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Once Upon a Small Town: Episodes 7-9

As our vet regains his memories he also starts to recognize and act on his feelings. He and our leading lady may differ in how they handle relationships, but they know when to meet in the middle if it means stopping the other from being hurt. Mix in some floral dresses, a beachside date, and a baby bunny and we’re on our way to the most feel-good set of episodes we’ve seen so far.

 
EPISODES 7-9 WEECAP

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

I loved every minute of these episodes. We move straight past the forgotten friendship and on to the thing that really matters: how our leads handle their feelings. They’re sparky from start to finish as they progress from anger and awkwardness to fun and flirtation. I also love that the opening scenes this week have our leads situated in separate places but coordinated in all white outfits. It’s the perfect way to show them starting anew with each other — and also tell us time is winding down as we hit the dog days of summer.

The drama uses a very cute device to show us how Ja-young and Ji-yool are dealing with each other after Ji-yool remembers meeting Ja-young the year his parents died. It comes in the form of two kids with a sick bunny. They go to Ji-yool for help with the rabbit, but wind up getting relationship advice as well. The girl is mad at the boy for forgetting something, and the boy just wants to apologize and have it be over. The girl will not accept his apology.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

Ji-yool has advised the boy to just wait, while Ja-young counsels him to keep apologizing until the girl accepts it. Through the kids’ woes, the adults each learn what the other expects in a relationship. Ja-young thinks waiting is nonsense. Ji-yool thinks the boy didn’t do anything to be sorry about. Both are killing me with their cuteness. And watching Ji-yool with these kids is beyond adorable. He’s perplexed and attentive, as the boy’s fears are mirroring his own in how to deal with someone he likes.

When none of the advice helps the boy, Ji-yool instructs the nine year old to play hard to get. The boy interprets this to mean he should disappear completely and runs away from home. As Ja-young and Ji-yool search for him, they each release their feelings under the guise of talking about the kids. Ja-young wants an apology. Ji-yool thinks the timing matters — you can’t just keep saying you’re sorry because it makes you uncomfortable that the other person is mad.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

After they find the boy, both calm down and Ja-young admits that even though telling a child to stay out of sight probably wasn’t the best advice, she doesn’t completely disagree. It might make the girl come around because “nothing’s more concerning than to have someone disappear.” Ji-yool tries to ask if she was concerned when he disappeared on her all those years ago, but she pretends she doesn’t understand the question. Given what we know about Ja-young’s mother’s disappearance, it likely had an even greater effect on her when Ji-yool left.

The plan works. The girl is worried and wants to be friends with the boy again, and the boy thinks Ji-yool is awesome for giving great advice. After Ji-yool sees his way work, he gives Ja-young her way as well. As she’s turning to leave, he clutches her wrist, in a classic, heart-flipping way, and he says she’s the best memory he has from that year and he’s sorry he forgot. Then he calls her by her name. She is freakin’ smitten and I am right behind her. Of course he apologized because he’s sorry, but also because he knew she needed to hear it.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9 Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

From here on, he doesn’t hold back his feelings. When there’s an emergency in a town an hour away, he hesitates to go, wanting to make sure Ja-young is comfortable with it first. She is, driving him there to prove it. On the way, Ja-young drops an informal word and he says he’s a year older, maybe he should speak informally. Ja-young retorts, “I’m not going to call you oppa!” making Ji-yool super uncomfortable (“I never asked you to!”). But after “oppa” is out in the open, it’s clear she likes the idea.

As drama luck would have it, once the emergency is resolved, the two get a flat tire and have to hang out at the beach for the afternoon. Ji-yool is the type to keep a schedule but admits that he’s not minding small town life where nothing goes according to plan. He gets to spend a spontaneous afternoon with someone he didn’t expect (his smile is going to be the death of me). As Ji-yool loosens up, they eat street food, play fight on the shore, and have an all-around good time.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9 Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

Just as our pair is getting cozy in their smiles, they get back to town and Ji-yool’s ex-girlfriend, CHOI MIN (Ha Yul-ri), shows up. She wants to get back together and she’ll be in Huidong a week trying to make it happen (and she has no problem calling him oppa). At the same time, Ji-yool’s friend and colleague, CHOI YUN-HYUNG (Na Chul), arrives from Seoul. He’s the one who publicized Ji-yool’s whereabouts, which is how Min located him. Ji-yool is angry about his two worlds colliding (but this is the show I came to see).

