Growing up with Coffee (Prince)

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Initially, I wanted to write a post dedicating to Growing up old with Korean (Taiwanese/Chinese/.. and the list goes on) Dramas in general but as I typed and typed, I realise that this post had to be solely dedicated to this one single drama.

The writing of this post had been inspired by the ‘Coffee Prince’ reunion (Episode 1) that I just watched an hour ago (while drinking Grape Makeoli) and while taking a shower just now, I had the inkling to reflect upon how watching dramas had influenced me in my growing up (old) years.

Coffee Prince was a drama that was aired 13 years ago (though I can’t recall if I watched it in 2007 or a couple of years later) but all in all, I’ve watched the drama AT LEAST 3 times, with the latest time being a few months ago, during the ‘lockdown’ period at home. This is the only K-drama that I’ve re-watched purposely (I wouldn’t consider count those random re-runs on TV) many times through the years. It is a drama I constantly think of when it comes to superb acting, something which makes me emotional (at the same few scenes even though I know how the story is gonna end) and something that will lighten up my mood at the end.

I spent a long time thinking about why I was (and am still) attracted to this drama, over the span of 13 years.

One of the (somewhat) hidden theme of the show was the concept of love is love. 13 years ago, I’m pretty sure society wasn’t that open and acceptable with the LGBTQ community, and back then (at my age), I wasn’t exposed to that theme often (social media was almost nonexistent) so it was definitely something I had been unfamiliar with but Gong Yoo’s acting kind of convinced me a little; the concept of love is love. He really portrayed the role so well by acting out the confusion, anxiety, anger, and how he finally gave in to his emotions. I can watch those scenes over and over again and it never fails to make me support his love.

Another emotion I had back in the days was the second lead syndrome where young me was attracted to the second lead. In all honesty, I can’t remember his real name (Lee Sun-Kyun) and I have not watched any of his dramas since Coffee Prince but.. he suddenly appeared in Parasite. While watching the movie, I had the he-looks-familiar-but-I-can’t-remember-where-I’ve-seen-this-face-before feeling and I had to google to find out. (Just so you know, I am very very very bad with recognizing faces. I think there’s an official medical condition for it but I’m probably not that serious) Anyway, apart from his spectacles, I enjoyed his deep voice A LOT. It would be really lovely if he was a singer as his voice is very unique. To be honest, I couldn’t really understand his love story (and complications) in the drama back in the days but as I grew older, I kind of understood the complication more, though not fully. As for the second female lead, I don’t understand anything about her character at all. Though, I got to be honest that I haven’t attempted/bothered to figure it out cause I can’t get her actions at all. If she exists in real life, she is one person that I won’t be friends with because it will take up too much energy and time for me to attempt to connect, and I won’t bother.

Another thing that I enjoyed and learn to enjoy even more is the coffee culture. My love for coffee has grown a lot since 2007 and I do enjoy cafe-hopping (I bet this concept didn’t exist 13 years ago) locally and also in the various countries I travel to. In New Zealand, my friend and I always laugh at how we don’t bat an eyelid when it comes to paying $4-6 for a cup of latte but we fuss about $0.50-$1 increase in the prices of our groceries. When I was in Taiwan, I spent $7-8 on a cup of siphon coffee in a fancy cafe which included an explanation by the barista on how to appreciate coffee. I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up buying coffee powder home. I can’t remember what year it was when I stopped drinking coffee with sugar. To better appreciate coffee, you really got to drink it without sugar. Also, I came to the realisation that Starbucks (frappe) is not real coffee but just a sweet treat. I was happy to fall in love with coffee over the years and I hope that I will have the health (there was a period of time where I had very bad gastritis and I had to stop coffee for a long while) to continue drinking coffee for a really long time. While I can’t totally associate my love for coffee to have anything to do with the Coffee Prince drama but I do believe that the drama had inspired a lot of Baristas and perhaps popularized the concept of cafes (with handsome Baristas).

