmer that Ji-yul is in fact her secret friend from when they were 12. Stunned, Sang-hyeon instantly asks if this is the reason memories were brought up in conversation yesterday, with the police officer explaining the full situation in response before expressing her intention to just let the vet feel comfortable while he is in the area. With that in mind, the episode ends with all three characters doing their own reflection, seemingly ready to embrace whatever happens next.

Episode 4

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 4

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 4 (Credit – Netflix)

After Ji-yul watcheds Ja-young warmly play with the “half-wild” dog (later named Nurungji) that was being treated at the hospital, he agrees that it’s time to find someone to adopt the canine. Of course, the police officer is happy to oblige here, offering to look after the pet she has grown attached to already. In return for the good deed, she will get the dog’s food and medicine free of charge. A quick flashback then confirms that this is not Ja-young’s first experience with a canine, as she once received Cloud from a friend back when they were young.

Later on, a reflective Ji-yul hears of Ja-young’s status as an “animal person,” with Yeong-suk stating that the police officer makes friends with them easily, in the same way she does with people. Then, when on his way back home, the vet is flustered by the appearance of his acquaintance, to the point he slightly stutters when discussing the fact he has eaten. With that being said, the two do get to spend a little time together on their way to a disturbance that has already been dealt with, which allows the pair to talk more openly. We hear that Ja-young embraces her busy life due to it meaning that she is useful, as well as the type of blessing she believes it would be to be able to see someone every time they were missed. Most importantly, though, it seems like the duo who were at odds with each other plenty of times have now accepted their friendship.

With the mood high, Sang-hyeon coincidentally interrupts the conversation while on his way to buy a mating disruptor. Still obviously somewhat jealous, the peach farmer asks if Ji-yul knows what such a thing is, before detailing its full effect once it’s established he does, although clearly this speech is a not-quite-subtle dig at the vet for interrupting Sang-hyeon’s advances towards Ja-young.

At the hospital, Ja-young rushes in to talk about Nurungji’s disappearance, evidently extremely worried. Fortunately, Ji-yul calms the police officer down when she starts to theorize about her pet hunting chickens, leading to a more rationalized search for the missing canine. Eventually, Nurungji is found, along with three puppies and a larger dog named Boksil.

Sadly, Boksil pounces on Ji-yul, causing him to lose a contact lens, as well as scratch his arm. As such, he is made to head back into town by Ja-young, who insists that the wound be treated. On the way back, the canine relationship between Nurungji and Boksil is contextualized, while Ji-yul expresses his fascination with Ja-young’s ability to know so much about people and be so friendly towards them. “I think of them as family,” the police officer replies, believing that the village really is that close to her.

Soon, Ji-yul gets a call from Se-ryeon that disrupts the warm chat, as he is told that the cow belonging to the Women’s Association President is struggling to give birth. What follows is a rather intense delivery, one full of compromise due to the vet’s diminished vision (until his glasses arrive) and the absence of a pully, but the calf is ultimately safely born thanks to the assistance of Ja-young. Relieved, Ji-yul is barely able to speak when subjected to compliments about his ability, though he does find the time to admit to that the kind words are helping him relax.

That night, the village parties at Se-ryeon’s house, taking Ji-yul by surprise. Nevertheless, the vet nervously unwinds alongside Ja-young before Sang-hyeon arrives, with the peach farmer continuing his obvious attempts at keeping the police officer close to him. Then, the Young Men’s Association president gets all the attention for his keen eating of meat, praised for the fact he is not “picky” with his food like Ji-yul, who had established his vegetarianism. The vet is well aware of the games Sang-hyeon is playing, however, emphasised by his lingering look of mild contempt.

In time, Se-ryeon’s special bush clover liquor is brought out to commemorate the happy occasion, a drink meant to have an interesting effect for men. When asked about this by Ja-young, Sang-hyeon’s response is that she must actually see him as a man, so he happily accepts a glass upon its offering. Following that, the peach farmer’s snide comments about the drink’s strength taunt Ji-yul into taking some of the liquor too, leading to a strangely tense back-and-forth of alcohol consumption.

At that point, Se-ryeon sees it fit to intervene, so invites Ja-young up to sing. It’s a nice performance, one that highlights the affection both Sang-hyeon and Ji-yul have towards the police officer with the way they watch her. Yet at the culmination of the song, when the attention turns to the “VIP” veterinarian, Ji-yul nervously leaves, only to be followed out by Ja-young. Under the pitch black sky, the police officer questions why Ji-yul looks so uneasy, then tries to change topics when discussing her intent to bring the puppies to the hospital the following day.

After trying to get out of helping Ja-young with the task of transporting the dogs, Ji-yul ends up awkwardly entangled with the police officer anyway, helping her when she falls and unconsciously holding her hand to prevent it from getting dirty from bike chain inspection. With an awkwardness in the air, a curious Sang-hyeon abruptly appears, labelling the veterinarian a lightweight because of his vehicle’s muddy condition. Provoked, Ji-yul smugly replies that the peach farmer must have been worried about something to leave the party and follow the pairing, an accusation admitted to.

