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[Revisiting Dramas] I’ll take a refill of Coffee Prince

My very first K-drama was You’re Beautiful, the gender-bender rom-com that was centered on the pop idol industry. Soon after I completed that drama, I searched for other dramas to view, and Coffee Prince was often mentioned. I watched it at some point, but the details about what made it unique were getting fuzzy. This month’s challenge was the perfect opportunity to give it another look.

That opening scene in the first episode was enough to remind me why it was so appealing the first time that I saw it. After the stylized polish of the idols in You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince feels like a very different kind of drama. Starting with the brigade of food delivery scooters as they jockey for space on the road, we are introduced to a grittier Seoul.

One of those scooters belongs to the main character, Go Eun-chan, and our first look at her is when she removes her helmet to reveal sweaty, messy hair. She’s such a tomboy that many people assume that she’s a boy. It’s just her style, or lack of style to be more precise. She’s used to it, but right away, the drama challenges deeply entrenched standards. How is a girl supposed to look and act? What kind of job is acceptable? Where do less feminine looking girls fit in? Is it enough to be beautiful on the inside?

Coffee Prince doesn’t shy away from challenging preconceived ideas as the drama follows the romance of the boyish-looking Eun-chan (played by Yoon Eun-hye) and the man who falls for her, the Peter Pan-like Choi Han-gyul (Gong Yoo). I know that the first time that I watched Coffee Prince, the complicated love lines and moody characters made it challenging for me to fully appreciate this drama. Watching it for a second time gave me a chance to see that it is much more than a drama about a young woman pretending to be a man.

Together with Han-gyul’s cousin, Han-sung, and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Yoo-joo, the four main leads find themselves romantically tangled together as they sort out their feelings for each other. While Eun-chan and Han-gyul represent a new relationship, Han-sung and the fickle Yoo-joo reunite after a long breakup. Coffee Prince successfully captures the highs and lows of young adulthood, even though the relationships don’t follow traditional norms.

While Coffee Prince deals with modern relationship issues, the look of the drama is now a bit dated. Styles have changed in the past ten years, evidenced by the princes’ tendency to wear their white shirts unbuttoned down to the mid-chest. Yikes! Unlike many current trendy dramas, Coffee Prince is no fashion parade since Eun-chan favors T-shirts and jeans. The most fashionable characters are Han-gyul, his mother, and his grandmother.

Speaking of those two women, the characters and the actresses who portrayed them were a highlight for me this time around. Kim Ja-ok as Han-gyul’s mother was the gentle counterpoint to Kim Young-ok as his much louder grandmother. Han-gyul loves them both dearly and treats them as if they are the cutest pair in the world. It’s this unabashed affection that redeems him early on, when he mostly behaves like a big jerk. You just have to believe that there’s hope for a man who can love his mother and grandmother like that.

This drama is harsher than I remember with hitting (mostly from grandma), yelling, crying, and some brutal arguments. Eun-chan and Han-gyul have some pretty intense disagreements and can take days to get over a fight. Yoo-joo is so flighty that Hang-sung can never be sure that she’ll stick around for one more day. It all contributes to a cycle of breakups and makeups with lots of sighing and moping on the way to happily ever after.

What sets Coffee Prince apart are the well-defined characters brought to life by the great cast. Yoon Eun-hye is believable as a boy in a role that requires her to shed all vanity. She convincingly brings the gender-confusing Eun-chan to life, while also depicting a young girl falling in love for the first time. Gong Yoo embodies the man/boy persona of Han-gyul perfectly, aided by his impish smile. He tackles Han-gyul’s wide range of moods seamlessly and somehow manages to make the volatile character sympathetic, even likable, by the final episode.

My favorite character of the four leads was, and still is, Lee Sun-kyun as Han-sung. Interestingly, he recognizes Eun-chan as a girl from the very beginning and is warm, friendly, and kind; he’s a bit melancholy, but he has the best smile. He always makes time to talk to Eun-chan and really listens to what she has to say. Han-sung meets the second lead syndrome criteria of being a serious contender for Eun-chan’s heart and his quiet conversations with her contrast sharply with Han-gyul’s fiery ones.

Another constant this time around is that I still didn’t warm up to Han-sung’s girlfriend, Yoo-joo, but that was kind of the point with her — she’s hard to get close to. I never understood why Han-sung was so hung up on her but it brought a sense of realism to the drama because honestly, some relationships don’t make sense.

The princes of the coffee house were more engaging than I remembered, as a ragtag team of misfits who finally find a place where they belong. Along with the original owner, Mr. Hong, Ha-rim, Seon-ki, and Min-yub gossip, tease, argue, and pout while they become more like family than coworkers. They complain about love, customers, their cranky boss and each other, as they serve cup after cup of coffee and plates of waffles. Their banter lends an authenticity to the coffee house that serves as the backdrop of the drama. Together, they make the coffee house an interesting place to hang out.

