Rhapsodizing Coffee Prince & An Ode To Gong Yoo


Okay, I’m going to divulge one thing before rhapsodizing a Korean drama that made me such an infatuated teenager lately: I am a fan of Gong Yoo.

If saying I’m a newbie die-hard fan is too much, I am unperturbed.

~

((clearingthroats))

This post might be a bit “too-long” but this is written with so much feeling deep of admiration. To Gong Yoo, and to one drama I had a crush with. Should I open a bottle of red wine for us, too, before we start?

((droppingthemic))


I crossed my legs on the floor when I was about to end my day by sleeping early. It was after 9 PM, my MacBook was still on, I was in front of a free-streaming website trying to remember one particular movie I never watched. I had watched Love, Simon the day before on the same website so I typed Parasite. The two were not on Netflix here, so I said woah! when I found them. Unfortunately, there was no English subtitle for Parasite. Postponed, later ~ it was just I became lackadaisical finding English subtitle and adding it in the web. I was about to lay on the bed but my mind was holding on one particular title: Train To Busan.

I knew I was waaay behind since the movie itself was booming in 2016 when people online talked how epic the movie was. I am not worried if you say I am dated by divulging “Hey, I just watched Train To Busan in 2020”. I was under the blanket back then until I later understood why the score is 94% in Rotten Tomatoes. If Lucy was the first movie ever (I mean it, ever) that made me awoke in the over-chilled cinema for the whole ninety minutes (as I could easily fall to sleep in the cinema, most of the times), Train To Busan was the one that made my heart jumped and my eyes roused. It is such a movie I won’t mind watching it for the seventh time.

I wrote the sentence above with pride and also homework. I have to look more from Gong Yoo’s catalogues after A Man And A Woman, Silenced, Kim Ji-young: Born 1982, Goblin (I’m still on episode 2). I have no doubts praising his talent, so I would just take more of his movies for reference purpose. Yes, Train To Busan is an impressive movie, but the one that turned me as a fan of Gong Yoo, in particular, was his role in what I could call as my favourite Korean drama till my dying day: Coffee Prince.



Till my dying day sounds exaggerated, but again, let me be endlessly exaggerated if I talk about Coffee Prince. This sounds so miffed, no offence. Oh, I’m a Taurus. If Taurus loves something, he’ll show his love all out. Sometimes it’s too much, off one’s nut. For instance, the way I printed some favourite scenes of Coffee Prince and pasted on my wall ~ oh why, why am I so obsessed, my world. Trust me, I was laughing inside when I was standing at the printing shop. By the time I saw Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye’s faces printed so many, I felt like I was 11 years old collecting his favourite celebrity posters, a euphoric happiness.



I was once on Netflix after watching Train To Busan and found some KDramas starring Gong Yoo after typing his name. I did try one titled “Big”. I cursed. How cheesy, nope, skipped, never. Hush, it perhaps was an untimely judgement when I just watched Gong Yoo’s acting as a doctor in flash and suddenly gave a solid conclusion that the first fifteen minutes of episode 1 was so cheesy. Not him, the whole impression of the drama was not just for me, so “I would give a try for Coffee Prince, let see how this drama goes.”.

Since I came back to be a little more active on Instagram, IG Stories to be exact, there was one time I shared some thoughts on the day I started Coffee Prince. One of my good friends, Dwi Putri, replied that Coffee Prince is such a legendary Korean drama. Hold on, how could she think that way? Not ruining my expectation as I had none, also she was kind enough by not telling what the drama was all about but to left me enjoying the ride instead. She holds a Master Degree in Contemporary Korean Literature and Drama from Seoul National University*, trusting Putri as she said Coffee Prince is one of monumental Korean dramas is a hundred percent yes.