When frustrated by subsequent comments that imply he may have been being shady in regard to what alcohol could do for him and Ja-young, Ji-yul departs, but not before commenting that it’ll be like leaving Sang-hyeon with a girlfriend. Then, the vet overhears the peach farmer genuinely confesses his feelings to the police officer. “When I see you, I want to hold you and hug you,” Sang-hyeon says, no longer wishing for his friend to be too comfortable with him. Following a quick look at all three people’s immediate reactions to what’s been said, the episode ends.

Episode 5

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 5

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 5 (Credit – Netflix)

After re-watching Sang-hyeon’s confession, we cut to the next day, where Ji-yul is cleaning his bike. Elsewhere, a contemplative Ja-young is caught deep in thought by Seon-dong, before the youngster watches on as the police officer and veterinarian awkwardly say their morning hellos. Confused by the situation, Ja-young wonders what is up.

At the police station, Geun-mo is surprised by his colleague’s unusual reluctance to head to the peach farm for coffee, given her usual consumption habits. However, what was Ja-young’s planned avoidance of Sang-hyeon proves a fruitless endeavour anyway, as he soon comes through the door with a surprise delivery of drinks. Following that, the two friends sit together in silence, reflecting on the instructions given last night for the police officer to try and see Sang-hyeon in a different way.

In time, Ja-young speaks, questioning whether there’s any fear in Sang-hyeon’s mind that the two can no longer be friends because of his confession. The peach farmer bluntly replies that he is not scared, then adds a query of his own regarding how the pair’s relationship can be defined. “To me, you’re a friend, but also a woman,” he says, admitting that he would like for the police officer to be his “special someone” but would still be close with her should such intimacy not materialize.

Acknowledging that the awkward phase between the two would only be short compared to the amount of time they’ve spent together, Sang-hyeon once more expresses his desire for Ja-young to keep thinking about his confession. Then, with the air cleared, he leaves, wanting to continue being “the usual us” with his long-time friend. Meanwhile, Ji-yul catches up with his colleague in Seoul, and some advice is given for the veterinarian to draw boundaries with Ja-young (although Yun-hyeong still misinterprets the affection as dislike).

When witnessing Ja-young act warmly towards Sang-hyeon, Ji-yul seems to get the wrong idea, so drives away deflated. Following that, we watch the vet at work, dealing with cows and calves professionally, though without much energy. Such gloom persists when Ji-yul hears about Ja-young’s visit to borrow a cage, though he does soon become curious as to whether she asked about him. So, when hearing that the police officer had fixed his grandfather’s bike, the vet heads out to meet her in the mountains to assist with the transporting of Boksil’s puppies.

Happy at the help she’s received, Ja-young is excited by her rescuing of the small dogs, only for her emotions to change to ones of confusion. After all, Ji-yul is persistently stern with the police officer, questioning why she never had someone with her, abruptly informing her not to touch her small wound, and attempting to convince her that his retrieval of a roaming puppy was simple. On the car ride back, tensions continue, with the vet mildly curt in his agreement to give the infant canines to Gang-hwa once some tests have been run.

At the hospital, an awkward air lingers, particularly when Ja-young realises that the reason Ji-yul can only give the puppies their first vaccination is because of his imminent return to Seoul. With that being said, the vet at least musters up enough courage to treat the police officer’s cut, and he hears here that his friend is not nosy by nature, but rather appears that way due to her “dedication” to work.

However, instead of just being grateful, Ji-yul makes things noticeably awkward. Cutting Ja-young off while she explains that she would have referred the vet to an optician should he not have got new contacts, he says that he is aware the police officer is trying to take care of him out of her aforementioned dedication to work. Trying to clarify that this is him expressing his gratefulness as a temporary resident, Ji-yul thanks Ja-young, but she is more concerned with wondering whether something she has done has caused the vet to get mad at her.

When trying to deny any negative feelings, Ji-yul is pressed for confirmation that everything is ok by Ja-young. Fortunately, the two end up laughing together, alleviating the tensions that previously persisted in favour of light-hearted gratitude for the wound treatment, and jokes about the vet’s bike ending up in a rice paddy last night. Back at the hospital later on, Ji-yul appears content again.

After a scene showing Ja-young cancel a phone call to Sang-hyeon, Ji-yul watching his colleague’s stream, and the peach farmer waver in his own attempts to communicate with his crush, we move forward to the next day. There, a crying Seon-dong panics over his chocolate-eating dog, Ttoli, which fortunately ends up alright after some IV fluids.