When I first started watching K-dramas I was completely distracted by the set designs and they hold up really well in Coffee Prince. Han-sung’s studio is probably my favorite set in the drama. Who wouldn’t want a private space like that? A close second is Han-gyul’s rooftop apartment; definitely not of the budget variety, with that amazing courtyard to enjoy his view. And of course the coffee house itself still looks like a great place to hang out and enjoy a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

Though it does feel a bit dated, Coffee Prince holds up pretty well after ten years. My second look gave me a chance to appreciate that the drama is thought-provoking as well as entertaining, something that I didn’t fully grasp the first time that I watched it. Seeing it again helped me to remember my early days with K-dramas and why I fell in love with them in the first place.

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Oh Wow. Many thanks for this post @teriyaki. Coffee Prince is the first K-drama I saw and while it wasn't my gateway to K-drama addiction, it was definitely a step in that direction. ^^

What I loved about this show was the sensitivity with which it treated Han Gyul's growing attraction to another 'man'. This is perfectly encapsulated by his reaction to the revelation that Eun Chan is not, in fact, male. Han Gyul feels hurt, anger and betrayal - because he suffered so much and fought so hard to understand and accept what he was feeling and how he could feel this way towards a man - before coming to (happy) terms with the realisation.

Coffee Prince is a timeless classic for this alone.

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The way the show handled Han Gyul's growing attraction was also my favorite part of the show. It wasn't done as a fan service or played off for comedy purposes the way Korean dramas do so often. But done in a way that was brutally beautiful in its implementation. HG initial confusion, his devastation later on at realizing his attraction to EC, and his final painful acceptance was portrayed by GY with so much sensitivity and vulnerability that I bought into his pain. That scene on the beach where he lets himself mold his body against GY's silhouette (not quite touching but so close) and cries with the pain of it all, just kills me every time. His pain makes the gender reveal feel that much more like betrayal because of how much it took from him to accept her as a man. It also forever cemented my love for GY as an actor, and this drama as an all time favorite.

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Another scene that I love takes place on his rooftop patio. Han-gyul is sitting with his back to Eun-chan, who is seated on a wall or the back of a bench that's beyond reach of him. He's talking about something painful, and she stretches out her arms as if to enfathom him in a comforting back hug -- but doesn't dare touch him. Her longing in that gesture was exquisite.

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This is kind of what Moonlight Drawn By Clouds did with the crown prince, and the actor who played him delivered

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FINALLY, THE BEST K-DRAMA IN THE HISTORY OF K-DRAMA.

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?
Among the best kdramas. I ❤️ CP loads and loads but there're quite a number of dramas that beat it on all aspects.

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Thanks for this post @teriyaki. Coffee Prince has been my all time favorite drama, so much so that I rewatched it over and over again! I loved and still love this pair - Han Gyul and Eun Chan. The cast and characters were great, the camaraderie between the princes was great the coffee shop. The supporting cast and characters were great, especially the ajhussi and ajhummas. Only character I disliked was Yoo Jo for her pendulum mind, switching boyfriends and displaying zero loyalty and then expecting 200 times more loyalty from others.

The actors did a great job and there were explosive reactions, disagreements and more. I rarely download dramas, but this was the first drama I loved so much that I ended up downloading as I went back to watch it again and again!

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I even like Yoo Joo for how confidence she was. At the time I was amazed she could be very cool and level headed knowing han sung has been infatuated by eun chan.

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Rewatched CP after this feature and realised that Han Sung and Yoo Joo's relationship is the reversal of the normal male/female relationships.

She acted like the guy who fools around, goes away and returns secure in the knowledge that her boyfriend will be available and not emotionally engage with another girl.

If her words had been said by Han Sung we'd probably have sighed "Typical male!"

When he did have emotional feelings for another girl, it threw Yoon Joo so off balance that she couldn't handle it and tried to leave.

It's like a little joke the writer and producer had - add another gender role reversal in there to mix things up. When I realised this, her character was actually a pleasure to watch.

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You said it exactly right regarding Yoo Joo and Han Sung.

It really shows (even after 10 years) how groundbreaking CP is, in many regards.

We are so unconsciously "programmed" to accept roles and behaviours. Even beanies who watch countless shows where the male lead behaves pretty much exactly as Yoo Joo find it hard to appreciate when a female character behaves that way.

Even the comments are illuminating. A male lead who left his "girl" to pursue his dreams as an artist would be considered brave and ambitious, but the comments here call "her" flighty and a pendulum mind.

Multiple male leads who have previous girlfriends etc are still desirable and swoon worthy when the finally find their "true love" in the steady, reliable and sweet heroine. But Yoo Joo is somehow unworthy because she chooses to explore relationships on her own terms.

It shows more about ourselves if we were willing to introspect. Which is what makes CP an all time great drama in my books...

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I actually liked her too because she sometimes became the voice of comfort to Eun-chan with her little stories. And that time when Han-gyul was unsure of how to make up with Eun-chan. Yoo-joo did have issues of her own but I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about her when it came to the Han-gyul.