The only place the good people of Huidong can find for Min to stay is the spare room at Ja-young’s house (come on). Back when Ji-yool first arrived in town, he told a little fib about having a girlfriend in Seoul. Now, everyone assumes this is said GF. He helps Min get her luggage to Ja-young’s and misunderstandings mount. Ja-young thinks they’re a couple, and when Sang-hyun arrives, Min thinks he’s Ja-young’s boyfriend. Sang-hyun is all too ready to play the role, putting his arm around Ja-young.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

Sang-hyun later uses the opportunity to ask if Ja-young has thought anymore about his confession. But just then, Ji-yool comes around and matter-of-factly states, “She’s not my girlfriend. I don’t have a girlfriend.” (He’s racking up points with me here.) This doesn’t seem to have much effect on Ja-young, though, since she looks at Min and sees perfection. While the two women are staying together, Min asks for Ja-young’s help in getting Ji-yool back.

The next day, Ji-yool goes on a house call and, since Min is also a vet (they met at vet school), she goes with him. Ja-young sees them working together and her insecurity climbs. That morning, Min had put a face full of makeup on Ja-young and now, just as Ji-yool spots Ja-young, the makeup is melting all over her face. She turns away from him and finds a place to wash it off, and I can feel her heartbreak in this scene.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

Ji-yool, wearing his feelings on his sleeve, asks Ja-young if he can go along as she heads off to can peaches with the ladies from the women’s association. Min realizes Ji-yool likes Ja-young and starts to try to construct walls between them by bringing up “her boyfriend” Sang-hyun. Ji-yool gets jealous, and no one tells Min that Sang-hyun isn’t really her boyfriend.

Ja-young hauls some jugs of peaches to a storage room and Ji-yool follows. Packed tight together between the shelves, Ji-yool asks Ja-young about her feelings for Sang-hyun. Does she want to be with someone she feels completely comfortable around? Or someone who makes her heart race? (Swoon!) They are looking mighty close to a kiss when one of the always-screaming ajummas yells for them to come to the house. Ja-young makes an excuse to leave and bolts out of there. The observant aunties know something definitely just happened in the storage room (Haha. Okay. They get credit for being funny here).

Later, Min catches Ji-yool alone and, in a last ditch attempt at his heart, kisses him. (No! Wrong kiss!) To make matters worse, Ja-young happens to be approaching just at that moment.

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

I can’t believe how much I’m loving this drama. I was hoping for nothing more than total cuteness but we’ve got a real plot happening here. The characters, as clichéd as they appear on the surface, are deeply relatable. Ja-young is super insecure and doesn’t believe that this amazing guy could like her, especially when he has someone like Min right in front of him. And Ji-yool is torn between the old life he had and the new life he’s developing. It’s just a good, homegrown story and I feel for them both.

Sang-hyun has worn out his welcome for me. Rooting for Min to get back with Ji-yool — right in front of Ja-young — is just bad form and not enjoyable to watch. If he really cares about Ja-young, he should be more concerned about her feelings. Min is an annoying, tropey ex, but I don’t find her vindictive. She really thinks Ja-young and Sang-hyun are a couple and seems to be clueless that Ja-young might not want to be friends with her.

I’m a little worried about next week. As communicative as Ji-yool has been, Ja-young’s insecurity could have us headed straight into the territory of noble idiots. Fingers crossed. Less separation, more heart flutters in the storage room, please!

Once Upon a Small Town Episodes 7-9

 
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The proxy war of advice was just perfection. And Ji-yul found his voice this week! I loved that we got to see him and Ja-young just having fun and hanging out. They are both such busy people that it made sense that it would take them being stranded to relax a little bit, but those scenes were so cute. I love that he is smiling so much more, first because I love his character and he deserves it, and second because the man has a great smile.

