Drama Recaps
Coffee Prince Store #1: First Cup
by | July 2, 2007 | 145 Comments

Okay okay, so I’m totally behind on Air City (and Bad Couple, and soon to be Flowers For My Life…) but I promise I’ll get to it.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be following COFFEE PRINCE (and I’m wary of jumping into things purely based on hype), but come on, with a name like that, how could I not be watching? It ain’t javabeans for nuthin’.

Today’s first episode (cutely labeled “First Cup” instead of the standard “Episode 1″) was cute and entertaining enough — if just for the sheer curiosity of watching one of Korea’s prettiest faces acting like a boy — to merit “breezy summer watch” status. Like a beach novel for drama addicts.

 
Off to a light and frothy start, I’m not sure Coffee Prince promises much profundity, but who needs to find deep meanings in everything? It doesn’t mean Coffee Prince can’t take a turn for the serious later on (Bad Couple surprised me with its recent developments), but I’m not going in expecting that.

Part of the charm is watching such a gorgeous girl as Yoon Eun Hye stripping away all the makeup and femininity and acting like a boy. Not just looking like one (which she does), but getting down the mannerisms — the careless swagger, the unpretentious lack of coy self-awareness that many girls have.

Plus, Korea loves to reward those who step outside of vanity (which is so strictly enforced by the media and the rabid fan culture) for the purpose of a role, like Samsoon did for Kim Sun Ah. Yoon Eun Hye’s already a superstar, but we’ll see if this earns her some serious acting cred to go with her mainstream popularity. Or maybe not, who knows.

 
PRODUCTION INFO

Director Lee Yoon Jung 이윤정: “태릉선수촌” (Taereung National Village), “매직 파워 알콜” (Magic Power Alcohol”
Scriptwriters Lee Jung Ah and Jang Hyun Joo
Based on novel by Lee Sun Mi

Official site: http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/coffeeprince/index.html

 
CAST

Yoon Eun Hye 윤은혜 stars as Go Eun Chan
Gong Yoo 공유 is Choi Han Gyul
Lee Sun Kyun 이선균 as Choi Han Sung
Chae Jung An 채정안 as Han Yoo Joo, or Yu Ju if you prefer

 
EPISODE 1 SUMMARY

The story’s pretty simple: EUN CHAN is a hard-working young woman who looks (and acts) like a boy — so much so that people even question her when she insists she’s female. She works multiple jobs, delivering jjajangmyun (Chinese-style noodles) and milk, and teaching Taekwondo. She’s used to being mistaken for a boy, but doesn’t really seem to care. She’s also got a huge appetite.

HAN GYUL is a rich, conceited ladies’ man who’s got women throwing themselves at him left and right. His mother and grandmother are after him to marry and stop playing around with his life, although they too aren’t immune to his charm when he deflects with sweet words. His grandmother is the head of a large (food?) company and he’s been living off her money, and agrees to go on a matchmaking date to appease her. (Han Gyul’s a playboy, but has a soft spot for YU JU, who used to date his older cousin, HAN SUNG (Lee Sun Kyun of the swoony velvety voice.) That rounds out our main love rectangle.)

They briefly meet when Eun Chan delivers jjajangmyun to Han Gyul, and she’s shocked to see him flashing his family jewels at her from under his loosely draped towel. He doesn’t think much of it, but it flusters her. And just in case you’re wondering how much she actually saw, I think it’s safe to assume she saw plenty. And I’m not talking about the towel.

Eun Chan’s younger sister, EUN SAE, a pretty, feminine girl in her last year of high school, calls Eun Chan “oppa” (meaning brother, rather than “unni” for sister) and seems to regularly call Eun Chan to help when she’s being pestered by annoying guys.

This time (meeting at the run-down Coffee Prince cafe) it’s Min Yup bothering her, a somewhat coarse, uncouth guy who insists he loves Eun Sae. He assumes Eun Chan is Eun Sae’s boyfriend, and Eun Chan doesn’t bother correcting his misconception. She easily subdues the hot-tempered Min Yup, but agrees to a challenge — an eating contest. First person to finish five bowls of jjajangmyun wins; loser pays (with money and presumably also his pride).