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Aww Coffee Prince. Definitely in my top favorites of all time. A true classic (and it's recently been released on Blu-ray in Korea after 10 years!) I am currently re-watching (for the nth time) this with my sister who is watching it for the first time despite her love for Gong Yoo (shocking! but better late than never). And she is going gaga over it. Haha!

I watched this when it came out and I was young then. I did not fully understand the complicated relationships and had little appreciation for the themes bravely tackled by the show considering it was in an era when those themes were controversial or taboo. After having watched it now that I am older, it felt both familiar and new. It felt new because I was able to have deeper understanding of the characters and their choices. The themes surrounding gender and sex were handled with sensitivity without glossing over them. The drama and the character just truly feel real to me.

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I remember enjoying this drama but I didn't know what to make of it. When I just rewatched Coffee Prince a few weeks ago, I definitely appreciate it more the second time around. This drama does not feel dated and the story is just as relatable today as it was in 2007.

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It does not feel dated at all. When I decided to re-watch it for the first time I was dreading how it will look in modern-day and how I would feel about the fashion and the overall look, but it's not bad at all. The fashion isn't much an indicative of it's time than I expected. I have seen worse. Haha! Even the OST was not the dramatic kind common during that era when there's like 3-5 songs played over and over. The songs here are rather low-key and chill.

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Coffee Prince, hmm.... many things were way annoying and I didn´t understand what was likable about this or that. I mostly liked the old coffee house master and granny. Favorite scene: smelly socks in that back room and Eun Chan chatting with Granny (was it having ice cream? can´t remember). Han Gyul´s relationship with granny was the best part, but in general he seemed a bit stupid. all the other guys, excluding Master, didn´t like them. well, ok Kim Jae Wook´s pancake guy was ok, a no-nonsense type.

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how does Gong Yoo look EXACTLY the same as he does in Goblin? :o

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Vampire. Clearly. He must be in cahoots with Keanu Reeves.

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Keanu..... love him :)

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more like a veela.. that voice.. that is the secret.. it hypnotizes you..

on mute.. i do see some evidence of passing time.. but the moment unmuted.. i am inhaling love toxication

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LMAO!! Except his true form is still as beautiful because Gong Yoo!

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The fact that he's the most good looking leading man. You know he's older, but your mind tricked and convinced you that he still look as hot as he were in 2007, and it's true. 27 or 37 y/o, Gong Yoo will always look gorgeous at any age.

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Where is that damb fountain of youth? Lol His fanbases actually make memes of his face from years ago and now. Same face. Same smile. Haha! Thing is, it's obvious that he changed because of course he aged, but at the same time, he did not change at all. Haha Am I makimg sense? Anyway, I do think he grew more handsome and manly as the years passed. He aged like fine wine.

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I can never get over my love for coffee prince. I've re-watched it numerous times and it still pulls at my heart. I love the very down-to-earth directing the show has throughout despite the high emotions towards the middle/end. There is always a sense that this story is grounded and that makes it so much easier to immerse yourself in it.

There were lots of different relationships explored in this drama - both platonic and romantic. While I didn't love them all like I did with the main couple, they were still interesting and/or sweet.

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Is it a shame I didn't watch CP yet?
But I scared will miss YEH too much considered nothing can feed me with her MIA for decades :(

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YEH best work is CP, you should watch it!

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Really? I thought she was amazing in Lie To Me / My Fair Lady / I Miss You
Eventho the writting is meh.
Little Black Dress is good also.

The only works I didnt watch is CP & her latest time wrap drama (forgot the tittle)

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She was really into her character as a girl who look like a boy. In the first few 15-20 minutes of episode 1, I would not sure that she's a girl if I muted the sound and didn't read the subs.
My first thought when I watched go eun chan was hillary swank in Boys Dont Cry. But CP was also one of my first korean dramas. I was still very amazed how good the quality of k-dramas compare to other asian countries' productions, so I might be a little bit biased.

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At some point while watching this drama, I bought into the idea that she's a boy. It made the character interactions that much more painful and poignant. Now that's what I call acting!

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Coffee Prince also kicked off the gender-bender genre in K-dramas.

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@manohira August 22, 2017 at 12:22 AM,

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Yoon Eun-hye studied male gaits so she could literally "Walk Like a Man" (tip of the hat to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons). Owing to differences in the pelvic bones and the angles of the hip joints, men and women walk differently. I thought it was cool that she prepared for her role as Eun-chan by paying such careful attention to the biomechanics of bipedal locomotion. ;-)

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When she struggled with the female outfit as a waitress - actually trying to figure out how it fits was hilarious! So was the walk after throwing out the garbage.

As for the visit to Yoon Joo's exhibition...

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Lie to Me and I Miss You are worth watching.

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I agree. This is her best work. I hope to see her again in a drama but sadly it seems it will be very difficult for her to return.

