K Drama review | Once Upon A Small Town: A happy pill celebrating the simple life | The Financial Express

K Drama review | Once Upon A Small Town: A happy pill celebrating the simple life

Once Upon A Small Town: review: There are some shows that comfort you with their sheer simplicity and warmth.

K Drama review | Once Upon A Small Town: A happy pill celebrating the simple life
A still from Once Upon A Small Town

By Puja Talwar

The K Drama Once Upon A Small Town starring Chu Young Woo, Red Velvet’s Joy, and Baek Sung Chul ticks all the boxes. An adaptation of a web novel by the same name, the show is something akin to popping a ‘happy pill’ and transporting yourself into an uncomplicated world of green paddy fields, peach orchards, and a tight-knit township that comprises a motley crew of friendly and curious neighbours and many farm animals.

A handsome and reserved Seoul-based veterinarian Han Ji Yool (Chu Young Woo) is tricked into an interim relocation to the countryside and starts his practice at his grandfather’s veterinarian clinic. You feel his plight. He does not belong here, he is a man who likes his space and can’t deal with the over-friendly and inquisitive town folk and neither has he ever treated livestock or large animals before.

In comes the town’s favourite handywoman, the dependable and super-efficient police officer Ahn Ja Young (Joy). Her overly helpful nature and smiling shining demeanor make her a favourite amongst the town folk.

Ja Young’s congenial nature initially irks the self-contained Han Ji Yool who even looks perplexed by her besotted gazes and knack to show up whenever he is.

The famous K Drama trope of a childhood connection is weaved in and is yet to be discovered by Han Ji Yool, as an obviously infatuated Ja Young cherishes memories of a long-forgotten summer 15 years ago.

However the third angle is Ja Young’s best friend Lee Sang Hyun (Baek Sung Chul) who has feelings for her and his overprotective antennas are on overdrive with the arrival of Ji Yooll, since Lee Sang Yun has perceived the inevitability of the situation even better than Ja Young and Ji Yool themselves.

 From chiding her for being a pushover and people pleaser Ji Yool finds himself warming towards Ja Young. He breaches his own self-made concepts of boundaries and space with the village folk and does not mind their demanding and all-for-one and for-all attitude, he seems to be soaking in the fussy yet no-frills of village life.

As Ji Yool and Ja Young find themselves thrown together in situations that range from rescuing puppies to tackling veterinarian emergencies as well as turning counselors to pre-teen love angst …one can gauge the unspoken intensity of feelings. The USP of K Dramas has always been how the most subtle gestures communicate the strongest of emotions. As the two try to navigate across their feelings you can’t help but root for this couple across your screens, even though you want Ji Yool to be more assertive and Ja Young to be a bit more selfish when it comes to herself.

Candid moments between the two whether its Ji Yool asking Ji Young does she have anyone to rely on and fall back on or Ji Young telling Sang Hyun that more than love, it’s their friendship that is paramount to her or the town folk rooting for Ja Young are some of the cute moments.

The 12-part series shot in a palette of green, blue, and white is no fuss and scores big on its straightforward storytelling and uncomplicated characters. No scheming, calculating, or melodramatic protagonists here but just regular folk navigating through the day who draw you into their routine of making peach wine, and handling village emergencies which range from missing people to animal maladies with a bit of romance thrown in.

The delightful bonds of community, another aspect that’s beautifully evoked in K Dramas come through. Be it the protective members of the women association who look out for Ja Young or Lee  Sang Hyun who values his friendship with Ja Young over and above anything else. The young Kim Seon Dong (Jung Si Youl) in his childlike innocence teaches the two grown-ups Ji Yul and Ja Young a thing about communication and embracing your true feelings.

Cho Young Woo is charming as Han Ji Yool from his stoic don’t get close to me vibe to mustering his courage to articulate his feelings, your heart goes out to him. With his lithe physique and good looks Cho Young Woo is the face to watch out for.

Joy as the naive ever smiling sometimes a bit too much, Ja Young plays her part and I quite enjoyed her confessional chats with her dog Narungi, dog lovers would get the vibe.

Baek Sung Chul as the wary yet understanding best friend is endearing.

‘Once Upon A Small Town’ is a celebration of the simple and uncluttered life and can be watched on Netflix.

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