Hearing that Ja-young is undergoing some treatment at a clinic, Ji-yul seems concerned, and is soon summoned by Sang-hyeon for a word. The peach farmer explains that the police officer has had a bad fall, one that occurred due to her using a part of her bike to fix the vet’s, forgetting about it, then using the broken vehicle. “That’s how she is,” Sang-hyeon states, before detailing that he counts down the days until Ji-yul returns to Seoul so he can no longer be within the boundaries of the village Ja-young loves. The vet points out that the part the peach farmer seems to hate most is that his love interest cares for the capital city resident, yet hears back that the main point is that Ji-yul will be gone soon, so he shouldn’t give the police officer the wrong idea.

While dropping off something for Ja-young, Ji-yul expresses his concern that she is still doing some work at the clinic despite her condition. “If you’re injured, you should lie down and rest so you can heal,” he says frustratedly, claiming that it isn’t healthy for the police officer to “seek reaffirmation” of her self-worth by helping others. The vet continues to query just how much his friend needs to be thanked, annoyed that she fixed his bike without request and got hurt, which makes him feel indebted. In response, Ja-young admits that she lives for appreciation, upset by the idea that she shouldn’t be able to risk being hurt for such affection. At that point, Ji-yul just leaves, while the police officer slowly breaks down into tears.

As Ja-young is sent home from an attempt at working while injured, sleeping in the patrol car, Seon-dong concurrently expresses his happiness in seeing Ttoli recovered. The young boy isn’t quite able to take the dog home, though, in part thanks to the heavy rain outside. What he does do instead is interrogate Ji-yul about his alleged feelings of anger towards Ja-young, wanting to know if the vet can give her a break. “She’s as nice as my grandma,” Seon-dong says, understanding that the police officer always means well. Here, Ji-yul opens up, admitting that he was the one to do wrong, if anything, given that he should have been thanking the person he was mad at.

Because of Seon-dong, Ji-yul gets a chance to apologize to Ja-young, who is on her way to Pyeong-sik’s place, over the phone. Yet this doesn’t quite go to plan, as before the vet can offer up any words, he hears the sound of an accident, making him rush out in the torrential rain. Soon, he finds the patrol car off the side of the road, and the episode ends with a worried Ji-yul frantically trying to rescue the two trapped officers while memories of his own troubles as a child in a similar situation play back in his head.

Episode 6

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 6

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 6 (Credit – Netflix)

We begin with a flashback, watching as Ji-yul’s family skid away to avoid colliding with an animal. There, a man frantically struggles in a bid to rescue those who end up trapped in the car, as we cut back to the vet doing the same in the present. Smashing open the window, he manages to free Ja-young, while a look into the past again shows that Ji-yul underwent a mirroring tragedy in his youth, where it was actually the police officer who helped provide aid.

At the hospital, a solemn, reflective Ji-yul watches his friend rest. Then, Sang-hyeon arrives, worried by what could have happened, though curious as to why the vet is already here. “I just happened to be” is the response, drawing out a frail thank you from the peach farmer. In time, Ja-young wakes up, greeted by Sang-hyeon who asks if she is aware of her surroundings. Naturally, the popular resident is more concerned about Geun-mo, but her colleague is presumed to be alright given he is already walking around. Subsequently, wondering how she got to the hospital, the police officer hears of Ji-yul’s selfless act of rescue.

After Ji-yul allows Ja-young to depart alongside Sang-hyeon, we cut to the police officer at home. There, she struggles to express her gratitude towards the vet over text, backtracking on whatever words she forms. Elsewhere, the two young men of the village do their own reflecting, each obviously affected by the day’s events in differing ways.

The next day, the recovering police officers ensure that they get right back to work, with Ja-young in particular going above and beyond when setting out to visit Pyeong-sik’s place. On her way there, she takes a quick pit stop at the veterinary hospital, only to discover that Ji-yul isn’t there.

Instead, donning a black suit and holding flowers, Ji-yul has headed to his parent’s resting place to pay his respects. Following that, Ja-young bumps into the vet on his ride home, kickstarting a mildly awkward, interrupted conversation based on yesterday’s events.

After Sang-hyeon drives along with the police officer, talking about life (as well as making another request for more thinking to be done about his confession), we cut to Ji-yul. Here, the vet is requested to euthanise a dying bull, one evidently suffering given it has stopped eating, and has deteriorating organs. Pyeong-sik, who believes the animal is like family, expresses that he wants to go through this process so that the bull’s death can be painless.

Next, a meeting involving both Huidong and Majeong over where a national singing contest should be held sees tensions rise between the two areas. Bickering over their suitable host venues, it soon turns petty, with each representative mentioning the respective “shabbiness” of the other village. Naturally, it all leads to a physical alteration, which increases in volatility when Mal-geum brings up the idea of Ja-young being spoilt because she has no parents.

Eventually, the police officer manages to simmer proceedings down by banging on the ceiling with a baton. With that being said, it doesn’t see an end to the bitterness, as Mal-geum begrudges Ja-young for always taking Huidong’s side despite the pity she takes on her, in addition to the fact her tax money also goes towards paying for the worker. As such, the comedic physicality soon resumes.

