Review: Coffee Prince

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fun, breezy, and so heartfelt, that it’s still considered a classic in Dramaland today.

There are lot of things to love about this show: a drama world that feels real and lived-in; leads with crackling, warm chemistry whether they’re bickering, stealing wistful glances at each other, or getting up-close-and-personal touchy-feely; an excellent ensemble cast that all feel like they belong in their characters’ skins; a well-executed OST. On the downside, some folks find the humor a little gross, so fair warning, I guess? I personally don’t enjoy gross humor, but I didn’t find the humor in this much of a deterrent, to be honest.

The ending can feel a little underwhelming in spots, but overall, this one is well worth a long-term spot in your drama-loving heart.

THE LONG VERDICT:

So here’s the thing. I have owed the world at large this Coffee Prince review, for literal years, now. I can’t remember exactly when I made that promise, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to peg that at a ballpark 5 years. Yikes. That fact alone makes me look like a master procrastinator, doesn’t it? Eep. In my feeble defense, I’ve been distracted by all the shiny, newer shows that I have reviewed..? 😛

So, why now? Well, in my 2018 Year In Review post, my dear friend Sunny (Sunny does fantastic translations of k-ent interviews, do check her out and give her some love!) reminded me of this promise, which I’ve conveniently tucked away in the back of my head each time a patient, good-natured soul teased me about it. With 2019 brand new and shiny on my doorstep, I figured this was a good time to start the year off right – fulfilling a long-made promise, even if it’s (terribly, terribly) late.

To all of you who’ve been patiently waiting for this, I’m sorry, and thank you. I don’t know if I can make this worth the wait (coz 5 years is a long time to wait!), but I’ll do my very best. <3

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS DRAMA WORLD

I think one of the things that makes this show special, is that it’s got a unique blend of fairytale and everyday. The unassuming everyday beats make this world feel real and accessible and relatable, while the fairytale just makes the fantasy feel that much more possible.

Show sets up its world very effectively and efficiently, and by episode 2, we basically get all the major pieces that will push Eun Chan and Han Gyul (Yoon Eun Hye and Gong Yoo) into the coffee shop and firmly into each other’s orbits. It’s all very breezy and fun, with tropes regularly dotting the journey. And yet, because of the way Show makes these characters feel like real people with real lives and real mundane everyday moments, the entire drama world feels real, quirky lashings and all.

One of the quirky things I noticed on my latest rewatch, is how cool Han Gyul’s apartment is. It’s an apartment, yet has a front yard. How cool. These kinds of quirky details, along with Show’s bright Spring palette, helped to add some extra fairy dust to our drama world, and I liked that a lot.

CHARACTERS

One of the things that sets this drama apart, is how real these characters feel. Perhaps that’s why so many of us have been unable to forget them, so many years later. Our characters are flawed, and sometimes they do things that we don’t agree with, but yet, writer-nim manages to endear them to us anyway, while helping us to understand why these characters might behave the way they do, in the first place. Very thoughtfully and nicely done.

Here’s a quickish spotlight on our four main players.

Gong Yoo as Choi Han Gyul

Here’s the weird thing. The first time I watched Coffee Prince, I didn’t immediately find Gong Yoo all that sexy. I know. What was wrong with me? Happily, I’ve long fixed that, and I now have Gong Yoo-appreciating eyes that work very well, thank you very much. 😉 (Said Gong Yoo-appreciating eyes have helped craft several Gong Yoo-appreciating posts, which you can find here, here, and here. Just in case you didn’t know, heh.)

Also, with or without the Gong Yoo-appreciating eyes, I enjoyed Han Gyul as a character, each time I watched this show.

At first glance, Han Gyul looks like a fairly typical playboy rich guy, with his flirtatious interactions with a random girl (cameo by Yoon Seung Ah, in her early acting days) within the first few minutes of episode 1, while on his way home (in first class, no less), to pacify his CEO grandmother (Kim Young Ok).

[MINOR SPOILERS] However, for all of Han Gyul’s flirty bluster, smooth-talking rebellion and pride, we soon see that he’s a softie at heart, who cares about his mom and his grandma, even though he doesn’t care so much for the company they want him to run. He’s also good-hearted enough, to trust Eun Chan enough, to give her the chance to earn the money she needs, in spite of his very poor first impression of her. So even though we see that he can be pretty brusque when he wants to be, he’s not a typical cold, rich jerk of a male lead.

Also, despite Han Gyul’s fierce protests at Gran’s instruction to turn the coffee shop around (or else), it really isn’t long before he’s busily delivering coffee beans, with a happy, satisfied sort of expression on his face, from the sense of achievement he’s feeling. Aw. I couldn’t help but like him pretty quickly into my watch. [END SPOILER]

Of course, we learn a lot more about Han Gyul’s character as we journey through this story with him. I’ll touch more on the details of his character when we get to the OTP section. In the meantime, I just want to say that Gong Yoo imbues his delivery with so much nuance and genuine heart, that I honestly believed that he simply was Han Gyul, slowly but surely losing his heart to Eun Chan. Gong Yoo absolutely played a significant part in lifting this drama to feel like it was more than a drama, but an actual fly-on-the-wall peek at a person named Han Gyul falling in love.

As a shallow plus, Gong Yoo’s bod is lovely in HD, *cough* and Show capitalizes on it by serving up shirtless Gong Yoo right away, in episode 1 – and then some, through the rest of the show. I can’t complain about that. 😉

Yoon Eun Hye as Go Eun Chan

My introduction to Yoon Eun Hye was in my gateway drama Goong, where she played a girly-cutesy girl, so her very boyish turn here basically blew my socks off. It just boggled my mind, that this boyish, completely unladylike character, complete with short hair, boy’s clothes and a boyish gait, was played by the same person. It boggled my mind even more, that Yoon Eun Hye pulls it off with aplomb. There is no hint of self-conscious vanity about the way she plays Eun Chan. She just is Eun Chan, boyish mannerisms and all. Very impressive indeed.

While Yoon Eun Hye is a little small-boned and pretty for a boy, Show works around this in a very smart manner, by introducing Eun Chan as a character who gets mistaken for a boy on the regular. [MINOR SPOILER] First, she gets mistaken for a boy by all the women in the bathhouse in episode 1, and even when she tells them she’s a girl, no one believes her. That makes the whole idea of Eun Chan passing off as a guy at the coffeeshop much more believable in this world. Later in the same episode, the fact that Eun Chan can hurt Min Yeop (Lee Eon) AND out-eat him also adds to our belief that she can and does pass for a boy. [END SPOILER]

On paper, Eun Chan does appear to be quite the Candy: she’s the main breadwinner in her family, and she works a multitude of part-time jobs in order to pay the bills. On top of that, she’s good-natured, doesn’t appear to hold grudges, and loves her mother and sister even when they regularly give her trouble. But, unlike your typical Candy character, Eun Chan is strong and tough, and in addition to more typical Candy jobs like waiting tables, takes on jobs that are traditionally more associated with males: delivering food and teaching Taekwondo. Not only that, she capably unclogs toilets, helps her Mom with sewing on doll’s eyes, and gets up extra early to deliver milk and yogurt. The fact that she does all of this with zest and cheer, just makes her all the more endearing.

Of course, a lot of credit goes to Yoon Eun Hye’s personal charm as well. She makes Eun Chan so pure, really. Clear-eyed and innocent, even with the strong lashings of street savvy, Eun Chan just feels like an untainted soul. Add on Yoon Eun Hye’s excellent ability to ugly-cry in degrees, and every time Eun Chan got tears sheening in her eyes, my heart just went out to her, wherever and whenever.

[SPOILER ALERT] One thing I really appreciate about Eun Chan as our heroine, is that she remains stubbornly independent, even after falling head over heels in love. In episode 13, Eun Chan’s refusal to stand in Han Gyul’s way of a career in designing toys, and her refusal to just let him take care of the financial stuff and pay her way to the US, even if it means being separated from him, says a lot about her independent spirit and her care for him.

I also very much like that even though Han Gyul is older, and comes from money, Eun Chan always comes across as treating him as her equal. She never is tempted to mooch off his money, even though her sister Eun Sae (Yoon Ji Yoo) feels that they should. At the same time, Eun Chan is always alert to how and when Han Gyul needs her, and she readily gives him what he needs. In the same episode, when Han Gyul tells Eun Chan about the birth secret bombshell that Gran had dropped earlier that day, she knows immediately how he must feel, and moves in to hold him and pat his shoulder comfortingly. To my eyes, this tells me a lot about how Eun Chan sees herself and Han Gyul as equals, there to support and give to each other, as the need arises. I liked that. [END SPOILER]

Lee Sun Gyun as Choi Han Seong

I confess that I only really came to appreciate Lee Sun Gyun’s appeal in dramas that came out after Coffee Prince. I enjoyed him very well in Pasta and Miss Korea, and absolutely loved him in My Mister. In Coffee Prince, though, I mostly felt quite indifferent about him and his character Han Seong. I will say that in my most recent rewatch for this review, that I liked Lee Sun Gyun more in the role than I first did, but I also disliked Han Seong as a character, more than I first did. Funny how that worked out, eh?

Because of my upgraded Lee Sun Gyun-appreciating eyes, I found Han Seong more charming and appealing than I did back in 2007, when I first laid eyes on him. However, with more drama miles under my belt and a more critical eye, I also found some of Han Seong’s behavior more problematic than I’d first noticed.

[SPOILER] A great example is how Han Seong works to get closer to Eun Chan, and gives her his phone number, and finds her endearing. This all happens in episode 3, when he’s already started seeing Yoo Joo (Chae Jung Ahn) again. This was definitely a secret friendship that he was nursing on the side, and his attitude towards Eun Chan isn’t firmly platonic either, so I found this all quite inappropriate and rather dysfunctional. Add on the fact that he was probably doing this to spite Yoo Joo, and punish her for running away with DK (Kim Jung Min) before, and that just makes it all the more disturbing and wrong.

Of course, Show rights all of this by the time the finale rolls around, so I didn’t dislike Han Seong for too long. The way that Han Seong reaches out to help clarify things for Han Gyul in episode 12, even in the midst of his own confusion and heartbreak, did a lot to make up for his past mistakes, in my eyes. [END SPOILER]

Chae Jung Ahn as Han Yoo Joo

Imma be honest; the more I watched this show, the more I disliked Yoo Joo, as a character. I found her entitled, self-centered and manipulative. Through it all, Yoo Joo often seems blithely unrepentant for her bad behavior, and seems to think that she can just keep on coasting on her looks, artistic talent, and personal charm.

Yes, Show does redeem by the end of our story, but I can’t deny that I spent a large portion of our story feeling a distinct distaste for Yoo Joo.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s a quickish run-down of why I disliked Yoo Joo, during my watch. I’ll touch on her redemption in a later section of this review, when I talk about her relationship with Han Seong.

E2. I kinda hate Yoo Joo, for having the gall to try coming back to Han Seong, after dumping him for DK. There’s something entitled about her attitude. She doesn’t show herself to be very sorry, and I don’t like her very much coz of that.

E3. Yoo Joo is a very insensitive person. First, in allowing Han Gyul to go over to her house when Han Seong was there, knowing that Han Gyul nurses a crush on her. And when Han Gyul shows unhappiness, she pretty much tells him to get over his daddy issues already. Ugh. Also, her casual interaction with DK, given how big of a part her relationship with DK played in hurting Han Seong, just screams insensitive to me.

E11. Yoo Joo is definitely one of those pretty, complicated, self-centered women. Having run off and lived with DK before, she won’t give Han Seong the time and space to sort out his feelings properly. Sure, she rationalizes it, and says that because she’s done that to him in the past, she doesn’t warrant him sorting out his feelings, but I don’t know if I buy it. And then, later, knowing that DK still likes her, to then use him to make Han Seong feel bad? That’s terribly insensitive, and she later casually asks him to be understanding of her. She’s an exceedingly annoying character that way. I suppose it’s to Chae Jung Ahn’s credit that Yoo Joo is even marginally likable at all. It also helps that I feel like Yoo Joo doesn’t actually like herself all that much, most of the time.

E12. I don’t appreciate Yoo Joo’s actions, choosing to go with DK in order to protect herself, then ditching DK at the airport without even saying anything, and then disappearing without a word to anyone. Just, so very irresponsible.

[END SPOILER]

RELATIONSHIPS

Han Gyul and Eun Chan

No holds barred, the relationship between Han Gyul and Eun Chan is THE thing that makes this show as memorable and cracktastic as it is. Yes, everything else plays a part; the writing, directing, supporting characters, everything plays a part in making up the magic that is Coffee Prince. But if you asked me to single out one driving force that keeps me coming back to this drama, even after so many years, it is this OTP.

I love that we get to witness the many stages of our OTP relationship. Yes, we see their bickering start, followed by their reluctant meshing of worlds, followed by burgeoning feelings. But, Show gives this OTP a stage that endures beyond the happy coming together as a couple. Beyond that, we also get to see how this couple learns to be a couple; learns to fit their relationship into the world that they share with their coffee princes and friends; learns how to make a niche for themselves – together as well as individually – that fits comfortably into both their worlds. That’s something quite rare, I think, in the rom-com trendies that tend to grace Dramaland. This extended glimpse into what happens with my OTP beyond the ‘I love you too’s made this couple feel all the more real, to me.