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Why? Because of the plagiarism issue?

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Yes, that and her apology seemed very standoffish since she looked like she was doing a CF for her bag when she was trying to apologize for the plagiarism issue. With all that happening one after the other, I don't think she will be accepted in dramas anytime soon. :(

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Not really. She still gets many offers but she's into her religion more these days. She prefers doing religious activity rather than taking acting project. For her doing what she loves the most (religion) is more important than acting, which makes her loyal fans heartbrokened. She said that she has had to turned down some offers because it "clashed" with her religious activity abroad. She said this on one of her confession on religious event in Indonesia. You can watch it on YouTube.

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Had to watch this because of Yoon Eun-hye (fresh from Goong fever) and discovering Gong Yoo was such a delight! Can't believe it's been 10 years though.

The drama's soundtrack will also remain as one of my favorites of all time :)

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I so love the soundtrack (both official and unofficial). The drama used mostly indie, chill music. The kind you will want to listen to while on a drive. And I totally forgot that they used English songs too. They all fit the scenes.

Some of my faves songs are Azura Ray- Across the Ocean, Adult Child- Star, As One- White Love Story, Bluedawn- Last Arpeggios... I hunted down every single song and music played in the show. I recall JB making a list of all official and unofficial songs. Now I want to take a listen. Hehe

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I loved Coffee Prince:
The story, the romance, the companionship, the relationships in Han Gyul's family, and the list keeps going on. One of the best k-dramas ever and it stands out because it manages to be different while being mainstream.

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I don't know how this is so timely because even though Coffee Prince reminds me of my old kdrama watching days, it also reminds me of Lee Eon's lost. He played the gruff but good-natured Min-Yeop who has a crush on Eun-Chan's little sis. He was like the Kwangsoo of the older days. Model-turned-comedic-actor. All I actually know what that he passed away because of a motorcycle incident, not so long after Coffee Prince aired. I googled when he died and it was actually August 21, 2008. Darn, that coincidence made me a sad. :(

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Oh noooooo. I did not know about this. Now, I am sad. :(

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Minyeop is such an endearing character played by Lee Eon. I am reminded of the loss everytime I watch the drama. Everyone in the cast was devastated. Gong Yoo even took a leave from military to attend his funeral. :'(

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One of the bestest korean dramas of all time, and the 3rd drama korean drama i watched and i absolutely loved it. It feels funny to say, i wasnt much attracted to Gong Yoo in coffee prince, though he was manly in it, but after watching train to busan and goblin, i want to see more and more of him.. I just cant get enough.

I am terribly missing yoon eun hye in dramaland. She needs to come back with a good project , and i consider her one of the best actress in korea.

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I also don't think Gong Yoo/Hankyul as the most interesting actor/character in the drama. I realized that he's gorgeous but I'm more attracted to eun-hye/eun-chan. I feel the same way like how hankyul attracted to eun-chan, a boy who's working hard and never afraid of the world. It was in episode 8 or 9 after hankyul found out thay eun chan is actually a girl, and he told her that he's not sure that he could trust eun chan.
I recall javabeans/girlfriday in the past ever wrote that for YEH all you need just give her good materials because she will work her best. I agree with them, IMO, she's indeed that good.

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Haha, I'm actually the exact opposite. I still like Gong Yoo, but I realized recently that he'll probably never have QUITE the same effect on me as he had as Choi Han-gyul. I think I just connected with his character's emotions in this and felt a vulnerability from him that I haven't quite seen since. That and he just had a bit more personality here than in his recent roles.

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Me too. As much as I enjoyed Gong Yoo as Kim Shin and he showed gravitas as the immortal Goblin, my fave kdrama role of his is still Choi Hangyul. He was written well. In fact, all characters were, flaws and all.

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The stars must have been in some kind of incredible alignment while COFFEE PRINCE was in production. As for Gong Yoo, the emotional aspect of his performance is what really grabbed me, too.

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I wasn't interested in Gong Yoo at the BEGINNING of Coffee Prince. I was like, "Who's this guy with no chin? Am I supposed to like him?" By the "man or alien" bit, I had fallen so, so hard. I even muddled through all of One Fine Day (and several other dramas and movies) just to see more of him. I still have a soft, squishy spot in my heart every time I see him. The power of CP, or the power of Gong Yoo? I dunno.

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Ah, the desperation of marathoning Gong Yoo's corpus of work. LOL! I watched ONE FINE DAY, also, and it was nowhere near as dreadful as I'd been led to expect. Plus it had Namgung Min, whom I didn't even recognize from GU AM HEO JOON.

