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Once Upon a Small Town: Episodes 4-6

As our local peach farmer gets up his courage, our out-of-town vet is falling hard — with our smiley police officer caught in the middle. While emotions fly, for better or worse, everyone is learning which scrapes can be bandaged up and when it’s time to just let go. Plus, puppies!

 
EPISODES 4-6 WEECAP

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

Time is flying by this summer in Huidong and Ja-young has already tamed the wild dog (all healed) and wants to adopt him. Ji-yool sees how she handles the dog and can’t help but say yes, as we watch his heart soften toward her just a little more. Ja-young calls her new pet Nurungji (the word for rice that browns and hardens at the bottom of a cooking pot) and it’s a cute name for a dog that’s been hardened to the world.

And just in case you thought we were short on animal metaphors, our peach farmer is here to deliver. After last week’s truck haggling, Sang-hyun is still up for jealous and juvenile disputes. When he runs into Ja-young and Ji-yool together, he tells Ji-yool (all up in his face) that it’s peach moth season — a time when he usually disrupts the moths’ mating so they don’t ruin his crops. But right now, he can’t help but empathize with how it feels to have someone get in the way of their romance. LOL. Is anyone else laughing and clapping every time these two are on screen together?

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6 Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

To give us more sequences of Ja-young and Ji-yool developing feelings, Nurungji goes missing. Our leads set out to find him and discover him in the forest, tending to his pups. The mama dog is even wilder than he is, jumping on Ji-yool when he comes near her babies. Ji-yool falls and loses a contact lens and Ja-young finds all kinds of excuses to touch him (just brushing the dirt off, huh? I see your game, Ja-young). It also gives us an excuse to see Ji-yool in glasses — and I am not complaining!

The next shenanigans they get into together involve helping a baby cow into the world. Afterward, Ja-young is a bottomless well of compliments and I can just about see Ji-yool’s ego inflate and lift him off the ground. The two stay on the farm for dinner, as a thank you for birthing the calf, and Ji-yool and Sang-hyun are at it again. Ji-yool doesn’t eat meat, so Sang-hyun eats more to show his masculinity. They both drink, though, so they go glass for glass with some high-proof home brew. The alcohol works its way in as Ja-young sings for the dinner crowd and, suddenly, our vet is in loooooove. To make it obvious, he starts trying to avoid her immediately.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

Ja-young doesn’t make avoidance easy, following Ji-yool out as he leaves the party. Sang-hyun catches up to them, saying he’s worried about Ja-young leaving with a shady guy. Ji-yool decides to leave on his own, tossing an emasculating response to Sang-hyun (“If you’re not like the other shady guys, I’ll think of it as leaving Ja-young with a girlfriend”). This causes Sang-hyun to confess to Ja-young that he likes her (in front of Ji-yool) and results in unrestrained squeeing on my end.

While Ja-young doesn’t give him an outright answer, it’s clear she doesn’t reciprocate Sang-hyun’s feelings. He knows. And, the next day, he tells her that no matter what, they are still like family and the awkward phase between them will pass quickly.

Since the discovery of the puppies in the woods, Ja-young has been wanting to bring them into town. She goes on her own one afternoon but Ji-yool goes to find her so she’s not alone. When he arrives, he’s cold toward her, thinking about the confession from Sang-hyun. Ji-yool reasons that he will be going back to Seoul soon and, besides, Ja-young is nice to everybody in town so he probably just misread her signals earlier when she seemed so interested in him. With this resolve, he bandages up her scratched hand, and sends her on her way.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

Soon after, Ja-young hurts her leg in a bike accident. Ji-yool learns that Ja-young had fixed his bike, using a part from her own, leaving her bike dangerous to ride. Sang-hyun is angry at Ji-yool, telling him that Ja-young is like that — she loves everything in their village as much as she loves herself. He says he hates Ji-yool because he’s in the village now too — making Ja-young care about him. What’s worse is that Ji-yool will be leaving soon and Sang-hyun doesn’t want to see Ja-young abandoned again. He tells Ji-yool not to give her the wrong idea.

Ji-yool marches off to find Ja-young at her acupuncture appointment, where she’s getting her leg treated and helping out the acupuncturist with work. Now Ji-yool is the angry one, transferring everything he just took from Sang-hyun onto her. He asks why she’s looking for confirmation of her self-worth all the time by helping people: “Do you need people to thank you that badly?” (Youch. That stings.) He says he’s mad that she fixed his bike and then got hurt. He never asked her to fix it and now he feels indebted.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6 Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

Later, Ji-yool feels bad and thinks he should have been thanking her instead of getting mad. He calls to apologize and hears Ja-young and her police colleague get into a car accident. Ji-yool goes to the scene and breaks a car window to get Ja-young out, which seems like a terrible idea to me given that there’s little damage to the vehicle and neither is bleeding — the last thing they need is broken glass all over the place. But we soon see why Ji-yool is in a panic. He lost both of his parents in a car accident, and he was in the car at the time but survived. (Hello memory loss, nice to see you here.)

