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31 Dec 2007

my coffee prince

Fridae's coffee connoisseur, Alvin Tan, confesses to being addicted to top-rated Korean drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince which brings homosexuality into spotlight - briefly, before expectedly reverting to a conventional hetero coupling.

For the past few days, I have been looking like an escapee from the raccoon enclosure at the Night Safari - all because I was eye-cuffed to the TV in almost the same way raging nymphomaniac Christina Ricci was chained to a radiator in Black Snake Moan.

Han-gyeol (played by former video jockey Gong Yoo, top image, right) mistakes Eun-chan (Yoon Eun Hye) for a man and hires
Things got so bad that when my TLC deprived partner threatened to switch off the TV and throw away the DVD player to rehabilitate me and curb my addiction, I actually channelled Amy Winehouse and yelled: "No! No! No!"

The source of our domestic strife?

The Korean drama series The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince which had built a huge following in Korea thanks to its pair of telegenic stars and their oh-so-chaste "homosexual" relationship which plays to the gay man's fantasy of bending and bedding a delectable straight man.

The top-rated TV show stars my new Korean kraze, the 1.84 metres tall Gong Yoo, as Han-gyeol, a "rich, irresponsible and hot-tempered" chap who is simply not interested in running the family business and in my opinion, dresses far too well for a straight man (except for that one time when he donned a retina-searing orange shirt with ping-pong sized white polka-dots.)

Whenever the delicious Gong Yoo appears onscreen without his shirt, my eyes would stop blinking and I would be seized by the urge to lick my lips. That's why one of my favourite scenes was when he follows the example set by Ms "It's Britney Bitch!" Spears and goes without underwear while clad only in a towel.

Then again, my attraction to the character of Han-gyeol could be attributed to my sympathy for the handicapped and Han-gyeol is clearly severely myopic since there is just no other explanation as to how he could have mistaken Eun-chan for a boy but I digress.

Acting as Eun-chan is Yoon Eun Hye (from 2006's Goong or Princess Hours), an excellent shedder of copious tears who happens to be the most adorable tomboy I have ever laid my eyes upon and who will no doubt make many femmes (and maybe even some gay men) go weak in the knees.

According to news reports, Eun Hye hoped to achieve a breakthrough in her acting career with the role of Eun-chan and I guess that's why she has taken to the tried-and-tested path of emoting sans makeup and hair products - much like Halle Berry in Monster's Ball.

In a nutshell, the "hard-to-swallow" plot is as follows: Following a couple of chance meetings, Han-gyeol hires Eun-chan to be his "gay boyfriend" to throw off the old maids he has had to meet in a series of blind dates arranged by his doting but draconian grandmother.

Han-gyeol then hires Eun-chan as a waiter when he has to manage Coffee Prince whose recruitment policy appears to be lifted from Bangkok's go-go bars since all its male waiters (minus the hygiene-challenged barista) are good-looking young men clad in the tightest of uniforms.

In the course of working together, Han-gyeol and Eun-chan fall for each other and spark off a "gay" romance which leads to the former wrestling with his "sexuality" and the latter wrestling with her guilt over her deception while trying to cast off the albatross of virginity a la Molly Ringwald in those John Hughes movies in the 80s.

Since Han-gyeol and Eun-chan have only three months together before he returns to New York to pursue his career as a toy-designer, Eun-chan made it her mission to bed Han-gyeol through whatever means possible. Oh, all right. I confess - I made up the last bit because I'm the one who yearns to ravish Han-gyeol (be still my wanton heart!).

Personal fantasy notwithstanding, The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince makes for must-see TV because it is a romantic comedy of errors with many heart wrenching moments which reduced this writer to bouts of wailing not seen since Mariah and Whitney got together for "When You Believe."

There was the scene where Han-gyeol hugged Eun-chan in an attempt to sort out his feelings, the beach scene where Han-gyeol is torn between embracing a sleeping Eun-chan and his burgeoning "homosexuality," and the scene where the two agreed to be sworn brothers to "legitimatise" their growing feelings for each other.

My only grouse with The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince lies in the fact that although it deals with homosexual love, it does so with a safety valve. With the exception of Han-gyeol and some supporting characters, there was never any doubt that he's actually a she and that the predicament will resolve itself in an affirmation of heterosexual love.

Because of that, the Korean drama series fall short of similar works such as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night where the dramatic tension is heightened not just by a female protagonist who cross-dresses but also by the Renaissance theatre tradition of double-cross-dressing where male actors play female characters disguising themselves as males.

Having said that, it is still noteworthy that The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince openly deals with the topic of homosexual love (albeit through mistaken gender identity) which has long been considered a cultural taboo in Korea and reinforces the notion that true love transcends gender boundaries - at least in the mind of Han-gyeol.

And this is perhaps most evident in the reach-for-the-Kleenex moment when Han-gyeol finally comes to terms with his love for Eun-chan (whom he still thinks is a boy) and utters those unforgettable lines: "I'll say this just once so listen up. I like you, whether you're a man... or an alien. I just don't care anymore."

Editor's Note: First aired in South Korea in July this year, The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince will be telecast in Singapore on Dec 31, 2007 (Channel U), the Philippines on Jan 1, 2008 (Kapuso Channel) and Taiwan on Jan 3, 2008 (Video Land channel).

Korea (South)


1. 2007-12-31 14:50  
Gong-Yoo is the hottest Korean actor right now.

He may not be drop dead gorgeous but he grows on you as the series progress.

Wishing everyone at Fridae a Happy New Year!

