Friday, 28 June 2013

K-drama review: Coffee Prince/ 커피프린스 1호점

Note: I do not own any of the pictures in this post.
 First of all, apologies for all those who care to read my blog for Korean drama reviews. I know I've been lagging behind with my reviews and there hasn't one up for months now and so, to make up for it, I will be coming up with at least four K-drama reviews that I think you may enjoy before June ends. Starting the list will be one of the most popular romantic-comedy (yes, again!) K-drama there is: Coffee Prince. This show goes by other names like Coffee Prince, The 1st Shop Coffee Prince and 커피프린스 1호점.

This 2007 show is spun over a total of 17 awesome episodes each one hour long. So far so good. Now as far as the basic plot goes, here it is without having to give much away:

Eun Chan & Han Gyul :)


Go Eun Chan
Go Eun Chan (played by Yoon Eun Hye) is an extremely hardworking 24 year old girl who is the sole earning member of her family of three (which is basically her mom, her younger sister Eun Sae and herself). She didn't get a chance to study a lot or dress up at all like a girl, preferring to be like a boy (we see in the very first episode that practically everyone mistakes her for a guy) as her father passed away when she was still very young & Eun Chan had to fend for her family doing an assortment of odd jobs all at once such as sewing eyes on soft toys, delivering milk early in the morning in her neighbourhood, delivering food, teaching taekwondo to kids and...warding off potential dates of our hero Choi Han Gyul (played by Gong Yoo) arranged by his grandmom by pretending to be his gay partner. Yes, as every romantic-comedy must begin with utter confusion/misunderstanding/misgiving of some sort, Han Gyul, a rich but pretty aimless in life (and handsome) 30 year old heir to a coffee shop empire mistakes her for a guy. Sick of the girls he is made to meet arranged by his imposing grandmom in order to take a wife, he hires Eun Chan, still thinking she is a guy, to act as his gay partner to shoo these women off.






Choi Han Gyul


As turns of events go, Han Gyul is made to run a coffee shop (or else he will be disinherited) on his own and Eun Chan, still keeping her gender a secret, works for him. And they fall in love, leading to a lot of confusion in terms of sexual preferences, one's own sexuality and whether the partner's gender even matters in cases of love. That's pretty much what the story is.

Except, oh wait.
 There has to be more than that if it ran for 17 whole episodes. One of the people whose house Eun Chan delivers milk to is the very charming and handsome Choi Han Seong (played by Lee Sun Kyun), Han Gyul's cousin who is the steady boyfriend of Han Gyul's unrequited love Han Yoo Joo (played by Chae Jung An). Confused? Yeah...but watch the series and it'll sort itself out. Eun Chan eventually has a thing for the understanding Han Seong which I liked but as an audience also abhorred because I know Han Gyul is our male lead. 
Han Seong
The show is called Coffee Prince because the coffee shop Han Gyul, Eun Chan and some others run is named "First Shop Coffee Prince". The term "prince" because, apparently "flower boys" are passe now (oh no, Gu Jun Pyo and Yoo Ji Hoo and Cha Chi Soo!) and it's time for coffee princes...handsome guys or princes who serve delicious coffee at this paradise shop. Which gives Eun Chan another reason to keep her gender a secret from her boss Han Gyul. Other coffee princes include: Min Yeop, Sun Ki and Ha Rim.  
 
Min Yeop

Min Yeop (played by the model Lee Eon) is a muscular guy who loves Eun Chan's sister Eun Sae (Han Yeh In) with a slave like devotion. Their side-story got mixed reaction from me. While I do fancy myself a feminist, yes, I do not, however, enjoy seeing any human being humiliated to the extent Min Yeop is by Eun Sae. Eun Sae is a little princess who must have Min Yeop running errands for her while she snubs him publically. And the fact that Min Yeop doesn't mind for most part doesn't sit too well with me. Other than that, Eun Sae's character is quite pleasant and she really cares for her sister. 
Eun Sae snubbing Min Yeop
Sun Ki!!!
Sun Ki (played by Kim Jae Wook) is a part Japanese, part Korean waffle chef at Coffee Prince. When the show began, I honestly hadn't like Sun Ki's character a lot. But by the time Coffee Prince ended, he was one of my favorite characters in the show. Sun Ki is one of the few sorted characters in the show (perhaps the only other being Coffee Prince's part owner Gae Shik). He has his own forlorn love background story but I won't get into that. I liked him because well, he doesn't see anything wrong with homosexuality but most importantly, doesn't butt in in other people's business...are you listening Ha Rim?

 Speaking of which, our last Coffee Prince: Ha Rim (played by Kim Dong Wook) 
Ha Rim
(you will recognise him as the one calling Eun Chan "My Chan"). He has known Han Gyul from before Coffee Prince opened up, is fun loving, a playboy and loves to meddle and pass his own sweet judgement. But he grows on you.

Eun Chan is pretty much the typical tough girl who needs to earn her living to support her family who has no times for the frills or the curls or the princes or the fancy balls. Han Gyul is the typical rich heir who flirts his way out of everything until he is forced to work under the age old threat of the K-drama world, aka, disinheritance. His cousin, Han Seong, is very much the Yoo Ji Hoo--the amazingly understanding guy friend who is always there for the female lead, recognizes that she is a girl (indicating that he really sees her), always understanding. So far this seems like a bit of the grown up version of Boys Before Flowers.
Han Seong & Eun Chan bonding.

However, Yoo Joo, Han Seong's girlfriend departs from the standard issue characters' norms.
Yoo Joo
She is obviously pretty, obviously flirts back a little with Han Gyul even though she clearly doesn't love him and so on. But she has character. She is independent, fiercely so. In a some ways, I find her a stronger character than Eun Chan. And despite what the first few episodes show, she isn't very much the bitch, no. She doesn't manipulate, doesn't scheme and doesn't make Eun Chan's life miserable and for this lack of female poison, I thank this drama.


Coffee Prince is an adorable show and I appreciates it not treating homosexuality as something abnormal. Watch it if you want the typical rom-com song and dance with a lot of laughter and cuteness and happy ending. 


Other K-drama reviews by me:

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