Episode 3 – 3rd Cup
Synopsis: Han Kyul is forced to takeover Wang Ja Coffee by his grandmother, egged on by Eun Chan who’s desperate for a job. Eun Chan and Han Kyul get to know each other a little more, while Yoo Joo and Han Seong rekindle their relationship. Eun Chan however, is forced to continue the charade of being a boy in order to keep her job and enlists Manager Hong to keep her secret. Manager Hong and Han Kyul clash right away with the latter wanting to overhaul the entire concept of the cafe–a rename to Coffee Prince, all-male staff, and a new menu selling waffles. Renovations begin and since Han Kyul is put on a tight budget and timeline, he recruits his friend Ha Rim to help with the re-design. Min Yeop rounds out the new crew, but screws up an order for coffee beans which Eun Chan takes the fall for. Han Kyul tears her a new one asking her to leave if she can’t handle the job.
We already know that Eun Chan has the supportive family that Han Kyul doesn’t, but in this episode, we start to see how much of a champion Eun Chan’s mother really is. When the butcher berates Eun Chan for blindly trusting the taekwondo dojo owner, she berates him for not comforting her, engaging in none of the victim-blaming you might expect from a K-drama mother. She goes on to comfort Eun Chan.
It’s a lovely moment where we learn from whom Eun Chan has learned her great capacity for compassion:
Mum: Mum is feeling sad too. He wasn’t a bad person from the start. I think he must have been desperate enough to act like that.
Eun Chan: I should be understanding, right?
Mum: If you don’t, what else can you do? You’ll only feel bad.
Eun Chan: My mother is really kind.
Han Kyul on the other hand, has daddy issues. His father thinks little of him perhaps not without good reason–he’s coasted throughout his life on the back of his charms and his family’s money. His mum and grandmother do love him, but I don’t think they support him as unconditionally as Eun Chan’s mother does in the face of his father’s cold shoulder.
The show’s wonderfully warm depiction of Eun Chan’s first sleepover is an example of one of the reasons why this show inspires such universal love. I talked earlier about the physical intimacy on display, but it’s really how these two relate to one another that gets to me.
They eat, they sleep, they wash up, they talk and learn more about each other. They share a genuine curiosity about each other that’s played out so well in their banter. (They also sew eyes on dolls which is so ridiculous and yet cute and endearing. This show can really get away with an appalling degree of cute.)
While they learn more about each other, we get glimpses into their personalities. Eun Chan may not be book smart but she’s savvy about reading people, and resourceful–she exploits Han Kyul’s weak spot about Yoo Joo to her advantage (she will do the same later to Min Yeop).
The fact that she’s breaking a pretty major taboo as a single girl staying over at a boy’s place is not lost on us, but Eun Chan is not one to let propriety stand in her way of a good meal and warm bed.
She’s also less guarded about her feelings than Han Kyul is, and forms attachments easily. When she tells Han Kyul about the taekwondo school closing, he tells her to just forget about it and work at another dojo. She responds sadly,”Forget…you make it sound so easy.”
Han Kyul on the other hand, is someone who hasn’t really cared for anything (or anyone) enough to apply himself ever. He has interests and hobbies–collecting toys and records–but not passions. These are things that ask little of him, and are a diversion from his rather lonely, aimless existence.
He’s tight-lipped, especially about Yoo Joo, but he probably volunteers more information to Eun Chan than he has to anybody else. He describes Yoo Joo as a “bad habit” which shows he’s well aware that his pining isn’t a good thing, but that letting go of her would take too much work.
Still, what I like best about Han Kyul at this point is that he isn’t a cold, expressionless meanie like your garden variety K-drama chaebol lead. When he finds Eun Chan tearing over his records, his first response is to feel sorry for being harsh (while not actually saying the words). Sure he’s bad tempered and arrogant, but he’s also capable of warmth and care and being nice. And by the end of his evening with Eun Chan, by leaping quickly to take up his grandmother’s offer, he’s shown a capacity to listen and adapt.
A gender-bender drama can and should play around with tropes and expectations but CP I think, goes a lot further to undermine the norm alot more than most. It’s fascinating to notice on repeat views.
For instance in most dramas, this sequence where Eun Chan runs into trouble with the mad couple in the rain, we’d expect the hero to swoop in and save the day in a typically macho display.
He’d probably punch the guy and then mutter derisively in exasperation to the heroine, something like, “How on earth did you get yourself into this mess, you silly girl?”
