Hot off the presses!
G Dragon added as the latest act for KCON 2013! Get your tickets before they fly away!
(커피프린스 1호점) The First Shop of Coffee Prince
One sip is all it will take to become addicted to this drama
Summary: The First Shop of Coffee Prince (or better known shortly as “Coffee Prince”) tells the story of Go Eun-chan, a 24-year-old tomboy who is the “head” of her household and has many odd jobs to support her mother and younger sister. When a string of bad luck causes her family to go into more debt, she seeks employment at “Coffee Prince”; a brand new coffee shop opened up by Choi Han-gyul, the only grandson of the CEO of a Coffee Company. Coffee Prince however, only hires beautiful “prince” like guys, so Go Eun-chan disguises herself as a boy and lands herself the job. Among the many adventures with the other coffee “princes” – playboy Ha Rim, mysterious Sun Ki and loveable Min-yeop – Go Eun-chan finds herself starting to fall in love with boss, Choi Han-gyul…except he thinks she is a guy.
Go Eun-chan (played by Yoon Eun-hye) is the lovely protagonist of this drama. She has always been mistaken as boy since she keeps her hair very short, so she has no problem pretending to be a guy at “Coffee Prince”. Since she was young she had to take care of her family, so she is very mature and logical and tries to keep an optimistic personality even when times get rough. She is a very lovable character, making her almost impossible for people to hate.
Choi Han-gyul (played by Gong-yoo) is the thirty year old, only child from a wealthy family. He was sent to study abroad and learn about responsibility but he comes back, still as unprepared for the world as when he left, and very determined to stay as a carefree bachelor. His tough grandmother decides to fix this problem by setting him up with his first ever job – managing the First Shop of Coffee Prince. If he is able to triple the sales then he will have proved to his family that he is mature enough.
Choi Han-seong (played by Lee Sun-kyun) is the older cousin of Han-gyul and an established music producer. He already knew Go Eun-chan before she started her job as a Coffee Prince waiter, so he helps her keep her secret from his cousin so that she can continue working there. Han Yoo-joo (played by Chae Jung-an) had been dating Han-seong for nine years when they broke up and she moved to New York to pursue her work as an artist. Now she is back in Korea and wishes to rekindle her romance with her first love. This of course brings discomfort to Han-gyul as he has always been in love with Yoo-joo but gave her up so that she could be with her cousin – now he is torn on whether or not to steal this second chance from his cousin.
Jin Ha Rim (played by Kim Dong-wook) is Han-gyul’s younger best friend, who enjoys all the attention he gets for being a cute waiter at Coffee Prince. He is a playboy by nature but very funny, with his occasional sweet moments. Noh Sun-ki (played by Kim Jae-wook) is the Japanese waffle chef at Coffee Prince. His handsome looks gather a lot of female fans, but he chooses to ignore them and keep his mysterious personality – not even the other employees know why he is in Korea, or why he is always so serious. Hwang Min-yeop (played by Lee Eon) is the youngest of the group; and even though he is big in size he has the heart of a teddy bear. He might not be the brightest, but he is extremely loyal to his friends. He is also the faithful boyfriend of Go Eun-sae (played by Han Yeh-in), the younger bratty sister of Go Eun-chan.
“Grab onto him. He liked you even when he thought you were a guy. Who knows, maybe he won’t go.” – Sun-ki.
The most obvious problem in the drama is that Go Eun-chan is pretending to be a boy, which of course leads to a complicated mess of tangled feelings for Han-gyul. He feels himself drawn to Eun-chan but the fact that she is a “boy” confuses him since he is 100% that he is straight and loves women. Yet, this is first time he feels any sort of emotion towards a male and this leads to his own inner conflict (which was beautiful portrayed if I may say so) of deciding whether to act upon his feelings and get rejected by society. With homosexuality being such a taboo topic in Korea, it was wonderful to see an attempt at confronting the issue, even though the situation wasn’t actually a case of being homosexual.
“I want to live with you. For the rest of my life, I want to eat together, talk together, sleep together, be together. Do I need any other reason?” – Han-gyul.
With most Korean Dramas, it seems the norm for romantic couples is to stop at kissing and forget about the “other” stuff. But this drama forges ahead and ignores the trend of hiding the human instinct of sexual desire, and makes an accurate, realistic representation of how couples actually are. It doesn’t go raunchy, nor does it try and cover up what it is; it simply shows sex as the loving act it is.
“The moment a man makes a woman his, the man wants that woman to live according to his wishes. But just because he’s won her over, can he force her to do as he wants?” – Han-seong.