As Ji-yul talks with his Seoul colleague about the imminent euthanising of a bull, and his need to find an anaesthetic, a deflated Ja-young sits alone outside. Fortunately, Sang-hyeon arrives to provide some company, checking up on the well-being of his longtime friend. Nevertheless, the police officer just wants to be alone, so she goes to clear her head with a walk.

Following this, we watch Ji-yul euthanise the ailing bull while Pyeong-sik observes, thanking his trusted animal and wishing for it to return to him when reborn. “My wife could come back in some form, so let the three of us meet again and live happily together,” he says before the vet completes the difficult work.

Later on, Ji-yul talks with the elder, who knows that the Seoul based doctor is missing his parents today. Reflecting on the part he played in looking after the vet after the tragedy when he was a boy allows the two to share a poignant heart-to-heart about key moments in life and those who have passed away. “As long as you don’t forget about someone you yearn to see, they will come to you as the rain or even as the wind,” Pyeong-sik states, sharing his mother’s wisdom.

Prior to his departure from Pyeong-sik’s house, Ji-yul is reminded of his past with Ja-young. “You were so adorable, playing together in secret back then,” the old man explains, making the vet suddenly realize just who the person he has become re-entangled with is.

In between flashback scenes showing the two’s past as youthful friends who did basically everything together, we watch as Ji-yul stands before Ja-young. For now, though, we don’t hear any words, as the episode ends with the two looking into each other’s eyes.

Episode 7

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 7

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 7 (Credit – Netflix)

After re-watching the end of last episode, we cut to see Ja-young admit to Man-sung that something is up, she just isn’t quite sure what. However, the older colleague is wise to the situation, well aware that it could have something to do with the men in the police officer’s life. Elsewhere, Ji-yul looks despondent at the hospital until he’s needed for the treatment of a 3-month-old rabbit suffering from diarrhea.

Fortunately, Judy (the pet) does not have any complex issues, though she is dehydrated, so she requires fluids and some monitoring, as well as no more fruit being fed to her. However, a wider issue is revealed, as Seon-dong hopes to win over Hui-won (the pet owner), wanting her to forgive him for forgetting the gift she got him a while ago. Ji-yul’s advice is that the youngster should give his crush some space to think things through on her own.

Reflecting, Ji-yul recalls the awkward meeting with Ja-young from the day before and goes to call her, only to be interrupted by Yeong-suk. Nevertheless, it’s all for a good reason, as the vet is required to help out with a cow that has been stuck in labor without giving birth for a whole day.

As the news is confirmed that the national singing competition will be held in Majeong, Ja-young spots a dejected Seon-dong walking along the street. Meanwhile, the Huidong Women’s Association rue the fact their village cannot host the event they coveted, understanding that they need to ensure they can get the specialisation funds to prevent further embarrassment.

Upset at feeling invisible to Hui-won now, Seon-dong seeks further advice. Luckily, Ja-young is on hand to provide it, telling the boy that he should just apologise for his mistake given he knows why his crush is angry. When Seon-dong says that he has already tried the sorry route, the police officer adds that the youngster needs to show his love interest how he really feels.

However, this does not go well, so Seon-dong ends up coming crying to Ji-yul, proclaiming that the vet and Ja-young “ruined everything.” This is because the schoolboy was accused of having a split personality when showing his feelings to Hui-won, meaning his crush no longer wants to hang out with him. However, Ji-yul is more interested in hearing that Ja-young said the vet’s advice is nonsense, perhaps deducing that he needs to apologise to his friend until she accepts it.

After Ji-yul successfully convinces Seon-dong to try his idea again, but remain patiently firm in his distance keeping, we watch as the vet comes face-to-face with Ja-young. Here, the police officer gives thanks for the help she received after the car accident, yet subtly suggests that there’s something Ji-yul should say too, even if it’s late.

When the vet looks set to open up, Sang-hyeon disrupts the conversation. He wants to know why Ja-young didn’t visit the barn yesterday for some beer, flustering his longtime friend, and marking the departure of Ji-yul.

Next, Sang-hyeon sits down to talk with Ja-young. The police officer reveals to her friend that Ji-yul remembered who she was, but appears disappointed by the awkwardness of it all, stating that she’ll never see the vet again once he goes back to Seoul anyway, so why bother dwelling on the past. This all pleases the peach farmer, who is soon set to head to the capital city himself to meet a client.

At the hospital, a deflated Ji-yul talks about the unique situation between himself and Ja-young with Yun-hyeong and clumsily confesses that she looks different (in a good way) to him now that he recognizes her. However, the Seoul colleague does state here that Ji-yul must have been a “jerk” for the police officer to act like she didn’t previously know him.

Worryingly, Hui-won appears in front of the vet with a strange looking text from Seon-dong, who has said he will disappear, and is now nowhere to be seen, or able to be communicated with. As such, Ji-yul, alongside the police, begin a pursuit to find the potential runaway.