Here, Han Kyul arrives and pulls the guy aside. You’re primed to expect him to start flexing muscles. But then it all goes completely pear-shaped–in the end, the blustery boyfriend does gets beat up, but it’s by his own girlfriend who gets angry with him!
It’s hysterical! And it’s also a sign that the show has more than a few tricks up it sleeve.
There’s also the part where Eun Chan takes Han Kyul on a reconnaissance mission of the neighbourhood on her bike. Others have pointed out that Eun Chan literally is in the driver’s seat here–a rare sight in dramaland where it’s mostly men doing the driving.
We rarely get to see the girl drive her man around, if she even drives at all, what more on a motorbike which typically we only see men ride.
I’m also just plain dying at how cute they are on her scooter:
And then there’s the food and drink–the girl drinks like a fish and eats like a pig, messily and voraciously, while the boy is a terrible lightweight and looks at her somewhat in admiration as she scarfs food down; and he does all the cooking.
- Okay, so the show has some continuity issues–when we ended last Han Kyul was with his grandmother at the coffee shop but at the start at this episode, she appears to be at home when Han Kyul calls to her to whine.
- All the coffee princes bend gender expectations at least at first glance–Sun Ki is a slight, long-haired pretty boy with painted nails, and from the way Ha Rim flirts with Eun Chan I would’ve thought he was gay.
- Eun Chan has never been blind to Han Kyul’s looks, but in this episode, she openly admires his sweaty body for the first time, as I do for the umpteenth time:
- I’m so not impressed with Yoo Jo and her mural. It’s an exact replica of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. How is she a successful artist again?
- This was the first time I’d learned of the miracle product of microwaveable instant rice which Han Kyul uses to cook kimchi fried rice for Eun Chan. I later learned it’s called haetban. Why don’t we have this here?!
Again with the pee
There’s an entire scene that takes place in the loo and entire conversation devoted to pee. Han Kyul urinates while Eun Chan is brushing her teeth. She throws a fit which startles him into peeing down his leg (*guffaw*). Eun Chan is rightfully disgusted:
Han Kyul then feels Eun Chan up in response. Heh.
Episode 3 songlist
1.Polly – The Melody
2. 라디오천국 (Radios in Heaven) – 유희열 (Yoo Hee Yeol aka Toy)
3. 그리워라 (Yearn)-– Hyun Kying and Young Ae
4. Mocha- Casker
5. Novaless- Tearliner
6. Regretto – Tearliner
7. 그리고 별이 되다 (And it Becomes a Star)- 나윤선 (Na Yoon Seon )
8. Back for Good – Take That
Episode 4 – 4th Cup
Synopsis: Faced with a crisis of extra inventory, the crew quickly devise a plan to sell the coffee beans, while Eun Chan stews at being scolded by Han Kyul for Min Yeop’s mistake. Min Yeop however, finally cops to it, making Han Kyul feel remorseful. The renovations fully complete, the cafe throws an opening party. Eun Chan panics when she learns that Han Seong and Han Kyul are cousins and begs the former to keep her secret. Meanwhile, Sun Ki (Kim Jae Wook) catches the eye of Eun Chan’s sister much to Min Yeop’s chagrin. Later while business is slow, the staff goof off in an effort to relieve their boredom. Incensed, Han Kyul punishes them with game of torturous basketball.
It’s been a stellar opening for the show which in a mere four episodes has established everything you need to know going forward. There are already complex relationship dynamics at play and burgeoning sexual tension between, well, just about everyone here.
The moving train that is Eun Chan’s secret is off and running with the stakes getting higher for her by the minute. She’s also just learned about the scale of Han Kyul’s wealth and the size of the class divide between them. All of these add a delicious layer of anticipation to the proceedings, on top of it being a lively, cheeky and fun watch.
But mostly, I’m just absolutely won over by Eun Chan. She’s a living, breathing person, who never gives up and doesn’t take anyone’s crap. Particularly from the men she likes! Speaking of whom, our girl now is crushing on two very good-looking, eligible men–a girl could have worse problems.
I can’t lie and say that it didn’t take some suspension of disbelief to buy Yoon Eun Hye completely as a boy. But the drama seems aware of this too. It craftily wrote dialogue that specifically references her gender ambiguity as if to say, hey, look, the guys aren’t sure either! In Han Seong’s eyes, it’s ridiculous that anyone could mistake her for a boy. Ha Rim and Han Kyul on the other hand aren’t as sure, but ultimately go with ‘he’.