I still haven't worked up to BIG, though. ;-)

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Big had potential. The beginning was interesting enough. There was a point while watching when I itched to get to the next episode. Sadly, it just went downhill from there. It did not turn devastatingly bad in my opinion (I have seen worse), but it felt like the story went to weird places. Things went makjang. The ending was weird. Lol

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@celine,

Thanks for the heads-up regarding BIG. Weird isn't necessarily bad, and I can tolerate a certain amount of makjang. It may just be worth watching as part of my survey of the early works of Gong Yoo. For science, of course! ;-)

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@pakalanapikake Oh definitely. Still worth the watch for Gong Yoo alone. He did good despite the script. I also thought he had good chemistry with the leading lady but the script killed it toward the end.

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@pakalanapikake If you can make it through One Fine Day, you've got more than enough grit to survive Big. You got this! ?

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@buckdawna I have not seen One Fine Day. Kinda scared actually. Hahaha! But I do like Gong Yoo and Sung Yuri pairing. Wish they can work again together.

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Triple shots espresso!!!
Gonna re-binge-watch this over the weekend!

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Coffee Prince remains to be the only hyped show that lived up to it's hype. I was warry by that point because I cringed through all of the other older "classics" so I went into this fully expecting it to be the same. But I found they storytelling so fresh and different! I love the OST! Some soundtracks of Tearliner are still on my playlist. And I don't know how many time I've rewatched that beach scene. ❤️

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OMG!!!!! That beach scene and the ost. Oh dear.... it's 3 PM here, am still at work and now I can't focus on my tasks. I need to take bathroom break and find that song.

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Yes! The scene at the beach! OMG! The very definition of "the struggle is real" and "cannot contain the feels" haha! Azura Ray and Bluedawn songs are A+++

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If I made a romance story I would have written one like the relationship of Han Sung and Yoo Joo. Their relationship is complicated and shattering in some ways, but it feels very human. There were so many strong and conflicted emotions in this drama despite the light and breezy tone.
One thing that I actually like best was the cinematography and directing. It felt like an indie tv show and the places of the setting reveals itself so naturally.

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The directing was simple but the scenes turned out really nice. I also love how some emotional or intense scenes did not have background music. You could hear only the dialogue and the silence in between just amplified the tension and emotion in the scene. It's such a nice touch. JB pointed it out in her recaps as well. Now I want to go back and re-read JB's recaps.

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yasss, i will always love Coffee Prince and all the characters/cast members....

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Coffee Prince!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My second kdrama love of all times after Goong
Gosh I miss Yoon Eun Hye soo much :-( :-(

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Ooooooh , nostalgia
I looooooove this drama and watched it a lot of times with my sis , this post made me wanna watch it agaaaain

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Finally!! Thank you @Teriyaki. Coffee Prince definitely has special place in my heart as one of first Kdrama along with Goong and Endless Love aka Autumn Tale. Is there anyone interested to post Goong? Pleaseeee…..

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I watched this drama because of Yoon Eunhye and she did not disappoint. She immersed herself in her role making her believable as a boy. Even when they were already a couple, I liked how she did not suddenly change.

Aside from Yoon Eunhye, through this drama I discovered Gong Yoo. I became a fan since then. I really want to see these two reunite in a drama.

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Thank you for revisiting one of my most beloved K-drama.
This is a breakthrough in terms of the storyline which was best portrayed in Han Gyul's character who was ready to love a 'man'.
Gong Yoo 10 years ago is just as hot as the present Gong Yoo. How can that possibly happen? This is the best work of YEH, imo.

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Coffee Prince was my second ever kdrama after Jewell in the Palace, and it was the drama that got me hocked to Korean dramas. Since CP no drama has made me feel the same way until Healer came along, and I wonder if I would have to wait another 9 years to feel the same.

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This is how I feel too! I was already invested in Kdrama but when Coffee Prince came along I became an addict!

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Thanks for this post. Coffee Prince is one of the dramas I have watched a number of times. I, however, do not really like the last episode that much. I do not know why the show had to introduce the (in this case) needless theme of separation, or going away for a couple of years to be more specific.

I am still hoping for a Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-hye drama reunion. Also, it's so sad that two cast members from that show are dead. Lee Eon died in 2008, and Kim Ja-ok died in 2014.

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I felt the same about the last episode though I enjoyed it just fine. It was an unnecessary extension but due to the popularity of the show, they gave in. PD Lee declined a number of times to extend the drama before finally agreeing to one episode extension.

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Thanks for mentioning Lee Eon. I was shocked to learn of his death when I looked up his filmography. He was great as the ssireum wrestler in the 2006 film LIKE A VIRGIN with Ryu Deok-hwan. I still haven't watched CHILWU, THE MIGHTY.

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Hearing about his death was so sad. He died shortly after filming the last project he was working on, if I remember correctly. I saw Like a Virgin, but I think I've only seen bits and pieces of Chilwu.

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My very first K-drama and one of the few dramas I have re-watched.

Considering it came out in 2007, I found it a drama that was and is still ahead of its time.

I loved how they handled Han Gyul's attraction to the "male" Eun Chan. How it did not matter that she was a "guy" nor what anyone else would say, what mattered was love.