While bickering over how Ji-yul’s advice may have caused the young boy’s actions, Ja-young and the vet poke around the village for the nine-year-old. The two also discuss how feelings will get hurt if people don’t talk things out (with both sides disagreeing on the importance of timing and the weight of an apology), again obviously understatedly referring to the pair’s own history together as secret friends.

When things get a tad personal, and the two discuss their differing romantic successes generally, there seems to be a realization of joint wrongdoing, with both sides settling down. Then, it’s revealed where Seon-dong is, allowing for the former childhood friends to head back into town, evidently much calmer. As such, Ji-yul subtly admits to Ja-young in the car that he should have apologised more sincerely, by trying to pass off his words as being applicable to Seon-dong and Hui-won.

With things patched up between everyone, both Ji-yul and Ja-young reservedly smile in the truck, recalling the awkward discussion between the two pertaining to their past as “secret friends,” which only the vet had forgotten. As well as this, it becomes evident that the abrupt ending of the discussion had actually came when the police officer became flustered at the idea of having changed.

Continuing, Ji-yul waits for Ja-young outside when she drops off Seon-dong, ready to open up. So he soon does, stating that she was his only good memory from the year they met before, sincerely apologizing for forgetting who she was. With the two looking deeply into each other’s eyes, the episode ends.

Episode 8

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 8

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 8 (Credit – Netflix)

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 favor 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 rationalize 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 realize 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.

Episode 9

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 9

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 9 (Credit – Netflix)

Picking up where we left off, Ji-yul ends up bottling his confession, with the vet too flustered to talk when Ja-young asks if he’d come all the way just to tell her he’s single. As such, things are left rather awkward until Sang-hyeon requests more information on who Min actually is. Following on from clarification that Min is Ji-yul’s ex-girlfriend, Sang-hyeon smugly states that the visitor doesn’t seem to believe so and sends the vet on his way so that he can continue talking with Ja-young. What follows is a rather tense conversation between the two men, bringing an end to the scene when the police officer decides she’s had enough with her walk.

Later on, Ja-young is enlisted to talk with Min who, while trying to befriend the police officer, wants help with winning back Ji-yul. Explaining the history between the former partners, the Huidong visitor says that she realized how foolish she was to end her relationship with the vet once it was over, so she wants aid knowing that she can’t “rekindle” things on her own. Kindly, Ja-young smiles at the request for her to offer “active support” to the prospective couple despite evidently being uncomfortable.

Elsewhere, Ji-yul rues the fact he interrupted Ja-young’s walk, with his woes keeping him awake at night. At the same time, Sang-hyeon stares at the earrings he was meant to give to his love interest, equally as disappointed by what transpired.

After some awkwardness involving Min borrowing makeup from Ja-young, as well as from an impromptu makeover given to the police officer, the two new acquaintances head over to the cafe van for some coffee. While there, Sang-hyeon compliments his crush for how pretty she looks, and notes how Ja-young appears to have become friends with Min. “I think she’s a nice person,” the police officer replies, adding that her guest is someone people can’t help but like. Then, the peach farmer offers his encouragement to Min, hoping that she can get what she wants out of her romantic pursuits.

Outside the hospital, Seon-dong accidentally puts his foot in his mouth, openly expressing to Min that he did not think she would be Ji-yul’s girlfriend because the vet is always looking at Ja-young instead. Flustering the Huidong visitor, the young boy continues by stating that he definitely believes that Ji-yul likes the police officer, which only causes more deflation. Meanwhile, Ja-young is teased over her more glamorous appearance by her colleagues, who interrogate her on why this sudden change has occurred.

In the midst of wondering about Ja-young’s sudden usage of makeup, Ji-yul is interrupted by both a coffee-bearing Min and a soaked Yun-hyeong. Then, Yeong-suk appears with news that the calf mentioned a while ago still will not suckle and is severely dehydrated. There’s also a goat with a hernia that needs attention, meaning that Yun-hyeong has to be enlisted to help out with the workload. As such, Ji-yul goes to the calf while his friend heads out to perform a herniorrhaphy.

Once she has delivered groceries to an elderly lady, Ja-young stops off at Mr. Han’s barn, hearing of the issues involving the calf that will not suckle. However, the police officer soon finds herself disheartened by the sight of Ji-yul fluidly working alongside Min to solve the problem before her emotions turn to embarrassment when the realization strikes that the vet can see her smudged makeup. So, Ja-young quickly leaves without a word, clearing her face of cosmetics shortly after.

When Ja-young encounters Min again, it’s established that Ji-yul and his ex knew each other through work. Then, the police officer gets a call regarding a task that needs doing, one which requires a helping hand. Ji-yul offers to step in and assist, causing Min to feel quite down (she already seemed dejected when her former partner offered up a towel to Ja-young), but all three soon end up making peach wine together. Nevertheless, the tensions of a fresh love triangle exist here, with the trio each having moments of discomfort when looking at one another.

