Coffee Prince: Fifteenth Cup
One thing I’ve noticed about the acting in Coffee Prince: Aside from the generally solid performances given by the main characters in any given scene, also worth pointing out are the reaction shots. By which I mean: the responses of those not performing the main action or dialogue in the scene, but rather reacting to it.
A lot of times, actors aren’t very conscious of their reaction shots (actors are vain; why act when I’m not “on”?), but when they do deliver a great reaction, it gives a scene that extra layer of completeness, three-dimensionality. Without that layer, it’s like you’re just an audience member watching something being performed in front of you. With it, though, the scene feels more like it’s unfolding around you, that you’ve witnessed a genuine moment, and that’s a lovely thing. Lee Seon Kyun (Han Sung) in particular has some great reaction shots this episode.
SONG OF THE DAY
EPISODE 15 SUMMARY
It’s the day after the end of Episode 14, and Eun Chan asks Han Gyul repeatedly, happily, if he’s truly not going to leave for New York. Apparently she’s been asking nonstop since he first mentioned it.
Enjoying her response, Han Gyul asks if that makes her that happy, and she nods yes. She feels guilty for being the reason he’s staying, though, because toy designing was his dream. Han Gyul responds that he’d liked the idea of being a designer because it was something he could do all on his own, but he’s finding that managing a business, and working with others, is fun too.
Eun Chan tells him that after meeting his grandmother, she gained newfound motivation to become a cool, impressive woman worthy of him. Someone who doesn’t just receive support but also provides it, for him and also her family.
Han Gyul’s grandmother is still upset with Eun Chan, and complains to Mr. Hong about her. Mr. Hong matter-of-factly tells Granny that she should be thankful for Eun Chan, who’s not only a decent kid but a far better catch than even Han Gyul. Han Gyul shaped up and did a great job with the cafe because of her pushing him along and motivating him. Granny should count her lucky stars; Eun Chan’s perfect granddaughter-in-law material.
As for the Princes: Min Yub is in a dark mood, replaying Eun Sae’s goodbye kiss in his head and scowling at everyone. Sun Ki’s in a good mood, now that he’s a frequent visitor to the woman he’d been searching for, even if they’re not progressing into a romantic relationship (in fact, she’d rather he leave her alone, because she doesn’t want to keep being painted by his parents as the horrible married lady who ruined the life of their precious son).
Ha Rim, the most frank and sexual-minded of them all, doesn’t get Sun Ki’s whole platonic thing. He offers Eun Chan the benefit of his expertise, should she need it. (Uncomfortable with the subject, Eun Chan turns the tables on him by mentioning his butt tattoo, which effectively scares him away. Heh.)
That night, Han Gyul again vies for Eun Chan’s attention while she’s busy studying. Their playful mood turns into an argument when Eun Chan brings up the debt she’s still repaying — complete with interest. Han Gyul bristles — he never asked for interest, and he doesn’t want to take her money: “Would you accept it? Think about it from my position! What kind of guy would take money from his girl, knowing she was in a tough spot?”
Eun Chan doesn’t see things his way. It’s her debt, and it’s her responsibility to repay it, no matter their relationship. If she doesn’t, she won’t feel right. She opts out of the fight by leaving for the night, and Han Gyul shouts after her as she walks out the door: “Hey! Hey, where are you going? Stop right there! One, two, two and a half, three! Hey, you’re not really gone, right? I know you’re standing outside, come back in! Don’t go!”
After trying to resist calling, Han Gyul finally gives in — only to find her phone is turned off. He stews with impatience, worry, curiosity. She’s not really mad, but she’s making a point, and sends him a good-night text message (“See you tomorrow!”) — then shuts off her phone again. Hehe.
Yu Ju fills Han Sung in on meeting her mother (who’s on her fourth marriage), who initially warned her against marrying. (After seeing Yu Ju starting to consider the idea, her mother changed her mind and told her to go for it.) Her mother said Yu Ju would have a hard time finding a man willing to put up with her; Yu Ju looks at Han Sung and says, “Ah, but there’s one such guy right here.”
