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!
Title: 1st Shop of Coffe Prince or Coffee Prince
Country of origin: South Korea
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
Aired from: July 2-August 28 of 2007
Original Network: Munhwa Broadcasting Station (MBC)
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.
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.
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
Country of origin: South Korea
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
Broadcasted: August 22- October 18 of 2016
Original Network: KBS2
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.
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.
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