It is truly one of the more disgusting things I’ve seen in my life:

Eun Sae makes it worse by mixing in fruit yogurt in Min Yup’s dish, and as he watches Eun Chan eat her radishes with yogurt, he can’t take it. He loses.

Their family’s big problem is money, with a mother who’s careless with funds and a general tight economy all around. On top of their house deposit needing to be paid (approximately $10,000 — leases are paid in a lump sum), their mother has thoughtlessly lost someone else’s expensive ring, and the person wants it back. Eun Chan tries to go around asking for employee loans or paycheck advances, but doesn’t get anywhere.

 

Things get worse when Eun Chan witnesses a purse-snatching and rushes to catch the thief, only to find it’s her sister’s not-boyfriend. Unfortunately, the victim is Yu Ju, who’s there with Han Gyul.

Eun Chan goes easy on Min Yup when he says he was going to help pay for her sister’s school fees; she instructs him under her breath to shove her aside and run away. He does, and she pretends to chase him but allows his escape.

Yu Ju is thankful for her purse’s return, but Han Gyul sees everything and assumes it was a con operation planned between Eun Chan and the thief. Still, he says he feels sorry for her and gives Eun Chan his card to contact him for reimbursement for her scooter, which was damaged in the process. As a result, she’s fired from her delivery job.


Eun Chan first encounters Han Sung when she greets his dog while delivering milk. On the other side of the fence, he hears her talk affectionately with the dog (and this is how he knows that Eun Chan is female, since she refers to herself as a girl). Curious, he goes out to see her as she bicycles away.

He is, meanwhile, nursing a still-wounded heart over Yu Ju, whom we can assume dumped him in some cold and callous way, judging from the way he can barely stand to look at her. I just hope she didn’t leave him to go off and treat her terminal cancer in the States and is now back to win him over again.

Han Sung and Eun Chan officially meet when she takes another part-time job as a server at a wine bar. Han Sung recognizes her as the delivery girl, and in a thematically related conversation, Eun Chan learns his dog isn’t a girl, as she’d presumed, but a boy.

He’s adorable and I love him already. In fact, I like him so much I don’t know how they’re going to flip me over to Team Han Gyul, cuz Gong Yoo’s assy ego ain’t doing it for me.

Eun Chan reaaaally doesn’t want to ask Han Gyul for money (compensation for her bike repairs), but she doesn’t have many options. She agonizes between pride and money, money and pride… and finally decides that pride won’t feed her.

She visits him, and he remarks what a girly face she’s got for a guy. She asks for the money, and he gives her a hard time, insinuating she’s a scammer. When he tries to remove her by force, they end up on a heap on the floor… leading to the misconception that both are gay by the girl who sees them there.

Then, he insults her parents (for not raising her properly), which hugely offends her. She demands an apology, and when he doesn’t respond, she follows him all the way to his blind date. Or rather, his string of six blind dates, all with equally crazy or weird women. She pesters him all day for an apology.

(The sign reads: “Apologize, punk!”)

She follows him into the men’s room, demanding an apology and compensation. She wonders if he’s really gay, which seems to spark an idea in his mind. And he surprises her by looking at her closely and asking: “Want to play my boyfriend?”

 
KDRAMA CLICHE WATCH

  • Poor, struggling lead female…
  • …who is good-hearted enough to take care of her family…
  • …because a parent is depicted as less than fully competent of doing so herself…
  • …with a father out of the picture (I presume deceased)…
  • …working multiple jobs to make ends meet…
  • …who meets her Prince Charming in the form of a rich man who’s the inheritor of a family business…
  • …whose cold, unsentimental heart will no doubt become thawed by our heroine…
  • …and he becomes her boss…
  • …and his close relative becomes the rival for her affections…
  • …who will initially seem much more worthy of our heroine because he is accessible and kind…
  • …but who harbors a deep scar from a previous romance…
  • …with a beautiful woman who rounds out the love polygon when she comes back to reclaim his affections…
  • …with the added complication when the hero is in love with her…

And yet, I find all these cliches are made bearable by the simple, refreshing twist that one of the men thinks our heroine is a boy. And starts to question his own sexuality when he feels attracted to her, not knowing she’s actually female. Let the games begin!