With the subject on the table, Han Sung digs through a bag of snack crackers, and places a ring-shaped one around her finger: “Let’s marry.” She doesn’t respond directly, and he entreats her to think about it. She says she will.
The Choi cousins discuss their woman troubles together (after Han Gyul congratulates Han Sung on the pregnancy); the underlying issue is similar for both. Han Sung: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the girl leaned on the guy just a bit? It’s a worry, when the girl’s too well-off on her own.”
Han Gyul says he envies Han Sung, who wonders why — wasn’t he happy being independent? Has he changed? Han Gyul tells him something that can be translated as a cross between “I’m crazy about Go Eun Chan” and “I adore her to bits.” He continues: “I want to live with her.”
The cousins don’t even pretend to listen to each other as they both ponder their respective concerns, aloud:
Han Gyul: “Would marriage be good?”
Han Sung: “Isn’t it better to regret getting married than regret not getting married?”
Han Gyul: “Seems like it could be a good idea.”
Han Sung: “Yeah, right?”
Han Gyul: “Huh? What?”
Han Sung: “Never mind.”
Han Gyul: “Marriage…”
Han Gyul’s mother calls Eun Chan out for lunch, and asks her kindly about the status of her relationship with Han Gyul. It seems Han Gyul’s thinking of marriage, but she worries that they’ve only known each other for three months. Eun Chan answers that she knows she’s lacking much; Han Gyul has much more going for him than she does: “Seeing him, I’ve gained a goal, too — to become an impressive person. So I can’t marry right now, because I haven’t accomplished anything as Go Eun Chan yet.” She assures Han Gyul’s mother that Han Gyul truly loves his family a lot; she won’t do anything to cause them trouble.
Blur’s “Sweet Song” ::
Dancing together as the sun sets, Han Sung prepares himself for bad news when Yu Ju tells him she has something she has to say. But he’s caught completely off-guard when Yu Ju kneels, takes out a ring box, and asks him, “Will you marry me?”
I love Han Sung’s shocked, hopeful reaction as Yu Ju tells him she can’t give him the stars and the moon or make other impossible promises: “But I’ll try hard.” She knows she isn’t the type of daughter-in-law his parents will like, but still, she’ll try her best at that too.
Rendered speechless, Han Sung attempts to say something.
Han Sung: “What do I say…? You’ve turned me in to a fool — my head’s completely empty.”
Yu Ju: “I want to have a baby like you. Thank you, for being by my side. I love you.”
Han Sung: “Love you too.”
Yu Ju: “I love you lots more.”
Han Sung: “Thank you.”
(Practically crazy with excitement, an ecstatic Han Sung calls Han Gyul to tell him the news, so thrilled he can hardly tell if it’s a dream or reality. Han Gyul: “You’re calling just to brag?!” Haha.)
Eun Chan’s mother seems to feel sorry toward the quieter, downspirited Mr. Gu, who’s decided to get over his feelings for her. She knows he’s a good man, and thanks him for allowing her to feel like a woman again — she’d thought that time of her life was over. She tells him that maybe, if after both her daughters are married and well settled, if he’s still available, they might give it a try then. She seems sincere, and he’s thrilled to have just even that tiny nod of encouragement.
Han Gyul tells Eun Chan about Han Sung and Yu Ju’s good news, which she’s happy to hear. She exhibits her naivete when she wonders for a moment how they can be pregnant already, then catches Han Gyul’s eye and half-embarrassedly says, “Ah, right.” He asks her how many children she wants, and she jokes ten, then amends that to three. He figures about the same. With his mind on the future, he asks if she likes cleaning (“Who likes cleaning?”) or dish-washing (“Can’t you see how I break dishes?”).
Han Gyul decides, “No, that won’t do.” Eun Chan asks what won’t do, and he answers: “Living together.”