I started the premiere episode with nothing but a guess where the storyline would lead to. I did wonder why I felt like watching an old series as I laid eyes on the angles, cinematography, lighting, costumes and settings and felt like oldies. Little did I know Coffee Prince was released in 2007. Well I see. I was mesmerized on Chocolate‘s cinematography, my first Korean drama I have ever watched. Comparing the two isn’t Apple to Apple so I left my thought behind and enjoyed the whole first episode. I stayed for sixty-two minutes with joy in the air, “This is sweet. Hold on, she is Eun-chan, Go Eun-chan and his name? Oh okay, Han-kyul, Choi Han-kyul.”

The two names marked in my brain from day one.


“Rhapsodizing Coffee Prince for me comes from three things: one, the love story. Two, Gong Yoo. Three, the overload winsomeness of Han-kyul and Eun-chan.“

Number three is the one I love the most. I mean, the idea of their love story? I might want to give a warm tight hug to the writers to congratulate how clever the love story was written.

Gong Yoo in 2007? kein Zweifel, natürlich. If in his portfolio mentioning his role in Coffee Prince as the breakthrough to stardom, that is not because he is an incredible actor, it is just because he is Gong Ji-Cheol. A charismatic and indeed one of the best Korean actors of all time but Han-kyul is what we have to agree as one of his unforgettable roles, fo e fah. What I mean as “we”, is all of you even though you never watch, or about to, or have watched Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince. Just agree with me and we could become friends. A cheesy exertion but trust me, you would love him both as Han-kyul and Gong Yoo himself.

I once threw a joke to one of my friends who also loves watching Korean Dramas, why when we find Korean drama that matches with our particular interests, related to the story, from the charming actors until how sweet the story is, we could be stuck from episode one till the end. When people I followed on Twitter were talking about Itaewon Class or It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, I used to think why they were crazy about Korean drama? Like, what made them following the series which mostly takes an hour for one episode, isn’t that quite inane? If I am not mistaken, the two dramas were updated weekly. Then I remembered, I shouldn’t have thought that shallow because my heart jumped when there was a notification on my iPhone every time the new episode of Sex Education was available. I went crazy whilst I kept wondering what would the next story be?

When people went nuts for Korean drama on Twitter I stayed away until I later sank.

I wondered, perhaps, Coffee Prince was a curse for me. It must be, a sweet curse.

“I made a promise to myself that the last two episodes had to be celebrated in a proper way possible.“

I ended Chocolate on Sunday morning, with two forms of chocolate, coffee, popcorn, potato chips, plus candle after a “seven-days” gap. But Coffee Prince took longer for my heart to be actually ready witnessing the end of the story. From the day I started episode one and dived so swiftly until I reached episode fifteen, I gave myself fourteen days to be ready for the last two episodes. Was it enough? of course not. Too much? see, I do not care what people would think how this drama had turned me upside down, I mean it. I sometimes felt I was not OK diving into Coffee Prince deep and deeper from one episode to another. During two weeks time I fled from Coffee Prince by watching another Korean drama titled Fight For My Way and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? whilst I did guess every single day on how Eun-chan and Han-kyul’s love story leading to. Also, what were surprises I would find at the end.

“Should I, tonight?.”, opened Netflix, the closed. Another day, “Tonight? No, I am not in such a scurry.”, nope.

Another day, “I have to celebrate more than what I did for Chocolate, so let me think what to do.”, another day, until twenty four days passed. It’s crazy, isn’t it? My only justification was: “I am not ready to end Han-kyul and Eun-chan’s cuteness. I just definitely can’t.”.

A day before August 9th I had prepared few things for the finale as I imagined: red wine, cherries, chicken barbeque, salty biscuits and blackberries. Just in case on Sunday I woke up with an ardent heart to end it. I thought two hours before the sunset was the perfect time to experiencing the end of Coffee Prince. Everything was set. I took some photographs before I opened my MacBook and went straight to click episode sixteen. Then I stopped, ‘”No, not today. My heart’s frail”.

I drank the red wine while I enjoyed the sunset from my window.