And then, THE thing that makes this all-important OTP connection work so well, is the chemistry that Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye share. It just feels so natural, so warm and so organic, that I often felt that I was a voyeur, peeping at real-life lovers. They give Han Gyul and Eun Chan such an easy, natural skinship. It’s not just the kisses and hugs, it’s in how they touch each other; it all feels so convincingly natural. There is no unease about it, you can tell that they are very comfortable with each other. [MINOR SPOILER] This is especially clear in Han Gyul’s fantasy in episode 15, where he and Eun Chan wrestle and play in bed. It’s fun, sparky and sexy, and their ease with each other just leaps off the screen. [END SPOILER]

Kudos to Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye. After so many years of kdrama-watching, this still counts among my top picks, when it comes to OTP chemistry. <3

[SPOILER ALERT]

It was a pleasure to watch this OTP all over again, for this review, and I can’t help but want to share the entire range of thoughts and observations I had, as I watched.

Map of a burgeoning connection

E1. Tee hee. Eun Chan’s knees all weak from seeing Han Gyul glistening in nothing but a towel. I never noticed that before. So cute.

E2. Despite the less than ideal beginnings, Han Gyul is clearly quite charmed by Eun Chan’s enthusiasm and general zest for life.

E2. Eun Chan and Han Gyul acting as fake lovers is super cute, even though I’ve seen it so many times before. They have a natural chemistry that is very nice, and Han Gyul obviously is growing to like Eun Chan a lot. I love that Han Gyul respects Eun Chan’s hardworking approach to life and loans her the money that she needs.

E3. I’d forgotten that Eun Chan is the one who convinces Han Gyul to try running the coffee shop. She’s the only one who actually got through to him. Which is evidence that she understands him – her words about showing a different side to Gran and to Yoo Joo were a big part of Han Gyul’s turning point.

E3. Eun Chan really seems to be Han Gyul’s only friend – well, the only friend that actually hangs out at his house and talks with him about more personal stuff. The special-ness of their friendship is clear, in how they treat each other and regard each other, which makes the whole explosion over the wrong coffee order that much more raw and hurtful.

E4. There are glimmers of Han Gyul developing a special soft spot for Eun Chan. When Ha Rim says Eun Chan is his, Han Gyul immediately says Eun Chan’s his. It’s also in the way he looks at her. And now he respects her resilience too, since she stuck out the basketball 1-hour challenge while everyone else surrendered in defeat.

E5. Han Gyul’s soft spot for Eun Chan is showing more and more, and it’s addictive, make-me-grin-like-an-idiot stuff. Likey.

E6. The hug. Played to such nuanced perfection by them both. The uncertainty and confusion in Han Gyul, and the confusion & anxiety in Eun Chan, followed by the release of sinking into the hug. Oof. So good. Han Gyul’s struggle between his heart and his head, trying to make sense of his emotions, is very amusing, and so much fun to watch. Gong Yoo’s smitten faces are surfacing too, and it’s adorable. <3

E7. The friction between Eun Chan and Han Gyul is believable. They are close enough that they know each other’s hot buttons, and they hit where it hurts the most. And then, Han Gyul’s happy faces at Eun Chan after they make up are downright addictive. I feel like he’s about to explode on the inside, and that’s how his happy faces make me feel too. His eyes are so bright that he literally looks like he’s got stars in his eyes looking at her.

E8. Han Gyul sharing the story of his birth and adoption with Eun Chan – it’s such a personal moment. I totally get the feeling that he’s never spoken of this to anyone like this before. The decision to become sworn brothers – it shows how much they care for each other, that they would be happy to just be near each other, even if it means a bond of brotherhood instead of the romantic inclinations that they both feel. There’s something sacrificial in that decision, and the moment feels sweetly poignant.

E9. Han Gyul taking so much pleasure in cooking breakfast for his new lil brother, it’s really sweet. Both of them tentatively trying out their new brotherhood over brekkie. It’s so cute. Eun Chan practicing and ribbing at the same time, with the repeated singsong “hyung” and Han Gyul giving Eun Chan food to show that he’s being a good hyung.

OTP Highlights

Here’s a slightly more lingering look at some of my favorite OTP moments.

The deep, undeniable connection

E9. One thing that strikes me about the connection between Han Gyul and Eun Chan, is that they are each so deeply affected by the presence of the other. If Han Gyul is happy, so is Eun Chan, and if Eun Chan is happy, so is Han Gyul. Han Gyul, gravitating towards Eun Chan, despite his conviction that he’s not gay. Eun Chan, crying in desperation when Han Gyul withdraws from their friendship.

The aftermath, when Han Gyul tries to cut Eun Chan out of his life, is his last-ditch effort to regain normalcy and equilibrium in his life. But it’s so hard. He isolates himself from her by holing himself up in his apartment, and vacillates between cleaning it and trashing it, but ultimately, it’s as hard on him as it is on her. It’s tearing them both up inside, being apart.

Which is just how deep their connection runs. Whether as friends or brothers, just being able to be around each other soothes and comforts them, and gives them security and strength.

Testing boundaries

E9. Han Gyul’s birth secret revelation drives him to seek out Eun Chan. At the beach, when he admits his newfound knowledge of the day to her, it’s such a clear indication of how much he trusts her, and how close he holds her in his heart. It’s highly personal, secretive sort of stuff, and it’s poignantly sweet how he admits it so freely to her.

It’s a quick beat, but her eyes tearing up in response, also shows how deeply she feels for him. His pain is her pain.

Han Gyul testing the boundaries of their relationship, is partly because of all the emotions that have been building up in him, and also, partly timing. He’s feeling vulnerable in the wake of his conversation with his dad, and the place is so fitting and so deserted. His tentative testing is so full of bittersweet pathos, mixed with burgeoning emotion that eventually overwhelms him; from the handholding, to the intertwining of fingers. Eun Chan tests the boundaries too, by lying on his lap.

Han Gyul’s tentative joyful implosion from the proximity and intimacy fills the moment, so much. It’s really Han Gyul’s scene, coz he’s the one who’s struggling through the confusion and uncertainty of what he feels when he allows himself nearness to Eun Chan, versus what he thinks he should feel. The conflict that he feels, is written so clearly in his eyes.

And then there’s the cuddling. Han Gyul’s halting, hesitant movements, each bringing himself closer to Eun Chan, until he’s lying down spooning her, is sweetly painful to watch. You can feel the uncertainty in Han Gyul, as his eyes brim with tears with each step of increasing closeness. That he even allows himself to nestle his face in Eun Chan’s hair, as a single tear falls, shows us just how much he’s feeling for Eun Chan. It overwhelms him to the point that he realizes he can no longer keep up the brotherhood ruse. Augh. My heart.

The alien kiss

E10. Han Gyul, angsting as he drives, unable to stop thinking about Eun Chan, finally goes back to the shop and finds her there, working on the mural. Eun Chan starts to explain how she’s not ruining the mural, just trying to fix it; without a word, his eyes fixed on her the whole time, he hones in on her, and kisses her, once, twice. Her eyes sheen with tears; she never imagined this moment would ever happen.

He steps back; “I’m only going to say this once, so listen carefully. Whether you’re a man, or an alien, I’m not going to care anymore. I tried getting rid of my feelings, but I couldn’t… So let’s go, as far as we can go.”

Augh. The feels. That tentative wonder as he kisses her; her teary wonder; the look on his face, of teary relief, tinged with a bit of pain. My heart.

The tentative, nervous, gentle sort of way Han Gyul talks on the phone with Eun Chan, post-kiss, is so perfect. Things have shifted between them, with his declaration of his feelings, and this is him treading uncertainly. Such a thoughtful touch by the writers. And such a lovely interpretation by Gong Yoo. The tender look in his eyes is just so lovely. <3

Love confessions

E12. The love confessions over the phone at the end of the episode are cute. Eun Chan blurts it out when she’s run out of things to say in her defense: “I love you. I love you! I really love you!”

After blustering back with accusations of her being a player , Han Gyul tells her definitively, “Listen to me carefully. I love you more.” And then he falls down on the couch with the most adorable smitten face ever. Love.

Honestly, one of the best things about this show, is Han Gyul’s happy, smitten, super-pleased-with-himself faces when he’s all-out in love with Eun Chan. He flashes variations of the smitten face throughout episode 13, whenever the feels overflow, and it’s gloriously fun to watch. Han Gyul’s smitten faces are so fabulous, because we can actually feel how giddy and happy he is, at being in love with Eun Chan. It feels like he’s thisclose to exploding from happiness, which is super adorable. <3

“I’m not leaving”

E16. Even on my nth viewing, I can’t say I understand the scene when Eun Chan plonks herself in Han Gyul’s apartment and grasps at straws so that she doesn’t have to leave. This scene just feels broad to me, in its execution. I feel bemused and awkward watching it.

BUT. The skinship that follows feels truly real. Her hands in his hair, his hand on her neck, her legs around his waist, his face buried in hers, her hand pulling his shirt up to reveal taut muscle, his body on hers as they fall on the bed, her legs wrapped around him. Rawr.

“Do you think I want to send you away?”

E16. At first, Han Gyul’s refusal to let Eun Chan go abroad feels like a lack of understanding and empathy, but when he explains in another scene that he can’t bear to not see her for even a day, how can he last two whole years, I can’t help but melt at him.

The way he eventually comes around is sweet too, when he gently tells her that she should go. “Thinking of this cafe without you makes me not want to come here every day. It makes me not want to work. I don’t even want to think about not being able to see you. When I was planning to leave for New York, there were times I thought I couldn’t because I’d be haunted by your memory. Do you think I want to send you away? But I want to show you a bigger world.” Aw. 

[END SPOILERS]

Special shout-out: Show’s treatment of the emotional journey

One of the things that I truly appreciate about this show, is how we are taken along on our key characters’ emotional journeys. Because we are allowed on the journey, it’s so much easier to understand our characters and how they feel, and why they feel that way. Not only does this add to how engaged I felt with our characters and their journeys, this also made our characters feel so much more real, to me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Show does this particularly well, in the aftermath of Han Gyul learning the truth about Eun Chan’s gender.

E11. When Han Gyul comes back home at night after a day of raging, he looks so tired, and.. broken. I feel like I can actually see in his eyes that something broke inside that day. The sense of betrayal, not only by Eun Chan, but by Han Seong and Yoo Joo as well, is really deep, and it’s what’s cut him up inside.

Han Gyul’s hurt and anger is explained really well. That Eun Chan had lied to him, not just for a day or two, but for months. And this, when at least some of the time, she’d known how he’d felt about her. His point, that she calculated all this, and did it in the way that would keep herself from getting hurt, while not caring about him, makes sense. And also, the point that while he’d been thinking about how to keep her with him, she’d been thinking about sending him away. All that is actually true, even though she hadn’t been malicious or selfish intentionally. His anger makes a lot of sense. But it still wasn’t cool, how he kissed her like that. That was assault.

E12. Credit to the show, for working through Han Gyul’s hurt and anger, and bringing him and Eun Chan to reconciliation, in a way that feels organic and believable. The turnaround isn’t sudden, but very gradual, as Han Gyul takes time to think, and as different people talk to him, nudging his perspective in slow degrees. The problem with many other dramas, is that we’re often shown the character simply brooding alone, and then suddenly having a change of heart. That’s so much less believable than what we get here, where we are taken on Han Gyul’s emotional journey.

Gong Yoo does so well this episode. We see so much in his expression, and in his eyes. From pensive thoughtfulness, to wistful longing, tentative awkwardness, to relief, gratefulness and full-on smitten-ness. Of course, not to overlook Yoon Eun Hye, who does a very solid job of Eun Chan this episode. From puffy-eyed deep grief, to shy uncertainty, to unadulterated wonder and joy.

[END SPOILER]

Han Seong and Yoo Joo

To be honest, I wasn’t super taken with this secondary loveline when I first watched this show, and I’m still not really into it, even now. Generally speaking, I found that there was a lot of dysfunction in this relationship, and more than once, I found myself thinking that these two really did deserve each other; they were both so problematic.

Show does give these two a happy ending, and even though I wasn’t all that invested in their relationship to begin with, I must say Show did a pretty good job of wrapping up this arc with a warm, happy sheen that I wasn’t opposed to buying, despite my initial distaste for this couple. That’s skillz.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s a collection of my most recent thoughts about this couple’s journey.

E2. Han Seong sleeping with Yoo Joo – I can’t decide whether he planned to punish her or not. I used to think so, but now I think he really did want to be with her. And the whole breaking up thing in the morning was him testing her, him wanting her to stay, even when he told her to go.

E3. The complicated fragility of Yoo Joo’s and Han Seong’s relationship is realistic. How can you expect to just sweep all that stuff under the carpet? Well ok. People do do that, but it still doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

E5. Han Seong not calling Yoo Joo, and Yoo Joo not calling him either – this couple is complicated, which is not a good thing.