And what a change when his ex showed up! It was like he just completely shut down. Although I’m very much in favor of this arrival if it results in a side romance between other vet Yun-hyeong and nurse (vet tech? whatever.) Young-sook! We’re still going to see more repercussions of Min coming to town I think, but I’ve been into all the unintended consequences so far. I don’t know if she helped Ja-young figure out her feelings, but she definitely did that for Ji-yul. At the very least we’re getting jealousy and discomfort from Ja-young, which still feels like progress. But Ji-yul seems ready to make something happen, and I’m super here for it! That scene in the peach wine storage shed? YES.

The more we see of Peach Farmer the more he annoys me, tbh. Which is kind of a shame. When Ji-yul told him he didn’t have a girlfriend and that Sang-hyeon didn’t either, he responded with, “I think you’re wrong.” It’s not an opinion, sir. You don’t have a girlfriend. And the more aggressively possessive you get, the less attractive you are. Bleh.

I also want to take a minute to appreciate Ja-young’s boss. In a town full of nosy ajummas, he provides a calming and fatherly presence, but he’s a sharp one and, within the first five minutes this week, he put his finger on exactly what was bothering Ja-young. I just love his whole demeanor and the care he obviously has for his subordinates and the towns they serve.

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Such a perfect recap, @dramaddictally! This is not a drama with high aspirations, it just wants to be warm and cute and relatable, and it totally succeeds. Having the same handful of people represent a whole village can get tiresome, and so can the warring ahjummas, but these little issues somehow don't detract from the warmth and cuteness. I'm sad that next week is the last week.

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I loved the scenes with the kids, it was brilliant how it mirrored the grown ups story ( and how grown ups struggle with this too). I found the ex girlfriend awful though, pushing herself on someone who clearly asked her to leave is problematic on several levels, and I found her suffocating and was uncomfortable every time she's on screen. Really hope she moves on soon.
I did find the aunties funny for once though when they guessed something happened in the barn, I'm also hoping for some fun with the coysin and vet assistant 😁.

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Cousin

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The battle of advice to a child. H e was so adorable with his chubby cheeks and forlorn love. I too want the Peach Farmer gone, he is ANNOYING. Ji Yul needs to get it together, say you like her.

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I'm loving the leads though the SML and SFL are stressing me out lol I especially love Choo Young Woo as Ji-Yul and his face expressions and will definitely going to look forward to his next shows.

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@dramaddictally thanks for the weecap. This week the children/bunny combo with lost child community search thrown in summed up the sweet nature of this drama. However, it’s hard to switch off the brain when we know everyone knows everyone and it’s just one bus circling the village so it makes no sense that no one on the bus or the driver knew the child or thought it odd🥰 until late in the day. Who calls the police because of their concerns but then leaves a child at a random bus stop in the dark?

I will be sad to see this show end and wonder if both the city boys will be able to say goodbye to pampered pets and move to the village life or if the cousin and the veterinary nurse will run the Seoul clinic and grandfather will mentor his grandson to take over so he can have a proper work life balance and then retire.

Side note how niche was the Seoul clinic when he said he isn’t used to handling bunnies because they are so small?!

Poor farmer boy will struggle to be around the newly formed couple as it’s such a small place so I wonder how they will wrap his storyline.

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I think he said that since he was in the countryside, he didn't get to take care of small animals like the bunny anymore. He got goats, chicken, a lot of cows. The bunny reminded him his Seoul life.

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I just rewatched it and you’re right the message they tried to convey, which was lost on me, was that he had acclimatised so much to large animal stock that it was taking him a while to readjust to hold in the hand animals again. I completely misread it as he must have specialised in cats and dogs so even in Seoul a bunny was an unusual animal for him to treat! It’s only been a few weeks and when you do a job often you don’t have to think about it because it comes naturally so that’s what confused me.

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I don't think he needed to reajust but he was just thrilled and surprised to be able to hold this tiny bunny in his hands.

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"Side note how niche was the Seoul clinic when he said he isn’t used to handling bunnies because they are so small?!"

I imagine most pets he would have dealt with in a clinic in Seoul would have been on the smaller side - dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, whatever. Most people in Seoul live in pretty small places.