August 16 // 8:55 AM // Episode 16. The last episode before the finale.

A week after what I then called a rehearsal, I finally saw the light. When I thought two last episodes could be celebrated with one proper celebration, I did tweak the idea and broke it into two.

“Why don’t you welcome episode sixteen in the perfect morning, have a proper breakfast, brew delicious coffee with Moka pot, biscuits, also some cupcakes.”

Eun-chan’s depiction as a hardworking lady whose work spirit is genuine and diligently sacrificing for the sake of her family stole my heart from the very beginning. And I know myself so well, any story of “dream & determination” or “reach-your-dream” per se, I’ll buy it. There is a particular scene in episode 5 when the coffee shop just operated and they take a trip to the countryside. Han-kyul casually asks what is Eun-chan’s dream and she replies to live happily with her mom and sister, that is so simple yet meaningful. Later in episode 15, she opens to Han-kyul that her dream is to become a world-class barista. That teaches me that everyone deserves to dream big and has to fight for it no matter what.

Although generally, her life story has a bit “Cinderella-ish” spice, the way I love it is the fact that there is no such a shortcut for her which makes the whole story seems so real. I do love that she stands on her feet and using all support systems around her cleverly. And Han-kyul on this part? He has so many perfect boyfriend materials indeed. I love the way he supports her dream to study to Milan and leaves his ego of marriage aside, that shows he grows as a matured man. Oh shit I think there is no need to express how adorable their steamy kiss in Eun-chan’s room leads to cranky-too-cute Han-kyul in writing, and ew also the last scene in episode 16 :).


 


August 16th // 16:37 PM // The Finale

My heart was a bit fickle as if I was in between of excitement and desolation leading to the finale.

It was a perfect afternoon with rosé, spicy pizza, rosemary potato chips, grapes, and natural light. I guess that day the universe supported my imagination on how to honour the end of Coffee Prince. Everything went smoothly although my heart was jumping like “Woah, this is it! Would I love or hate the ending woah, it’s here!”. When the opening of episode 17 started, I was trying not to let my what-ifs sank. I knew I wasn’t just being an infatuated kid for Coffee Prince.


 


 

Frankly speaking, the only expectation I had for Coffee Prince was the finale. I won’t say I was disappointed that much witnessing their love story came to end but there was something that didn’t hit the “it-should-be-more-memorable” ending imho. Covering stories of each character in one episode seems baggy although it doesn’t do justice as the core of the whole story that matters. I won’t chide more but sharing my favourite scenes from the finale; the rooftop scene at the beginning is cute, super cute. When Eun-chan falls asleep while she is still on call with Han-kyul is adorable.

I love the scene when Han-kyul guides Eun-chan on the phone when she is packing all her needs in a suitcase, also to mention that the emotion of her mom and her little sister is subtle but feels so real. “WHY HAN-KYUL does not want to accompany Eun-chan before she departs to Italy, why??…” but Gong Yoo’s acting in his car crying after Eun-chan said saranghae is a BIG YES. I love the way their long-distance relationship is being framed with Eun-chan’s polaroids, I also love the scene showing that the friendship among Min-yeop, Ha-rim, Sun-ki along with Gae-shik has grown in the Coffee Prince shop. The way Eun-chan casually comes to surprise Han-kyul and he doesn’t seem “so-surprised” is a bit disappointing for me although I know the devil is in the detail. But their dialogue saves that (remembering the way he asked Eun-chan’s ID in the early episode), also thanks to Gong Yoo’s flawless acting skill.


 


 

Summing up, the finale still evokes the same emotion as there are many simply amusing scenes in which I have to agree with my friend, Putri, Coffee Prince is still one of the memorable legendary Korean Dramas till date.


“Natural, remarkable and whimsically adorable, are three words I’ll use to picture Eun-chan and Han-kyul’s love story.”