This was a more subtle theme, which appeared at the very beginning and then disappeared until the end when the strong female protagonist brought it back. Because Go Eun-chan’s father died, and she was the oldest child, she took on the responsibilities of the household, therefore turning the family into a Matriarchy. When topics of sex, marriage, and work comes up in the drama, Go Eun-chan demonstrates a very feministic mindset: she doesn’t want to get married until she has an education and career in place, because she doesn’t want to depend on her husband or anybody else. Koreans tend to lean towards a Patriarchy society, so it was wonderful to see such a strong female role.
No (obvious) symbols were present in this drama. And you know what? This drama ended up working perfectly fine without any. So bonus points to this drama!
*Spoilers* (Do not read if you don’t want this drama spoiled for you, you have been warned!)
Things I liked:
Things I didn’t like:
Author’s Final Remarks: 9.6/10
~Coffee Prince is a classic among Korean Dramas; a timeless romantic comedy and one of the best (if not the best) renditions of the “girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy” theme. It’s a great summer time drama, full of cuteness and fluff, without being overly nauseating, that shows the most realistic romance that sweeps one of their feet. You can’t help but fall in love with all the coffee princes; from Han-gyul charisma to his adorable affections towards his family (and let’s not forget the dress shirts that make him too hot for summer!). Go Eun-chan’s lovely personality that makes her a great role-model for all young girls. Even the princes, all had their own charms that made them loved. This is a drama that I never get tired of watching, and I’m amazed that I still get the same fluttering feelings like the first time I watched it. I dare you to find someone who doesn’t like this drama, because that’s how confident I am that anyone who watches this drama will love it.
To enter, either fill-out the entry form on the Verizon Insider website (www.verizoninsider.com/kcon), or text “KCON” to 96035. The sweepstakes starts today, July 25, 2013 at 6 p.m. PST and ends on August 13, 2013 at 6 p.m. PST. You must be a U.S. resident and 18 years of age or older to enter.
To keep you updated on the latest stats, here’s a link to a great article posted on YouTube regarding the upward trend in K-Pop views since Psy’s Gangnam Style first hit the online scene. Complete with graphs and charts, the article, written by Kevin Alocca, includes a Top 10 playlist for your viewing pleasure.
Silent River Film and Literary Society on its inaugural event, is proud to present “National Security” (Namyeong-dong 1985), directed by veteran South Korean film director Chung Ji-young. Chung Ji-young will be in attendance from South Korea to engage in a Q&A with audiences and receive the River Spirit Award for his lifetime achievements. He will also receive the River Rock Award on behalf of actor Ahn Sung-kee for his role in feature film “Unbowed” screened at the Silent River Film Festival.
Reserve your spot to watch an unforgettable South Korean film (with English subtitles)
at the Irvine Civic Center on Sunday, August 11th, followed by a reception at Arirang BBQ House in Irvine!
To purchase tickets:
Synopsis: On September 4, 1984, democracy movement leader Kim Jong-tae (Park Won-sang) is arrested and taken to an infamous interrogation facility in Namyeong-dong. For the next 22 days, he would be cruelly and continuously tortured in all manners by interrogators intent on forcing him to confess to communist collaboration.
(연애조작단; 시라노) Dating Agency: Cyrano
Flower Boy Edition #4
Secret Flower Boy Cupids? Where can I find this dating agency?
Based on 2010 romantic comedy “Cyrano Agency”, Dating Agency: Cyrano is the fourth installment in the Flower Boy series. Cyrano Theater faces being closed down for good, so director Seo Byung-hoon takes over his friend’s theater and starts a dating agency to pay back that friend’s debt. Assisted by the younger flower boys, Moo-jin and Ah-rang, and the spirited Mi-young, these four put together romantic situations for their clients and help them woo the people they love.
Seo Byung-hoon (played by Lee Jong-hyuk) is the older director who comes back to Korea when he hears of his friend’s death. He vows to restore the rundown theater to its once renounced glory, but he can’t do so until he pays off the enormous debt. Despite love being the core element of his work, he doesn’t believe in love and has a very disagreeable attitude towards others. He is the natural leader of the four – not only because of his age, but because he is a mastermind when it comes to thinking of heartfelt and touching lines for his clients to say to the targets and planning intricate operations to show off their client’s positive aspects and sincerity.
Gong Min-young (played by Choi Soo-young) is the bubbly new member of Cyrano and the only female of the group. She gets recruited after expressing strong determination in her previous matchmaking job, and demonstrates that she is willing to do whatever it takes to get two people who love each other to be together. She is diehard romantic. Despite being shown the cruel sides of relationship, she still remains positive on true love and believes everything in life happens for a reason. A bad experience means one is just a step closer to finding their soulmate.