Han Gyul lists all the reasons she wouldn’t be a good living partner (snoring, eating too much), and she retorts, “Who said I wanted to live together?” Han Gyul’s response: “Then what about marriage?” Surprised, she asks cautiously if he’s saying he wants to get married, and he tries not to act too serious, saying that he’s just bringing up the subject — it doesn’t mean he’s suggesting it.
Han Gyul asks, a little more seriously, what kind of proposal she’d like to receive. Playing along, Eun Chan lists a bunch of silly things, like a big diamond ring, 100 red roses, violins on a ferry boat, a blown-up picture of herself posted at the roof of a skyscraper… At her jokey response, Han Gyul tells her to forget it and go home… then drags her back for another hug. “Don’t go.”
The next day, while driving along, Han Gyul fantasizes what it would be like living with Eun Chan (the song is “Maiden Voyage” by Missing Island):
Everyone seems to be aware of Han Gyul’s marriage-minded feelings, because his father tells Grandma that his biggest life regret is allowing her to split him up from Han Gyul’s mother: “I’d like for Han Gyul not to go through the same.” Han Gyul’s mother mentions meeting Eun Chan, and tells Grandma: “At first, I thought she was completely wrong for Han Gyul, but looking at her, she’s cheerful and straightforward. I found her comfortable.” She compares her to Yu Ju, who has a few difficult points, whereas Eun Chan is pleasant and easy to be around.
Yu Ju invites Han Gyul to come with her and Han Sung while she tries on bridal gowns. Initially he declines, but hearing Eun Chan wistfully say she’d like to wear a nice dress too makes him change his mind. Again, his imagination takes off:
But alas, it’s Yu Ju wearing the dress, not Eun Chan.
Han Gyul watches the happy couple enviously, and suggests that Eun Chan try a dress on, too. It’s like Han Gyul is so bursting with the idea of marriage that he can’t stop himself, and he blurts:
Han Gyul: “Do you want to wear one of those and marry me?”
Eun Chan: “What?”
Han Gyul: “Marry me, Go Eun Chan.”
Eun Chan: “Are you… proposing?”
Han Sung (thoroughly enjoying the scene, particularly Han Gyul’s discomfort), breaks in to note that Han Gyul sure is in a hurry to get married, but this proposal is all wrong. Han Gyul tells Eun Chan not to answer right away; he’s just telling her to think about it. She starts to say, “What’s there to think about?” but he stops her from answering, most likely assuming her answer will be negative, and tells her to think it over carefully.
Eun Chan says she was gonna say yes, but then goes on (teasingly) that it’s a good thing he stopped her. He’s difficult to please, and it would be tiring marrying him: “Cancel that.” The happily engaged, ignored couple watch as Eun Chan runs out of the room, and Han Gyul chases her.
Han Sung and Yu Ju drop by the Choi residence to deliver their good news to the adults. The family suggests a nice, small wedding between close family and friends, which suits the couple. Furthermore, I love how when Han Sung drops news of Yu Ju’s pregnancy, everyone is happy to hear it (no moralistic preachiness about premarital blah-blah-blah).
Granny makes a jab at how she’s displeased with Han Gyul, and Han Gyul takes the opportunity to do a little reverse psychology. He grumbles about Eun Chan’s stubbornness over diligently repaying his loan (and insisting on giving him interest!), how she’s always hounding him to save money and not be so wasteful, how she won’t indulge him to go out and play because she’s so engrossed in her studies…
At Grandma’s continued disapproval, Han Gyul appeals to her to reconsider. Yu Ju praises Eun Chan, as does Han Sung, and Han Gyul counts all those in favor — Yu Ju, Han Sung, his father… and notes with excitement that his mother seems to have changed her mind. She admits she gives half her consent.
Eun Chan tells her sister about her proposal, and figures they can get married in another five years. Or maybe four, if five is too long. Eun Sae sighs in frustration — four years? Is he going to wait for her for so long?: “How is it you know less of the world than I do?”
Meanwhile, Han Gyul goes ring shopping.
