"...to be perfectly honest I’d seen other similar films where the male lead’s sweetness and devotion touched me more (namely, “Hotelier” by Bae Yong Jun)"
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Xia Wa De You Mo, or in Taiwan, Ai Shang Nui Zhu Po
To Love a Female Broadcaster
Jan Dong Gun-Yin Xiang Tze
Chae Rim-Zhen Shan Mei
Han Jae Suk-Jin You Zhen
Kim So Yun-Shui Yin Mei
Yin Mei’s father died on a construction site, and the manager, Shan Mei’s father, took her to live in the city. Yin Mei was a poor girl with a bad past – her drunken father beat her, and her gangster boyfriend mistreated her. She worked hard to finish high school and wanted to make her better life for herself. From the start, she was envious of Shan Mei, with her cheerful disposition and her easy, pampered life. Yin Mei also met You Zhen, Shan Mei’s neighbor and first love. Yin Mei sought out to make You Zhen fall in love with her, not because she really loved him, but because she was envious of everything Shan Mei had.
Shan Mei, heartbroken, left for London, and there she met Xiang Tze, who was the son of the owner of MBS, a major broadcasting company in Seoul, but Shan Mei didn’t know that, she only knew him as her “upperclassman” in the university. Both of them had come to London to escape their emotional stress in Korea – for Xiang Tze, it was his resentment for his father who did not have time for their family. Shan Mei and Xiang Tze were very happy in London. When Shan Mei came back to Seoul, she wanted to work for MBS, and incidentally Yin Mei had the same goal. You Zhen also worked for MBS as a cameraman, and You Zhen and Yin Mei are still together.
Yin Mei was beautiful and talented and devious, and she wanted to be MBS’s next star reporter. Shan Mei was sadly left in the dust behind her. Shan Mei found out about Xiang Tze’s real identity on the same day Xiang Tze confessed love for her, but Shan Mei still had feelings for You Zhen. Xiang Tze told her he’d wait for her, and he would comfort and cheer up Shan Mei when she was depressed over You Zhen, or over Yin Mei’s latest scheme to upstage her. Shan Mei was touched by his devotion and soon also fell in love with him.
Meanwhile, Yin Mei was even angrier and more jealous when she found out who Shan Mei’s new “boyfriend” was. Then she decided she didn’t want to be MBS’s star reporter, she wanted to be its mistress, so she dumped You Zhen. You Zhen was devastated and became a ghost of his former self while Yin Mei chased after Xiang Tze. But Xiang Tze repeatedly told her he loved only Shan Mei. In her quest to be rich and famous, she tampered with the car of MBS’s current star reporter, and the woman broke her leg. Unfortunately, the video monitoring system caught her on tape, and the tape was in You Zhen’s hands.
You Zhen loved her so much, he erased the tape for her. He asked her to go away with him, but she refused and spurned him again and again. But when she was alone, Yin Mei would clutch his picture and cry brokenly to herself. Because she really did love him, she just loved her ambition more. During a taping session, Yin Mei’s ex-boyfriend, whom she reported to the police and got him in jail because he tried to expose her dark past as a prostitute, tried to stab her with a knife, and a struggle ensued between him and You Zhen. Unseeing, Yin Mei stumbled onto the street, and was about to be hit by a truck, but You Zhen pushed her away, and he was hit by the truck.
You Zhen died, and everyone was mourning, but Yin Mei continued to work as if nothing happened. The entire MBS office thought she was a cold, unfeeling witch. But it was all in Yin Mei’s plan. She was going to bring shame onto herself, then she would kill her ex-boyfriend, then kill herself, thus bring justice for her beloved You Zhen’s death. But before she could put her plan in action, she found the tape You Zhen had erased for her, and in it he left a message for her.
“Our happy moments will always stay in my memory. Let’s get married, Yin Mei. I don’t care what happened in your past, I forgive you for everything you’ve done, and everything you will still do. So I hope you will forgive yourself too. Because I love you, and I hope you will learn to love yourself, too. And be happy, because I love you.”
