A tomboy is mistaken for a young man, but maintains the deception for the sake of employment. The situation is complicated when her male boss begins to develop feelings for this “boy”.
Native title: 커피프린스 1호점
Country: South Korea
Aired: Jul 2, 2007 to Aug 28, 2007
Aired On: Monday, Tuesday
Duration: 1 hr. 5 min.
There are many dramas that love to toy with gender-bending, as it enables people to fall in love without realizing it and the conflicts tend to be comical. There is freedom to how much drama that can be unraveled that “normal” relationships don’t have to experience (in k-drama worlds which tend to be majority heterosexual relationships). Such as a male coming to terms that he is undoubtedly in love with a person he believes to be a boy but is in fact a girl. It also gives light to how gender roles are portrayed in the culture and how love isn’t something as clear cut as it’s shown in popular media. There are factors that make falling in love difficult with each person, especially if they think their family won’t approve of their relationship. For a very family oriented culture, having their love interest approved is a huge deal.
What I loved about Coffee Prince was how plausible the difficulties the male protagonist was experiencing throughout the drama. He was my favorite character in the whole show due to the choices he had to make and his decision to forget it all and fall in love. I thought he was incredibly lovable and charming (and hot), and presented us with a lot of depth. Another character I loved was our female protagonist. She was headstrong and had her own will, but although she had a tom boyish demeanor, she was feminine at her core. She falls in love, wants to be romanced, to kiss her lover like any other normal girl. Despite her tough exterior, she is afraid of taking a step forward and admitting her guilt of lying about her gender (her reasons are explored). This back and forth scenario with the two fighting their feelings but falling in love was the charm of the show. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes between those two.
Now on to what I didn’t like, which was a lot. I struggled watching this show because of the excessive amounts of side characters that are not likeable and I don’t really care for. There is a “complimentary” couple presented side by side with the main characters which are completely irrelevant, in my opinion, to the entire story. I don’t even understand why they exist. Every time they come on the screen, I’m exasperated. Their story is that one of them cheated and came back and they’re trying to have the relationship they had before their separation, but there’s trust issues that they have to work out. Their story seems very interesting on paper but in action, it’s the most boring interactions ever. Even while watching the show with comments on, everybody complained that “oh, here is the boring couple” which made me crack up every time. Their romance wasn’t appealing and they weren’t even appealing on their own.
Other side characters include the protagonist’s sister and her abusive behavior to a guy who’s head over heels in love with her. It was gross to watch, and in the end their conclusion was completely irrational. But hey, c’est la vie! Then the story is further diluted with an even bigger parade of side characters who show up randomly and who I really don’t care about. The only extra character that I felt some immediate sympathy with was the hot Japanese dude who was in love with this lady and followed her into Korea after she escaped her abusive husband. In order to protect her, he confronted her abusive husband and the dedication he has is very heart warming. Of course, this concluded in a half ass fashion, like the rest of the side stories, but it was at least nicer to watch than the plethora of useless characters. Why introduce side characters if you won’t properly develop them?
Perhaps it was the fact that the main story was so diluted with these other side stories that my enjoyment of this show suffered. I strongly wish they had cut all that stuff out and focused on the main couple, because I loved the lead characters so much. Of course, this is the case with 15-17 episodes K-drama that are too stretched out for their own good. I was so annoyed by this drama that I ended up taking the most time ever finishing it. I usually finish these in one or two days. Three days if I’m busy, but this drama took me around three weeks, maybe? I do recommend it if you’re a beginner but definitely not if you’re a veteran drama watcher. The development is slow, the coffee shop elements aren’t even introduced until episode 3 or 4, and the show is riddled with a ridiculous amount of dramas. If you have patience and can hold out because of bishies, then this might be for you. Especially if you like gender benders. The more adorable parts are the falling in love moments and the male lead trying to fight his feelings, the stolen glances and yearnings– so if you love that aspect in romance department, you will definitely love this. The male lead played one of the most adorable characters I’ve ever seen in drama. And the female lead is an excellent actress. She was amazing playing a tom boy and she was breathtaking when she had to be a female again. If I’m walking away with anything it’s having witnessed the chemistry between those two fantastic actors.
Avelys Rating: 3/5
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