E9. There are spots of honesty in the relationship between Han Seong and Yoo Joo. When he asks if she’s avoiding him, she says that she can’t say she isn’t. It’s a mixture though. When he asks to meet for lunch, she says she has an appointment. But the fact that the honesty is where the conversation ends, is worth something.

E9. Han Seong and Yoo Joo talking it out in their own way, while on vacation. It’s interesting how they seem to be able to talk so freely about how they each wavered on the other. It feels bittersweet, somehow. Like their relationship is tainted with so much baggage. But it’s mature of them, to try to work through it, instead of giving up.

E13. Yoo Joo’s self-awareness and explanation this episode does help to make up for her disappointing behavior in previous episodes. I’m not a big fan of the couple dynamic between Yoo Joo and Han Seong – it’s a bit too dramatic diva for my taste – but I do think they match each other and deserve each other.

E14. While I don’t like the faux-bickering scene, I do like the scene where Han Seong and Yoo Joo lie around in bed and talk about her pregnancy and the future. It feels accessible and real and cozy.

E15. Yoo Joo proposing to Han Seong, admitting her flaws and promising to try hard, just melts away any residual dislike I have for her character.

[END SPOILER]

Han Gyul and Yoo Joo [SPOILERS]

When we begin our story, Han Gyul and Yoo Joo are shown to have a complicated friendship. She’s his cousin’s girlfriend, she’s the girl that he likes, and they want to be close friends, in spite of the first 2 things. I find it so inappropriate in episode 3, that she’s singing him to sleep while dating his cousin. Or maybe that’s just me. But at least she called to apologize.

To my eyes, Yoo Joo’s way of being touchy-feely with Han Gyul is thoughtless and insensitive. She holds his hand, gives him the earliest birthday present, touches his shoulders, his face etc, all while knowing that he likes her while she doesn’t like him back. She’s just basking in the attention, as she leads him on, not caring that he gets hurt in the process. That makes me angry.

I was pleased when Han Gyul shows Yoo Joo in episode 5, that he isn’t comfortable with her mixed signals, but I guess old habits die hard, because in episode 8, I felt distinctly uncomfortable with Han Gyul’s and Yoo Joo’s skinship boundaries, when he puts his head on her lap at the hospital. That’s inappropriate, at least in my books.

The whole thing is pretty unhealthy to my eyes, and it’s no wonder this is a raw nerve between Han Gyul, Han Seong and Yoo Joo. I’m glad Show sorted it all out eventually, of course. Phew.

The Coffee Princes

Aside from the OTP, the Coffee Prince crew was my next favorite thing in this show. I loved watching the initial guardedness and suspicion eventually give way to sincere care and true bromance, and I loved that Show gave us the chance to get to know each of the Coffee Princes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I loved dim Min Yeop, whom I found very amusing and endearing all the way through, from his stubborn love for Eun Sae, to his all-consuming loyalty to Eun Chan, to his simple joy at working hard. He is possibly my favorite Coffee Prince, and I was gutted when I learned that Lee Eon had passed away in a tragic motorcycle crash the year after making this show. Sob. T.T I will always remember Min Yeop working out his jealousy by carrying a fridge. So ridiculous, so he-man, and so endearing.

I found Sun Ki (Kim Jae Wook) suitably cool and edgy as the waffle guy of few words, but it was his one-sided faithful love for a noona with a child that really tugged at my heartstrings. Additionally, underneath the reserved cool exterior, Sun Ki’s actually really nice. Like how he’s defended Eun Chan multiple times, and how he advises Eun Chan in episode 13, to hold onto Han Gyul, who liked her even when he thought she was a guy.

Of course, how could I forget Ha Rim (Kim Dong Wook), with his bright and sunny personality, his loyalty to Han Gyul, and his repeated cheerful exclamations of “My Channnn!!” Cutie.

Last but definitely not least, I loved Manager Hong. For all of his gross lack of hygienic practice, he remained the rock holding the shop together, looking over everyone like he’s their affectionate uncle.

At first, it was just breezy and fun to watch this crew together, coz you feel like you’re hanging out with these guys and just having fun with them. But eventually, it’s their sincere care for one another that really gets me in the heart. By episode 15, the princes are talking about their personal stuff while working and hanging out at the coffee shop together, which I love. It really feels like they’re close and sharing lives, beyond just working together. What a long way they’ve come, considering they didn’t like one another all that much when they first started working together. <3

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-out: Han Gyul and his mom

I really loved the relationship between Han Gyul and his mom (Kim Ja Ok). He’s always so playful and flirty with his mom, and she literally lights up and blossoms in response, which is the most adorable thing. I love how genuinely happy they look, when they hug.

[SPOILER] Han Gyul’s mom is also a true sweetheart, being grateful to her son’s bio mom, instead of feeling threatened by her memory. I found that very moving indeed, and I was so glad for both her and Han Gyul, that they had each other. [END SPOILER]

I also wanted to say, this rewatch was especially bittersweet, now that Kim Ja Ok has passed on. 🙁 She will always be one of my favorite drama moms. <3

MINOR QUIBBLES

In a sea of goodies, singling out things that didn’t work feels rather nitpicky, but for the record, here are a few small things that I think Show could’ve handled better.

E8. How the kiss was resolved also doesn’t feel quite organic to me. Why would Eun Chan kiss Han Gyul, given how uncertain she feels about his feelings for her?

E8. What happened to Han Gyul’s propensity to get knocked out cold after one shot? Here, he’s had one shot with his dad, and then (at least) another glass of wine with Eun Chan, and he’s still able to chase her around the house. That doesn’t match up?

E10. The mini-concert is still weird, many watches later. It requires too much suspension of disbelief, that they’d successfully make music, with so little prep, and sucking bad, just 2 days prior. Plus, the whole thing was just really awkward to watch.

THEMES / IDEAS

I’m sure if you were to dig a little deeper, that you’d find many themes and ideas that Show touches on over the course of its 17 episodes. Like, loyalty, brotherhood, and found family, for example. But, the one thing that really hits me hardest in the heart, is Show’s presentation of the theme of love without conditions or borders. Never mind about different social classes or backgrounds; Han Gyul was sincere in loving Eun Chan, even when he thought she was a boy.

Yes, in this story world, Eun Chan isn’t a boy, but in episode 10, Show has Sun Ki say that even if Eun Chan was a guy, it would still not be a problem. That, plus the alien scene, basically crystalizes Show’s stance on love: that love is love; no conditions, no borders. A powerful message indeed.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Y’know, I’m not so hot on the way Show handles the time skip in our finale, but I’ll admit that there’s a lot of stuff to like in this final hour, in spite of it.

So first, the good stuff.

The morning-after touchy-feeliness and the ease with which Han Gyul and Eun Chan touch each other, is very believable. There is no stiffness or awkwardness in their touches. The ease and loving nature of their touches believably feel like spillover from a night of love-making and tenderness. The bashful wonder and glee of their morning-after also feels very organic and believable. And it’s awfully infectious too, coz I can’t help grinning at their happiness. Little beats like Eun Chan playing with Han Gyul’s fingers as he drives, and playfully biting his hand, only to have him bite on hers right back, makes it totally feel like we’re spying on their intimacy.

In fact, that’s true of almost all their couply interactions. The phone conversation while she’s lying in her bed and he’s lying in his, all curled up and mumbling sleepily at each other, feels completely true-to-life. It’s not a major romantic scene, but it’s the accumulation of minor moments like these, that shape our mental picture of this couple, and it all adds up to a very loving, very natural and very real OTP indeed. Han Gyul’s smitten, I’m-ready-to-explode face as he serenades Eun Chan in the morning over the phone, is so squee-worthy as well. Just seeing his happy face makes me want to explode with happy squee.

The beat, where the coffee princes all line up to take turns saying their goodbyes to Eun Chan, is so sweetly sad. As everyone braces for goodbye, it echoes how I’m bracing for goodbye, to this drama world. In that sense, the impending sadness feels real.

The tearful goodbye between Eun Chan and Han Gyul really tugs at my heartstrings. Both of their sadness at parting, feels so real. The tears feel real. The heartache feels real too. I totally teared up when Han Gyul broke down crying as he drove, after saying goodbye to Eun Chan. Blubber.

On the downside, one thing that does confuse me about Eun Chan going away, is that it seems that she really doesn’t see Han Gyul for two years. After all that talk about daily phone calls and frequent visits, why is it portrayed as if they haven’t seen each other at all, all the time that Eun Chan is away? I mean, I get that it’s to amp up the anticipation of her return, and to intensify Han Gyul’s angst at Eun Chan’s fakeout “I want to stay for another year” thing, but it does strike me as very odd and takes me out of the moment, somewhat.

Also, I’m on Han Gyul’s side on this one. After putting him through the agony of making the decision to support Eun Chan’s desire to stay, it feels rather insensitive of Eun Chan to expect him to just be all, “Oh you’re here, I’m so happy!” about it. It makes sense that he feels at least a little peeved about it.

In the end, though, we do get happy bows all around; Eun Sae supporting Min Yeop’s career as a model, Ha Rim finally meeting his match in Byul, Sun Ki meeting a potential love interest, Han Seong and Yoo Joo happily married, and Eun Chan and Han Gyul happily together again, surrounded by friends and coffee. It’s not a big-bang ending, but it does feel like our characters will continue to bicker and be rowdy together, making memories together, and sharing their entwined lives, for a long, happy time to come. And I can get behind that. <3

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Happy, cracky, relatable goodness in a coffee cup.

FINAL GRADE: A

EXCERPTS:

I couldn’t find a good HD trailer for this show, and I couldn’t find any good HD MVs either. But! I did find that MBCClassic’s got a nice number of clips from the show. So here are a couple of my favorites, from the ones available.

Making of a fake boyfriend

Making of a coffee shop

The opening of a coffee shop

Bonding over pizza and toys

Of hair-blows, drunken water fountain antics, and Chinese food

The pivotal beach scene

The alien kiss

116 thoughts on “Review: Coffee Prince

  1. BE

    So instead of watching episode two of Chuno last night for today’s open discussion, I binged my way through the final four hours of Coffee Prince and the two hours of the special where six of the actors reflect back on their experience making the show.

    The definition of cracky, Coffee Prince, seriously addictive, a binge watch if there ever was one, and a show I will surely rewatch as tv serial comfort food. And for me, hardly a fan of rom coms, a singularly great romantic comedy in which the actors’ enthusiasm for the show, its characters, the writer and director, and above all, the entire crew made it a joy to watch…even the cheesier and less believable sections.

    That said, I had a slightly different take on the main characters than others here and you dear K. First and foremost, way beyond the entire rest of the excellent ensemble, it struck me from moment one that Yoon Eun Hye (everyone’s Chan!) was THE feature attraction. Her character and enactment of that character was the heart of why the show was successful. She was in every way thoroughly magnetic and the center of attention from beginning to end for me. Every once in a while in these Korean dramas, one witnesses a role of a lifetime for a character and this certainly was one for Yoon Eun Hye. She was Eun Chan, and it would be hard for me to think of her as a character in any other role however well enacted. Indeed, I would say, that it is too bad that the show writer decided to name the subsequent coffee house in the franchise, Coffee Princess because Eun Chan for me was THE Coffee Prince, not Han Gyul, the store, or any of the servers, and if they had left the term less gender specific, the ambiguity of Eun Chan’s characterization might have had an echo in such a motif. No doubt that Gong Yoo was the “star” in the show, but that in some part because he played the male lead. However, as I have said and want to reemphasize, at least for me, I was far more locked into Eun Chan’s character arc, and I found Yoon Eun Hye the single indispensable actor as a result. She was the true prince of coffee, imo.

    A number of actors might have been able to carry off Gong Yoo’s character, and I believe both he and his character struggled to find themselves until seriously bad things began to happen to him around episode 12. Indeed, I found it hard except for his good looks, glamorous wealth, and charisma to see why Eun Chan would go for a spoiled jerk like Han Gyul. Oh I am not saying he was not a romantic character, but for a long time in the show, except as Jung Ahn’s friend he did not seem to have much sand in him. (Of course, I should point out I am a father of daughters and grandfather of a granddaughter). It was only after the reveal about his parents’ lie, the sense of betrayal on the part of Eun Chan’s gender deception, and enough scenes with mother and grandmother, that both the rationale for his pose and cause of it became understandable, so the extremes of his personality made sense to me, and his loving relationship with his grandmother and mother struck another deep chord in the actuality of his essential goodness. It really is true that men who have healthy loving relationships with female family members do better, as a rule, as adults in understanding women. He could read from his his grandmother’s cranky and emotional but wise personality and his mother’s nurturing sweetness, what really matters for a man with a woman (or romantic partner of either gender) beyond surface attraction, even if his largely quiet father and his idea that his father left his birth mother as a throwaway did not help him out much on how to behave like a man, so much so indeed that one finally believes that any guy such as Han Gyul with all his surface attractions would not be a player. Once there, I found Gong Yoo was able to more seamlessly go from one part of his personality with the other in a way I no longer felt I was watching an actor but a character and his challenges, not the least of which understanding Eun Chan’s own fierce pride and independence did for him what women often do for men, got him to grow up. And of course his patience for her utter lack of sexual savoir faire (I mean Han Gyul was in his thirties! It is hardly stated, and then only by Ha Rim who is in a way such a horndog that no one can really take him seriously, and yet anyone watching has to know without it being stated just how patient and undemanding on that score Han Gyul is) and his playful courtship of her, those qualities to me, albeit I am not a woman, or a man particularly romantically inclined toward men, are what make Han Gyul truly loveable, not just lustable.