While watching the snippets of the drama (from the reunion episode), there were many moments of nostalgia as well. One that struck a chord in me was the flip cellphones, waiting and anticipation of SMS plus conversing on the phone for a long time. These were memories of my past and I no longer use a flip phone, I no longer message my friend(s) with a limit of 160 characters (gosh, can you imagine that we used to think a lot before we type and send out the message? Now we just click enter and enter and just * if we made a typo. Back then it was a struggle 2 use shrtfm cuz u nid 2 reduce e # of chrct count & lmt 2 160; and there was no room for punctuation marks as well.). In the past, I used to converse on the phone ALOT with my friends. I could have 5-hour long phone conversations over lunch and dinner. Back in the days without earphones (it came later), I had to hold my phone which heats up so badly and I had nights where I sat on the floor (near the power plug) to charge my phone and talk. These days? I barely talk on the phone anymore, perhaps less than once a month.

Anyway, apart from his good looks, Gong Yoo’s acting is something that I am very attracted to. For female actresses, the one and only one that I am attracted to (for her acting to) is Jun Jihyun (My Sassy Girl, my love from the star) and now that I’m connecting the dots, I do feel that both of my favs have a lot in common. Both of them are pretty mysterious in their private life and they do not have any public SNS accounts. This means that if we were to get any news, it will most likely come from official sources. Also, they are pretty much scandal-free. After their big break (Coffee Prince for Gong Yoo, and My Sassy Girl for Jihyun), they have moved on to starring in movies (Gong Yoo has 14 movies, 13 drams across 19 years; Jihyun has 12 movies, 4 dramas across 22 years). Also, they don’t attend much variety shows (well, they don’t have to since they are popular enough) and both have won countless acting awards. Sometimes, I do wonder if there’s a chance for them to act together but I know it is highly impossible as their fees would be too expensive for any production.

This 1-hour variety episode has made me reflect upon my drama-watching life and I actually compiled a list of dramas that I’ve watched across the years (back in May) and the number of dramas I’ve watched for 2020 is alarmingly high. Seems like it is the most I’ve ever watched my entire life but.. the lockdown life makes this inevitable.

(Random but,)

Back in 2017, I visited the filming location for the second lead house (which has since become a cafe). Apart from being very inconvenient to visit, I loved the cafe (it has awesome views) but that also means it is a steep climb up. I really don’t mind re-visiting this place again if the chance arises.

Anyway, while watching the reunion episode, I was questioning myself on why I did not visit the actual cafe in Hongdae. Prior to the episode, I thought that the cafe has closed for good but after doing a google search, it seems like the cafe is still around (wow, after 13 years) but the reviews are really bad – coffee and drinks are bland; yet expensive. Can’t believe that I didn’t remember to drop by the area in all my visits to Seoul.. maybe next time. maybe.

If you’re wanting to re-watch Coffee Prince, IT IS ON NETFLIX! When I re-watched this drama in March/April this year, I concluded that is was the most HD version I’ve ever watched because my TV was not HD back in 2007/2008 and the past few times I watched, it was on those online free streaming sites which did not have HD quality. The drama is really something that is worthed watching again and feel free to come back for a discussion if you’re still feeling withdrawal symptoms from 13 years ago. Curious to know when will be the next time I will be re-watching this drama. I guess I will be reading up this post the next time it happens so.. hello to ‘me’ in the future ๐Ÿ˜€

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  • Oh goodie for this post! Because I haven’t watch the reunion episode yet. I started latching on to Coffee Prince after Goblin. Late bloomer and all… hahaha!

    • Perhaps you can wait for episode 2 to be out next week and watch both episodes together! A lot of people actually haven’t watch Coffee Prince as it was a rather early drama in 2007. Most people got caught into the K-wave in 2010 or later. However, I feel that Coffee Prince is definitely a classic and everyone should watch it ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I visited both Coffee Prince cafes in 2014, and the one in Buamdong (Han-sung’s house with the dog), called Sanmotoonge, is the best by far. The Hongdae cafe was overpriced, coffee was weak and the staff wouldn’t let you take photos inside or pose near the paintings on the wall. I went back to the Hongdae cafe in 2018, but I was still disappointed. Sanmotoonge is worth the walk, but maybe rethink the visit on a humid July day!