The strange part about the flashback to surviving the car accident and going into shock is that Ja-young was there. She’s with the man who finds Ji-yool and pulls him out of the car. So, she knows about his parents death. Shouldn’t she know about his shock too? In any case, breaking the car window open seems to break open Ji-yool’s hidden memories as well.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

After Ja-young is safe and leaving the hospital, Ji-yool thinks about his parents and takes flowers to their grave. Then the show has a really lovely meditation on death, through the blended sequence that follows. An old farmer contacts Ji-yool to put his bull to sleep. He’s had the animal for thirty years, and for the past month, it is refusing to eat. He doesn’t want the bull to suffer anymore and asks for Ji-yool’s help. Ji-yool feels conflicted, but carries out the procedure.

In a really touching scene, the farmer is next to the animal as it dies, asking him to meet him again in the next life. The old man also remembers Ji-yool’s parents death, surprising Ji-yool — who tries to be polite but says he doesn’t remember the man. The man replies that it’s no wonder Ji-yool has forgotten — he’d like to forget this day when his beloved bull died too. Tying the deaths together like this — even visually, with Ji-yool still in his suit while putting down the bull — makes them feel weightier because in the end it’s really about the heartbreak of the people who live on. As Ji-yool leaves, the old man reminds him that he and Ja-young were friends as children, surprising Ji-yool even more.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

Ji-yool goes to find Ja-young who’s sadly sitting around thinking about all her times with Ji-yool when they were kids. She’s just had a bad afternoon breaking up fights between the women’s associations of the two neighboring towns (a bit that’s getting old quickly). One woman kept bringing up the fact that Ja-young’s mother left her and I can’t help but think that part of the reason Ja-young is fixated on Ji-yool is because he also abandoned her (like her mother) but now he’s back. We close the week as Ji-yool and Ja-young stare at each other, and Ji-yool’s memories seemingly come back.

We’re already at the half-way point of our story, so maybe it makes sense that we’ve moved from cute and cuddly to sad and slow so quickly. Still, I wish the show would stick with what it does best and let us rest in high-squee moments just a little longer. The forgotten childhood connection is slowing down the story, as are the screaming aunties, and I’d be happy to go back to juvenile disputes between our peach farmer and our vet. But with a show this full of baby faces, from the newborn animals to the young cast, I won’t stray too far before next week rolls around.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 4-6

 
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The forgotten childhood connection is slowing down the story, as are the screaming aunties

Yes, especially the aunties. Can they please go scream somewhere else? At least we are so used the forgotten childhood connections that we become resigned, perhaps even numb.

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Yeah I don't mind the childhood connection here, but the aunties are taking more screen time than I was expecting. It might be more interesting if their rivalry took different forms sometimes, but it seems to consist almost entirely of them embarrassing themselves in front of other people.

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@dramaddictally thank you for the weecap. Two things that stuck out for me was the search for the dog calling it’s name by two people I am not sure it would recognise their voices when it has only recently been domesticated. I don’t have pets so maybe they instantly recognise their owners no matter how limited their time together.
Secondly, why is the two children spending time together referred to as a secret friendship. Secret from whom?

Other than that I loved the show it was sweet and funny and so sad. The scene with the family in the car and the suddenness of the incident so traumatic for a young boy. Listening to the man talking about the role of the bull and reincarnation and wanted to talk and cry as he was burying it was really touching.

The embarrassing battle in front of the documentary maker was ridiculous and I hope they choose a different town to benefit from the exposure. If they feel it’s appropriate to behave in that way they don't deserve to have free promotion.

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I was so embarrassed for all the normal people in the room when the ajummas went at it again. I get being competitive and loving your town, but that is not healthy. I'm surprised they don't realize how bad it makes them look. Everyone else seems to.

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Exactly, Sanghyeon called it before the meeting started. I bet the argument is not even about town rivalry but is connected to them being friends turned enemies from school days when they probably fought over a boy.😐

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I honestly hope we get some kind of explanation/change from them. If the people in charge of this show are spending this amount of time on their fights, we better get a reason/resolution to make it more worth it.

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As if this drama wasn’t cute enough, now there are puppies! Also, I wasn’t expecting to cry over a bull during this drama, but that old man had my heart this week!