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145 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. icechocolate

    Wow, just visiting you in wordpress.com today and a litte bit late to know you that you’ve already moved. What a cute name.
    With four dramas in the beginning of the week, just want to say :Thanks for your super dee duper summary.

     (0)


  2. mily2

    sarah.. thanks for this wonderful recap… hehe.. so happy.. thank you dearest.. yes yes.. AC can definitely wait.. * wink wink*.. ehehe.. you’ve brought me so much joy * giving sarahbeans one BIG BEAR hug*

     (0)


  3. JEN

    Thank You so much for the summary. I LOVE the cast.

    I really appreciate you takking the time to summarize this series, you just saved my day.

     (0)


  4. Anonymous

    I honestly don’t see the gorgeousness in Yoon Eun Hye. To me, she’s barely average. I guess I just don’t get it.

     (0)


  5. Anonymous

    ^^^yeah i guess you just dont get it. Your loss not ours.

     (0)


  6. nhetski

    thank u for doing a summary of this :) i really admire your writing skills :)

    i watched it live last night, then also downloaded it and read everything in soompi but i just can’t get enough of this drama :) found it really funny (but then i’m probably biased coz i love YEH).
    i don’t understand the language but i was able to follow the gist but it really helps when there are a lot of people who explains and summarizes the eps while we are waiting for the subs to come out :)
    and it did well on the ratings so i’m very happy :)
    hope even with the kdrama cliches, people will watch this and enjoy!
    thanks again Sarah!

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  7. Bamidele

    I freaking love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You made my night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     (0)


  8. doozy

    Thank you!
    As I was reading the summary, I was counting all the cliche in my head and lo and behold, you made a list of them at the end… awesome! hehee.
    It’s also hilarious and cute how you give the male characters nickname… “mr. swoony velvety voice, Deep Resonant Voice..” and in flowers “mr. sexy bedroom eyes..” LOL..

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  9. Anonymous

    Anon#2, I am quite sure I’m not losing anything by not finding her gorgeous. And if you gain something by seeing her beauty, then congratulations to you. But there’s no need to get defensive – I was only stating an opinion.

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  10. 10 Bamidele

    I just hope she didnt leave him to go off and treat her terminal cancer in the States and is now back to win him over again.

    that cracked me up so much, KSS moment,hehe:P

    Thanks sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much for the summary, tides me over till subs come out. God I love Korean dramas, even the predictable ones, as long as they are fun and make me laugh I don’t always need to learn something from them ^_^

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  11. 11 Sherry

    Yoon Eun Hye is only gorgeous when she’s all glammed up for mag covers and photoshoots. She’s just got a cute face though with above average looks, but definitely no extraordinaire beauty.

     (0)


  12. 12 javabeans

    All right, I don’t think we have to get into an argument over whether Yoon Eun Hye is actually pretty. I am not a particular fan, and I think her acting’s only average, but I think she’s got a beautiful face (which I’m only giving as my opinion) given that she’s one of Korea’s few “natural beauties” — and please let’s not get into an argument over whether or not that’s true! In any case, I think she’s lovely without makeup; here are some “saeng-ul” (barefaced, aka no-makeup) photos and you can see if you agree. Or not. We don’t have to argue about it. saeng-ul pic 1, saeng-ul pic 2.

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  13. 13 Turtlegirl21

    I am absolutely addicted to your summaries. It saves me alot of time in deciding what to watch everyday. Keep up the good work!

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  14. 14 coollady

    thank you for the ep.1 summary. i was never really interested in this drama esp. because by what i’ve read about it, it’s too typical of a korean drama for me. however, i discovered Lee Sun Kyun as i was researching this drama and am engage by him (really, i don’t know why…maybe cause of his voice). additionally, Yoon Eun Hye was good in Vineyard Man so i don’t think i should totally avoid this drama. thank you once again.
    also, i found it really hilarious how you always added a comment about Lee Sun Kyun’s deep voice, whenever you mentioned his character, Han Sung. honestly, i’m watching this drama for LSY…Gong Yoo never sparked my interest much.