"Poor farmer boy will struggle to be around the newly formed couple as it’s such a small place so I wonder how they will wrap his storyline."

I had to think about this for a minute. I had to figure out if I care about how he ends up - I assume that he will be rejected and ultimately left to stew in his own jealousy, I assume that he will not learn anything about the danger of presumption and entitlement in any relationship, I assume that he will stare at/jeer at these two if he sees them around town together. They didn't build a whole lot of emotional maturity into this guy's character, so I don't expect him to handle it with any grace at all - even if he is close to Ja-Young.

Maybe they can put him and Min together - she has her own entitlement issues. How dare Ji-Yul live a life apart from her where he is not pining for her? lol

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I thought it was outrageous they split because she went to study/work abroad and then she returns expecting to pick up where they left off. It’s so disrespectful, like he is handbag she put in storage and just needs to take out of the protective covering for use again. It’s almost like she assumes he will wake up to her charms after he ‘plays’ hard to get for a while. This is the trope I hate the most; second female lead and is closely followed by noble idiocy.

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"It’s almost like she assumes he will wake up to her charms after he ‘plays’ hard to get for a while."

The definition of "entitled b****" - he can't *seriously* not be interested in getting her back, he must be pretending not to care, right? Which then (in her head, at least) makes her the "better" person when she lets him have her back, since she already knew he was going to want her... it's a mess. I have an acquaintance in real life who behaves this way with her ex - oddly enough, it will never work out for her, either. He's about to marry someone else anyway lol

I also find this kind of female character annoying and gross. If this show decides to play it her way I'll be really, really mad - but thankfully all signs seem to be pointing elsewhere so far.

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This drama is my happy pill. The countryside and its beautiful landscape makes it very relaxing.

Ji-Yul was pretty honest and direct in those episodes. He said that he doesn't like change and surprises. He said that Min (she's still Pomme for me :p) wasn't his girlfriend and he didn't have any feelings for her anymore. The question he will have to answer though, it's if he wants to get back in Seoul? Or not.
I liked how he told to the mean woman how she should stop about talking Ja-Young's parents. He's the only one who told her directly.

Ja-Young's insecurities were sad to see, she was so confident at the beginning. I hope she will consider his words and not Min's non-reciprocal actions.

Poor boy who found himself between both of them. I guess both of them were right, you need to apologize but you can't force them on the person.

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I really liked that the woman had been told to stop being hurtful but she still didn’t apologise and was complaining rather than accepting she was in the wrong. I think his direct approach was a first for her.

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Yep, Pomme for me too!

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I also enjoyed these three episodes very much, even though I am still not sure as to why the ML falls for the FL in the first place. The two reasons- (i) She is his childhood friend and (ii) she is a helpful person seem inadequate to me. Her attraction to him makes more sense because the entire village seems to have only two (hot'ish) men her age so its only natural for her to view the new entrant as a potential partner (tragic as the reason is!). Nevertheless, I found their chemistry to be getting steamier in these episodes and that was good enough for me. The ML is very good at acting with his eyes. The FL wasn't too bad in these episodes either. The plot set ups are fun and engaging and I am here for it!

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Maybe because the female lead is actually a sweet and nice person and he likes that she is not self centered. She chooses to focus on the positive side of people, even wanted to let that petty thief go and forgave that Aunty for insulting her. Apparently she used to shoplift in the past. Since this show is so male lead oriented its not showing the whole picture. Screw the love triangles I want to know more about Jayoung, what happened to her parents, why did she shoplift, how come she became a police woman. There are so many unanswered questions with just a few episodes left. Anyway apart from being kind, generous, helpful, responsible, capable, grateful and forgiving, she is also very beautiful. Eventhough the women here can't see the good qualities of her, Jiyul definitely can. But he doesn't want to admit it cos deep inside he thinks himself to be too good for her and the countryside. She knows that, which is why she is so insecure. Joy did a great job conveying that with her eyes alone. Also she has great chemistry with basically everyone. It doesn't hurt to compliment her by the way.