In time, Min tries to ease the anxiousness, so asks about the labels that Sang-hyeon makes. However, this doesn’t exactly please Ji-yul, who concerningly listens to the stories of how every girl at school had a crush on the peach farmer, including Ja-young. Ergo, when Min suggests that Sang-hyeon could be the police officer’s “last love,” the vet intervenes, dismissing such a lofty statement. Wrongly, though, Ji-yul slips in a comment that perhaps the same labeling could also apply to himself and Ja-young, given the fun they had in their youth.

As Ji-yul is sent away to the storage shed for damage limitation, Min talks with Ja-young about the latter’s past with the vet when he was a young boy. This buoys the Huidong visitor, as she actually thinks their history as childhood buddies explains the intimate looks Ji-yul affords the police officer. At that point, Min is summoned by the Women’s Association for some taste testing, leaving the returning Ji-yul alone with his former secret friend.

Following Ja-young to the storage shed, Ji-yul asks if she has given Sang-hyeon a response to his confession. When no answer is given, and the conversation flicks onto the fact the vet should be good to Min, the police officer is bluntly told that Ji-yul’s ex is in the past. “I feel nothing towards Min. No lingering feelings or regrets,” the vet adds, admitting that he is letting his ex be out of an understanding of the type of person she is, waiting for her to give up in her own time.

When the conversation moves back to whether Ja-young wants to date Sang-hyeon because she knows him so well (it’s said that this is still under consideration), Ji-yul gets confident. “Being used to someone is different from romantic feelings,” he states before he questions the police officer’s thoughts on comfort by expressing his belief that love is “when your heart races so much you feel like it can’t take it.” Then, when Ji-yul asks if Sang-hyeon makes Ja-young feel that way, seemingly ready to declare his own feelings, a snack-based interruption once more stunts the confessional words from exiting the vet’s mouth.

With Ja-young excusing herself from eating with the women of the village out of her newfound shyness, Min goes to Ji-yul in the storage shed and notices his dejection. So, while Ja-young gets a corn delivery from Mal-geum, who is irritated by the vet’s confronting of her comments about the police officer being without parents, Min gets ready to talk openly with her ex.

Trying to explain that she will work near Ji-yul when the two are back in Seoul and that this will allow the vet to get feelings for her again, Min surprisingly goes in for a kiss with Ji-yul. And, while it wasn’t reciprocated, it’s enough to shock the appearing Ja-young into dropping her box of corn, bringing an end to the episode with everyone looking stunned.

Episode 10

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 10

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 10 (Credit – Netflix)

Once Ji-yul (played by Choo Young-woo) helps Ja-young (played by Park Soo-young) tidy up the corn, the police officer nervously heads off, wanting the snack to be shared without her. However, she isn’t left alone, as the vet chases after her to return her bike, as well as attempts to clarify what she saw, though this is a fruitless endeavor. Solemn, Ja-young still decides to walk home, deflated by what has transpired.

Meanwhile, Yun-hyeong gets Ji-yul to better understand his affection towards the police officer, giving his friend some advice to just confess his feelings and then go from there.

At her house, Ja-young aims to clear the air with Min regarding the corn incident but ends up facing the question of whether Ji-yul is really only a friend to her. The response is a stuttered one, but the police officer claims that there is nothing going on between her and her former secret friend. “I was just happy to see him again after so long,” Ja-young adds, admitting that she does care about Ji-yul, just not in a way that could cause Min to worry.

Plus, the popular resident is certain that this sentiment is shared with the vet. Nevertheless, Min isn’t exactly pleased with what she has heard, so she still asks if Ja-young can ensure that these platonic feelings are made clear to Ji-yul.

After Yun-hyeong heads back to Seoul, we cut to nighttime. Here, Ji-yul bottles the chance to talk to Ja-young thanks to a text from Min informing him that they will continue their talk tomorrow at the hospital. Elsewhere, Sang-hyeon is greeted by the police officer at the cafe, where he is told that his confession is one not reciprocated by his long-time friend.

This conversation upsets Ja-young considerably, as she discloses her fear that she would hurt the peach farmer with the rejection given all he does for her, though a mature reply shows that the two will continue their bond, just in a different way.

With that in mind, Sang-hyeon tells the police officer to let him deal with this current hurt himself and jokes that the knock-back might be regretted when he begins to like someone else.

The next day, Ji-yul is frank with Min. He tells his ex that what she feels towards him isn’t love, just regret for “what was and for what could have been.” Additionally, the vet states that he doesn’t hate Min, or want to deny their history, he just has someone he wishes to be with.

Min hastily rushes to exclaim that Ja-young doesn’t share this affection, before accepting that she is being “irrationally stubborn,” and apologising for her behaviour, both in Huidong, and over the course of their relationship. Asking for time to process the fact that her ex loves someone else, Min says that she will try to move on.

When Ja-young doesn’t turn up at the hospital, Ji-yul looks for her at the police station, then at Sang-hyeon’s farm. Content, the vet deduces that the peach farmer faced rejection from the police officer, taking note of his big brother-like demeanor. What follows is a rather humorous scene between the pairing, one based around Ji-yul’s lack of skills in helping out with some of the required manual labor involving Sang-hyeon’s fruit.