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  15. 15 purpletiger86

    Thank you Sarah for the wonderful recap/summary of episode 1! I always love coming to your blog and reading your summaries. It was a pretty good first episode considering how the story plot is quite cliche and what not…but just twisting the story a little to where the main female lead acts like a huge tomboy and people mistaking her for one (or more like assuming that she’s a male) does pitch in a little magical spell to tune into this drama, lol. I’m not a huge fan of anyone in this drama, but that Lee Sun Kyun guy does have a nice voice, lol. (didn’t really watch much of White Tower and any of his previous dramas…but I did hear A LOT about his sexy voice from people, lol). I got to admit…that jjajangmyun scene was really digusting to watch…just seeing people vomit in dramas makes me sick, yet they came up with an upgrade version of something more digusting…lol…anyways…thanks again for the summary…will look forward to reading your last two summaries for “flowers in my life” , bad couple, and air city~ FIGHTING!!!

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  16. 16 Marzy

    thankies sarahhhhh! :D im sorry as cliche this drama maybe at some point, i loveeee the cast. how can i not? LSG? GY? sighhh.. swoons.. lol. kidding aside, i think they have good story going. plus i think this drama wont be ur typical one. the story sort or resembles the taiwan drama hana kimi which was also popular but the concept of the girl pretending to be a guy here is different coz everyone started of confusing her to be a guy. i say go with the flow, i wont expect but look forward to it. :D

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  17. 17 julier

    I adore YEH, so this drama is a must-see for me! Bring on the cliches because the formula has had me hooked for years. Let’s just hope we can keep this one cancer-free. Thanks so much javabeans.

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  18. 18 Jessica

    Thanks so much for this recap!

    I totally agree that the whole gender-bender issue makes those cliches seem more interesting again :)

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  19. 19 mangoicy

    I am so ashamed of myself for not noticing Lee Sun Gyun earlier. Seriously, where have I been?

    “Han Sung of the Deep Resonant Voice”
    lol. Yes, that’s quite a description. I’m melting in my puddle of drool as I’m typing right now.

    Thank you so much for doing the summary for this (what I hope to be) fun drama! As I’ve mentioned over and over again, and I’ll mention it again, reading your summary is always such a great pleasure!

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  20. 20 thunderbolt

    I first saw Mr. Deep Resonant Voice in Taereung National Village (where he’s one of the four leads) and like him heaps. It’s not just the ‘swoony velvety voice’ but also his natural acting. And the twinkle in his eyes when he’s amused. Will watch Coffee Prince just for him.^^ Thanks for the recap, sarahbeans. *muahk*

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  21. 21 R

    Thank you for the summary.. I’m in love with your blogs / writing skills.. Keep up the good work..

    As for the series .. I have to wait for the subs to come out I guess since I don’t speak Korean..

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  22. 22 vana

    yay…i always enjoy reading your insights and summaries. they help a lot. i absolutely love lsk in this. gong yoo is hot but lsk is it for me plus the voice…..the voice.

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  23. 23 yeli

    hi girl…i love reading your summaries!

    I agree with you about the cliches….there are so many in this drama, yet, i cant help myself to be curious about it and want to watch it….it reminds me of Hana Kimi, except i like the fact that in this version, it is the male lead who does not know she is really a girl, so that should be interesting…..

    i just hope they dont make this one of those dramas that start off really good and interesting but then drags on the second half once the plot unfolds….i mean, how long will it take him to realize she is a girl and fall for her?….i dont know, i have a feeling this will become redundant after an interesting first half…i really hope i am wrong though, and that the writers are smart and do not just go for a simple repetitive plot….the theme of this drama has so much potential, i hope they do not ruin it and pull a Witch Yoo Hee on us, now THAT was a drama that had so much potential but became unbearably ridiculous towards the second half…..

    looking forward to the subs….in the mean time, i am also looking forward to your awesome summaries, as always! :D

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  24. 24 noemi

    thank you!! i just watched the episode w/o subs and i already thought of looking for your summary..

    the drama has lots of potential.. hopefully it would not self destruct at the middle part..

