For me, Coffee Prince is shaping up very nicely. It’s a drama that I bet is going to lead to a lot of accusatory finger-pointing at the label “overrated” but I notice a lot of those complaints generally come from those who haven’t watched the show. How can you “overrate” something if you can’t “rate” it? I’m more than willing to admit many popular hits don’t deserve their hype… but for me, I think the buzz level for Coffee Prince is just right. So far.

I really, really like the music of the series. Not just the official soundtrack, but the other songs they sprinkle throughout. Because this is such a popular, mainstream trendy drama, I was expecting a soundtrack that was fun but not that musically interesting — you know, fluffy, standard pop-song fare. But surprisingly, there’s more to it — the featured songs are a diverse mix that, so far, comprises the best use of music in a drama since 2006’s Soulmate. Que Sera Sera was pretty good too, but not as eclectic or varied.

SONG OF THE DAY

Humming Urban Stereo – “Insomnia.” This group has a song on Coffee Prince’s soundtrack (not this one). Often compared to Clazziquai, some of Humming Urban Stereo’s songs also remind me of French pop-electro-rock band Tahiti 80. Also a bit of Sondre Lerche (love him!), maybe some Architecture in Helsinki, Nouvelle Vague… [ zShare download ]

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EPISODE 7 SUMMARY

After hugging Eun Chan for a moment, Han Gyul suddenly pushes her away and laughs in relief, saying he worried over nothing. The hug, however, has shaken Eun Chan, and as Han Gyul leaves, Eun Chan feels its aftereffects.

However, the moment Han Gyul’s out of view, he tries to get a grip on himself. It wasn’t nothing after all.

The next day, without explaining the reason, Han Gyul takes Eun Chan with him to the bookstore. Although he’s quieter than usual, Eun Chan is pretty much her normal self.

Han Gyul carries the heavy books for her, and tells her they’re for her. She wanted to become a barista, so she should learn more about it. (The advent of Starbucks and franchise coffee stores has, in my opinion, diminished the word barista. But I suppose the word originally carried implications of higher skill level, kind of like a wine sommelier.)

Eun Chan is touched at the gesture and Han Gyul smiles at her appreciation, until she receives a call from someone with whom she’s very friendly. She listens as her caller plays her a song, and Han Gyul tries to suppress his curiosity, acting cool. He gets more irritated hearing that it’s Han Sung, who feels bad for interrupting her while she’s busy, and Han Gyul drops her books and leaves her to carry them.

Han Gyul scoffs at Eun Chan’s admiration of artistic people, still feeling annoyed. When the subway lurches, a crowd of people pushes Han Gyul into Eun Chan, who reacts in dismay when she pulls out of her pocket the toy Han Gyul gave her: It’s broken. Although he admonishes her for carrying it around, he seems pleased that she has it.

Eun Chan tells Han Gyul his stiff arm — holding him at a distance away from her — is making things difficult for the people behind him. She bends his elbow, which brings them closer together, and they both (well, more Han Gyul) try to ignore how much they enjoy the proximity.

Alone in his apartment, staring at a picture of Eun Chan on his computer, Han Gyul tells the picture firmly: “I’m the boss, you’re the employee. That’s it!” After a beat, he amends: “Fine, you’re a kinda pretty employee. But really, that’s it!”

At work, Eun Chan sees Sun Ki with a toy, which he identifies as souvenirs given by Han Gyul for the cafe’s one-month anniversary. However, she doesn’t find one for herself, and asks Han Gyul where it is. She guesses that he has another one for her, one that’s different (one with more meaning, perhaps, or that’s more valuable). But, she’s guessed wrong. He says he already gave her one, that’s it.

Han Gyul carefully avoids talking or looking too much at Eun Chan as he gives her permission to go home early for her father’s memorial (death anniversary). And then, he asks flat-out: “Do you like me?” That startles Eun Chan, and he continues, “Don’t. If you entertain your hopes, it’ll just end up hurting you.”

The moment he says it, he grimaces (keeping his face away) over his words.

That night, the Coffee Princes join Eun Chan and Eun Sae at home for their memorial dinner. Although Han Gyul doesn’t join them, he sends her a box full of action figures with a note telling her (“Steel Arms, Steel Legs”) to buck up and be strong. Excited over the thoughtful gift, Eun Chan wonders to her sister if he’s interested in her. Eun Sae tells Eun Chan not to confuse love and friendship; Han Gyul thinks she’s a guy.