I also loved how passionate Han Gyul's and Eun Chan's love was. No deer-caught-in-the lights kiss scenes, they even slept together! How many dramas since then have failed in that department?

I thoroughly enjoyed most of the supporting characters and their storylines. Though to be honest I did not quite enjoy the second leads ?, nor did I like the extra episode.

This is one drama I recommend to anyone who wants to start on K-dramas and will bea favorite for many years to come still. ?

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That "I dont care if you're a guy or an alien" line is the best line in the history of romantic comedy. Jerry Maguire should take a seat and learn from Choi Hankyul

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?? Exactly

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YEH is one of the Korean actresses who has realistic kiss scenes - in all her dramas I've seen.

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i was so waiting for this post.. and was surprised how no one bothered to watch , rewatch CF... i mean it has to be THE LAUNCH drama for international fans.. and the other i am waiting for someone to watch and recap boys over flowers :P

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This show did so many things well and no show has been able to duplicate it since. Having friends that went through questioning their own sexuality, Gong Yoo was a master in portraying the dichotomy of your mind telling you what you're heart is feeling is utterly reprehensible. The scene by the beach will forever be seared in my memory as the most touching, but most heartbreaking scene of any kdrama I've watched. I can go on about how impressed I was with this drama, how it explored love in a way that kdramas had not prior and not since. I'm ready for a drama that pushes the envelope even further and have a homosexual relationship outright. Because with the right actors, it would be phenomenal.

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@Ally,

I'm ready for a drama that pushes the envelope even further and have a homosexual relationship outright. Because with the right actors, it would be phenomenal.

Two shows come to mind: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (2010, SBS) and the raunchy and hilarious cable drama HYENA (2006, tvN; rated 19). The latter features a sensitive and very touching portrayal by Shin Sung-rok as one of four childhood friends who are now in their thirties and being pressured by their families to settle down and marry. Although it is a comedy, it has many thought-provoking and serious moments. I also enjoyed Oh Man-seok's character arc as a picky TV producer whose distaste for blind dates traces back to his long-lost unrequited crush.

Interestingly, Yun Da-hun is in both shows. He plays one of the four male leads in HYENA (self-styled Lothario and trashy novelist Choi Jin Sang), and the embittered youngest brother of the head of household ("Little Uncle" Yang Byung-kil) in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. Both shows directly address the raw social realities of life in Korea for homosexuals. (Not to mention the Confucian social expectations placed on sons and offspring in general.)

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL is the heartwarming and exquisitely nuanced drama of an extended family on Jeju Island. I'm about two-thirds of the way through watching it right now (63 episodes), and it is addictive. The eldest grandson is gay, and the drama respectfully depicts his and his family's process of coming to grips with his realization that he cannot continue a dating relationship headed towards marriage.

Song Chang-Eui and Lee Sang-Woo are terrific as Dr. Yang Tae-sub and his soul mate, Kim Kyung-soo, the divorced father of a young daughter. Kyung-soo is the scion of a prominent university professor, and his family reacts very differently from Tae-sub's when his secret identity becomes known. This is but one relationship of many that weave through four generations of the extended Yang family. The entire cast is solid, and the characters and their slices of life and love are relatable and realistic, warts and all. I especially enjoy the performances by the matriarch and patriarch, portrayed by Kim Yong-rim and Choi Jung-hun, and their eldest son and his wife (Kim Young-chul Kim Hae-sook, respectively). Kim Sang-joong (Amogae in REBEL) is all kinds of fine as the tightly-wound and highly-principled middle brother, "Big Uncle" Yang Byung-Joon.

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Life is Beautiful is one my favorite dramas. :)

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You are a kdrama encyclopedia, @pakalanapikake! I should have you on speed dial for kdrama refs!

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Recs!

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@Peridot, @Ally,

I finished marathoning all 63 episodes last night (Thursday) around 11:30 PM (East Coast), and loved it to bits. In fact, I'm rewatching a bunch of episodes right now. I don't often watch 50+ episode dramas (aside from the occasional sageuk), but I'm really glad I did. As with Peridot, it is now officially one of my favorite dramas. ;-)

Ally: Glad to be of service! This is why I log the films and dramas I watch, and also announcements for upcoming productions -- and pointers from Beanies' comments.

Which reminds me: The 2009 short film JUST FRIENDS? might be of interest, with Yeon Woo-jin and Lee Je-hoon in the title roles. After the former's inexpressive turn as Joo-wal in ARANG AND THE MAGISTRATE, this performance was quite a romp. ;-)

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Whoa, 63 episodes? I've not ever watched anything past 20! This will be a Christmas break drama!

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@Ally,

As with that memorable vignette on the beach in COFFEE PRINCE, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL has many a moving scene of coming to grips with one's identity as an individual and as a member of an extended family, some of them devastating. There is one offscreen kiss that is beautifully poetic. Embraces, back hugs, playful skinship, and soulful gazes convey devotion, in lieu of smooches. The scene in the pine forest is beautiful in its simplicity. Tae-sub and Kyung-soo were supposed to plight their troth in a church following Ho-sub's wedding, but the real-life congregation ended up disallowing the use of the sanctuary, so it was filmed in the woods instead. Tae-sub's uttering of his prayer amidst the birdsong and the whispering of the wind in the trees evoke ancient rites in sacred groves, with the nature spirits and elemental beings serving as witnesses.