    I also really liked the peripheral secondary plot and characters, both individually and as a couple, Chae Jung Ahn as Han Yoo Joo and Lee Sun Kyun as Choi Han Sung. As a quick introductory aside, isn’t it amazing that given Lee Sun Kyun’s absolutlely gorgeous speaking voice, he is such a horrible singer. Yuk. There are a few things I liked about both these actors and their characters and their role in the show itself, which for many probably appeared superfluous.

    First of all, in a show all about infatuation and less than mature relationships in which it is hard to tell if the characters have much of an understanding of themselves or their partners, Yoo Joo and Han Sung had a much more believable relationship in my opinion. Their dialogue revealed a willing self reflection that was not clouded by the emotions they were feeling. I thought Chae Jung Ahn as Yoo Joo was especially articulate in bringing to conscious light the confusion created by one’s own shortcomings and desires with regard to the dynamics of an adult relationship with another person. Also given who their characters were, two highly creative artists, each achieving success by their thirties, in her case international success, and unencumbered by children and the responsibilities therein, I found each of their behaviors quite understandable. While Choi Han Sung’s success derived from being a behind the scenes producer mostly working out of his home, a veritable castle looking more like a high classed vacation destination than someone’s actual home, he could live the life of a hermit. But Yoo Joo had to front for her own work and in public where someone so good looking, so talented, was bound to attract sexual if not romantic interest like honey to flies. And the two of them were at a point in their relationship where people with such personalities are bound to get…itchy. In a world filled with millions of people, isn’t there maybe something more out there than the someone I hooked up with when I was a naive and ignorant kid? So I did not feel that either character was particularly immoral in any way, but rather naturally depicted. And this brings up another issue entirely.

    In some ways romantic comedies as far back as Shakespeare have used romantic comedy to address the limits and upshot of gender expectations in a sexist society. One of the techniques is to use cross dressing, gender confusion, as with Coffee Prince. But the couple of Han Sung and Yoo Joo also do so in a subtler way: the confusing blur between male loyalty, which when betrayed is both accepted as men being men and despised as caddish in the worst way, and the possessiveness that seems to be a ubiquitous side effect of such loyalty turning that loyalty into something pathetic and unappealing. Something that leads to the woman on one hand pushing at the limits imposed by that loyalty and possessiveness and exacerbating the restlessness any long term relationship is bound to engender. The show presents this problem in other characters and their relationships from Eun Chan and Han Gyul down through just about every relationship any of the minor characters have, but it is spelled out by Han Sung and Yoo Joo, especially in Yoo Joo’s dialogues with Han Sung. I liked them both, found them quite familiar having been a part of and having witnessed the travails of artist couples at that age in my life.

    Finally some hat tips to the supporting cast: Kim Chang Wan was as barrista and everyone’s ahjussi, wonderfully eccentric, cool and repellent all at once. Yoo Young Ah as Eun Chan’s sister Eun Sae added a wonderful comedic touch as a foil for Eun Chan, both more superficial and yet street wise than her sister, having a perfectly hip hot teenage girl’s take on men combined with playing that knowledge in a sometimes cruel manner. The princes each in their own way, but I really liked Kim Jae Wook, who along with Kim Chang Wan’s character behaved as a sort of Greek Chorus for tolerance and understanding of the human heart. And the three elder women, Kim Young Ok and Kim Ja Oak (are they in real life mother and daughter) as Han Gyul’s grandmother and mother, both shining representatives of womanly love, passion, and kindness, and Park Won Sook as Eun Chan’s mother, so touching.

    In the documentary made recently about the show, there is a clip of Yoon Eun Hye just crying her eyes out in Chae Jung Ahn’s arms as the performance part of the show came to an end, repeating over and over and over how she does not want to leave everyone, does not want it to end. Yes, for her a role of a lifetime, but also the feeling of the whole crew, the warmth they radiated for lucky us, those who have watched it.

    Reply
      1. BE

        To be frank, I thought Yoo Joo was the most self reflective character in the series. I did not find her any more self centered than anyone else–certainly not more than Han Gyul who really does think everyone should revolve around him, and even Eun Chan wants to drop her relationship before it has anything more to it than a few months and go off to Italy to become a barista for godssakes, or Han Sung who cannot really view life at anything more than from the isolated distance of his homesite–the point actually being she was an internationally famous artist. When I was a young poet hanging with young poets who were not even much more than locally famous, the kinds of things she did would not have been subject to anything more than brief and passing gossip. Her relationship with Han Gyul, how she might have egged him on under the surface while denying him above it, geez I was one among many men who had women in my life who found the need of male confidants outside of their lovers. These were admittedly prone to becoming screwed up relationships, but they served the men as well, if they were only honest enough to admit it, by giving those men an emotional intimacy without the cost of maintaining a real relationship including the real effort at physical intimacy. The price those men paid were the cost of longing, Han Gyul, let’s face it, was a 30+ year old guy with relationship issues. To paraphrase Greta Garbo, he had wanted “to be alone.” That is not to judge him; indeed it was because he was like that someone as terrific, but unlikely, as Eun Chan could capture his heart.

        And the nature of her work was such that Yoo Joo would certainly be better placed in a European or American art center, where she could not only sell her art, but be around others making it. The show does discuss how work, her work (DK was an art dealer) was an issue between them and for Han Sung. If we see attitudes toward homosexuality (and while the cross dressing female goes back to Shakespeare’s comedies, certainly we have not yet evolved to the point where a male posing as a female, a less than attractive by social standards male or female, has won the heart and desire of a woman) were a bit retrograde, and that was part of the commentary, there seems to be despite Han Gyul’s self made grandmother, an intentional push back of the social modality in which a woman’s career should be second to a man’s. As I said, Han Sung did not even have to go outside to be successful.

        What made her character attractive to me, however, was not just her attractiveness or that I did not find her particularly selfish, but her amazing articulation of self awareness of her own contradictions, short comings, and longings with regard to Han Sung. She doesn’t blithely play him, albeit her disappearance to begin with showed a lack of moral courage, and in the real time of the drama itself, it strikes me she does the exact opposite, she pushes him toward becoming himself a more stable and honest agent in trying to become one herself.

        Reply
    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hi BE!! So glad that you enjoyed Coffee Prince, even though rom-coms aren’t your usual cup of drama tea! 😀 Coffee Prince IS seriously addictive! When we first got the box set at home, my mom watched it 4x in a row – and she is not typically one to do stuff like that!

      Thanks for sharing and breaking down your very different take on Yoo Joo as a character. When you put it that way, she makes a lot more sense as a character. That said, I went back to jog my memory a little, on why I didn’t like her, and.. yeah, I think my newfound appreciation for her as a character will most likely remain at a theoretical level. 😅 What I mean is, even with your explanation and context, which makes a lot of sense to me the way you break it down, when I revisit the instances when she rubbed me the wrong way, she still rubs me the wrong way. 😆 I guess the thing is, just because I understand her better now, doesn’t mean I have to like her more. 😜

      I do wholeheartedly agree that this was the role of a lifetime for Yoon Eun Hye.. nothing that she’s done since, even comes close to her outing as Eun Chan. And you are very right to say that she’s the heart of this show. It’s her character that draws out Han Gyul’s heart, after all. And YES, the supporting cast is all-around excellent! They are all so wonderful in the way they inhabit the skins of their characters. 🤩🤩 As to your question, no, I believe Kim Yougn ok and Kim Ja Ok are not related. 🙂

      Reply
      1. BE

        When a drama really lives, if it is really good, it is important to understand that the individual roles are often open to interpretation resulting from the director’s, actor’s, or viewer’s perspective. When I would teach students Shakespeare, I would often ask them to imagine how they would play a particular role. Sometimes I would show a class five or six different productions with different actors of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” scene to demonstrate this. As I said I tend at this point in my life to view younger acting roles from the perspective of a father of daughters, grandfather of a granddaughter. Liking Yoo Joo isn’t an intellectual exercise for me; I like her character, and when I think about why, I can explain it. So while I am sympathetic to Yoo Joo and want to applaud her striving to figure out who she is, what she wants to do, and if it is possible to make a marriage out of her relationship, I want to shake Han Gyul by the shoulders and give him a talking to about his arrogant sense of privilege, not the least of which all his life taking for granted his attractiveness to women, and say to his face “what is it about you, slacker, that makes you think you are worthy of Eun Chan, a one in a million, and her abject fear and trembling for the love of you? Anyone you really love, Buster, it is gonna cost what you got.”

        One of the many things that makes Coffee Prince so great is that there is room for different takes. Gosh when I became infatuated with girls like Eun Sae, they totally got me irate. I was one of those be damned if I will grovel kinda guys. But from my seat in the living room as an old man just having watched my granddaughter grow out of that phase, I got a great kick out of her character…and loved that it was her who went to Han Gyul to give him a talking to on behalf of Eun Chan.

        PS if you would ask how I view the three ahjummas, I would prefer Eun Chan’s mom. Han Gyul’s grandmother–too yang; his mother–slightly too yin. Eun Chan’s mom, a little helpless, but more fun than the other two.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl Post author

          That’s a great observation, BE, that part of what makes Coffee Prince special, is the room for different interpretations of our characters! That makes it feel all the more real, despite the rom-com premise. 🙂 As for me, I enjoyed all 3 ahjummas in their own ways. 😀

          Reply
          1. BE

            Oh and this, in the documentary Chae Jung Ahn reveals that when she was hired for the role of Yoo Joo, she was just coming off a broken relationship that had left her devastated. She is a professional actress who likely is able to separate herself from her character, but I would not be surprised if her interpretation of Yoo Joo was colored by that, if she were not able to use some of the hurts and resentments that come with a painful estrangement to emotional effect in some scenes.

            I liked how she kept calling Lee Syun Kyun “oppa” in the documentary, so affectionate, asking him, as they were being videoed for the doc in Han Sung’s unbelievable home, “oppa, just how many homes do you own in this neighborhood…oppa?” Making him blush. There does not seem to be a similarly affectionate term for female friends of men. Only women use the term “unni.” Or is there?

            Reply
            1. beez

              You’ve heard “Noona” before, right? (Younger man to older woman (close friend) or older sister).

              A”Eonnie” is only younger girls/women to an older girl/woman or older sister.

              “Oppa” is only younger girl/woman to older boy/man or younger sister to older brother. (And the flirtatious/familiar but you’d better be sure your flirting is welcome; i.e., don’t try it without consent if you’re less than very attractive)

              “Hyung” is younger man to older man or brother

              “Hyungnim” is used to bosses or someone you respect but in a more formal way. The “nim” added to certain titles imply like in this case “respectful brother”. (You’ll see on blogs the terms “writer-nim”, “producer-nim” – a mix of English-Korean. I don’t know if “nim” can be applied to all Korean titles like that in actual Korean, so we use it but don’t know if it’s technically correct.

              I figure you know these already but it might help any newbies around.

              Although we foreigners call kpop idols “oppa” even if we’re in our 60’s, but in Korean, it’s very poor etiquette and frowned upon to use the terms incorrectly and without consent from the person you’re “nicknaming” for lack of a better term.

              Reply
              1. BE

                I tend to be good at languages, not so much speaking because that requires constant usage in social situations, but getting the feel of them, especially in how they differ from English, emotionally and also in some vocabulary, probably because of my practice of poetry. For example, I love the word querer in Spanish because it combines passion with love, something slightly missing in English, except in tonal or contextual delivery. I also like Spanish suffixes better than English ones–I mean who would not rather be a historiador or historiadora rather than a historian; Spanish suffixes have a bit more swag. But I have to say, having grown up in super informal southern California, the way social relationship is embedded in suffix usage kinda makes my head ache. This is even more difficult than verb person and tense inflections.

                Reply
              2. BE

                Watching Reply 1988 until near the end Sun Woo calls Bo Ra “noona,” albeit the subtitles translate noona as Bo Ra. And this is really an essential element of their relationship. There are so many elements to the hierarchy and vocabulary of honorifics, the whole ongoing dialogue about this helps me see these dramas better. Thanks so much to you and K for being patient with my half blown intuitions.

                Reply
                1. beez

                  EDITED @BE – you’ve done really well. Especially considering that the many levels of speech make it very difficult to pick up words if you’re not familiar.

                  TO ADD – Not “familiar” because I had been familiar with hearing Kdrama for years and hadn’t learned anything beyond the phrases that are repeated over and over in every drama. I should have said “if you haven’t had lessons”.