Bubbling with good spirits, Eun Chan calls Han Gyul to thank him, and asks what the gift means, because it shows a lot of thought… Han Gyul cuts her off, overcompensating for his awkward feelings with brusqueness, saying it means nothing special, and hangs up.

When Eun Chan grumbles over Han Gyul’s capricious moods, Eun Sae says Eun Chan is worse. Eun Chan takes one of the toys with her under the bedcovers, giving it a kiss before going to sleep holding it.

But, all Han Gyul’s repression and frustration isn’t just going to go away, and it finally boils over the next morning, when Eun Chan drops by with breakfast. He’s out jogging, so she says she’ll meet him — and because of Han Gyul’s growing unease, he calls Yu Ju to come along, quickly.

Eun Chan is disappointed at Yu Ju’s arrival, but it’s made worse by Han Gyul’s reaction. Again overcompensating to push Eun Chan away, he dotes on Yu Ju (so much that she thinks it’s weird), and eats the breakfast Yu Ju has brought.

Han Gyul tells Yu Ju he disliked Eun Chan initially, thinking (s)he was a thief. But, he’s since learned that Eun Chan’s the head of the family and holds tons of jobs — food delivery, milk delivery, sewing doll eyes, Taekwondo instruction. Eun Chan feels like he’s betraying her confidence, and tells him not to make fun of how others live.

Eun Chan casts several dark, meaningful looks at Yu Ju and reminds him of his bad habit, spitting out: “Why don’t you fix your bad habits? Is it that hard? Since it’s been so long?” She accuses him of living an easy life, and he counters, charging her with putting on cute or pitiful acts all the time. She’s also so unperceptive that she can’t see that he wants to be alone with Yu Ju.

Having had enough, Eun Chan walks off, leaving them both in awful moods.

Sun Ki meets with the woman from earlier (who may be the mother to the woman he’s looking for, someone named Yuko, who I think is also named Hee Sun?). The mother encourages Sun Ki to give up looking; although he’s willing to take responsibility for Hee Sun and her child, it’s a huge burden. Sun Ki asks her to convey one message: He just wants to be by her/their side. If that’s not possible, he just wants the chance to meet occasionally.

Back at the cafe, Eun Chan has a hard time with a difficult customer, grumbling over her impossible demands. The friction between her and Han Gyul escalates when he takes her aside to scold her. What’s so hard about accepting a customer’s order?

Eun Chan: “That’s easy for you to say. You haven’t had to deal with it… It’s hard taking an impossible customer’s order, it’s hard delivering milk, it’s hard delivering food, and it’s hard sewing eyes on dolls too!”
Han Gyul: “Why are you bringing that up?”
Eun Chan: “When did I say you could tell everything about me to other people? Why tell them without asking me, why?!”
Han Gyul: “What about you? Bad habit? However dumb you may be, how can you not differentiate between what you should and shouldn’t say? And then you say I’m acting conceited over a cafe my grandmother set up?”
Eun Chan: “Who was the one who said I put on a pitiful, cute act? That’s humiliating, you know! You ask why do what I do? Because I have to earn a living! How dirty, despicable.”
Han Gyul: “Despicable? Dirty? Who is? I am? To you?!”
Eun Chan: “I’m saying that about the way I live!”

Min Yub and Ha Rim try to calm them down, but they’re both too angry. Han Gyul yells that he took Eun Chan in because he felt sorry for her, and she tells him not to bother.

Han Gyul: “Have you lost your memory? You’re the one who asked me to take you in!”
Eun Chan: “Oh yeah? Then things’ll be fine if I leave, then.”
Han Gyul: “Are you scared to? Get out! I don’t need bastards like you around!”

Eun Chan storms off and leaves.

To cheer her up, Han Sung takes Eun Chan on a drive. I don’t know if there’s a reason for Han Sung’s car being foreign (steering wheel on the right), but this works in a nicely poetic way to punctuate the similarity of Han Gyul and Eun Chan’s emotions, sitting in the same seat, feeling the same down-spirited aftermath of their fight. (The song is MNI ๋ฏผ์žฌ’s “For a While,” on the OST.)

Han Gyul remembers eating with Eun Chan as he eats alone, and tries to practice different ways to tell her to return to work. Both Han Gyul and Eun Chan obviously want her to return, but can’t actually say it. Han Gyul feels he can’t ask her back because he fired her; Eun Chan feels she can’t go back because she walked out.