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@Ally August 25, 2017 at 5:44 PM

"You are a kdrama encyclopedia"

Ummm -- AsianWiki and DramaWiki are my friends. Not to mention DramaBeans and all my Beanie buddies. ;-)

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And...my hubby found the King and Clown on Viki unbeknownst to me and told me about it! What a coincidence!

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@Ally,

Nice "coincidence." It sounds as if you are "fated" to watch it? ;-)

I stumbled across a couple of clips that ended up on the cutting room floor over on YouTube. At least one of them cast an interesting sidelight on Gong-gil and Jang-saeng. IMHO, the scene in which they consult with a fortune teller should have been left in.

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I don't know when--but yes, I will be watching this--it sounds totally up my alley!

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The beach scene is also my favourite scene in the drama. I was just saying in the comment I just posted, that for my money it is the most beautiful and moving love scene in any drama/movie (Korean or non-Korean) that I have watched. It's just so beautifully acted, so deeply moving and heartbreaking at the same time. I think it was when I fell well and truly in love with Gong Yoo's acting - the love, desire, longing and angst that he portrays in those few minutes of the scene incredibly tangible.

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Coffee Prince is a timeless classic. Aside from the clothes, the drama still works 10 years after. May form the OST is still my ringtone!

I find it funny that recent K-Drama fans are all about Gong Yoo when they watch this. For me, it's how Yoon Eun Hye immersed herself in her role that gave this drama life. Although Gong Yoo played Han Gyul perfectly, he never had the same chemistry with anyone else after YEH. Dramaland, please get over yourself and give YEH a great project. She deserves it. And God knows fans like me have been patiently waiting!

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i had a hard time believing that this woman can actually look "typical" pretty.. because well what i saw was just so boyish.. cute definitely but not feminine pretty..

And then i saw "her" pics.. she is so beautiful. cute b'ful but totally b'ful..

So, yes agree with you... haven't really liked her in other stuff.. but this one.. she makes the drama.. it was the pivotal role

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I agree that Gong Yoo's best partner is still Yoon Eunhye. Such effortless chemistry.

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I put off watching Coffee Prince for a long time, probably because it was so iconic. When I did watch it, a couple of years ago, I was amazed at what felt like the realism of the drama. It wasn't as over the top as many of the Korean rom-coms I had watched to that point (okay, comparing it to "You're Beautiful", "Playful Kiss" and "My Girlfriend is a Guhimo" maybe skewing the perspective a bit), but it felt more lifelike than the other dramas I had seen. The music, the angst, THAT KISS (oh heck, EVERY KISS) - it all enthralled me. Then I found the English translation of the novel online and fell in love all over again. I read it once a year, and watch CP clips every now and again.

The *one* irritation is how the second leads wind up in the drama, the book's wrap up for their plotline I found more satisfying.

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What??? There's novel version of Coffee Prince? Where can I get it?

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There was a translated text version going around the net a few years ago, I struggled to find all the bits of it. I don't think it's available in English as an actual book. A google search for the novel in english will help more than I am allowed to do.

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javabeans did a chapter by chapter summary/comments on the novel :)

http://www.dramabeans.com/tag/coffee-prince-the-novel/

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Thanks for your pointer, mary! I just read the whole shebang, and it conjured up images from the drama. It was also a blast to see how the original story differed significantly from the the TV show. ;-)

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I agree about the lifelike/real feel. It's like I am watching real people go through life and relationships. I cannot explain properly but there. Haha!

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Coffee Prince was one of my first dramas and it's still one of my favorites. It definitely withstands the test of time. I especially (like a few others have said) enjoyed the sensitivity in which the show treats Han Gyul's feelings of falling in love with a man. It was never a joke and it was interesting to watch his struggle. (Fingers crossed we'll see an actual gay/lesbian drama like this from Korea one day).

My only problem with the drama is the back and forth of Mr. A and Ms. B gets a little annoying, but even then, it's kind of real. I feel like even a lot of dramas today can't even compete with some of the depth this drama went for.

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This is so true !!

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This was my first modern-era K-Drama. I am nervous to rewatch it since I loved it so much! Lee Sun-Kyun is so lovable in this drama. This is when symptoms for my my first case of K-Drama Second Lead Syndrome broke out!