I liked that we got an explanation for why Ji-yul didn’t remember Ja-young at first. I know a lot of people who have very hazy memories of the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one, so this seems reasonable to me. Slightly disappointed he didn’t immediately come clean about totally not having a girlfriend when Ja-young brought it up. “I just said that so that the ajummas wouldn’t set me up with someone.” seems like a pretty solid excuse, and I’m sure she would have understood. But I guess he’s still a bit in denial about his growing interest in/feelings toward her, so what can you do? It wouldn’t be a kdrama without the requisite number of misunderstandings!

Our second lead swooping in this week with crop pest management metaphors had me laughing so hard, and also rolling my eyes. I did not appreciate his aggressive and pouty confession, but I did appreciate his much more real conversation with Ja-young the next day, about them being important to each other no matter what happens.

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There's something about that classic scene where the guy, worried about the girl getting hurt, changes all his fear into an angry rant. It's worked on me with everything from The Grand Sophy to Seducing Mr. Perfect and it totally worked on me here too 😂. I'm suddenly very much Team Ji-yul when Santa had my whole heart till last week!

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Hahaha, sometimes I think they can take it too far, but I liked it here too! Although I've always been team Ji-yul ;)

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By now I’ve realised most KDramas aren’t going to let go of some tropes unless there is an industry wide shift so am resigned to the childhood connections, suppressed memories/amnesia, trucks of doom, etc but I can’t abide the screaming characters. Just loath them. These scenes add nothing but irritation and possible alienation from the show for me. I also can’t help but look at it from a gendered perspective as portraying women as unreasonable, screeching banshees in both KD and non-KD has been such a common and pervasive feature. It is dehumanising and misogynistic.

On a different note, I appreciate that as a child, Jayoung felt bereft when her friend, Jiyool, was taking away from her against his wishes but he didn’t ‘abandon’ her. He was a child and had no choice in the matter. I understand the emotional nuance might have been lost on Jayoung, the child, but the adult version surely is able to make that distinction even if it has added to her wounds?

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Agreed and let’s not forget if this was the same visit he had come down with parents and was now leaving for a whole new life with his Uncle and cousin? I am guessing the man back at the vet practice in Seoul is a cousin he grew up with? If it was a later visit it was still raw for him as it would be to have experienced such a horrific event. I may of course be reading this all wrong.

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Ah the the scent of a childhood connection in the air. At least it makes sense in this case, visiting grandparents.

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This show has lots of imperfections, but somehow the effect of all those imperfect parts together is to leave me with a warm feeling, like I had spent time with good people in the country. I'm looking forward to whatever happens next week, because the forgettable scenes pass quickly and leave us with Ji-yul discovering not only his forgotten childhood friend, a woman to love, but also that he can find satisfaction as a country vet in a small town. He was a closed person, and now he's opening up.

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I feel the same way. I am fully aware of the issues, but somehow they just breeze right past me and don't really bother me much. The things I like about this show are much more prominent and memorable. Looking forward to more warm fuzzy feelings next week!

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The screaming aunties are a pointless distraction.

The childhood connection on the other hand does have a logical place in the story: It explains why our nice, beautiful policewoman has not been swept off her feet by the handsome and very capable young orchardist.

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I find the fascination of the entire K-drama world with this whole childhood connection trope a little irksome. Nearly every third drama has it! Is it just lazy writing or is this how love stories usually unfold in Korean culture (doubtful!)? Its so strange that full grown adults go their entire youth not finding anyone attractive enough and are drawn to some fleeting memory of a human from their childhood immediately when they meet them in an adult form. It really baffles me.

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Yeah, I'm not sure about this. Even when there is no childhood connection, people in dramas are obsessed with their "first love". Sometimes they mean that person that they dated in high school, and in that case, maybe fair enough? But often they mean that person that they had a crush on but never told when they were 10. And I'm just sitting here like, "um, that is not a first love." You have crushes on all sorts of people throughout your life, most of them never come to anything, and you move on. But kdramas also really want to drill home the idea of soulmates, which is another concept I don't believe in so, *shrug*.

Maybe someone more familiar can help us out? Is childhood connection/first love just a really big cultural ideal?

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I really like Ji-Yool. He always knews Sang-Hyun's feelings for Ja-Young (I mean it's not like Sang-Hyun was hidden them...) and rarely responded to his provocations. He used it for the truck but otherwise he leaves. I like how he just does his job, he really cares about animals and don't make his diva because he's from the city.
Sang-Hyun is cute, I'm happy he finally confessed his feelings. But I hate when the second lead had 20 years to do it but needed the main lead presence to finally confess.
Ja-Young needs to take care of herself. If the way and the moment were wrong, Ji-Yool wasn't wrong. How many times she let this witch saying she was abandonned by her mother like it was her fault...