                  Reply
            2. kfangurl Post author

              That’s really interesting to know that Chae Jung Ahn was dealing with her own heartbreak while acting as Yoo Joo. I’m sure that added a layer of poignance to her delivery of the character.

              You are right that only women use the term “unni,” when addressing an older woman. Men addressing an older woman who is fairly close in age would use the term “noona” or, if using the formal term, “noonim.” The equivalent for someone addressing a younger person is the non-gender specific “dongsaeng,” however that is not commonly used, as most folks addressing a younger person who is close to them in terms of relationship would usually use the person’s name with a “-ya” or “-ah” as a suffix, or a term of affection like “jagiya,” which is often translated as “honey” but does not necessarily have the romantic connotation of “honey.” I hope that helps to clarify! 🙂

              Reply
  2. Latha

    Gong Yoo. Where do you start? I’m new to K-Dramas and I’m going by the book. And ‘going by the book’ at this point only means, looking through your blog to see which ones got the must-watch review. Thankfully, your blog has been a beacon for those looking at ‘figuring’ out what they want out of k-dramas. Coffee Prince is a revelation to me in every way – the idea, the execution, the love – everything. The reason the ‘Alien’ scene resonates with us even in 2020 is the fact that Gong Yoo played it so masterfully. He didn’t care to put himself in a box – love is love and we take it as far as we can, all the way, in his case. A radical idea even for 2020 and mad props to the writer, the director and of course, the actor.

    Watching Coffee Prince makes me feel like the world is full of promise, full of decisions that you can take without being controlled by anyone. There are some really noteworthy ideas embedded in it too. The fact that Eun Chan is all about being independent, she can take the easy route out and marry him. But she takes the harder, more honest route and that’s heart-warming for me. And also, though it’s young-ish in it’s approach, the idea of love is seen so practically and not through rose-tinted glasses. Eun Chan tells his grandma that anything can happen, they can break up, they can move apart, they might not even get married – bold, even to say to any parent / grandparent.

    And the fact that Han Gyul tells her that he wants to support her growth – kudos. I love the character-graph of Han Gyul – he is so unmindful of what the world expects from him – he does his thing, he loves his family, he won’t compromise on his love, he will have a child-ish, stubborn attitude towards his relationship that it will have to work out. I loved that one line he says at the jewellers – “My girlfriend is not feminine” – it says a lot about how he doesn’t really care what the world expects out of a woman to be proposed. He is also a man who doesn’t care about the frivolous things – clothes, how she looks, how she carries herself, how an ‘ideal’ woman should be. He wants to just love her, keep her and himself happy.

    At one point, I also wondered if he struggled enough with loving Eun Chan before knowing her sexuality – that graph wasn’t as clear. He was conflicted, yes and angry about the situation but was he curious about his own sexuality? I couldn’t quite get that. Kudos to the writers for giving that ‘alien’ kiss scene without revealing her. Though, the screenplay was inching towards that dramatic reveal. That to me, is so thoughtful, even mindful of what the show wants to convey. Everyone including Waffle Guy (Kim Jae Wook), Granny, the Barista uncle has pizzazz and all of them don’t fit into boxes. That’s the charm. What is the essence of Coffee Prince? Freedom to be, I guess. P.S Kim Jae Wook needs his own spin-off. I heart his symmetrical face and his ‘I’m too sophisticated for this bunch’ look.

    The only issue? The ending. It was limp. It needed fire.

    I never knew Gong Yoo before this week. Now, I feel that his rich expression, his ‘back muscles’ cough cough and his smitten look are going to haunt me forever. His charm lies in his honesty – and his towel-drying scene is squeal-worthy and he totally looks like he’s enjoying himself. And Eun Chan is right, he shouldn’t wear black shirts, they are trouble. 😛

    Dear fangirl, keep them coming. Because newbies like us, need a radar. Am glad I came here through the right keywords. 🙂

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Latha – I’m envious of your new enthusiasm. I’m living vicariously thinking how you’ll feel as you check out more Gong Yoo projects. Don’t forget his movies!

      Reply
      1. Latha

        Thank you Beez. I am mentally making a note OF ALL HIS FILMS. Damn, I wanted my weekend to be productive but it sure looks like I’ll be glued to the screen. 🙂

        Reply
  3. Lamenteuse

    I’m super late to the Coffee Prince party, but better late than never!! I can’t even put into words how much I love this show. @kfangurl – I couldn’t understand your obsession with Gong Yoo until I watched CP, so it’s extra funny to think that GY wasn’t doing it for you (at first) in this show. I’d only ever seen him in Guardian/Goblin, and that show’s OTP landed with a thud for me (probably because I’ll never see the appeal of a romance with a lead male who has more than a decade on the female high school love interest). But now, I’m firmly on the GY train!

    I know so much has already been said and analyzed about this show, but one thing that I loved about it was the physical intimacy between Han Gyul and Eun Chan. Their relationship felt fresh and raw because of their physical connection as well as their emotional bond. That “alien kiss” was legendary because it was declarative and intense, but also sweet and tender. It looked passionate and searching and… real. I also loved, loved, loved (!) the sequence in Episode 16 when Eun Chan spends the night at Han Gyul’s. Eun Chan had just made a monumental decision. She was probably a ball of nerves, too awkward and scared to initiate anything herself, so the only thing she can do is try to calm down (wine). When that doesn’t work, she attempts to expel some of her nervous energy (manically running around Han Gyul’s apartment) and tip him off to what’s going on so that he’ll get the idea and make the first move for her. When she finally edges her way back into his apartment after he throws her out, and he sees the vulnerable look on her face and understands why she was acting so strangely… it felt so perfect and true-to-character. And then what happens next – as you said, rawr! But also, it’s the totally logical next step in any new relationship and brings necessary elements of physicality and maturity. It took their relationship to the next level, and kept me, at least, emotionally invested.

    Very much looking forward to your thoughts on the cast reunion, if/when you watch. (It’s available on Viki in the US.)

    Random question: Did anyone else have a mini panic attack every time Han Gyul got into his car and started driving in a fit of rage/daydreaming reverie/moment of existential crisis? Just me?

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Lamenteuse – everything you said about Coffee Prince – ditto! But I’d like to chime in here about what I think is a conundrum for Goblin. Fans say they are grossed out at the age difference (which is not unusual in many a Kdrama where the ML is sometimes 20 years older than FL) but sometimes the same fans are disappointed with the lack of chemistry. None of that bothered me at all and here’s why:

      1) Goblin did not choose the Bride;

      2) He’s not 38 years old although he looks the equivalent of 38 years old. Goblin is 600 plus (?) years old which, in my mind, makes the age gap irrelevant 😆; besides, Goblin’s assumed age is 38 only because that was Gong Yoo’s real life age at the time. So if we’re using Gong Yoo’s real age as a barometer, than Kim Go eun’s real age makes them only 12 years apart (compared to the 20 years we commonly see but never bat an eyelash at on many other dramas (ex. the leads in Dinner Mate are 11 years apart but I hear everyone raving about them as a good couple. And let’s not forget the 10-year gap between the OTP in Faith where it’s the FL “robbing the cradle” but everybody’s fine with that 😉) ;

      3) and most importantly, Goblin never made a move on the Bride BECAUSE she was in high school, and because he really wasn’t interested in romance (or in her romantically) – that removed all of the ick factor for me; and

      4) he never got together with The Bride until she was in her 30’s. These are the reasons I could enjoy Goblin and not be bothered by the age gap.

      Anyway, I just hope my two cents worth of reasons can help anyone that may have been putting off watching Goblin to set aside those thoughts so they can just enjoy the story and the humor.

      Reply
      1. Lamenteuse

        Hi Beez!! Thank you so much for your reply! 🙂 I didn’t mean to throw people off Goblin. It’s been a while, but I remember there being plenty of things to recommend it: the cinematography, the OST, and most importantly, the frenemy/bromance between the Goblin and the Grim Reaper. Those two were the show’s true OTP, IMO. The sparks were flying (as was the cutlery, if I recall). I could have watched them for days. But in terms of the Goblin and the Bride, for me, the chemistry was lacking, but more than the specific age difference (be it 10 or 600+ years), what threw me was that the Bride was depicted as a naive, innocent high schooler who was paired with someone who took on more of a paternal role. (For some reason, I remember the Goblin wearing a lot of turtlenecks. Nothing says “dad” to me like a turtleneck.) Even if the Goblin waits until she is in her 30s to initiate something romantic, there is a power dynamic there that I personally find hard to root for, fated or not. It also made it difficult for me to perceive Gong Yoo’s magnetism (but then again… turtlenecks). Clearly, others don’t have these issues, so people should watch and judge for themselves. 🙂

        Reply
        1. beez

          @Lamenteuse – LOL at “turtlenecks”. 😆 I thought Gong Yoo looked sexy in his turtlenecks but he looks good to me in everything and nothing 😉 But I do understand because nothing can make or break a character, for me, as much as bad wardrobe or a bad wig or hairstyle. (Especially a bad wig. I can’t concentrate on anything else other than “couldn’t they jabbed spent $100 more on a better wig?”) For the entire first part of Lee Dong wook’s career, I couldn’t “see” him for his hugely pumped up hair. Oddly enough, it was a flashback to saeguk scene in Goblin where his pompadour wasn’t on display that had me looking at LDW in a whole new light. And now that he’s gotten rid of the pomp (I hope for good)and I’m now on the LDW train too! Woo-hoo!

          Reply
    2. kfangurl Post author

      Never too late to join the Coffee Prince party, Lamenteuse! 😉 I’m really glad that you ended up loving this as much as you do! It really is something special, isn’t it? ❤️

      HAHAHA, yes, isn’t it ridiculous how GY didn’t do anything for me, on my first watch of Coffee Prince? That sure changed! 😆 I can only say that I was obviously blind before!

      Shockingly, I haven’t yet managed to watch the cast reunion. I’ve been saving it – while I’ve been drowning in a vat of other dramas. 😜 I do plan to get to it, one of these days! 😅

      Reply
  4. beez

    More information on the cast reunion. Apparently the reunion is part of an MBC show called Docuplex according to the article in the link (which the teaser on Kocowa failed to mention) . So I searched to see if there is a series/show called “Docuplex” – nothing. I then searched the title of the teaser “My Dear Youth”. And only the teaser comes up on the results. I can only hope it is not an advertisement for the reunion and we have to search it out elsewhere to watch it.
    https://www.koreaboo.com/news/coffee-prince-drama-gongyoo-visit-set-documentary/

    Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Hi Merij! – it is on Viki and available in US. I teared up a little when watching it last week. There are 2 episodes – entitled ‘I Hear Your Voice’.

        Reply
      2. beez

        I watched both episodes of the reunion on Kocowa. It may be on Viki but I’m not sure. It’s called “My Dear Youth” on Kocowa but it also comes up when you search “Coffee Prince”

        Reply
  5. beez

    @kfangurl and anybody else who loves Coffee Prince. Kocowa has a teaser that has the entire (living) cast reunion! They’ll be discussing BTS (not the idol group). It says it will “air on September 24th and October 1st”. I’m not sure if the same episode will repeat or two different episodes. I also don’t know if it is only available on those two days although I’m assuming, like everything else, it would be available to watch later.

    Reply
  6. Natalia

    Excellent, excellent review.
    “Coffee Prince” was one of the first shows I watched and I am glad to see that I stand with the unanimous vote here: this was a great show. It had some flaws, and it seems dated at some points, but it was so heartwarming that it certainly makes it into my personal top5. As you and many others mention, I didn’t think much of the male lead at the beginning, but he did such a good job that you can count me as a fan too. And Yoon Eun Hye was amazing. I thing this is the only show with a crossdressing plot where the girl dressing as a boy could actually pass for one. Just picture so many other failed attempts, like the Eunuch Hong in Love in the Moonlight or Scholar Kim in SSK Scandal. Yoon Eun Hye not only forgoes all vanity and does not use make up or whatever, but she also acts like a young boy. It seems that she’s not that active any more, but I wish I could watch her again in a drama.

    Reply
    1. beez

      I totally agree that Yoon Eun Hye was excellent and for years I said the same thing – that she was the only actress who came close to impersonating a guy with her walk and unfettered mannerisms. But Oh Yeon-Seo is hilarious as a man in a beautiful, glamorus woman in Come Back, Mister (aka Come Back, Ahjusshi). Her gap-legged walk in high heels floors me because it’s not over exaggerated. It’s just enough to make you believe she’s a middle-aged ahjusshi trapped in a beautiful tiny woman. The entire cast is good and so funny. Of course, the only problem is the end of show wrap up but that’s not unusual for Kdrama to fumble the last episode.

      Reply
    2. kfangurl Post author

      So glad you share the Coffee Prince love, Natalia!! 😀 It really is very special, and I’m so pleased that even dramas fans who watch it now, can appreciate its appeal. ❤️❤️ Have you seen Princess Hours? Yoon Eun Hye is completely different in that, and it blew my mind that she was the same actress playing Eun Chan here! 🤩 Princess Hours (also known as Goong) suffers from drag in the later stretch brought on by an extension (that was triggered by its immense popularity), but I still count it as super special, coz it was my gateway drama. 😍 Maybe give it a try sometime?