In my humble opinion, the round applause for Coffee Prince goes to the fact that Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye’s role as a couple was unfeigned in a real life. It was a bit hard to believe all those fights and tears were not real, all those cute moments were not scripted, literally everything.

It is implausible not to mention which and which scenes of Coffee Prince are “worth-to-be-watched” for hundred times. I may lost count but I do have some remarkable ones in heart and mind. When Eun-chan hilariously meets shirtless Han-kyul for the first time. The iconic beach scene when Han-kyul is hardly holding his feeling. All those fights happen at the back of the refurbished coffee shop. That midnight scene when he drives back to Coffee Prince to admit his feeling to her (in which he still believes Eun-chan was a guy) and lands passionate kiss to her, Meine Güte, his words after that kiss are so powerful. When Eun-chan cries her eyes out in front of Han-sung telling how much she loves Han-kyul, omo. All those ‘super-duper-cute’ scenes when he shows his signs of love to her, his smiles, her clumsy ‘omg-he-loves-me’ acts, so many, so many without one single trite scene.


 


 

For me personally, the core of Coffee Prince exists in episode 12. The opening scene is unforgettable, the way Han-kyul gives Eun-chan only three minutes to clarify whatsoever she wants to say while she keeps sobbing for forgiveness on the second floor is something else (IT IS SOMETHING ELSEin capital and bold, bitte). Han-kyul’s cry when he expects her as someone who’ll trust even the whole world goes against him is heartbreaking, it almost SWOONED me. His emotion is so damn raw, oh Gong Yoo. Excuse me, who had an idea of the chestnut scene? A scene when Eun-chan goes to his apartment while Han-kyul himself is staring at Eun-chan’s bedroom from his mini-cooper, holy moly, and the smile of Han-kyul after making up to Eun-chan? I died, yikes. The day after the chestnut scene, when he arrives at the coffee shop and smiles at Eun-chan’s scooter, the way Eun-chan blushing when she gives her cellphone to send a heart emoji to Han-kyul, and he smiles ear to ear when he receives it. It is definitely one of my favourite scenes ever (EVER and EVER in the history of Korean Drama, bold in capitals please).


My Dear Youth.


 

I may say one of the felicities during the cruellest summer in this unbelievably year along with folklore is the fact that the cast reunion of Coffee Prince exists in 2020. I could imagine how much the euphoria bursts from Coffee Prince fans around the globe witnessing Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye sit together at the same memorable place where all those wholesomeness happened thirteen years ago. Thirteen? omo. I became a fan ~ “die-hard” fan as I claimed from the very beginning of this post ~ right after I watched the drama early this year and the excitement I felt in my heart when I first watched Gong Yoo in coffee brown shirt (how clever his stylists picked close to “coffee” theme, I guessed) entering the Coffee Prince shop and touching Eun-chan’s life-size photograph (and says “Eun-chan”) by the entrance paralyzed me; it is so warm and CHARMING I kennot.


 


 

I can’t tell how much My Dear Youth completed the whole experience of mine among Gong Yoo in black shirt himself, episode twelve, the beach and the chestnut scenes, but waking up from a dream that Mas Gong Yoo reunited with Mbak Yoon reminiscing Coffee Prince made me fly peacefully and stayed on cloud nine.


And my last sentence to end this post would sound a little gauche, but I had warned you from the beginning that being exaggerated for Coffee Prince is always allowed:

My unconditional love for Han-kyul and Eun-chan stays to the moon, and the Saturn.

***

side note

Oh, if I am still being crazy for Coffee Prince sometimes in the future, and rewatching it over and over again on Netflix, and I will pretend I miss Han-kyul and Eun-chan’s smiles, then staying late for My Dear Youth for hundred times, look for Dwi Putri (look what you made me do, Put), she is involved for my craziness :).


P.S. All photographs of Coffee Prince’s scenes were taken by screen-shooting from Netflix, My Dear Youth taken from MBCLife official page on YouTube, edited and arranged by me. (*) it is just a joke, anyway :).

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