Double Drama Feature: Gender Bender!

Hey everyone! I am back after an extremely long break. I just started my new job, and things were  pretty hectic with all the things I had to do related to that. But yes, hopefully I will still have time to make it to my weekly posts amidst all the stuff that I have to do. 

Without trailing around too much, I am going to introduce the concept of today’s feature. Here, I will be describing two dramas that have a very interesting thing in common. In both these dramas, the female protagnoist was forced to pose as a man, instead of a woman due to her circumstances. She continues the act and the story follows. ‘Love in the Moonlight’ is actually a historical drama with this theme, while the other drama, ‘Coffee Prince’ is set in a more modern setup. There are of course quite many dramas/movies across different languages that could possibly fit this theme, so please mention if you know any in the comments! 

Coffee Prince

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Promotional poster for ‘Coffee Prince’

Title: 1st Shop of Coffe Prince or Coffee Prince

Country of origin: South Korea

Language: Korean

Based on : The First Shop of Coffe Prince by Lee Sun Mi

Written by: Lee Jung Ah, Jang Hyun Joo

Directed by: Lee Yoon Jung

Starring: Yoon Eun Hye, Gong Yoo, Lee Sun Kyun, Chae Jung Un

Opening theme: “LaLaLa It’s Love” by Melody

Number of seasons: 1

Episodes: 17

Status: Completed

Aired from: July 2-August 28 of 2007

Original Network: Munhwa Broadcasting Station (MBC)

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Yoon Eun Hye as Go Eun Chan

The story involves Eun Chan, who appears and behaves like a “tomboy” making some people even mistake her to be a man. Her father passed away when she was very young, and she being the eldest child, automatically became the breadwinner of the family. She works many jobs at the same time with her being a delivery girl, a martial arts teacher etc. She doesn’t have a dream and is just trying to make ends meet for her, her mother and sister.

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Gong Yoo as Choi Han Kyul

This is when she meets Han Kyul while she is on a delivery run. He is the heir of a huge coffee shop business run by his grandmother. He has zero responsibility or aims in life. His family forces him to go on blind dates, to set up his marriage, which he wants to avoid. This is when he strikes a deal with Eun Chan, thinking she is a man, to accompany him as his boyfriend to drive the blind dates away.

While this ensues, his grandmother, wanting him to gain some responsibility and maturity in his life before he has to run the company, hands over to him, a run down coffee shop and asks him to reach a certain level of earnings in a few months after which only he can inherit the wealth. Han Kyul then recruits a certain number of bachelors and Eun Chan. The story then continues about the growth of the coffee shop and the ‘Coffee Princes’. It also tells the story of a wavering Han Kyul who has developed feelings for Eun Chan and is having an internal battle with himself. It is also the story of Eun Chan where she realises her identity, and her dreams.

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The members of the Coffee shop or The Coffee Princes

On a single glance, Coffee Prince seems like the typical K-drama. The damsel in distress who has a romantic involvement with the rich and arrogant heir to a conglomerate. But if there is anything that does set this drama apart, it is its theme. The theme of the coffee shop, the baristas, and the understanding of how making coffee is not just a simple task but an art, was a fresh breath to the entire theme of the drama.

The whole love quadrangle with the 4 characters, however was a little tiring and repetitive. They could have explored the stories of the members in the coffee shop better or included a better theme.

Overall, I would rate this drama, slightly above average. In essence, this is the typical K-drama, but with a variety which is it’s theme. However I have heard many mixed reviews about this drama. The reason being I think, for those who are new to the world of Hallyu and explored dramas like this, as one of their first ones, this is definitely entertaining. But for those who have ventured into much more K-dramas, know the repetitive themes that have occurred here, might not give it as much positive reviews as those who watch this as one of their first few dramas.

But just for that, I wouldn’t say this wasn’t worth the watch. The fresh theme about the coffee shop and the confusions of the main characters does make it very entertaining. If you are not looking for much depth in plot but just a very straightforward kind of entertainment, then this drama is for you!

LOVE IN THE MOONLIGHT

Love_in_the_Moonlight-official_poster
Promotional poster for ‘Love in the moonlight’

Country of origin: South Korea

Language: Korean

Based on: ‘Moonlight drawn by the clouds’ by Yon Yi Soo

Written by: Kim In Jung, Im Ye Jin

Directed by: Kim Sung Yoon, Baek Sang Hoon

Starring: Park Bo Gum, Kim Yoo Jung, Jin Young, Chae Soo Bin, Kwang Dong Yeon

Opening theme: “Moonlight Flows” by Second Moon

Number of seasons: 1

Number of episodes: 18

Status: Completed

Broadcasted: August 22- October 18 of 2016

Original Network: KBS2

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Kim Yoo Jung as Hong Ra On

The protagonist of the story involves, Hong Ra On. Actually a woman, she is forced to live her life as a man. She does so, because being a woman she does’nt have the freedom to go about and work like the men do. With her mother missing and not knowing anything about her birth father, she lives alone, fending for herself. Tragedy strikes, when some people capture her and submit her into an academy where young boys are converted to eunuchs for the palace. Through a string of strange incidents, she gets admitted as a eunuch in the palace, to the crown Prince, Lee Yeong.