And speaking of sexual tension, Han Kyul and Eun Chan settle into their bickering, hyper-aware-of-each-other’s-presence dynamic. His first feelings of confused jealousy emerge, captured in a brilliant conversation in the car while Han Kyul drives her home. Han Kyul probes Eun Chan about Min Yeop’s kiss all teasing bravado at first. But when Eun Chan than turns it around and sasses him back, he bids a hasty retreat. Her words cut too close for comfort:
Han Kyul: Did you like it? When Min Yeop kissed your lips, did you like it?
Your face is red. A fiery feeling? Oh is it a feeling of sparks flying?
Eun Chan: He’s was so-so compared to you. I do not like Min Yeop’s type. I like your type more. Don’t you know?
Han Kyul: What are you saying between friends? [sheepishly]
He and Eun Chan have their first serious fight, and it occurs to me how their relationship is already so layered–they are co-workers, they are friends, and he’s the boss, she his employee. Meanwhile a whole bunch of feelings are bubbling up to the surface. This is a whole boatload of tricky.
The coffee princes
With Sun Ki arriving on the scene, Eun Chan’s other family is now complete. The coffee princes assemble like Voltron, each performing a specific role and function–Min Yeop’s small brain (and big heart) is comic relief, Ha Rim’s pacifist nature smooths over ruffled feathers, and Sun Ki, well he’s here to be cool:
Speaking of Min Yeop, I’ve always felt bad for him during the fake-out feats-of-strength competition with Eun Chan. But this didn’t stop me from laughing at him, and I’m glad he kind of got back at them during his drunken skinship rampage.
Which made me shake my head at number of disgusting things this drama has made their actors do–suck on toes, clean feet with handkerchief and then use said handkerchief to wipe face and mouth, eat nose boogers. I am lead to believe by Dramabeans that this is in service to yupgi which means “bizarre, quirky, slightly disgusting but cute”. Which is devastatingly accurate in describing this entire sequence.
I think no one celebrates Coffee Prince‘s bromance enough, and I do believe it qualifies as a bromance simply because everyone in the crew believes Eun Chan to be a bro. And in the grand tradition of bro-bonding through sport and competition (which plays out as the splendid basketball game as punishment), how awesome is it that the girl is the last one standing?
And I must also give nods to the drama for the post-game water fountain horseplay which might just be the k-drama equivalent of a (subverted) wet t-shirt contest.
I’ve noticed that Yoo Joo has an affinity towards flowers–she paints them, buys them, waxes lyrical about them. Have a look at her house where she’s literally surrounded by flowers. Is this the drama underscoring her femininity? That she is a girly girl who is also a successful career-minded woman, and has no interest in being domesticated in marriage?
Which is the root of Han Seong’s underlying anxiety about her coming back into his life. What has changed, if anything, since she left? Will she put their relationship ahead of her career? And if she doesn’t want to settle down, why has she come back?
Han Kyul however, points out that she can’t be tamed, and indirectly tells Han Seong to suck it up if he wants to be with her–shockingly insightful for an aimless playboy. It surprises Han Seong too:
Han Kyul: Newspapers announced that Han Yoo Ju is opening a gallery.
Han Seong: Why can’t I get used to Han Yoo Ju?
Han Kyul: Because you always want to discipline her. Han Yoo Ju can’t be a butterfly specimen. A living butterfly, it’s normal after all to always change. That is also her charm.
Han Seong: So that is the charm.
I read alot of hate towards Yoo Joo in the comments section of Dramabeans recaps, mostly at her perceived toying with Han Kyul’s feelings. I don’t feel the need to defend Yoo Joo, but I have always found her to be a sympathetic figure with no ulterior motives. This is no where more clear than when she comforts Eun Chan after Han Kyul’s harsh scolding.
She enjoys Han Kyul’s company and even basks in his affection but she never oversteps her boundaries with him. I sense that this is just the way they’ve always related to each other.
- Han Seong and Eun Chan get their flirt on in this episode but Eun Chan’s remark of him being “Like my father” pretty much squelches any notion of this being anything more than an infatuation with an older father figure-like presence in her life.
- What is it with the Choi men and serenading their women?
- There doesn’t seem to be any pee or pooping in this episode, imagine that.
Episode 4 songlist
1. Polly-The Melody
2. May – Belle Epoque
3 . Ocean Travel — Lee Seon Kyun
3. This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)- Natalie Cole
4. Hello My Barista – Ez Hyuong
5. Cuban Hideaway – Dave Koz
6. You and Me Song – The Wannadies
7. Hush- Kula Shaker