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        I’d love to watch Princess Hours since a) despite my not so young age I have a soft spot for high school dramas and b) “Kingdom” has left me with a soft spot for Ju Ji-Hoon, but unfortunately it is neither on Netflix nor Viki (in my part of the world), so…

        Reply
        1. kfangurl Post author

          It’s available on Viu here. Use Opera as your browser so that you can use its built-in unlimited VPN, and select Asia as your location. You’ll be able to watch it without a problem then! 😀

          Reply
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  8. Prashil Prakash

    Hi there kfangurl!

    Thanks for the excellent suggestion!!
    I wouldn’t have checked this one out if it didn’t have a Grade A rating Since the show is so old. It’s really interesting to see that change in the kdrama world after 2013-14 is something you can’t miss, weather it is production cost or maybe costume or even set design.

    Well about the show? I absolutely loved it and I’d say the main prop goes to go to the OTP.
    Now I’m not a veteran in the dramaland, I just started the journey because of the quarantine and have been obsessively devouring kdramas since (I’m probably down 25 shows I think)
    And as far as my understanding goes, this is clearly the best OTP I’ve seen yet!
    The fact that he was unable to stop loving her despite thinking she’s a guy was great and all but what solidified it even more was the fact that he actually went for it, he went for it and wanted to see it to the end.
    I can’t stress how important the Alien kiss scene was. You don’t see this kind of maturity in kdramas and considering this is from 2007 makes it much more brave.

    What I mean is they could have easily gone the easy way of revealing she’s a girl and then Han gyul would have been relieved and then happily ever after. But NO. They Chose to make it a point that he had to love her despite her being a boy in his eyes (and him being somewhat straight?)
    They went to the length of solidifying this when, after the reveal of ko eun chan being a girl Han Gyul cries in anger asking her to tell her it’s all a lie and she’s a guy all along, that everyone is lying. Cuz the point of his anger was a broken trust and his love didn’t come cuz of his orientation.
    And I think that’s just fantastic.
    I loved this show and hell yes it’s an A grade show for sure!
    Ok is it just me who find it funny that Hangyul wanted her to “call me by my name” during the whole blood brothers arc.
    Is this where the Italian-French Movie got it’s inspiration from? Lol just kidding 😂

    Anyway! Great review and a great show. I doubt it if you’ll be seeing this since it’s an old post but Thanks for your recommendations and gradings. I really would have missed out on this gem.

    Cheers! 😊

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Ah, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed Coffee Prince, Prashil! 😀 This show might be old, but aside from the fashion, it doesn’t feel dated, does it? 😀 And YES, the alien kiss was a very brave choice, especially for Korea in 2007, and Gong Yoo NAILED it, with showing us Han Gyul’s vulnerability in not just that moment, but the beach scene as well. SO good. 🤩🤩

      As for the “call me by my name” thing, unfortunately it was something lost in translation. They’d agreed to be brothers, so the younger brother should address the older brother as “hyung,” and that was what Han Gyul was asking for, in the scene (if memory serves, which I sure hope it does!). 🙂

      Reply
      1. Prashil Prakash

        Thanks for the reply Kfangurl,

        It’s been more than half a week since I finished this one and started with Prison Playbook.
        But I still can’t shake this show out of my head. Somehow it physically pains a little. Apparently I liked this show more than I wanted to allow myself to haha 😅
        It’s like ‘My mister’ all over again.( Listening to Sondia’s song “grown ups” is still difficult for me without welling up)
        It’s just so weird that even when shows have a happy ending, it can affect someone like this. Or maybe I’m just weird 😅😅

        Oh yeah I got the call me by your name part, it still was funny seeing that with Netflix subs.😂😂

        Cheers
        Thanks for your awesome reviews!

        Reply
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  10. Princess Jasmine

    hello there……I know this series is quite old and my comments won’t make much difference to viewership; but I still want to post it for the records because honestly I loved it so much and it was such a heartwarming cup of coffee….(something I will re-visit in my old age for the nostalgia…)

    1. Eun-Chan as a character was so GOOD; In fact in the first few episodes I couldn’t relate to the gender swap and was wondering how come everybody is mistaking her for a “boy”; But the only thing that kept me going until episode 7 was Eun-Chan and her antics and her hard work and pretty much everything about her;

    Yoon Eun – Hye played it so well; No two ways about this; And she so well-deserved the Baeksang award for Best actress;

    This was not a typical good looking unfortunate girl character; She was tomboyish and all over the place and having a great appetite and not minding on who buys the food for her; And she was so unabashed in declaring her love in spite of the economic differences;
    All this made it so different and honest as a character and I could really root for her because this is how it is or it should be in real life; I mean nobody is perfect and everybody has goofy side and grey shades and honest desires no matter how ridiculous it may sound;

    2. Han-gyul complimented her from episode 7 or 8 onwards; Honestly I couldn’t relate to him until that time; And he was on a roll from episode 10 onwards and kept at it until the very end; I liked the vulnerability that Gang Yoo brought to the series; I haven’t seen Goblin or Train to Busan yet but I am going to always remember him as the “Coffee Prince” character; And his wardrobe was so good; He had some really nice shirts and look great for his height and demeanour;

    3. I liked the antics of the guys working at the shop and special shout out to Ha Rim and Sun – Ki; I liked it when her sister ignores Min-Yeop and tries to get the number from Sun – Ki; Typical of girls; Ha Rim was a mess but the actor played it so well;

    4. I did feel a bit bad for Min-Yeop as a character and the actor who played it; Very unfortunate to know what happened to him;

    5. I liked both the mother and grandmother of Han-Gyul and it was so nice to see women characters being this different; For me it was surprise to see the grandmother deciding to empower Eun-Chan in the end and kudos to the writer for writing this in;

    6. Actually what made this special for me was the last few episodes; They could have left it as it is and we viewers wouldn’t have complained much; But they chose to empower Eu-Chan: That in spite of her love for Han-Gyul, she chose to spend 2 years training far away and realise her aspiration…this one was so commendable; And it was nice for a change to see the “guy” staying back and pinning for the “girl” away from Korea….props for doing it in 2007…..(we may not read much into this part in 2020…)

    7. I really didn’t like the mother and sister characters; Both came across as very selfish and lazy; I have seen higher standards for single mothers in Kdrama and this one was such a disappointment; Thank god Eun-Chan found Han-Gyul; This may or may not happen in real life for such hard working unfortunate girls but at least its nice to see this happening in reel life;

    8. I really couldn’t relate to the music composer and his girlfriend second lead story; I skipped most part of it unless it had Eun-Chan in it; The only good thing was the conversation that he and Han-Gyul have in the bar about their girlfriends being busy and how they as men try and control their women and what they think of that; The actors did a decent job but then their characters were so random that they couldn’t do much I guess;

    And special mention of the way Eun-Chan appeared in the last episode after her Italy stint; She looked gorgeous and thank god finally they made her appear nice; And yes this one is very high on the OTP; I agree now what Kfangirl was saying about this in her other posts; So yes all in all it was a great drama and so lovely and heartwarming and good to watch;

    Reply
  11. cpfan

    i love coffee price. i still think that it’s to date the BEST DRAMA ever created. the chemistry between the cast is so real and natural. no awkward lines, no over-makeup, drama yet somehow looks realistic and believable. WHO DIRECTED THIS?? i can’t stress this enough. this drama has really evoked a lot of emotions in me and made me a hardcore fan of both the director and gongyoo.

    Reply
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  13. Huong Do Thien

    Thank you for your review ! You did analyse every single detail of the drame.

    I will come back to re-read this entry over and over again 🙂

    Reply
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  15. merij1

    My wife and I just finished this one. Oh my. What a great show. A heart-lifting and truly natural OTP for the ages.

    I won’t belabor points you’ve already made, since we agree with all of them. But here are three things you didn’t emphasize. We’re especially curious about your feedback on the third one.

    1. Kim Young-ok’s portrayal of the grandmother was awesome. Truly a person I’d be honored to know. Quite the tough cookie, yet her relationship with both her DIL and grandson was incredibly sweet. If only most MIL’s/DIL’s were this close. Despite her resistance to the OTP, I also enjoyed her chemistry with Eun Chan, always acting annoyed that this nobody person interacts with her so fearlessly, yet actually enjoying it. In her last scene, I loved that surreptitious smile as she looks away from the others after declaring that Eun Chan shouldn’t have bought her a gift from Italy.

    2. Speaking of realistic, when we skip ahead two years, it appears that Yoo Joo did indeed miscarry and that she and Han Gyul have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant — or carry a child to term — ever since. (At their anniversary dinner, he offers that they ease up on all those medical visits.) That’s pretty heavy, especially since they had fought over her drinking while pregnant.

    3. The cultural implications of Han Gyul confessing his love WHILE STILL THINKING EUN CHAN IS A MAN. On broadcast TV back in 2007. Whoa. We’re dying to know what the reaction was to this in Korea at the time. Was this not huge?

    As you put it: “But, the one thing that really hits me hardest in the heart, is Show’s presentation of the theme of love without conditions or borders.” Amen, sister. Truly powerful stuff. And presented so disarmingly.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Ahhh! I’m SO PLEASED that you and your wife loved this one, MeriJ!! 😀 This one really is a modern classic among kdramas, and it does absolutely strike me as a show that’s right up your alley. 🙂

      Yes, Kim Young Ok was so fantastic as Han Gyul’s gran.. just the other day, I was watching this reaction video by Javabeans and Girlfriday (both long-time observers and commenters of kdrama), and they mention how they always think of Kim Young Ok as Han Gyul’s grandma. I thought that was very cute and amusing, and also, says a lot about how iconic this role is, since Kim Young Ok’s been in SO many kdramas in her career!

      I agree; Yoo Joo and Han Sung’s arc was quite realistically handled, with the miscarriage and all. I do appreciate that in spite of the miscarriage, that their relationship remains intact. I did not enjoy Yoo Joo as a character, but I like the idea that Han Sung’s love for her transcends the question of whether or not they have a child.

      I’d only just started watching kdramas in 2007, so I honestly am not sure what the local audience reaction was, at the time. However, the high ratings indicate that audiences were not at all turned off by the fact that Han Gyul confessed his love while under the impression that Eun Chan was a man. Having said that, I do think it’s very key, that Eun Chan, is, in fact, not a man. As you’ve implied, Korea is still quite conservative about LGBTQ issues, and so, I think audiences would have reacted very differently if Eun Chan had indeed been male, and this was a gay love story. Because Eun Chan was in fact a girl, Han Gyul’s angst around this was probably perceived as momentary and fleeting, with an easy solution, since this topsy-turvy situation would be righted, once Han Gyul realized the truth of Eun Chan’s gender. I hope that helps to clarify, at least a little bit! 🙂

      Reply
      1. merij1

        Ha. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a story like this being a baby step for those not yet open to the idea of “love without conditions or borders.” The way it tends to work with both homophobia and racism is that we hold onto close-minded beliefs about groups and strangers we encounter, but widen our tolerance for people we know well, including family. “Because John isn’t one of those _______, he’s just John.” So the way we came to care about these two characters before Han Gyul made that stunning declaration opens the crack just a little.

        As for Yoo Joo and Han Sung having trouble with fertility, another unusual theme in this show is the extended family’s open-hearted embrace of adoption. Han Gyul’s parents never had any other child but him. So again, the way they present it is a sleeper argument for the cause in a culture that’s big on ancestry and filial piety; because even after you discover he was adopted, it doesn’t really seem that way. He and his parents and his cousin honestly don’t think of him as being any different from a biological child. (The issue he had to resolve was something else entirely — thinking he was a bastard who resulted from his father cheating on his mother.)

        I didn’t share your dislike of Yoo Joo, btw, but I’m a guy so maybe I gave her slack because that actress is so attractive. Without question, they wrote her as self-centered and self-indulgent about encouraging attention from men she shouldn’t be leading on. We all know people like that. But then we saw her come to understand and regret that about herself. It totally shocked her that Han Sung didn’t necessarily love her more than she loved him. At first her reaction was to flee back to NY. But she came around. In my book, that’s character development.

