Gender swapping K-drama, Coffee Prince is the cutest show I have seen in a long time. The story of a girl masquerading as a boy and working with other men is not a new concept but the way Coffee Prince makers have treated the idea is fresh and entertaining. The scriptwriters of the show have woven the story so beautifully that you will overlook the obvious little loopholes and will love the series. Well-defined characters and amazing chemistry shared between the protagonists is what works for the show.
Coffee Prince (2007)
Coffee Prince, a 17 episode long television series (each episode about an hour long), is about a tomboy Go Eun Chan who is often mistaken for a boy because of her boyish appearance. Being the sole breadwinner of her family, comprising of a mother and a younger sister, she takes up multiple jobs to help them live a comfortable life. One day, she happens to meet a rich playboy Choi Han Kyul, who takes her to be a boy and hires her to be his temporary boyfriend to help him ward off girls that his grandmother has been forcing to meet to get married. After successfully scaring off a few girls, Eun Chan and Han Kyul become friends. Miffed with his reluctance to marry, Han Kyul’s grandmother challenges him to revive a dying coffee shop by working with the current manager and increasing the shop profit by three-fold after which he can return to the US and take up any job of his choice. Han Kyul accepts the challenge and hires Eun Chan as one of his first employees. Eun Chan boosts Han Kyul’s confidence by assuring him that the venture has the potential to be successful and that she will help him achieve his target. The coffee shop is then named Coffee Prince with only male members working for it. As Han Kyul and Eun Chan start working together, he grows fond her and eventually falls in love with her totally unaware of her true gender.
Let’s weigh Coffee Prince on the show beam balance and see if it is worth your time or no.
Good Performance: The female lead of the show Yoon Eun-Hye (Go Eun Chan) is simply amazing! Her body language as a boy is impeccable so much so that after a point you will start believing what the characters on the show believe, that she is a boy. Even when she is wearing a feminine dress she doesn’t ditch her boyish mannerism and looks so natural and real. Eun Chan is comfortable being the way she is and doesn’t transform into a beautiful swan overnight and this is exactly what is most realistic about the show.
Gong Yoo (Choi Han Kyul) plays the role of an arrogant, aimless rich brat to perfection. His character matures over episodes and he becomes more appealing by the end of the series. He performs comic and emotional scenes with equal ease and looks very natural.
Strong Screenplay: The story may not be very realistic for Indian audiences but it is quite possible in Korea. In Korea, it is very common for a woman to pass off as a man because Korean men are as pretty as women. Men in Korea have feminine features and at times they can look very girlie. This is the reason why gender swapping dramas are so popular in Korea. The fact that Han Kyul confesses his love for Eun Chan thinking of him as a boy is something I really appreciated about this show. The scenes showing him struggling to keep away from Eun Chan are pitiful yet funny. You feel sorry for Han Kyul who is a known to be a Lothario feeling confused about his sexual orientation. He has a hard time coming to terms with his feelings for a boy (girl) but eventually acknowledges it and accepts Eun Chan with utmost sincerity. It just shows how true his feelings are and that he loves Eun Chan for the way he (she) is irrespective of his gender. Similarly, there are several such scenes that show his dilemma as well as his growing fondness for her in the most convincing manner.
Beautiful Chemistry: The lead pair appears so comfortable with each other that they actually look like buddies. The scenes where Han Kyul playfully headlocks and noogies Eun Chan like a boy are simply adorable. Even after Han Kyul accepts her as his girlfriend, she doesn’t change her dressing to look more feminine, and they still manage to look like a cute couple madly in love.
Boring sub-plots: The sub-plots were the only disappointing factor for me. Han Kyul’s cousin Choi Han-sung and Han Yoo-Joo’s confused relationship was slightly interesting but the rest of the subplots were just plain boring. Perhaps the main story was so good that the other parallel storylines dimmed before it.
With three good weights and just one bad weight the show clearly weighs heavier on the good side.
I give the show 4 out of 5 rating. If you have been looking for something funny and romantic then Coffee Prince is where your search ends as it is the perfect blend of romance and humour.