While Yin Mei was watching the tape, she cried and cried and cried… You Zhen had forgiven her for everything, even for being the cause of his own death. There was no more meaning in seeking revenge for him. So she sent her ex-boyfriend to jail again, begged forgiveness from You Zhen’s mother (who hated her for destroying You Zhen’s life), and made peace with Shan Mei. Then she left a letter with Xiang Tze detailing her crimes, then, in a state of numbness, came to stand beside a small lake. “Can I forgive myself now?” she asked herself. Then she walked into the water and disappeared. When Shan Mei and Xiang Tze found her again, she was at an orphanage in a faraway village. She’d lost all her memory, except for the fact that she loved You Zhen. She was content to stay in the orphanage forever.
Shan Mei was leaving the next day for an internship in London. Xiang Tze did not want her to leave, and when they came back to the city (after visiting Yin Mei), Xiang Tze proposed to her, and they kissed in the middle of a busy highway.
Most people liked this story because of Xiang Tze and Shan Mei. Xiang Tze, the handsome, prince-charming figure in both women’s lives, and yet his concern and love for Shan Mei was sweet and touching.
I agree, Xiang Tze is a dream come true. Where would you find such a patient, understanding man, who stands by and waits for Shan Mei get over her lingering feelings for You Zhen? He was her protector, her friend, her shoulder to cry on. Because of his healing love, Shan Mei got over You Zhen and began to accept Xiang Tze’s love. And yet, it was also a two-way giving cycle. Xiang Tze was bitter and angry at his father, and it was because of Shan Mei’s influence that he came back to Korea and made peace with his father. She eased the loneliness in his spirit, and because of her, he began to laugh and feel happiness again.
But to be honest, the main reason I liked this series is because of You Zhen and Yin Mei. Not because the story between Xiang Tze and Shan Mei held no attraction for me, it was indeed a lovely story, but it’s little too common and “perfect”, if you know what I mean. Prince falls in love with princess. But You Zhen and Yin Mei had something very special.
You Zhen was a happy young man who did not have a cruel bone in his body. For a man, he was also incredibly naïve. He first felt sorry for Yin Mei before he fell in love with her. His mother loved him very much, and wished he would marry Shan Mei, but he chose Yin Mei instead. The pains a mother goes through because her son blamed her for not accepting Yin Mei as the woman he loved was excellent – you can really feel this mother’s love for her son, and her resentment for the woman who was ruining her son’s life, and yet she could not do anything.
Yin Mei never thought she would really fall for You Zhen – at first it was just her spiteful attempt to get back at the people who led more fortunate lives than she had. But she did learn to love You Zhen, and it was her downfall. See? She was blind with passion and greed, that in her quest to achieve her great dreams, she destroyed the one person who meant the world to her, and who loved her even knowing how far she would go to get what she wanted. And in so doing, she destroyed herself too.
Yin Mei and You Zhen, for the reasons stated above.
Kim So Yun (Yin Mei) – she was a terrific actress, as she does a great job of making you hate her for being so cruel. And yet there are moments of indecision about her real personality when you see her crying brokenly while holding onto YouZhen’s picture. And in the end, when her spirit was broken, there’s nothing else you can feel for her except sadness and pity. Some people may think Yin Mei got what she deserved, but I think she paid for it when she singlehandedly destroyed the one person she loved the most.
Han Jae Suk (You Zhen) – I first saw Han Jae Suk in MODEL, and there he was a brash, arrogant young man bent on succeeding and winning the love of one special girl. But here he was a sweetly innocent man who loved with all his heart, until his death. I thought Han Jae Suk did a terrific job playing both roles. Here, his eyes were wide and alight with innocent caring, and in the end before he died, he played a broken man, living in the ghost of a spurned love.