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I saw CP very early in my drama watching. Having just watched Pasta and gotten completely smitten Lee Sun Kyun, I decided to watched this based on all the good reviews I read. I didn't know Gong Yoo, YEH, or anyone else, I watched for LSK. Honestly, I squirmed a whole lot and I know I am in the rare minority. I probably should do a re-watch as I am sure I'd appreciate it a lot more now, especially compared to so many dramas I have seen since. I did enjoy all of LSK's scenes. :-)

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Coffee Prince has long been my no. 1 favourite drama (recently Goblin has come in as an equal no. 1, but I swear it has nothing to do with Gong Yoo :P ). I have actually watched Coffee Prince at least 7 times now and was just thinking recently it was time to watch it again.
It was the 3rd or 4th kdrama I watched and I remember being shocked at how they dealt with the kissing scenes - in particular the scene where Han-sung and Yoo-joo reunite for the first time. The scene was passionate and there were real kisses, which was a bit of shock after the terrible kdrama kisses (we have all come to love and hate) in the other dramas I had watched.

There is just so much to love about Coffee Prince, such as the fact that it took a sympathetic and progressive stance on same sex relationships and that Eun-chan was not your typical helpless girlie lead, who gives up her career and dreams for the man she loved. I particularly love how the show dealt with the growing relationship between Eun-chan and Han-Gyul and that the same sex attraction was not played simply for laughs. Han-Gyul's growing attraction to Eun-chan, the discovery that she was a woman and the aftermath of this discover were all handled wonderfully.

For me, the beach scene where Eun-chan is asleep and Hang-Gyul lays next to her is possibly the most beautiful and moving love scene in any drama or movie I have watched (both Korean and non-Korean).

And finally, for my money, no other kdrama or other drama I have watched has had such a perfect OST/music score (Goblin recently came close). Not only were all the songs fantastically matched to the drama, they also played an important role in many cases in drawing out the emotion and storyline. For example, after Eun-chan and Han-Gyul fight but have still not admitted how they feel about each other, the song played as they drunkenly dance down the street is No Brain's You've Fallen For Me and the scene when the fight after the beach, Arco's Alien plays on the car radio. Both songs just extend the emotion and deepened storyline.

Even after all these years, I am still in love with Coffee Prince and despite it now being 10 years old, it is still definitely one of the best kdramas out there.

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Thanks, TeriYaki, for a dandy stroll down memory lane with COFFEE PRINCE. You have reminded me that I'm overdue for another viewing of this touching tale. I vaguely recall stumbling across Kdramas for the first time on Hulu in July 2012, and initially only watched various flavors of sageuks, starting with DR. JIN. I used to see COFFEE PRINCE in the listings, and got intrigued. I think it was the first contemporary Kdrama I watched, and I loved it to bits. The OST and background music beautifully underscored the action, and were a feast for the ears.

The cast is wonderful, with many fine veteran actors supporting the handsome slingers of consciousness in a cup. Yoon Eun-hye's total immersion in the character Go Eun-chan is nothing short of marvelous. She is convincing as a tomboy, but it is her earnestness and desperation as the young head of household saddled with her feckless mother's debts that really gets to me. Choi Han-gyul is one of my all-time favorite lovable scamps, especially in relation to his formidable grandma. The way he spars and flirts with her is hilarious, but also touching. The deftness of the range and nuance of Gong Yoo's performance blew my doors off, particularly as his inner turmoil builds up to his “I don't care if you're a man or an alien” monologue. I'm tearing up just recalling the emotions it induced in me as I watched.

COFFEE PRINCE has become one of my prime touchstones for judging the emotional impact of Kdramas -- and a big factor in my ditching American TV. The show has oodles of heart, and hits me where I live, in a good way. It is so much more than just a rom-com with cross-dressing.

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Coffee Prince was the definitive drama that made me into a k-drama fan and it still remains, to this day, as my all time number 1 favorite romance drama. It had a love story for the ages and my hopeless romantic self was shook to the core.

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This drama is probably the mother of all contemporary gender bender roles. Before Goblin, Gong Yoo was already a fashion icon with his European dandy boy style from Coffee Prince. He was so beautiful as Choi Han Gyul. The story was touching the first half of the series especially when Han Gyul was trying to deal with a possible homosexual relationship with Eun Chan. Gong Yoo delivered the character with such tenderness and vulnerability that it made me cry but at the same time cheered when he finally had the courage to reveal his true feelings.

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Top favourite and on the top of my annual re-watch list! Yeah I always rewatch Coffee Prince once a year during summer.

I also rewatch some episodes everytime I get bored by running dramas or if I need to recover after watching bad dramas LOL

My fave is Episode 6 which represents the whole spectrum of Coffee Prince. Hilarious and emotional at the same time, plus worries and hopes too.

For me no other dramas has topped CP until now especially in terms of versatility and relevance to current issues.

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OH this drama. My first drama ever and I loved every second of it. It was also something that brought my grandmother and I closer. It was shown in the Spanish Channel Pasiones and she couldn't get enough of it.
I honestly feel that this show is the gateway to k-drama addiction cause now if they ever show any type of drama in that channel my grandmother is asking me if I've seen it or if I know what its about. Such awesome memories with this one.

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love love love

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