Arriving for Han Sung and Yu Ju’s wedding, Han Gyul works up his nerve and fumbles, flustered, as he puts a ring on Eun Chan’s finger (in a hilarious bit, he panics when it doesn’t fit right, upset that he got the wrong size, until Eun Chan corrects him — he’s got the wrong finger).
Eun Chan assumes it’s a couple ring, but Han Gyul asks: “Will you be my bride?”
Eun Chan smiles and nods shyly, and he smiles in relief. They walk along happily together — for about a second. Because Eun Chan alludes to a wedding in four or five years, stopping Han Gyul short, confused: “Four, five years? But I’m going to get married this year.”
Eun Chan can’t imagine getting married so soon — she has things to do with her life, she’s too young. Wasn’t he intending to marry later?
Inside the hall, Han Gyul’s grandmother finally falters under the pains that have been plaguing her all episode long…
Unaware of this, Han Gyul and Eun Chan continue their discussion. He suggests talking through each point thoughtfully. Why does she want to wait five years?
Eun Chan answers that she’d only ever worked to make money to support her family, but now she finally has a dream of her own, and that’s to become a good barista. Han Gyul tells her she can still do those things after getting married — and if she’s worried about her family, he’ll take responsibility for them.
Eun Chan: “Responsibility? How? For how long? It’s better not to make promises you can’t keep. Will you live forever, and never die?”
Han Gyul: “What?”
Eun Chan: “My father said he’d take responsibility for our family forever. But he couldn’t do that. A person can’t take responsibility over another person. You can only take responsibility for yourself. Until I can accomplish things on my own, I won’t marry.”
She starts to walk off, and he holds her back, telling her:
Han Gyul: “I’ve already talked to my family, and gotten the adults’ consent. All you have to do is agree, and we can get married right now, with no problems.”
Eun Chan: “You already told your family? Marry right now? How can you do that to me, without even telling me? This is unbelievable.”
Han Gyul: “Unbelievable? You said yourself that you would marry me. Was that an empty promise?”
Eun Chan: “That didn’t mean I’d marry you right now. How can you decide that on your own? Is my family that laughable to you?”
Eun Chan storms off, leaving Han Gyul to yell after her, “Hey! Stop right there!”
Here’s what I think of this latest development. I’ve seen comments from people who are gradually starting to “bore” or tire of the recent plot turns, because the fact that Eun Chan and Han Gyul are happily dating reduces the angst of the prior episodes. Yes, that’s true, but I will heartily disagree with the stance that “they got together too early” or “they’re running out of story,” because that supposes that there’s no story worth telling after a couple’s initial realization of their feelings for each other. That argument would also force Coffee Prince into a story mold that I’ve seen before (couple meets, struggles as they develop feelings for each other, realizes they’re in love, happy end). I’ve already grown tired of that version of boy meets girl. I wanted Coffee Prince to do something different, and they’re doing it.
What I particularly dislike is when a series does the opposite and ends entirely too abruptly. There’s a lot more to love than the declaration thereof, and stories that crescendo suddenly with a tearful reunion and avowal of adoration belittle the stuff that comes afterward. What I enjoy about this development is that Eun Chan and Han Gyul have to now work through a very real conflict, one with no winner and no right answer. Despite the fact that they clearly love each other, they’re at different points in their lives right now, with different priorities. Heck, it took Yu Ju and Han Sung ten years to finally get on the same page about their future together.
I don’t doubt that we’ll get a satisfactorily happy ending. I have my own ideas about how that’ll come about, but frankly I’m satisfied not speculating, and would rather just see how things play out. But I do appreciate that I’m not being shortchanged on the relationship developments that occur after a couple falls for each other, because that’s a part of their love story, too.
Of course, you’re all free to disagree.
- Coffee Prince: Fourteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Thirteenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Twelfth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Eleventh Cup
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- Coffee Prince: Tenth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Ninth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Eighth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Seventh Cup
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- Coffee Prince: Sixth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fifth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Fourth Cup
- Coffee Prince: Third Cup
- Coffee Prince: Second Cup
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