To be fair, Jan Dong Gun (Xiang Tze) and Chae Rim (Shan Mei) were also terrific in this serial. They were a great couple and made a great many people fall in love with them, and women all around are gushing about how sweet and charming Xiang Tze is. Though I have to admit both Jan Dong Gun and Chae Rim are well suited to the characters they played: the rich, sophisticated Prince-charming, and his sweetly innocent princess.
The things XiangTze says to Shan Mei to make her happy are undoubtedly sweet. He made a tape for her and told her he wished she would always smile her sweet smile, because that was why he loved her. He promised her he would always make her happy, he told her he would wait for her while she was helping You Zhen get back to his feet, he told her he would never let her leave him again. There was a boyish sweetness in the way he picked out an engagement ring for Shan Mei and practiced what he would say when he proposed to her.
But my most favorite is still the words You Zhen says to Yin Mei from the tape he made. And later, Yin Mei sitting before his grave, crying, “It would have been better if we’d never met, if we hadn’t loved each other. Then you’d still be alive.”
I would say the “tape” scene, too, and just before Yin Mei drowned herself in the lake. The dazed, “not-there” look in her eyes as she asks the ghost of her dead lover if she could forgive herself now…
As for Xiang Tze and Shan Mei, my favorite is the tape Xiang Tze made where he told her, “I love your smile… I promise I will make you happy for as long as I live…”
(1) You Zhen’s funeral, (2) while YinMei is watching You Zhen’s tape, and (3) Yin Mei at You Zhen’s grave.
For Shan Mei, she was unbearably sad when she had to watch You Zhen fall in love with Yin Mei. So she left for London, where she met Xiang Tze. There are also more sad moments whenever Shan Mei is once again the victim of Yin Mei’s cruel schemes. And of course, the scene of You Zhen’s burial. The way Shan Mei cries, holding on to Xiang Tze’s arm, and the way You Zhen’s mother wails brokenly as she watches her only son’s casket being lowered into the ground...
It would be the scenes You Zhen put in his tape about the happy times he had with Yin Mei before she became a star reporter and became obsessed with victory.
For Xiang Tze and Shan Mei, their happy times when they were in London, and the ending, when Xiang Tze proposed to her.
The BEST part – the LOVE factor
I think I will remember this serial not because of Xiang Tze and Shan Mei, but because of You Zhen and Yin Mei. Their love story is unique and special because it’s a story of how love weakens both a weak man, and a wickedly devious woman. For no matter how battered or dark your soul, no matter how you fight against it, all people, weak or strong, are vulnerable to love.
To be fair, I also liked Xiang Tze and Shan Mei, and of course I also admired Xiang Tze’s lasting devotion, but to be perfectly honest I’d seen other similar films where the male lead’s sweetness and devotion touched me more (namely, “Hotelier” by Bae Yong Jun). So, in AAE, my favorite is still You Zhen/Yin Mei. Sorry to the Jan Dong Gun fans out there, but I am a Han Jae Suk fan above all. =)
Definitely. It’s the first ever Korean series to hit it big in Taiwan. You should see the scores of fans wailing “Upperclassman (Xiang Tze)! I love you!” ^_^ But there’s only one thing I can say. If you like sweet, happy love stories, you should see Xiang Tze and Shan Mei. If you like beautifully tragic love stories, then I’m sure you’ll like You Zhen and Yin Mei.
Jan Dong Gun and Han Jae Suk had another series together, “MODEL”, where they played rivals for one woman’s love. Incidentally, all the series I’ve watched by Han Jae Suk, he always plays the man who loves with all his heart, loves one woman only from start until end, but in the end, he dies a tragic death… I wonder why? Though I have to say he is perfect for this kind of role…
As for Kim So Yun and Chae Rim, most people like Chae Rim because she looks like a sweet girl, but there are also scores of male fans for Kim So Yun, because she is so devilishly beautiful in this series. =P Well, she is.