3. 2007-12-31 16:21  
coffee prince is rubbish.

gorgeous straight men will not fall for butches.

femmes, yes. butches, NO.
4. 2007-12-31 16:33  
asexstories said:
coffee prince is rubbish.
gorgeous straight men will not fall for butches.
femmes, yes. butches, NO.

Oh really? What about ugly straight men? Or gorgeous gay men? Or ugly gay men? Who will they fall for?
5. 2007-12-31 16:39  
The show hinges on the presumption that homosexuality is a socialized anomaly. Taken too seriously, it may confuse viewers to think that homosexuals can choose their own sexuality. For that, I will boycott the show.
6. 2007-12-31 17:03  

High-five to you!!!!

And asexstories,
Eun-chan role from coffee prince is NOT a butch....

9. 2007-12-31 17:12  
Those who are not in singapore and who's interested in this coffee prince TV drama...


Watch it while it's still available, lolz
10. 2007-12-31 17:56  
I was soooo fell in love with this drama i watched all the episodes i didn't find Gong Yoo hot
but there is one guy with beard call "Ian" who likes Eun-chan's sister he's damn hot looking with good body hehe
11. 2007-12-31 23:48  
WISH Fridae & ALL Words/Hubs ...

This Show., My Coffee Prince,
Show on S'pore TV drama, by U-Channel with 10pm Sharp fm Monday~Friday

( I guess not wrong drama serial start Now 31st btwn MON~FRI ) or ( pls check up fm newpaper on TV drama timeable ... )

If anyone miss fm U-channel fm S'pore But you till can go web URL ...


Pls take your time with enjoy drama show..

fm S'pore
My id all
( 1168 &/ s1168 &/ ian_sg &/ ian88 )

This all id same isses write & can only one support with same title writing?
( let Y show one only with support all id there.? )
12. 2008-01-01 08:14  
Gong Yoo in S Diary - shirtless and scratching crotch

13. 2008-01-01 08:15  
Gong Yoo kissing old woman

16. 2008-01-01 14:07  
definitely a show for gays and lesbians. I am so gg to lay my paws... i mean hands on cute, bishie Yoon Eun Hye who has turned many of the straight girls I know, lesbian, while watching this show.
17. 2008-01-01 22:32  
I oso like this drama,already bought vcd for it as I cant wait for the every episode to be shown,lol:)
This movie is fill with laughters,emotions,sadness and understanding.No matter same sex or not,the most impt thing is both parties like each others.

18. 2008-01-03 02:39  
Personally I would not support this drama (though not boycott) in the view that it may encourage the right winged groups to say that one can change the sexual orientation, and this applies to all LGBTQ. This may give a wrong impression of sexuality to the general public.

As usual, this movie passed the island's censorship, as expected.

19. 2008-01-03 04:41  
Kudos to the producers of the show for trying to drum up support for the notion that gender does not matter when it comes to the people you are attracted to, especially in a conservative society like Korea. Too bad the story they chose to convey that message was so contrived and unbelievable and ridiculous. It was, in fact, recycled from an older Korean movie where a woman dressed up as a man to make it in the corporate world and the office hottie fell in love with him/her but all was well at the end of the day when "he" was found out to be "she." This show takes the concept a few baby steps further. Ah, you just gotta love the glacial pace of social change in our favorite Confucian nation.
20. 2008-01-03 10:22  
Crazy4Manz said: Personally I would not support this drama (though not boycott) in the view that it may encourage the right winged groups to say that one can change the sexual orientation, and this applies to all LGBTQ. This may give a wrong impression of sexuality to the general public.

The way I see it, Han was ready or willing to come to terms with being "gay" to be with Eun-chan - if that is what it took. What if she was really a "he?" But I guess such a TV series won't fly - for now.

Anyway, if he was really "gay," I imagine he would be quite disappointed that "he" turned out to be a she. Kinda anti-climatic after all the build up, don't you think?

21. 2008-01-03 18:31  
Kellen - you are the voice of reason in this thread.

Crazy4Manz - it's only a drama series? And as Kellen and seoulseeker said - it's about a man accepting that he could be gay.
23. 2008-01-03 18:49  
very depressed after reading New Paper says Gong Yoo is going to do NS

24. 2008-01-05 06:22  
the show would be more enjoyable if the female lead stop crying and behave like a tomboy, rather than a girl in boy's clothes!
25. 2008-01-05 06:33  
i guess i'm attracted to Han-geol mainly because of his cool aloofness, more attractive if he was the cool suave gay guy. cute guys like him should smile less often, so each smile is priceless!
26. 2008-01-07 19:23  

Totally understand ( & sympathize with) yr position; in fact my viewpoint's very similar.
On the other hand i see no harm in watching- even enjoying such shows as it's meant to be seen as it is- another fluffy Korean drama, albeit one with a twist. So- after a hard days' work, just relax, leave yr brains at the door, & entertain yourself with this show's ludricious storyline + their characters' silly antics. I've just watched an episode last wk & quite frankly it's really funny ha ha!!

31. 2008-01-17 01:44  
To kellen (post #15),

You have a point. It is just a drama, so let's not be too religious about that. But I realized that non PLUs making PLU films many times do not give a right message to those who are watching, and may just satisfy the evil idea of the right wingers towards PLUs.

Anyway Korean dramas are not my taste (sorry Koreans) since I found that many dramas just talked about love-hate & love hate, how one crazy (DIN GAI LA) girl and one "decent"-looking guy in suit and tie began to hate each other in the beginning, and then at the end became lovers; or 2 couples dated for a long time and get engaged, and they dragged and postponed their marriage for a long time until they found another true love, it is very embarrassing to break the engagement subjecting to parental pressure. It gives me an impression that the Korean society is just like that.

Is it true that Koreans like to get engaged before marriage?





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