Moo-jin (played by Hong Jong-hyun) is the genius engineer of the group and is in charge of all the technical devices used in their missions. As one of the flower boys, he is strikingly handsome and paired with his black motorcycle and dark and mysterious personality, he is an obvious attraction to the girls around him. However, he is completely clueless on the matters of love, never having been exposed to any in his life, thus keeping to himself and saying as little as possible. Do Ah-rang (played by Jo Yoon-woo) is the youngest member of the group, a 19-year-old high school student who wants to be an actor. He is a kind-hearted individual who tries to keep the mood up between the somber Moo-jin and the irritable Byung-hoon. He has yet to fall in love, making him naïve on the topic of love as well as Moo-jin.
Cha Seung-pyo (played by Lee Chun Hee) is the chief and owner of the restaurant next door to the Cyrano Theater. With a sketchy past he tries so desperately to keep hidden, he finds himself drawn to Gong Min-young’s peppy personality, while at the same time displays a remarkably cold persona to Byung-hoon, indicating a troublesome past between the two. He often helps the Cyrano gang with their missions, even lending his restaurant on occasion for one of their “set-ups”. He even comforts Min-young whenever she gets frustrated with the boys’ lack of compassion towards their clients.
Other characters in the drama were the different clients/targets (as each mini storyline lasted from 2-3 episodes before it switched to another “job”). Many of these roles were filled by familiar faces. Jin Ji-hee, Lee Chung-ah, Choi Won-young, Lee Yoon-ji, Lee Tae-min (SHINee), Lee Kwang-soo, Gong Yoo and Jung Yoo-mi all played a variety of characters – from ballerina to chef, magician to even idol singer. (And I think we can all guess who that one was!)
“True love can only be achieved through true feelings.” – Gong Min-young
“Sincerity doesn’t always come in straight balls. Sometimes you need to throw curve balls or throw outside the strike zone.” – Gong Min-young
The reason why the Dating Agency: Cyrano worked is because it didn’t try to fabricate love out of thin air. They simply dug up sentimental emotions, turning points for the clients/targets, and launched them into full view. They waved the hidden feelings around like obvious flags, but played them off as circumstance or coincidence. For all of their “missions” to work, the sincere emotions of the client had to be there. And that became the basis of all their work – sincerity and true love.
There were many accusations that Dating Agency: Cyrano was not a morally abiding business, simply using tricks and manipulating the emotions of others to fit into their perfect situations. The group consistently tried to prove to all of those who criticize their work that they are not “creating” any emotions that were not already there. None of their plans are 100% guaranteed. Human error, no matter how effectively they are trying to convince the target to look upon the client, might not be swayed enough.
“The most important part about loving and being loved is loving yourself first. A person that doesn’t love himself/herself cannot shine. They cannot be loved by others.” – Gong Min-young
The clients that Cyrano received were people who cannot express their love. They don’t know how or are simply too shy to make a move or confess. Cyrano helped these individuals who were not confident by being their cupids or guardian angels; they hide in the background and control the scenarios so that they are able to let their client shine in their moment. In a particular case, a client had difficulty approaching the guy she loved because she did not have enough self-confidence to even speak to him. Before the group could begin to alter the heart of the target, they had to first change the heart of the client to love themselves before they could even begin to love someone else or allow themselves to be loved.
Moving on from Past Love:
“Nothing happens by mistake, it was all meant to be…You never know who you are going to end up with” – Gong Min-young.
“What are you afraid of? You can focus on the present with that attitude. Focus in the present. Be happy in the present. Love in the present. That’s the most important thing for you as the person alive in this moment” – Seo Byung-hoon.
Occasionally, people can get caught up in their first loves. Even though they are over, they are not able to forget the memories, and that stops them from being able to love another. This struggling to let go off the past not only was shown through the clients but through some of the main characters as well.
Love Personified: Love was without a fail the main theme of this drama, and it was able to expand on the different levels and ranges of loves with the numerous examples. Love was occasionally personified, and Byung-hoon gave it this negative strength to show how powerful love can be to an individual; it could either make or break someone.
“The most powerful venom in love is false hope” – Seo Byung-hoon.
“There is no vaccine for love; you can never have immunity for it” – Seo Byung-hoon.
*Spoilers* (Do not read if you don’t want this drama spoiled for you, you have been warned!)
What I Liked:
What I didn’t’ like:
Author’s Final Remarks: 7.5/10
Dating Agency: Cyrano was a cute drama. In some moments it blew away my expectations with great acting or an amazing line/scene. But then on other occasions it left me with a sense of disappointment. It’s the kind of drama that one can watch casually, but doesn’t leave you at the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next. And in some ways that’s kind of its charm; that this drama is so laid-back and quirky in its own way. It’s portrayal of love was so diverse and refreshing, and with the initial plot of having a dating agency that makes their love come true, it lived up to the creative freedom it was given.