In time, Ja-young arrives, yet she is incredibly tense with Ji-yul, asserting that she has nothing to say to him. When confronted over her avoidance the vet, though, the police officer begins to stumble, failing to convince him that she isn’t mad, all while attempting to stop any misunderstandings. Then, the confession abruptly comes. Ja-young is slow to accept this but, once aware of its genuineness, rebuffs it harshly. “To me, Han Ji-yul is just a little boy,” she says, prior to adding that she won’t fall for his act a second time.

While reflecting, Ja-young bumps into Yeong-suk, who tells her that Ji-yul may be heading back to Seoul sooner now that his grandparents are planning a return to Huidong. Hearing that a suitcase was delivered to the hospital, which could imply an imminent departure, the police officer appears upset, perhaps knowing her rejection was out of character.

Fortunately, Sang-hyeon is swiftly on hand to lend an ear. Surprised that his friend isn’t more at ease now that she has sorted her love life out, the peach farmer wants to know why Ja-young looks nervous, in the way a person would be after a lie. The police officer denies that this is the case, saying she is sick of people who leave when they please, knowing she shouldn’t have gotten attached to Ji-yul anyway. However, Sang-hyeon points out that Ja-young’s fear of the vet departing means that she doesn’t want him to, helping his friend realise that she could well have made a mistake.

Admitting to being overconfident that she could fix things with Ji-yul and apologizing to Ja-young for her behavior, a waiting Min looks set to end her stay in Huidong. Yet the police officer uses this moment of candidness to open up herself first, revealing that she does indeed have feelings for the vet, a statement that doesn’t necessarily come as a shock. Then, Min says the two should never meet again, smiling with the belief that she will move on from her ex.

Determined, Ja-young decides to rush over to Ji-yul at the hospital, ready to right her wrongs. Unphased when told that the vet will be leaving for Seoul in 15 days, the police officer goes straight in for a kiss, bringing an end to the episode.

Episode 11

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 11

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 11 (Credit – Netflix)

After an emotional kiss, Ji-yul hastily hides Ja-young when Yeong-suk enters the hospital, making sure that the pairing is not caught in the act. Eventually, the police officer is able to exit the building freely, and the new couple decides when alone outside to keep their dating a secret to avoid any unnecessary fuss from the village residents. Subsequent scenes show off Ja-young’s newfound joy, emphasised by her energetic playing with Nurungji the dog.

When Yeong-suk points out that it’s strange Ji-yul requested new clothes, as well as historical medical records given he’s leaving so soon, the vet looks quietly content, silently seeming to admit that Huidong has grown on him. Elsewhere, Ja-young pampers herself, energized by this new relationship that sees her going out with her partner late into the night. Giddy at the unfamiliarity of it all, the two casually flirt over their romantic feelings, before surprisingly heading to Seoul.

There, the pair take a tour of Ji-yul’s usual workplace, with Ja-young clearly happy to take it all in. Fortunately, it’s also clarified here that the lengthy traveling between the two areas won’t be a problem for this relationship either, easing the potential worries of both parties. “I’ll do better so that eight-hour round trips feel like nothing,” Ji-yul adds, noticeably pleasing the police officer. Later on, the two grab something to eat in the early hours, then head back to Huidong on a high demonstrated through their humorous conversations centred around affection, and how Ja-young should now address her boyfriend.

Noticing Ja-young’s suspicious behaviour in wanting to put off helping someone to get off work, and seeming flustered around Ji-yul when he arrives to use a dog food delivery as an excuse to see her, Man-sung lets his subordinate leave to “help” the vet. As it unsurprisingly turns out, this whole situation was created so that the police officer could get some rest alongside her boyfriend, though she is slightly flustered by how naturally these acts come to Ji-yul when she is consistently awkward. Nevertheless, the vet does reveal that he too is failing to be relaxed. Embarrassingly, Seon-dong soon interrupts the pair’s intimate moment, causing the couple to scramble for excuses on why they are sharing a vehicle together.

After Seon-dong scurries off alongside his girlfriend, Ji-yul tries to assure Ja-young that the youngsters won’t have thought anything of what they saw. Following that, the two return to their respective jobs, where the Women’s Association curiously take note of the police officer’s glow on this sunny day, in addition to her joyful expression in checking her phone. At that point, Mal-geum arrives, wanting a favour from Ja-young despite her request for the Huidong residents to stop working the popular woman so hard, which ultimately kickstarts another argument between village representatives.

However, this time things are different. When it’s suggested by Mal-geum that Ja-young likes being asked for help because she gets a lack of affection, the police officer admits that she must have changed, stating that she is unhappy to have been approached by the Majeong resident. Secure in herself and no longer caring what would happen if people disliked her, Ja-young says she will still carry out the favor, just out of respect for her elders this time. Shocked by this sudden change, the village representatives watch on as the popular helper leaves.