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Park Bo Gum as the Crown Prince Lee Yeong

The crown prince is under training to inherit the throne from his father. But there are many unseen factors that are trying to not let him rise on the throne. His father now has a new queen after his mother passed away, and she becomes pregnant with the king’s child, so as to have her child ascend the throne rather than, Lee Yeong. For this, she goes to any length to get her child in the line for coronation. And when I mean, any length, she goes to ANY length to make that happen.

However amidst this. the Prince is a gentle and lovable person, becomes very close friends with his assisting eunuch, Hong Ra On. As time passes, he realises that he infact has feelings for the eunuch and is confused and worried as to how this would affect his position and name in the royal family as he thinks Hong Ra On is a man, who is now a eunuch.

But a hidden truth involving Hong Ra On looms over them. The story then evolves around their growing relationship, the Prince’s journey to the throne which is a journey that we can’t fathom.

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Interesting plot right? As far as sageuks or historical K-drama’s are concerned, this one was a very different now. Because of this and the great performance from the entire cast and a unique storyline, it was not much of a surprise that this drama had immensely high ratings. In fact this show got so popular that a phenomenon called “Moonlight fever” was associated with it, with a lot of fans immensely sad with the end of the show.

It’s not just the plot though. One thing that K-dramas from an earlier era could have always done better is cinematography. There is always such an immense capability to have some amazing cinematography in dramas, but somehow a lot of them turn out to be plot or character centric. But in the past 4 years, those things have been proved wrong, with a large number of dramas with a great anad solid storyline to form it’s foundation, and amazing performance from the cast coupled with some great camera work.

This drama also belongs to that era.

It was not just the cinematography, but the music as well. While historical dramas would go over to music and BGM that may involve more of classical instruments, this drama on the contrary, had a very “modern” arsenal of tracks, most of which are still played on my phone.

Gender bender dramas are a genre that I like very much, irrespective of the fact of how successful the drama is, and how much I liked it. I like the perception that, No, things that men and women can do are not separate or different. It also sheds light on the fact that many things are possible if we do not think within a gender barrier.

Have you ever thought of whether it is nice to term certain characters or attributes to be classified a man or a woman? If a girl doesn’t dress up in a feminine manner and goes for something else which is much comfortable for her most probably, she gets called a tomboy. If a man prefers anything from the norms defined from being a “man” , then he becomes “girlish”. Why should we set such boundaries?

As of today hundreds of thousands of people advocate the fact that each person is unique and different and we should respect that. Some of the bias that is in our mind might even be involuntary. things that we might have picked up from our surroundings or elsewhere. But just think about it. Should we really classify like that? I once made a mistake of doing so and a wonderful article from Rolling Stone, about K-pop band BTS, on how they are bringing down the boundaries of toxic masculinity, really became an eye opener for me.

Gender bender is a genre that is very popular not just in K-drama’s but in movies and TV series in many other languages as well. If I could suggest a gender bender kind of movie from my native language, I would suggest the Malayalam movie, ‘Rasathanthram’. Similarly if you know any ones similar to this, K-drama or otherwise don’t forget to mention it in the comments below!

Image courtesy: Google Image Search

10 comments

  1. Oh yes…she is back, and with not one, but two reviews for the price of one 😊😊 Sorry….getting over excited here, but I am just very happy to see a post from you again. I have seen a lot of Korean dramas, but as I said to Kay, I have yet to see my first historical Korean drama. I have heard many great things about Love in the Moonlight and after reading this I am even more interested in seeing it. I have just started with Lawless Lawyer this morning, but maybe after finishing that one, I will have a go at this.
    Lastly I have never believed in boundaries. I never thought about things that are only for men, or only for women. Why? Is there a written rule that it’s supposed to be like that? People should just be a little bit less narrowminded. But that’s just how I think about it.
    Did I already say that I am glad you are back?? Awesome post! 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha I like how you named that- two at the price of one. Actually I wanted my posts to be more organised, so the past few months I have categorised my posts. These types are called multiple features. Can be double or triple features hence I termed it as ‘multiple’. I also started another section called ‘Old is Gold’ for the old movies, dramas etc that require special attention and so on. And of course the single features.
      You should definitely venture into sageuks or historical dramas. It’s quite interesting and unique and shows a very different side of K-dramas. Try watchin this, Faith, Empress Ki etc. They are all pretty good! Some of the most succesful K-dramas have been historical in genre you know.
      Even I don’t beleive in boundaires. I was supposed to write on something else, but this boundaries thing has been on my mind for quite some time, hence the post. It’s a huge releif when you can just say it out into the world you know!
      I am glad to see your comments on my posts again! And thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for all these recomendations (not that I have any shortage at the moment for things to watch lol😂
        I like the way you have started categorising your posts by the way: that is a great idea. Looking forward to whatever posts you have planned next. No matter what it will be about, I always highly enjoy reading them.
        Yeah I know what you mean about the boundaries. Sometimes it’s just great to be able to talk about things like that, and you did so in a wonderful way 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great analysis! I haven’t read all of your posts, so forgive me if you’ve answered this question elsewhere…do you watch/review movies with other origins? Or just the movies coming out of Korea?

    Liked by 2 people

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