“Once Upon A Small Town” is a 2022 Korean Romantic Comedy featuring Joy, Choo Young Woo, and Baek Sung Chul. The series, written by Baek Eun Kyeong and directed by Kwon Seok Jang, is based on the web novel “Accidental Country Diary” by Park Ha Min. A veterinary doctor has to move to a village, Huidong, suddenly, to look after his grandfather’s hospital, and humorous incidents occur as the city man tries to adjust to country life.
In Huidong, Han Ji Yul
Han Ji Yul is a veterinary doctor who, while treating a dog, gets a phone call constantly. He calls back Ms. Lee as soon as he is done and rushes to Huidong to visit his grandfather. It’s raining in Huidong, and Ji Yul tries to enter his grandfather’s locked home. A female police officer, Ahn Ja Young, catches him, thinking he is a thief. She then checks his ID and recognizes him. Another police officer arrives and slams Ji Yul, misunderstanding that he is harassing Ja Young. They take him to his grandfather’s veterinary hospital as it is the closest hospital. The police officers apologize for hurting him when he wakes up, but he panics when he doesn’t recognize the place.
Ji Yul asks Ms. Lee about his grandfather and why she had called him so urgently. Before she could answer, he gets a call from his grandfather himself. His grandfather tricked him to come to Huidong because he wanted Ji Yul to take care of his hospital while he went on a vacation with his wife. Ji Yul didn’t want to leave the city, but he accepted to help his grandfather for the old time’s sake. He has just entered the village, but he is already getting calls from people to treat their animals. He lectures a man for illegally trapping a dog who ate his chickens. Ji Yul doesn’t understand the ways of the village and is already annoying people with his city attitude.
After dealing with a violent goat, an experience he has never had before, Ji Yul returns home to find the ladies of the women’s association following him inside. They have brought side dishes for Dr. Han’s grandson, who has just arrived from Seoul. They show consideration towards him, but he tells them off for barging inside without permission and calls it a felony. He finds his grandfather’s letter in which he has written his heartfelt reason for taking Ji Yul’s grandmother on a trip. As Ji Yul gets time to relax, he reminisces about the old times and wanders around the house and hospital to recall the forgotten times.
A Different World
Ji Yul wakes up from sleep with a backache and thinks of getting a bed for himself. He craves coffee, but his grandparents don’t keep any at home. Thankfully, he finds his old exercise clothes and goes out for a jog, as they don’t have a gym in town. The Townhead had announced a public speaker to give Dr. Han’s grandson a warm welcome, and all the passersby greeted Ji Yul, but he found it irritating. He has no vehicle of his own and has to use his grandfather’s bicycle to commute. He rides a bicycle with a huge carriage on it while panting and talking over the phone. Another doctor from Seoul guides him on how to vaccinate big animals because Ji Yul never had a chance to do it in a city like Seoul.
As a veterinary doctor, Ji Yul experiences many things for the first time. He has to vaccinate a herd of pigs, and Officer Ahn helps him. Ji Yul doesn’t understand why Ja Young is everywhere in the town and doing work outside of her duty. Ji Yul had been craving coffee since the morning, and Ja Young showed him the only place in town with a coffee machine. The small cafe has been set up by Lee Sang Hyun, who also runs a peach farm. He is Ja Young’s classmate, and he is good at doing everything. Ja Young and Ji Yul bicker with each other in front of Sang Hyun. At first, Sang Hyun thought of Ji Yul as a cool man, but by the end of their conversation, even he found him to be annoying.
Ji Yul wonders why everyone finds him annoying but doesn’t think about where he is wrong. Huidong is not a city like Seoul, and people live differently here. Ja Young is not someone to find anyone annoying, and that’s what intrigued Sang Hyun when he saw her bickering with Ji Yul. It turns out that Ja Young and Ji Yul used to be pen friends, but Ji Yul does not seem to remember her. Ja Young is only mad at him for this very reason. A thief enters Ji Yul’s house, and the police officers catch him. As suspected, he is a kid who has been stealing money from senior citizens. Given Ji Yul’s nature, the kid has gotten himself into trouble by breaking into Ji Yul’s house.
‘Once Upon A Small Town’ Episode 3: Ending
The thief is a kid named Gi Taek from the neighboring village, Majeong. He accepts that he had stolen the money to buy gifts for his girlfriend. Huidong and Majeong have a rivalry, and the women’s associations of both towns are always coming for each other’s necks. While the police officer notes Gi Taek’s confession, the women get into a heated argument and drag both Ji Yul and Ja Young into it. The women of Huidong want Ji Yul to be on their side and file a complaint against Gi Taek. Ji Yul would have done that if the women hadn’t dragged him into their fight. He stops their fight rudely and announces that he will not take anyone’s side because he doesn’t belong in either of the villages.
Ji Yul also tells Ja Young to not involve herself in his business, but when Ja Young really ignores him, he realizes his mistake. While returning from a house call in Majeong, he finds a woman from the town asking Ja Young about her mother, who had abandoned her. Ji Yul also doesn’t have parents, and hence sympathizes with Ja Young. He offers her a ride back home, but she refuses. Ji Yul is tired of riding a bicycle and goes to the head of the town to buy a truck from him. The women think Ji Yul has come to volunteer in the peach garden and drag him to work. Ja Young is also present there, and Ji Yul apologizes to her for his rude behavior. The women find their interaction very romantic and tease Sang Hyeon that Ji Yul will steal Ja Young from him.
Sang Hyeon is the son of the Townhead, and he purposely tries to sell his truck at a high price to Ji Yul. The women made him insecure about losing Ji Yul, and hence, he is being petty about it. Ja Young notices it and provokes him more. She informs Ji Yul that she knows a store where they offer discounts to newly married couples, and that they can act like one. This brings Sang Hyeon back to his senses, and he offers Ji Yul a reasonable price. Ja Young reveals to Sang Hyeon that Ji Yul is her childhood friend, but he doesn’t remember her. She is only treating him nicely because he is staying in town for a few months only.
“Once Upon A Small Town” has brought young and energetic characters to the screen, and their story has just begun. Ji Yul is going to stay in Huidong for three more months, and he surely has a lot to experience and learn from this town. It is a new beginning for Huidong town, as a young man from the city has arrived in their small town, where the majority of the residents are elderly.