        I also liked the open way Yoo Joo and Han Sung talked through their issues and the good-natured but still honest way they trash-talked each other about their struggles once they got through each crisis. You could see that other people weren’t sure what to make of such honesty about past hurt.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          That’s a great point, MeriJ. I hadn’t thought of that (I was too absorbed by these lovable characters) when I was watching, but it makes complete sense that this was a gentle but effective way to nudge the envelope, in terms of bringing Korean society to become at least a little bit more accepting of LGBTQ people and their struggles. Sneaky but gentle and effective. 🙂

          That’s also an excellent insight too, about adoption! It does do the same thing as for the LGBTQ folks, just for adopted folks this time. And you’re very right, adoption carries a stigma with it, in Korea. I hadn’t thought of that while watching, most probably coz I watched this so early in my drama journey that I wasn’t even aware that there was any stigma around adoption. Wow, Show wasn’t just absorbing and entertaining, it was socially conscious too, and wanted to make a difference? Aw. I think I love this show even more now. <3

          Hm, about Yoo Joo, you could be right about her attractiveness being a mitigating factor, since the male characters in our drama world all cut her more slack than she actually deserved, in my opinion. 😉 I get what you're saying about her character development; I do think it was rather on too little, too late side of things though. But, that's just me. 🙂 You are perfectly entitled to be kinder to her. 😀

          Reply
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  19. Lalay

    This is my first ever post on this blog and I am quite late on this one I’m guessing. I started watching K-dramas only recently and I took this one up ONLY cause of this review and I must say you were absolutely right. This is such a great show! And your review was spot on and it voiced almost everything i felt about the show

    My biggest takeaway is ofcourse Gong Yoo lol ♥️I did not enjoy Goblin as a show at all despite its high ratings( and seeing that you didn’t either, I’m glad I’ve got someone who agrees with that🙈) tho the cast and their acting was superb. I understood Gong Yoo is a great actor from Goblin, but boy he is AMAZING in this one. I loveee how real and organic his acting is. Infact I didn’t even think much of him initially but he’s such a great actor that he eventually became a veryyy good looking one also to me. I can’t love an actor no matter how good looking they are, if they aren’t very good actors or pick good roles.
    His portrayal of any emotion is so natural and effortless, and yes especially his love struck and smitten moments. Until now Park Seo Joon was my favourite Korean drama actor( I’ve only watched some mainstream dramas and I love his acting) but I think Gong Yoo has slid up right to the top along with him. I am a fangirl now.

    Shoutout to Eun Hye- what a great portrayal of a guy. Did not see that coming. The show is so progressive for its time, so real and relatable, something that’s hard to find in shows in today’s age too.
    I really like the supporting cast too, a lot of times , the supporting casts don’t have interesting story lines but not in this one, the second lead pair also did a great job.
    I so enjoyed the friendship and family bonding portrayed, such a breath of fresh air from the typical rich families of the main lead. I loved how he got everyone and especially his gradmother to get on board with Eun Chan. Drama free and real and funny and adorable!
    Because this show deviated from a lot of clichés that I feel subjected to in most dramas, makes appreciate it more

    I really loved it overall and it was almost perfect( since no show can be perfect and this one too had it’s glitches, which most people have rightly pointed out). But now I’m currently having withdrawal symptoms of having finished the show almost:// does that happen to others too?
    So yeah that’s about it :))

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Lalay! I’m so pleased to hear that you gave this show a chance because of this review! Thanks for allowing me to persuade you of Show’s merits. <3 YES, Gong Yoo is a huge positive takeaway for this show.. and so is Yoo Eun Hye. I thought they both did a marvelous job, and the biggest highlight for me, was the amazingly natural yet crackly chemistry that they shared onscreen. So good. 😍 Indeed, this show was ahead of its time, it didn't feel tropey even when certain elements might look tropey, and everything and everyone felt so organic. <3 I totally understand your withdrawal symptoms after this show.. my mum watched it four times, back to back, back when we first brought home the DVD box set! 😆 I can only recommend a rewatch, to satisfy your withdrawal 😉

      Reply
  20. Pingback: Flash Review: In Time With You [Taiwan] | The Fangirl Verdict

  21. MC

    Hello again! Here I am, having just finished Coffee Prince because of your recommendation and the person who watched it recently and felt it was timeless. I confess, I probably didn’t love it as much as everyone mostly because the humour was… a bit too much for me. Also took me a while to really get into it. And I don’t love Gong Yoo, didn’t know the rest of the actors apart from Lee Sun Gyeon, my favourite Ajusshi.

    BUT, there were many many plus points for me. Things I utterly loved:
    – How real the characters were, and how good the acting was. Everyone felt so real and believable, and all their responses / thoughts about situations were things that I could understand and even identify with. I cried in some of the arguments because I could totally feel their pain and could understand where they were coming from, why they said and did what they did. And the acting – all of the happy, cute, angst moments were so well-done. You’re right, it did feel like GY and YEH were a real couple coming together, in terms of their chemistry and skinship. That was really well done!

    – The “real-ness” of the conflicts. The key conflict points – Han Gyul’s conflict over liking a “guy”, Eun Chan’s liking of Han Seong and then Han Gyul, the conflict over getting married earlier vs later – were so real and so understandable. I’m also really glad that though there were many tropes, the conflicts were not trope-y, if that makes sense. I was dreading the “rich guy’s family despises the poor girl’s background” conflict but I’m so glad they didn’t make that a major plot point, but instead pitted Han Gyul’s desire to get married since he was so in love, with Eun Chan’s desire to be successful in order to “match up” / desire to take care of her family on her own / to realise her dreams. That was so realistic and understandable!

    – The “real-ness” (seems like there’s a theme here, and clearly I need better vocab) of the skinship moments too. Yes I think I’ve gotten used to the 3-camera zoom ins on squee-able moments so much so that sometimes when it happens it just takes you out of the moment instead cos it makes me think “ah yes they want me to feel this way”. But none of that in this show! And some of the kisses/ Eun Chan staying overnight parts felt so real that I felt a little uncomfortable watching, as if I was spying on them…

    – The fun Coffee Princes! They were all so cute and even though Min Yeop was irritating at first, and they were all unfriendly with each other, they became such a great group to hangout with. EC’s farewell scenes with each of them was so well done and their joy at her return was so adorable.

    On Yoo Joo – YES I couldn’t stand her too. For someone attached, she gave TOO MANY MIXED SIGNALS that I couldn’t take it. Arghhhh but I must say the losing-the-baby bit was quite well done, most dramas give the impression that everything is a fairytale but life isn’t, and I like that this show shows both good and bad in life.

    Anyhow, thanks for this review! It was good to re-visit the fun and sad moments in this show!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hello MC! I’m uber late to reply this comment, and I’m super sorry! I’ve been traveling for work, so comments on the blog had to wait, though I did manage to keep on writing from time to time, yay me! 😆🤪

      I’m a touch sad that you didn’t love this one as much as I did, but I can totally understand what you mean about the humor being too much for you. I think that’s the thing that put off a section of viewers as well, so I’m glad it wasn’t too much for you, and that you still managed to watch the show and enjoy it!

      I confess that when I first watched this, I didn’t love Gong Yoo either, and only came to have a deeper appreciation for him later on. I couldn’t even remember offhand when I first woke up to GY’s charms and had to look up my own k-love post(!) to find out that it was when I saw him in a small but sexy role in S Diary where he plays one of Kim Sun Ah’s ex-boyfriends. That just changed how he looked to my eyes, and on my rewatch of Coffee Prince later on, I found that Choi Han Gyul was suddenly MUCH more appealing to my eyes, heh. 😆

      YES, the realness of basically SO MUCH of this show is also one of the things that I love about this drama, and also, probably why so many people still love it today. The struggles are timeless and relatable, and the relationships feel lived-in and real. And OH YES, the Coffee Princes were a fun lot. I didn’t love them all at first either, but honestly, I eventually grew affectionate of every single one of them, and I feel like I loved them even more during my rewatch. <3 They're such an endearing motley crew. <3

      Thanks for allowing me to persuade you to check this one, and I'm really relieved to know that despite some stuff not working for you, that you did end up liking this one a lot! 😅

      Reply
  22. lotusgirl

    I finally watched this. It’s been on my to be watched list for a long time, but I kept passing it over for newer shows. After I saw that you gave it such a high grade, I thought I should give it a shot. I’m so glad I did. It took the first couple of episodes to get into the story for me, but once I did I was totally hooked. The relationship between Han Gyul and Eun Chan is so fun to watch develop that it just carried me through the whole show. All the ups and downs were so believable and felt so honest. Kudos to the actors for making it feel so real. So many great squee moments. It also didn’t feel dated which was my big concern about watching the older show.

    Again your review is spot on about the strengths and weaknesses of the show. You do so well pointing them out. I particularly didn’t care for Yoo Joo. She was so selfish. There were times I thought she was okay and eventually I got to like her all right, but I was so disappointed in her behavior after she married of staying out all night working and drinking while she was pregnant and then losing the baby. I was very sad for Han Seong. He wasn’t perfect either, but I could always justify where he was coming from. For her, in the end, I couldn’t justify that behavior. I felt like Han Seong had to settle for her the way she was and accept her with all her flaws. I guess in some ways that is reality for a lot of people. I just wished she had been better than that. I was hopeful for them in them end, but my hopes were dashed…alas. Just like real people I couldn’t control what she did. Maybe that was the point of her character. She was who she was and you had to like or dislike her as she was–on her terms. Han Gyul and Han Seong even had that conversation sort of about controlling the wife sort of thing. Still…

    I loved all the coffee princes as well. Moms, Grandma, etc. What a great ensemble! I loved it!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there lotusgirl! 😀 I’m SO PLEASED that you gave Coffee Prince a chance! It really is something special, isn’t it? <3 This show and the characters just come alive in such a believable and organic way, that I easily believe that these are real people with real struggles living in a real world. I think that, and the excellent production values, make this one feel classic instead of dated. You are right about Yoo Joo.. such a selfish character all the way through! She consistently does irresponsible things, and then acts surprised that there are negative consequences to her actions. 🙄 BUT, everyone else made this watch more than worthwhile. I see myself reaching for this one again, sometime in the future. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this one. <3

      Reply
  23. drivenbysounds21

    Thank you. I love this show, their chemistry is everything, the acting, the story was great. It was my first k-drama Crack. And.i still watch it from time to time. I had to watch it again, at least some snippets of it while reading your review.

    Really enjoyed it.

    Thanks a lot ❤️

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed this review! 😀 And yes, this was early kdrama crack for me too – it’s just a classic! And of course, our leads are the shining jewels in this; they are just so good together! 😍😍

      Reply
  24. soumya108

    Hello, fangirl. A lover of your blog and of course the Kdramas. I am several months old since I began my Kdrama journey and in those months I have become addicted to them. 😛 I keep watching the new ones while also trying to balance out with the old ones. I haven’t gotten a chance to watch coffee prince though I have heard about it a lot. After seeing your review, I will watch it for sure after some time. My all-time favorites are Healer, My mister, 30 but 17, Misaeng, This is my first life, Fight for my way, A love so beautiful(Chinese series) and many more that I cannot remember at the moment. 🙂

    I also explore the series that are available on Netflix and currently I am about to finish My love from another star, and I am enjoying it as of now. Though the concept is a bit too hard to digest but in the end it is “FICTION,” and one needs to give logic a break.

    Will keep posting from time to time. 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there soumya, welcome to the blog – and to the wonderful world of dramas! 😀 Yes, I can imagine how you’d want to watch the new shows, but also feel the need to check out some of the older ones, because some of the older ones are just too good to miss out on! 😉 Coffee Prince is one of the classics, and even though it aired in 2007, it doesn’t actually feel very dated, when you watch it. The mobile phones and fashion of the time are the key giveaways, but the production values are excellent, and the story feels fresh. So YES, please do put this one on your list! 🙂

      As for the other shows you’ve seen, looks like you’ve been watching all the good ones! That’s the upside of being new to dramas – there are so many good ones to choose from! 😉

      Reply
  25. beez

    Great reliving this show they you. One question – whatever happened with Gong yoo’s character’s dream to build toys?

    Reply
      1. merij1

        > One question – whatever happened with Gong yoo’s character’s dream to build toys?

        He explained that himself in the script. The thing he liked most about designing toys was that it was a job where he didn’t need to interact with other people. But his experience at Coffee Prince taught him that he actually loves working with others.

        Reply
        1. beezrtp

          Hmmmmm. It’s been so long since I watched Coffee Prince, but I think you’re right that his dream wasn’t mentioned again. If it had been shown that he continued his dream, I might’ve liked the ending a bit more.

          Reply
          1. merij1

            Haha. Love it. It being so long ago was why I quoted what I was responding to.

            Anyhow, he said it twice to two different people (I think the 2nd one was Eun Chan) over a couple of days, maybe even over two different episodes. Each time, the person was responding to his growing determination not to go to NY by asking, “but what about your dream?”

            Apparently he was messed up inside all those years after overhearing the false revelation that he was a bastard son of his dad’s mistress — an injury that wasn’t getting better, since he’d apparently never even shared it with anyone until he told Eun Chan. As a result, he didn’t like being around people and chose the toy designer career because it meant he wouldn’t have to interact with others.

            But now he’s incredible fulfilled working with the team at Coffee Prince. All of which succeeded, as Mr. Hong explained to his grandmother, in no small part due to Eun Chan’s natural talent for bringing people together in community.

            Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there beez! 😀 Happy new year to ya! <3 Glad you enjoyed the review, it was a walk down memory lane to write it as well 😉 Also, I never thought of it before, but you're right Han Gyul's dream to make toys just conveniently disappeared, didn't it? His dream seemed to evolve into just wanting to run the coffee shop with Eun Chan, which is funny, because so much emphasis was put on respecting the female lead's dream that the show forgot about the male lead's dream 😂😂

      Reply
      1. merij1

        Do you get notifications on replies to everyone’s people’s comments, or just your own? If not, read my replies above to Beez on this.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Hi there, thanks MeriJ! I do see all the comments on the blog (I’m just sometimes really slow to reply to everyone 😝), but I really appreciate you thinking of me, and making sure I didn’t miss anything! <3

          Reply
  26. snow

    I always love a classic drama review 🙂
    The best thing I like about this show is the slice of life treatment it gives to a over-the-top story, which makes it such a great watch. Love the indy feel, which is further enhanced by the OST. Plus, Gong Yoo ❤ ❤ ❤

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for stopping by, snow! It’s always nice to see you around here! <3 Especially these days now that RL's gotten so busy for you!

      Yes, this show manages to do the slice-of-life thing so well, it just makes everything feel so real and alive – including the delicious rom-com fantasy 😍 Which is totally enhanced by Gong Yoo, of course. 😉😍😍

      Reply
  27. Sunny Lady

    You did it!!
    You totally nailed why this drama stays on my mind after so long, although I actually only watched it twice. Lol I haven’t rewatched many dramas in my life. Coffee Prince, Misaeng and Life is So Beautiful (but that one is mostly for the gay storyline) and I think that’s about it. I remember back in the day how I just didn’t get the whole “girl who can pass of as a boy” trope. Or more like I didn’t get how the character could live on full months and create emotional intimacy with other characters but still not say anything when them being passed off as boy wasn’t by THEIR choice. I thought it was just insensitive toward trans people, but I know this was more than ten years ago. Awareness is never the same from one generation to another. I’m just saying it made me feel uncomfortable back then anyway. What Coffee Prince did, and you perfectly worded it, was to focus on how the relationship grow organically, in spite of the true obstacles that might have come along if Eun Chan was really a man. This is when Show won me over. When Han Gyul was like “Eun Chan is the person I’m happy with. I’m going to be with Eun Chan and I don’t care about anything else.” Characters’ development in this drama is so good.
    I really really enjoyed this review. Bravo! ♥♥♥♥

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw~!! ❤❤❤ Thank you, dear Sunny! I’m so glad that this review actually lived up to your expectations! 😀 That made my day, seriously. <3

      That's interesting, what you said about Show being insensitive to trans people. It's true, now that I think about it. But back then, when Coffee Prince came out, this wasn't something that was getting as much media attention as it does now, so I completely missed that. Of course, like you said, Show makes up for it in a big way, with Han Gyul's decision to love Eun Chan, whether she was a man or an alien. That scene still makes my heart squeeze, every time. 😍😍😍 And yes, the character development and how organic and real it feels, is really an important factor in terms of what makes this show feel special. <3

      Reply
      1. Sunny Lady

        well, I had already commented but I’m actually so happy that I read the review again, watched some clips.
        Let me share a few memories again. That kiss when Han Gyul just lifts up Eun Chan and she wraps her legs around him. I REMEMBER HOW SHOCKED I WAS. Because I had been watching dramas for like two years when that one came out and I had never seen a Korean OTP kiss in a “real” way (as real as you can get with acting, but you know what I mean). I was so used to the whole “just standing there, lips touching, camera spinning around”, that the kiss really caught me off guard in a good way.
        So my little sister in into K-dramas now, thanks to Netflix. I’m wondering what is THE drama of the past 5 years that would be THE drama to encapsulate what K-drama is. Like back in the days, there was Winter Sonata, then it was Full House (I never never understood the hype, #isaidwhatisaid), then it was Goong and I’d say Coffee Prince and You’re Beautiful are two solid contestants for the mid-2000, early 2010. Then it was Boys Over Flowers and which drama is it nowadays ? Do you think Misaeng or Reply hold up to this status of “must-watch-because-you-can’t-say-you-know-Kdramas-if-you-havent-watched-them-yet-because-they’re-just-that-good” or are they already too old? Or maybe they have this status for cable dramas?

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Aw, thanks for revisiting this review, dear Sunny, that warms my heart indeed! ❤😘 And YES, that leg-wrapping kiss would be shocking in kdrama even today, so I can imagine just how bold that was, in 2007! I was still new to kdramas when I watched this, so I didn’t get how different and daring the portrayal of this kiss and the skinship of this OTP really was.

          How cool, that your sister is on the kdrama train now, now you can have sisterly drama chats, which is so great! 😀 (I wasn’t super into Full House either. I thought he was too shouty and the story cycled in place a lot. But, that was the most bubbly and cute I’ve ever seen Song Hye Kyo, so points for that!) I think around 2012-ish My Love From The Stars was the phenomenon to watch.. later on, Descendants of the Sun took over the world (tho I felt fairly indifferent about that show except for SJK in fatigues being all sexy-macho). Since DOTS though, I’ve not managed to complete the dramas that have been “banner dramas” like Goblin and Mr. Sunshine. But.. I watch lots of kdramas, so I wouldn’t say that just because I didn’t finish those shows, that my drama street cred is compromised.. 🤓

          In terms of recent-ish must-sees because I just feel like they’re too good to miss, I’d say Healer. 😍😍😍 And then most recently, My Mister. <3

          Reply
        2. soumya108

          Hello everyone! I agree with the fangirl that you need to watch Healer for apparent reasons, and one is of course “JI CHANG WOOK” I do not know how much I love this guy — just waiting for him to return to the screen again after his military service 😀 :D.

          But, Misaeng and My mister are a must watch as it has something that you do not get to see in the Kdramaland conventionally. These two are masterpieces that explore the realities of life and pull you out of the fairyland and let you see practicalities and struggles of the “REAL” people like us.

          P.S: Both of these dramas are directed by Kim won Seok. And, I have really become his fan after watching these two shows and now plan to watch his other masterpiece “Signal.

          Reply
  28. Aqua

    This is one of those shows I think I’d have to rewatch (aside from the side couple-big skip on them) just to better understand the characters. I do fondly remember falling for Kim Jaewook in this show though–so smexy!

    Thank you for the detailed and nostalgic review.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Glad you enjoyed the review, Aqua! 🙂 It’s quite likely that you’ll come away from a rewatch with more appreciation for this show. That’s what happened for me, anyway. I liked it on my first watch, but found myself liking it more and more as I watched it more. My mom, who doesn’t usually rewatch shows, watched this one 4x back to back, when we first got the DVD box set! 😆 Also, yes, Kim Jae Wook was very schmexy in this! The one and only Waffle Guy 😍

      Reply
  29. Blenny

    I just couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the secondary couple. To be truthful, I didn’t try very hard. I never understood why mom and sister didn’t make an effort to support the family. I guess they also thought Eun Chan was the man of the family? Finally, the dress she wore to the wedding was the 2nd ugliest outfit I have ever seen on a Kdrama. WTH was that?

    Otherwise, love, love, LOVE! Perfect in nearly every way…outstandingly stellar leads, fantastic script, and the morning after scene was absolutely the best of its kind…sexy, warm, loving, funny and cute. Superb soundtrack. Love mom, love grandma, and as for the Coffee Princes, I didn’t just love them: I wanted to BE one.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Lol! Hi5 that we both didn’t feel the secondary couple much, Blenny! 😂 I actually tried to understand with each rewatch, but up till now, even though I understand a little more what they’re about, I can’t say I’m invested in their story. 😛 As for Eun Chan’s mom and sister.. I think Mom is quite a ditz, and so she had very little common sense when it came to spending money. She did do the odd jobs sewing doll’s eyes to make extra money though.

      But yes, aside from those minor peeves, there is so much to love in this show! <3 And I can totally see why you wanted to join the CP crew! They made it look like such fun being together, hanging out and working and sharing lives. D'aw. <3

      Reply
      1. beez

        Here’s how I feel about all secondary couples – I try not to get too invested in them because 1) just remember they exist so the lead actors can get some sleep/rest; and 2) if they’re really appealing and you want to see more, chances are, just as their storyline gets really interesting, show will leave it hanging with no resolution or answers to any questions show raised about them in the first place.
        For the record : even before I became so cynical, in my Kdrama newbie-ness, I hated the second lead couple in Coffee Prince. I also was suspect, like Kfangirl, of Mr. The Voice’s agenda toward Eu chan. Unlike Kfangirl, I still don’t see the appeal of the actor at all. In fact, I recently decided that I’ve heard so much, everywhere, that My Ahjusshi is so good, that I’d decided to watch it and then… heart plummet… HE’S the Ahjusshi everybody’s talking about??? Now I’m reluctant to start it.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Haha, that’s one way of managing one’s expectations of a show! Although I will say, there are times that it’s the secondary couples that lift a show for me. Fox Bride Star is a recent one where that happened to me. I was more taken with the secondary loveline than the main loveline, and that made the show more enjoyable to watch, for me. 🙂

          As for Lee Sun Gyun, I was indifferent towards him in this, but I really loved him in My Mister. I feel like if there’s any show that could turn Lee Sun Gyun around for you, it would be My Mister. I hope you’ll give My Mister a chance, I personally had to be persuaded, but on hindsight, I’m SO glad everyone didn’t give up on me. It really is that good of a show. <3

          Reply
  30. josquarede

    OMG! Happy New Year! This and Goong are my fallbacks when I just need to watch something–anything–between dramas. Thank you for this my dear friend. Incidentally, I watched YEH’s newest drama and it still falls short of Goong and Coffee Prince! Btw, their ehem passionate night and morning after is still the gold standard for me and for the life of me I do not understand why a ton of K-dramas that came after that became so… weird and dead. Oh, scratch that. Healer’s pretty close. 🙂

    I too grieved Min Yeop’s passing. He was my favorite CP as well. I also owe my love of JJangmeyon to this show. And Gong Yoo’s blubbering cry after he brought Eun Chan to the airport still tears me apart. Almost as much as his breakdown in Goblin towards the end. So good.

    Finally, I love that Eun Chan wanted to really build her career on her own and not rely on him. And I love that Han Gyul, in spite of protestations, let her.

    I wish they added a bit of OTP scenes at the end, though. Can’t get enough.

    (Unrelated side note–I forgot my crazyahummajo login so I’m using my real WP name hahahah!)

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Jo~! <3 Always great to see you around here, my dear! Happy new year to ya! HUGS. <3

      Thanks for enjoying this review! Indeed, Coffee Prince just has that special spark that never gets old. I remember I was once in a big drama rut, so much so that I wondered whether I'd just lost interest in dramas, finally. So to test that theory, I popped on E1 of Coffee Prince, and within mere minutes, I felt hooked again. So I concluded it wasn't me, it was the dramas! 😆 And part of that giddy allure is absolutely the chemistry and natural skinship between GY & YEH. No wonder there were so many dating rumors about them afterwards; it just all felt so real!

      Yes, I would've loved more OTP goodness at the very end. The end felt a bit understated and muted, after all the heart implosions prior. I guess the good thing is that, whenever we want more, there's always the rewatch! 😂

      Reply
  31. Brenda

    I believe I remember that Han Gyul had flown out to Italy periodically to visit Eun Chan during the two years they were apart. It’s indicated by the photos and souvenirs in her apartment in Italy.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      That’s a great point, Brenda. They did show evidence of Han Gyul being with Eun Chan in Italy. I guess my beef is how that whole thing was treated. The show made it feel like Han Gyul and Eun Chan hadn’t seen each other or communicated much in the course of her time in Italy, and while I get that was to amp up the drama and the stakes for her return, it just didn’t feel organic to me. I feel like Show could’ve handled that better.

      Reply
  32. Ally

    Love love love this show and your review. It was the show that I saw after I was sucked into Goblin and Gong Yoo, and this made my respect meter for him overflow. There are a handful of moments in kdramas that are iconic, and two of them are in this show, in my opinion. The beach scene where Han Kyul decides to persue his same sex attraction and then the man, woman, alien kiss scene. Still, the best gender-bender kdrama in my opinion. And the last episode was tacked on (because ratings were so good) so really didn’t fit the tone of the show. I choose to ignore it altogether.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Thanks Ally! <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed this review, and yes, this show is just love love love! 😍😍😍 It's my favorite GY drama to date, and that's definitely partly because of the iconic moments you mentioned. You're so right, the beach scene and the alien kiss scene are just very special, unforgettable moments in Dramaland, that will likely never be topped nor replicated. <3 Yes, the last episode did feel kind of tacked on, in the sense that there seemed to be a loss of the organic feel from the rest of the series. I remember feeling quite disappointed at the muted tone on which the show ended, but I've since come around to accept it a little more! 😅

      Reply
    2. beez

      That explains it! From the weird number of episodes to my feelings of disconnect with the last episode. Thanks.

      Reply
  33. kaiaraia

    Whoah! Happy New Year indeed! Thank you chinggu 😚. Just skimming at the moment but already giggling with anticipation and excitement seeing the pics and key words. 😍

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Thank you for your support and patience, chingu! <3 I would've probably left this one languishing unfinished forever, if you guys hadn't been so patient and gentle with your teasing reminders! 😉 Thanks for popping on by, even before you've done your rewatch! May the show feel as new and fresh on your rewatch, as it felt when you first watched it! ❤😘

      Reply
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