K-Drama Review: “Once Upon A Small Town” Narrates A Sweepingly Adorable Love Tale

From its humble opening, Once Upon A Small Town blossomed into an endearing romantic story that relishes the beauty of falling in love.

Engrossingly formulaic, the series piles up the sweetness that spreads inside the viewer’s heart. Its simple storytelling underlines subtle and strong messages on nurturing self-worth, friendship and love.

  • Main Leads: Park Sooyoung | Choo Young Woo | Baek Sung Chul
  • Overall Rating:
  • Romance/Addictive Meter:
  • Rewatch Value:
  • Dramas of Similar Vibe: Our Secrets | Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

abbyinhallyuland watched Once Upon A Small Town on Netflix

Episode Recaps: 01 – 03 | 04 – 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 – 11 | Finale + Review


Once Upon A Small Town Episode 12 Highlights

Continuing their secret relationship, Ji-yul and Ja-young go on with their respective jobs. For a relationship that is in the honeymoon stage, it sure is frustrating for both of them.

When the planned movie night again gets thwarted by affairs in Huidong, Ja-young has had enough. Bolstered by some alcohol she drank; she took into the village speaker platform her exasperation about not being properly enjoying dating the man she loves.

It turns out though that the whole village knows about their dating. Eventually, Ji-yul moves back to Seoul as planned and they work a long-distance relationship. Carefully threading their relationship, both do not want to worry each other. But in the process, they sometimes end up doing the exact thing.

On the day that Ja-young got a promotion, Ji-yul visits her personally with flowers. He also tells her that he will move to Huidong. Noticing the balsam flower dye they put on each other already faded, Ji-yul brings out the couple’s ring he bought for them.

Sitting side by side enjoying the warmth of Huidong’s comforting air, they look forward to a future together.


Once Upon A Small Town Plot Recap

Tricked by his grandparents to man their countryside vet clinic, Han Ji-yul (Choo Young-woo) settles at Huidong and meets Ahn Ja-young (Park Sooyoung). Often helping the townspeople lead to Ji-yul bumping on Ja-young with his tasks as a veterinarian.

It turns out that Ja-young has kept him in her heart as her secret friend when they were young. Unfortunately, Ji-yul belatedly realized their past connection. Amidst an unrequited love and an ex-flame between them, love finds its way to filling their hearts with happiness.


Once Upon A Small Town Series Highlights + Musings

Traversing a familiar tune, Once Upon A Small Town surprisingly sedates with its cute and comfy vibe. If you ignore the tropes, it is quite a sweet ride.

Featuring a core love story and two side romantic lines in its 12-episode run endowed the series with a hooking effect.

Firstly, Ja-young and Ji-yul took us to a love story that fulfilled its initial promise. It dotes on fan service and is still able to communicate in the story significant messages on self-love and braving a love choice.

On that note, Once Upon A Small Town delightfully ensured the continuity of the syrupy moments keep its momentum. Moreover, viewers can notice the attention to the beautiful screenplay, especially in the love confession scenes.

In a span of a dozen episodes, the story knows how to extend the moments that need to linger and cut the unnecessary fillers. Despite being straight to the point, it never lost focus on sprinkling charming notes all throughout.

Meanwhile, Baek Sung Chul as Sang-hyun also brought his A-game as we swoon at his maturity to accept that his unrequited love can’t be returned. He also left an encouraging message for all those friend-zoned about the true meaning of love for friends who can’t become lovers. That is to still love each other as friends.

Credit is to be given to Park Sooyoung for the smooth transition runs with her male leads, one being romantic and the other platonic. Innately expressive, wistful romance really suits up well to the talented actress.

Her efficient portrayal fueled the nicely presented pictures of love in the narrative: one that beats in your heart and the other that can make you feel at ease.

Once Upon A Small Town review kdramadiary b

A Sincere Love Story That Makes You Feel Good

As silent, self-proclaimed and invisible residents of Huidong, we love the heartfelt declarations and bravery to let go shown by the lead characters of Once Upon A Small Town.

Admirably, this series understood its intention to be as pragmatic and sincere as it can be with regard to its story. Even with a straightforward approach, it does not neglect the healing and heart-fluttering moments that made the series endearing.

Most importantly, it stayed aligned to the narrative, no matter how cliche and predictable it was, the sincere portrayals really made the story seem like your first favorite love-themed novel.

Having the ability to make the viewers stay the moment they pick up the series is true for Once Upon A Small Town. It has this kind of unique enchantment that engrosses and makes you happy at the same time.

Peppered with sweetness, it is a good watch for a weekend binge or when you want to comfort yourself alone.

All episodes of Once Upon A Small Town are now streaming on Netflix!


Photos: kakao TV

Videos: Most Contents Official YouTube


  1. This review reflected what my heart and mind felt after watching Once Upon A Small Town. Thank you for bringing out the apt words! I hope a wider audience would support this masterpiece.

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