This drama is cute and I like it. I really like the scenery.

For the casting, I wonder why they chose Joy and Baek Sung-Chul for these roles, they look so white and soft, not like people spending their time outside and doing manual work. At the opposite, Choo Yeong-Woo is the city guy. Joy is the oldest one and I'm not sure she has the experience and the acting chops to be the one who leads everyone.

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Yea even I am afraid that the FL is not the best at emoting. She is always just smiling but that comes across as inability to show any emotions. It also is not helping in build the chemistry between her and the ML (who is quite good) because it makes you wonder why he likes her at all apart from the fact that he has a childhood connection and she is a helpful person. Her personality is not shining through.

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"But I hate when the second lead had 20 years to do it but needed the main lead presence to finally confess."

Exactly this. It feels really cowardly to me. I don't dislike him as a character, but I do dislike him as a romantic option. If it takes someone else coming along and sparking a ton of jealousy for you to do anything about your longstanding crush, what does that say about the strength of your feelings? Maybe if we were given some reason for his having noble idiocy or something, I'd feel a little more lenient toward him, but at this point I'm not super sympathetic.

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I really like Ji-yul too! I like that he is a really consistent character in some ways. I mean, yes, he is opening up and softening toward people, but we've gotten these little flashes into his character that I really like. It's so clear that he loves animals and that's why he became a vet, and that value extends to other parts of his life too, so it feels really authentic. Like they fact that he doesn't eat meat, and then how he was visibly uncomfortable at the prospect of having to kill the bull. He knew it was the right thing, but it was still hard for him, and his friend in Seoul had to reassure him that this was different from just slaughtering it. It makes total sense to me that he was finally able to connect with the little boy (whose name escapes me) over a dog who was sick, and that he started flashing way more genuine smiles at Ja-young when there were rescued dogs/new puppies around.

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Joy is doing a great job as Jayoung, can't imagine anyone else. So white? She is actually sunburned in reality. Like what is going on here are you all so thirsty for muscles that your blind to the female lead and why the male lead loves her? Jiyul is so perfect and flawless according to all, there is no man who exists like that. He avoided his grandparents all his life and loathes the village and everything about it, eventhough those people are innocent and living tough lives themselves while he had a cushy job at a seoul clinic, only doing this for 2 months so his grandparents can finally have a holiday from work. Farmers are the reason why we have food on our table. Please respect them more. The aunties said in the very first episode we will help you even if you don’t ask for it, if you ask we will give you more. The hard environment is the reason why they stick together and even remain friends after squabbles. Jayoung lost both her parents and was raised by the village. To show her gratefulness she gives back to them at every opportunity. A truly selfless and lovable person, who doesn't just do her job to make money but to care for every single person in the village. She helps the vet with his job just like she helped him to cheer up and regain his voice after his parent's death. She takes care of the elders, kids and animals always putting other's comfort before herself. Joy portrayed that so well, she is in her element. Jayoung always smiles to hide the pain of loneliness so others will not be uncomfortable. And you wonder why a city slicker who is surrounded by selfish people on a daily basis is attracted to her. So pathetic.

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Did you really read my comment?

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This drama is like a warm blanket, it's so comforting.
I loved the sparks flying between the MLs, but as mentioned elsewhere, Ji Yool manages to hold it in yet speak volumes to the audience. I could not stop laughing at the 'mating disrupters' references.
The scenes around the death of the bull and Ji Yools parents had me in tears, the old man was so honest and open with his emotions, unlike our ML who keeps it all in.
I did love when Ji Yool exploded at Ja Young, he hadn't let that amount of emotion out for a while and knew he went over the top. Although the kernel of what he said was true.
And yes, less aunties please.

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Halfway through episode 6, ever since peach man “confessed” his feeling to lady copper, in front of dear vet I’ve had it in for him. And ever since then our dozy vet has been like a bumbling, frightened 13 year old school boy!

Every time peach man puffs his chest out the vet shrinks further it’s like Honey I shrunk the kids! I am heartily sick of the pair of them although I like our vet more, he irritates me more.

Our vet has flashback moments when he rescues lady copper and copper 2. In the hospital when our vet sits besides his lady loves bedside (she is but he just doesn’t know it yet) peach farmer boy tells him to hop it and he does. Really! I think he needs gird his loins, put his shoulders back and say make me!

Other than this, I am quite enjoying this fluffy country romance which doesn’t have a lot of bite or deep undercurrents, I am hoping that grandfather vet doesn’t come back on time and stays away on hols much longer. This will have the advantage of our boy staying longer, hopefully he can man up and start going after the girl.

I would be very disappointed if the peach farmer gets the girl.

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