Han Sung and Eun Chan have an interesting (IMO) discussion about a song he plays for her in his studio. As various instruments join in, he asks her what she hears, and what she thinks upon hearing them. Eun Chan thinks the rhythm of the drums reminds her of a thumping heartbeat, and when they get to the keyboard, Han Sung asks if she agrees that the keyboard’s a little annoying. Kind of bratty. Eun Chan: “You’re right. Like she’d be stick-skinny, only eat vegetables, and be sensitive.” I would take a swipe at Yu Ju normally but I actually liked her this episode.

Eun Chan: “You know what the most fascinating thing is? I haven’t listened to parts separately before like this… and I don’t know how to explain this well… but it feels like they’re all living. They thump, tingle, flutter. How wonderful.”

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Meanwhile, Maximilian Hecker’s “I’ll Be A Virgin, I’ll Be A Mountain” plays (wonderful song) while Yu Ju waits at Han Sung’s house for him to come home. She looks around, plays dominoes with his CDs, but basically just waits.

Likewise, Han Gyul passes the time in his toy room, alone. It’s sad and poignant that he pretends to be playing as though Eun Chan is there (telling his toys to attack her), even as he’s by himself.

 

Leaving the studio late at night, Han Sung suggests that Eun Chan return to the cafe — he’ll talk to Han Gyul. She stops him: “Please don’t talk about me to other people. I’ve found that makes me feel really awful, and miserable.”

Yu Ju drops by the cafe (where the Princes are still pestering Han Gyul to bring Eun Chan back — even Sun Ki), and she’s starting to grow on me. For instance, she was gracious during Han Gyul and Eun Chan’s fight even though she got dragged into it, even though she knew Eun Chan’s situation.

She brings up Han Sung’s new “girlfriend,” then follows that directly with, “Hm, I don’t see Eun Chan around.” The connection is too subtle, though, and Han Gyul just says he fired her. He’s not sure if he did the right thing: “It feels like I need him here, but also like I don’t.”

Yu Ju tells him if he really thinks Eun Chan’s better off gone, there’d be nothing for him to feel uncertain about. “Doesn’t your dilemma mean you need him?” Han Gyul feels he can’t just bring Eun Chan back after firing her like that.

Yu Ju tells a story of a huge fight she had with a gallerist once. She was so angry she thought she’d never talk to her again, but after a month, she got a call. The gallerist asked, “Is four o’clock good, or is seven better?” Yu Ju asked what it was for, and the gallerist replied, “A play.” So Yu Ju found herself answering, “Seven o’clock.”

Using Yu Ju’s advice, Han Gyul calls Eun Chan, and jumps right in: Let’s eat! Jajangmyun or soup? Surprised, she answers jajangmyun, and he tells her to meet at the restaurant they went to before, and hangs up quickly.

At the restaurant, Han Gyul watches Eun Chan stuff her face with sweet-and-sour pork, and starts smiling. When he asks why she’s smiling too, she says: “Because you are… so I am too.”

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“Getaway” by Texas plays as Eun Chan and Han Gyul, restored to their former high spirits, sing and yell and play in the fountain.

Han Gyul tells her to punch him once, with all her strength. Then, in a more serious tone: “I’ve never once looked down on you. Delivering milk and food, peeling chestnuts, sewing doll eyes… It wasn’t an insult. It was because I really think the way you live is impressive. I know I couldn’t do that…”

She says she’s over her anger now, but he tells her, “No, if I don’t take the hit from you, I won’t feel comfortable. Hit me.” She does (she’s stronger than he expected), and Han Gyul apologizes for saying he took her in because of pity.


Naturally, the others are thrilled to have Eun Chan back. (And naturally, so is Han Gyul.)

(Min Yub stands up to Han Gyul for picking on Eun Chan, but Mr. Hong tells Min Yub not to be a dummy — that’s not harassing, that’s playing around. Can’t he tell a lovers’ spat when he sees one?)

Han Gyul’s good mood is short-lived, though, as he gets news that his grandmother has collapsed.

Worried about him, Eun Chan goes to his place to see if he’s doing all right. His grandmother’s condition is pretty advanced, and things aren’t looking great. Lost in his remorse, Han Gyul says he should have guessed she was ill. He says he hates himself right now; he’d never worried about tomorrow, never once thought the way he lived was wrong. How selfish.

Eun Chan, feeling bad for him, asks: “Do you want me to make you feel better?”

 
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