Buoyed by the confidence she gets from being in a relationship, Ja-young tells Ji-yul that she feels like a “really good person” around him, someone who wants to be even better. This pleases the vet, who happily treats his girlfriend to a meal that evening (though they do have to discreetly enter the restaurant at different times to avoid revealing their relationship). Following this date, the two decide to create pet names for each other so they can keep their affection under wraps.

Privately, Ja-young thanks Sang-hyeon for helping her, knowing that his words were a catalyst for the relationship she is now in. “I’m in this for the long haul,” the peach farmer replies, but he is unable to properly express his joy in the new couple’s future. Still, the long-time friends manage to say that they are both happy now, prior to Sang-hyeon slipping in a verbal note that Ji-yul will be stressed from now “because I’ll be giving him a very hard time.”

While walking back with Ji-yul, Ja-young expresses her gratitude and relief now that she has told Sang-hyeon the big news. Then, the conversation shifts onto the thrill of dating, with the vet happy that he has the arm of a Huidong celebrity who is loved. “If you’re happy, I’m happy too,” he adds before the episode ends with the two potentially being caught in the street kissing.

Episode 12

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 12 (Credit - Netflix)

Once Upon a Small Town Episode 12 (Credit – Netflix)

Picking up where we left off, Ji-yul (played by to avoid getting caught, thanks to Ji-a’s preoccupation with a mysteriously parked car. As it turns out, this vehicle belongs Choo Young-woo) manages to sneak off alongside Ja-young (played by Park Soo-young)to a returning Yun-hyeong, who has ventured back to Huidong to pursue his romantic endeavors with Yeong-suk. With this new relationship now in the spotlight, everybody seems flustered before the police officer manages to intervene and defuse the situation. Later on, Yun-hyeong’s surprising relationship is fully contextualized, and it’s firmly established that both Seoul vets wish to be beside their significant others for an extended period of time.

The next day, Ji-yul and Ja-young’s date plans are scuppered due to sudden work commitments, with the former needing to help with various animal needs while the latter looks for a missing person. Even at night, it becomes impossible for the two to have their cinema date, given that the police officer ends up having to intervene in a restaurant scuffle. Nevertheless, Ji-yul does get a surprise from his girlfriend before long when she drunkenly broadcasts their relationship status to the entire village, particularly amusing the Women’s Association, who claim that everybody already knew anyway. Still, there is some contentment, as the happy couple can now go out without having to watch their backs.

When at Ja-young’s house, the pair dyed each other’s ring fingers with balsam flowers, affirming their commitment. “We’ll by dyeing our fingernails right here next summer, we’ll be taking Nurungji for walks for a long time, and we’ll be listening to the village elders nagging. Together and always,” Ji-yul says, sending his girlfriend into a noticeably excited state.

Next comes a time skip, with proceedings flashing forward to when Ji-yul has spent two weeks back in Seoul. Here, Ja-young is anxious over not communicating as often as she would like with her partner, leading to Yeong-suk stating that leaving out details in conversation can build to “all-out war,” even if innocent intentions are there. As such, the police officer decides to call Ji-yul at work, only to end up deflated by the fact he hid a noticeable arm injury from her. “Whether it’s a fracture or a bruise, if you hurt yourself, you should have texted me or called me,” the police officer states, clearly upset that she has been denied an opportunity to care for her boyfriend.

After Ji-yul has it explained to him that being considerate can sometimes lead to talking less and less, in addition to part of a relationship, meaning that the other party is bothered, the vet seems deflated. Elsewhere, Ja-young has a heart-to-heart with Sang-hyeon, who tells her to just go and see her partner if her previous actions were down to missing him. However, this doesn’t quite go to plan, as the police officer ends up in Seoul at the same time, Ji-yul has driven to Huidong. Thus, the vet heads right back round, while Yun-hyeong comfortingly tells Ja-young that he can tell her boyfriend misses her and wants to see her more often. Following this, the reunited couple cleared the air, acknowledging each other’s worries, loneliness, and considerations.

Before long, time moves forward again. Now, Sang-hyeon runs the ‘Peach-Picking Experience’, something that has made him famous on social media, and he appears to be far closer with Ji-yul than they once were. However, in this scene, he is far more interested in getting Ja-young to visit the veterinarian hospital, using Nurungji’s puppy’s vaccinations as an excuse.

When there, Ja-young encounters a waiting Ji-yul, who is on hand to congratulate his partner on her work promotion to Sergeant. Of course, there is other news, too, that the vet is now the Director of Huidong’s veterinarian hospital. As such, Ji-yul is voluntarily back in Huidong, happy to live in the village amongst the “nosy” people, as well as alongside the person he loves. Then, rings are exchanged between the couple, marking the happy continuation of their relationship as the episode and series come to an end.

And that completes my recap of Once Upon a Small Town Season 1! Let me know your favourite episode and comment below!

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