Once Upon A Small Town – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Episode 1

Han Ji-yul is a Vet in a city who receives a call from his grandfather while he is at work. He answers and finds out that something’s wrong so he goes to the village where his grandparents live. 

When he arrives at Huidong village, Ji-yul is outside their house peeping in, as he tries to enter the locked house. Female Police Officer Ja-young assumes he is a thief and tackles him.

She eventually asks Ji-yul for ID, and is shocked to learn who he is. Ja-young tells him that the house is empty sans his grandparents and he is worried. Her colleague misunderstands their interaction and knocks Ji-yul unconscious.

When Ji-yul wakes up, he enquires about his grandfather only to learn that the old man was out on a cruise trip with his wife that morning. The nurse at the vet clinic tells him she was instructed to make him rush there so she lied on behalf of his grandfather.

Ji-yul is shocked to learn that his grandfather lied to him about his health to get him to return to the village. He gets a call from his grandfather who instructs him to look after the veterinary clinic until he returns as he too was a vet like his grandfather.

Just as Ji-yul is trying to process all that happened to him, a patient arrives seeking help. As he is leaving, Ja-young apologises to him and asks him to join her for another emergency.

On the drive, his colleague from the city convinces him to stay in the village and let his grandparents enjoy their trip. Ja-young is making small talk with Ji-yul and asks him about his last time visiting the village.

Distractedly she accidentally startles a fellow villager, Sang-yeon who falls head first into the rice paddies and dirties his clothes. He yells at her asking the officer to be careful as she apologises to him. 

Ji-yul and Ja-young arrive at the farm of a villager who called the vet for an emergency. He reveals that it was a false alarm and that his chicken did not need medical assistance.

Ji-yul is pissed when he finds that the villager had captured a dog who was eating his chickens. The dog was hurt and Ji-yul tells the villager that setting a rat trap for a dog is illegal and a criminal offence.

The villager tries to lie his way out of the situation but Ji-yul is trying to find a way to help the dog. Ja-young tries to talk Ji-yul to take it easy on the villager and asks him to focus on rescuing the dog instead.

They bicker because their ideologies clash and he reprimands Ja-young for not being mindful of the life of an animal who is clearly in pain. She eventually drives him back to the clinic with the injured dog.

Ji-yul performs an X-ray over the dog’s injured leg and is relieved to learn that the dog will be okay. He dresses his wound while Ja-young looks at Ji-yul in fury. He asks if everything is okay but she refuses to tell him.

Ja-young gets a call from work and Nurse Yeong-suk (from the animal hospital) tasks Ji-yul to visit the patient with Officer Ja-young. Ji-yul wonders why the locals call the cop about animal issues instead of the animal hospital directly.

The female officer tells him it is what it is and they go about their way to the distressed animal. The said animal is a goat in heat causing trouble and Ja-young takes Ji-yul with him.

They both go to the site using a shortcut but Ji-yul slips and falls into the mushy paddy field dirtying his clothes. He is finally met with an angry goat in heat and is initially scared but seemingly is able to overpower the animal eventually.

After a taxing day, when Ji-yul is finally home all by himself, the villagers arrive at his house to treat him to dinner. Ji-yul is unhappy with the way the villagers impose themselves and bluntly lets the women know his feelings but they don’t take him seriously.

Ja-young politely apologises to him for all their behalves and asks the women to leave him be. When its just the two of them, she warns him about keeping the doors to his house locked well since the village does not have smart locks yet.

Ja-young asks him to eat well but he tries to bicker with her. Ji-yul is instantly flummoxed when she checks to see the band-aid on his forehead before she leaves. Once he is alone, he reads a letter from his grandfather who apologises for worrying him.

The letter reminds Ji-yul of his childhood in the village so he goes to the animal hospital to inspect it. He spots the dog from earlier that day and redresses his wounded leg. Ji-yul then locks the hospital up and arrives at a pond only to shockingly find Ja-young swimming inside.

The Episode Review

This K-drama is really interesting because who would have imagined a K-pop idol like Red Velvet’s Joy as a police officer that lives in a small town! The show is setting itself up as a refreshing healing drama centred around animals, and it will be fun to see how it progresses into a cute romance between Ji-yul and Ja-young. 

Viewers can anticipate a love triangle from miles away unlike Sang-yeon who could not spot Ja-young’s vehicle. It is evident that he has a crush on the police officer but looks like our police officer has the hots for Ji-yul, the brooding, hot vet.

Ji-yul probably was close with her as a child and that is the reason why she immediately recognised him. Being  a typical K-drama male, he has no memory of it. The two characters are poles apart in their ideologies but they still have insane chemistry that I will surely be looking forward to in the episodes to come.

Next Episode

You can check out our full season review for Once Upon A Small Town here!

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