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  25. 25 jb

    Sounds like a good one (from the beginning). It sounds a little Hana Kimi…I like. Noemi you are right, alot of kdrama starts out good and then gets draggy in the middle :P Keep up the good work Dramabeans!!!!!!!!

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  26. 26 lollipop2000

    Yay! Thanks so much Javabeans. Your capping this series is the perfect birthday gift cos my birthday is coming up on 16. So so so thank you like a million times. I love Eun Hye esp her last drama was Man in the vineyard. I think she’s adorable in this role even if the storyline sounds similar to Hana kimi.

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  27. 27 godzillaicecream

    All the cliches in this drama are a bit repetitive, but I never get tired of this combination. And you’re right, having Eun Chan be mistaken for a guy really does make it better!

    Thanks for the summary, too bad translators for episodes came out as fast as your summaries, *sigh*, anyways, thanks for the hard work!

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  28. 28 kas

    I am thrilled and excited for this. You satisfied my anticipation and it’s worth the wait. Thank you for your summary. Yoon Eun Hye is a cutie in this one.

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  29. 29 its_trish

    Thanks so much for the summary – I love LOVE love YOUR summaries!
    They are so great that I have not actually watched Flowers or Bad Couple.. just read your recaps etc.
    This one I do want to try watching.. even though that will make it the 5th series I am following at the moment.. I am hoping that YEH does a better and more believable job than Ella in the girl-playing-boy role.. (Ella is still pretty awesome though)
    Kudos ^^

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  30. 30 ripgal

    Ep 1 was quite a good start IMO. YEH’s really pretty altho she’s a boy..and I adore her character. So tomboyish, cool and sassy.hehehe..

    The drama does start off cliche, like all dramas do anyway..but I’m looking forward to see more. Esp with GY and LSG…how can you miss this? hehehe..

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  31. 31 Tuttie

    Hi everybody!!

    A Mexican Soap opera, called “novelas” in my latin world, with a similar plot was aired a couple of years ago, but in the novela, she dressed as a boy to get a job, but lived also as a girl, and told everybody they were twins, and the male lead became best friends with her, as a boy, and also atracted,. This one im liking it because is kind of different and i love her work since the vineyard man, and goong, she is a great actress, and a great singer.

    Javabeens, thanks for the summaries, you are great!!

    Bye!!

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  32. 32 Eve

    OMG I’m just really trying NOT to read your summary until I get to watch it for myself…*tear it’s so hard!

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  33. 33 javabeans

    Oops guys, minor edit regarding the last line (between Gong Yoo and YEH)! I’ve clarified up in the post. Heh.

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  34. 34 simi

    Thanks for the summary!!! Am looking forward to the subs…soon I hope. So far it’s off to a good start. We all know k-dramas will have cliches, but as long as it’s in an interesting and amusing way, what the hell. Any minute now she’ll probably be on Han Gyul’s back, in the rain, on her way to the hospital. When they’re not doing the “infamous” Korean back-hug he he he. If you have to prioritize on your summaries, please make air city last, as I think most of us are pretty much over it. In an ideal world it should be #1bad couple ( I just loove that show!!), #2flowers for my life, #3 coffee prince and #4(I guess) air city. Just wishing….no matter which order, thanks Sarah!! You’re the best!!

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  35. 35 blueseeker

    Ok so i cannot stop laughing, not so much because of the show but the cliches, because you are so right! The show is quite entertaining though, i know many people are comparing it to hana kimi but i could never actually get around to watching that. This has more charm and less of a childish theme. Thanks for the summary, i hope you continue as am hooked now.

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  36. 36 Anonymous

    I love you summaries. Thank you so much because I don’t speak Korean.

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  37. 37 JooJinMoLovesMe

    I cant but help and think there is definitely similarities to Victor/Victoria with the guy questioning his own sexuality and with YEH being boyish.

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  38. 38 Philippa

    Thank you so much! I can’t wait to read your summaries for this drama! Thanks again!

