Review: Coffee Prince

After the craziness that was Gung, I took a very long break from Korean dramas. I’m sure that if I really checked them out, I’d add way too many things to my watch list, so I just ignored them until a friend really really strongly recommended Coffee Prince. It probably helped that we’d just been to Seoul then (though I must say – I didn’t go looking for the shop featured in the show).

Go Eun Chan’s life is not easy: as the main breadwinner in her family, she works at several different part time jobs, the demands of which have forced her to give up her dreams and even her femininity. She runs into Choi Han Gul who, mistaking her for a man, hires her to play his gay lover so that his grandmother would stop arranging dates for him. His grandmother has also put a decrepit coffee shop under his control in a last-ditch effort to make him grow up and take some responsibility. Shortly after, two of Eun Chan’s part-time jobs fall through, and she ends up begging to work in that coffee shop…around which they and several others start to weave a complicated web of feelings.

To me, the appeal of Coffee Prince lies in the relationships between its characters. At its core are four young people who learn how to deal with love in its various stages – the tentative and almost fickle starts, the lies and betrayals that might follow, the path to forgiveness and understanding, and the work that each one has to put in to make their relationships work. The exuberance of the newer couple in falling in love is contrasted with the familiarity that the older couple have, not only through the things they do and banter about together, but also in the arguments that they have and eventually overcome.

Coffee Prince is immensely popular at home in Korea, apparently, as a dating guide. Nevertheless, it may not appeal to everyone. One criticism I have heard is that it’s a bit unrealistic, and given how crazily the main couple behave at times, I can somewhat see where that comes from. However, not all relationships look alike, and indeed, other characters in the show offer brief glimpses at how the loves of different types of couples might start or pan out. Furthermore, a few other ideas are touched upon, such as the sacrifices that people, especially parents, make for their families and loved ones.

All in all, Coffee Prince was a fun seventeen plus hours. I actually wasted heaps of time skipping ahead because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened, especially since some of the story threads were spread over several episodes, as they would be in real life. My favourite guy was probably Han Sung, who was really like Santa…though I must admit that Gong Woo was really cute when he just fell over on the sofa, grinning stupidly at the end of episode 13 (IIRC…). I chatted with a Korean girl about it when I was at a translation course seminar – apparently, part of Han Gul’s appeal is that his words are really rough, but they’re just hiding a really caring and soft interior…tsundere, anyone? Well, that’s something I’d have to learn Korean to find out more about… 8/10

RIP, Lee Eon.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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