Coffee Prince (2007) Korean Drama Review ~Revisiting the classics (Part 1)

Coffee Prince (2007) Korean Drama Review

Gender Bending, Twelfth Night, and Ambitions.

#GongYoo #YoonEunHye #LeeSunKyun #ChaeJungAn #KimChangWan #KimDongWook #KimJaeWook #LeeEon #CoffeePrince #Kdrama

Hello. This is a Korean in America. Today, I will be talking about the first real gender bender Korean drama classic, “Coffee Prince”, from 2007.

It is a common experience with Korean drama viewing to be disappointed with the last few episodes of a Korean drama. They tend to either run out of story several episodes before the end of the show or forcefully end the show in an un-organic manner. What is rare with even a Korean drama is to have the weak last few episodes make you discover that the earlier episodes were not as good as you initially thought they were.

Because of the lack of anything interesting happen during the last few episodes, you end up comparing the so called “good” episodes with the “bad” episodes. This mental process makes you think beyond the veil created by hype and the “mirrors and smoke” generated by the makers of the show. What you discover is that the “good” episodes were not that good in retrospect. This is because, while you’re watching them, “good” usually means ambitious in concept with lots of promise without screwing up the execution. However, ambitious is a double edged sword. You have to really nail the landing compared to the rather mundane concepts. If you do not, you are left with empty promises that cannot do not meet the expectations of the viewers. The Korean drama, “Coffee Prince” (2007), is one of those rare cases.

The Plot
Coffee Prince” (2007) is essentially a slice of life show contained within a 3 month period and encompassing a few character relationships. While there is somewhat of the ticking clock built into the show, the show even forgets about it from time to time. This is because there is nothing really significant at stake in the show. It is just about people living their lives, working together, and dealing with their own crap or issues.  As a result, there is no real central plot driving the show…

Well in theory. I’ll talk about this in detail later.

Rather, the show spends its time leisurely following several plots of different sizes. 

There is a core plot, a peripheral core plot, an several minor plots tied together very loosely around a coffee shop called “Coffee Prince” which was formally known as “커피 왕자.

It’s basically the same meaning but saying it in English is always more fancy in Korea.

The coffee shop “커피 왕자was a dilapidated hole which was run into the ground on which it stood by a skillful old Batista who basically stopped caring about anything a long time ago. Let’s call him the “Old man”.

However, the show is not about him. His story barely constitutes a minor plot.

This is where the “Prince” comes into the story. The “prince” is the grandson of a successful food distribution company who has been wondering around oversees trying to avoid what is waiting at home for him. Through various circumstances, the “prince” is challenged to triple the profits from the coffee shop “커피 왕자” by his grandmother. The show basically starts and ends with this challenge. However, this challenge is not the exactly the plot of the show. It is not even a minor one. Rather, it is merely background setting since the “prince” is just doing it to placate his grandmother.

So, what is the plot?

In order the meet this challenge, the “prince” gathers a ragtag crew consisting of the “tomboy”, the “waffle”, the “know it all”, and the “idiot”. The core plot of the show is the complicated relationship between the “prince” and the “tomboy” who the “prince” thinks is a boy for some contrived reasons.

If you haven’t noticed from the casting and the posters, the “tomboy” is a girl.

The others in the crew have their own minor plots independent from the core plot. The “waffle” is in love with a woman that keeps running away from him. The “idiot” is chasing after the “tomboy’s” sister who no one would mistake as a boy. And the “know it all”…not sure what his minor plot is although he definitely has something… I think. These minor plots are only really connected with the core plot by the fact that everyone works together.

I also said, previously, that there was a peripheral plot in “Coffee Prince” (2007). The “prince” has a male cousin, the “composer”. He has an ex-girlfriend, the “ex”, that he loved very much but had left him before the show starts and who came back into his life at the beginning of the show. The show’s peripheral plot is about their subtle but complicated relationship of trying to get back together. This peripheral plot is displayed almost totally independent from the major plot. It is even more so than the minor plots. It is only really tied to the core plot by the fact that basically the “prince” and the “tomboy” essentially guest star in the peripheral plot. Not only are the “prince” and the “composer” cousins but the “prince” has had a crush on the “ex” for years. Another connection is that the “tomboy” has been delivering milk to the “composer’s” house for months and has a slight crush on him.

A lot of stuff is being juggled up in the air!!!

You think that is a lot? There is another minor plot about the “tomboy’s” mother and her love triangle with the “old man” and the “butcher”. I mean literally the “butcher” as the guy’s profession is a butcher. “Coffee Prince” (2007) tries and succeeds somewhat in letting these plots play out with very little inter-connectivity between each other but, at the same time, feel organically tied together.

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