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  39. 39 Samantha

    thanks i’ve been waiting for an english summary or subbed anything of this ever since i first saw the preview on youtube…… can’t wait for a second cup :D

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  40. 40 lili

    “I just hope she didnt leave him to go off and treat her terminal cancer in the States and is now back to win him over again.”
    LOL Javabeans! Thank you for the AWESOME summary! You completely made my day!

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  41. 41 marie_s

    ooh i agree. yoon eun hye’s acting is average, based on goong. she is not drop dead beautiful, but yes, gorgeous, cute, and pretty. i like her because she is very charming. anw, i don’t know if she’s a natural beauty though. at the height of my craziness over goong, i surfed for photos of joo ji hoon and yoon eun hye, and found yeh used to be fat and her nose quite big. i am hypothesizing that she had a nose job. since even if you lose weight your nose won’t shrink. great toned body though. i wish i could have her body and legs!

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  42. 42 marie_s

    i think these were pictures when she was still with baby v.o.x

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  43. 43 Lorianne

    Well I tried but I’m just not impressed with the story. Another drama with endless misunderstandings/bickering. There were some good points. Lead Girl – overrated, in my opinion. Yes she is impersonating a guy but I don’t really see a stretch in the acting. Just is just so-so. May give it one or two more episodes

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  44. 44 lili

    I just hope she didnt leave him to go off and treat her terminal cancer in the States and is now back to win him over again.” LOL, thank you for another great episode summary Javabeans! Epi 1 with Chin subs are out now – it’s easier to watch after reading your summary! I’m still confused as to the 3 item list Han Gyul’s grandma was making, something about 3 steps of handling him? What’s with the weird skits in between (traditionally dressed Korean men, kid Sherlock Holmes, “stickie” kids)? o_O

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  45. 45 yellowK

    Wow- just wanted to say “thanks” for a fabulous summary. I’ve been phsyched several months for this drama (I’ve liked YEH since Goong+VYM). Right now I’m watching episode 1 w/ chinese subs (except i speak neither chinese or korean so i still can’t understand) so i’ve been surfing forums and stuff for clarification. Someone posted a link to your blog and I’m so glad b/c you’ve cleared up my confusion. Well written and humorous, I really enjoyed reading this synopsis and I hope you continue them. I know there’s a lot of hype for this drama but I really hope it lives up to everyones high expectations!

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  46. 46 Anonymous

    I find that it’s mostly Song Hye Gyo fans who LOVE to put Yoon Eun Hye down and I know why. Whether they wanna admit it or not, they hate the fact that YEH is the only one of the very few actresses who can beat SHG in certain polls.

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  47. 47 moochi2000

    i find myself reading more and more of ur summaries, and i love reading others’ comments…i guess i’m bored, but they are interesting
    it’s funny how people compare it to hana kimi (the story is really different and the target audience is different as well)
    haha and yah..han sung, when i first looked at him i was like ehh, but when he started talking..i was like WOOOOOOOO

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  48. 48 kiwee

    hmm im not more of a song hye gyo fan than yoon eun hye’s fan and i dont know much about those polls, but i dont find her drop dead gorgeous. and yet i love her. she seems down to earth and is charming; i dont think i have to find her beautiful or really like her acting to appreciate her charm.

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  49. 49 wajing

    a kdrama fanatic like me just can’t help but to follow the hype..hahaha! XD

    isn’t it nice to see YEH in a different light, in a different acting style???..AWAY FROM HER-BECOMING-TRADEMARK-CUTESY-SO-GIRLIE ROLE!! =p …..the twist makes the cliche away!!!..hahaha!… just hope the series won’t disappoint us in the near future!..more interesting episodes for CP! =)

    thanks again dramabeans for the summary!!..actually, haven’t gotten hold of Coffee Prince with english subs but thanks to you i’m updated! =) ..Also, congrats with the move!..looks like your almost done..more power!

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  50. 50 Aida

    “…one of the men thinks our heroine is a boy. And starts to question his own sexuality when he feels attracted to her, not knowing shes actually female.”

    somehow, this line reminds me of this j-drama, hana kimi which coincidentally, is currently being shown over in japan. yikes. fortunately, i haven’t watched enough of both dramas to make a comparison between the lead actresses though both of them have similar characters – girl dressing up as a boy.

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