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I am afraid I do not find Joy to be very good at emoting though as I mentioned, she did emote better in these episodes than the earlier ones where she just laughed strangely intermittently. It wasn't helping demonstrate any chemistry with the MLs either.
I agree she is a helpful and nice person (which she evidently is) but it does not look like the ML likes her because of it since he thinks thats a sign of her insecurity rather than genuine niceness(he has made that quite clear). Yeah, her not having parents and that common thread between them might be reason for some attraction for sure. And her beauty, thats always the most important in the world we live in. My point is not that she isn't deserving of attraction but that when any drama portrays someone falling in love so quickly with someone, it just needs to be more believable.

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Just wanted to see if it's just me, but has anyone else been finding it hard to root for Ja-young. I love her the Ji-yul together and I'm cheering for them to get together.

I can't tell if it's writing or if it's Joy's portrayal of the character, but I find her frustratingly "passive" and I can't really tell what she's internally going through. Ji-yul's emotions are so clear on his face - you know what's he's thinking and feeling - so that when he's interacting with Ja-young, it just feels that he's talking to a wall. And I come away from most of their conversations frustrated. It's the only thing that's making it hard for me to truly enjoy this show, so I'm wondering if it's just me?

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It may be the writing of the character; children who are separated from their parents often feel it is their fault that the parent left or sent them away and she presents as outgoing and people pleasing but is worried about being judged negatively and tends to isolate in times of distress. Jiyul has pointed out to her she can and should seek support and not put up with unacceptable behaviour from others. Part of her sense of loss re the special time they had together as children may have been because she felt accepted for who she was from someone who knew what it was like to be parentless. Sanghyeon has tried to be there for her too but he does have stipulations, as she has said he doesn’t like to share her with others.

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I think its definitely a problem with the readers here and their bias against Joy and lack of empathy for her character since it is Joy who is acting. Why can't women root for women anymore. Anyway looking forward to her future dramas after yet another drama where people choose to drool over the male lead and disregard her talent.

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I am sure Joy would like to be respected for the quality of her work and not just because her female fans feel compelled to root for her because of some sisterhood connect. Also, the beauty of art is that to someone it is good and to another, it may not mean much. You seem to be appreciating her work and thats great. Another person also can disagree with your opinion about her art. Joy is a very well known singer and a very good looking and rich person. She does not seem to have dearth of offers. I do not think its terrible for someone at her level to not be that great at acting. Most of us have some weakness or the other. Makes her more human if anything, just like all of us.

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"Min is an annoying, tropey ex,"

I haven't decided who annoys me more - Min, which is a new problem, or Sang-Hyun and his romantic entitlement issues, or the ajummas who definitely appear in the dictionary to illustrate "overacting." I still laugh when I think of the look of horror on Ji-Yul's face when they tell him he "belongs with us" after scolding him for hurting the rock wall.

I trust that Ji-Yul will do the right thing (reject Min and stick to Ja-Young), but given that this entire story is ostensibly bound by a time limit I'm sure the show will exploit as much of the "time is ticking down until imminent departure" situation as they can. I just hope the laconic pace of a small-town environment doesn't cause unnecessary delays in the relationship between these two.

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I suddenly remembered in which show I have seen Chu Youngoo before! It was in “You make me Dance”, a recent BL. He is quite charming. He is only 23 in RL but manages to pull off being older on the drama. I hope there will be standalone queer stories about women as well as there are very few and far in between. It is interesting that the BL genre was created in Japan by queer women from what I understand.

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Tbh, the leads have no reason to not be together already, so everything the second leads do make me think "well, you (ML, FL) could've prevent that".
Ja Yeong should've said "no, thanks" to her bestie centuries ago, he confessed like in ep 1? when are you gonna give him an answer woman.

Ji Yul likes to play macho when the SL appears but dude, at least he confessed his feelings.
What is the point of telling her comfort isn't the same as romance? or that Min is an ex and not a girlfriend? just because? both occasions where perfect for a confession.

I really like the leads but they need to wake up and start doing something about this situation.

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I thought he was a vegetarian. Why was he having meat sticks while waiting to fix the flat?

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