"Above all, it’s a love story of a woman’s choice between two men – one whom she loves more, or the one who loves her the most."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Tian Quiao Fong Yun
Jan Dong Gun-Li Zheng
Kim Nam Joo-Song Ching Lin
Han Jae Suk-Zhao Yuan Quin
No. of Episodes
Year of Production
Korean, dubbed/subtitles in Mandarin
Ching Lin was a fresh graduate from fashion school and met Yuan Quin when she hired him to model the clothes she designed for their school’s show. For Yuan Quin, it was love at first sight. She was a cute, funny girl with a lot of spunk. This is why Li Zheng liked her, too. They met at the fashion show when Yuan Quin almost didn’t show up.
Ching Lin and Yuan Quin didn’t hit it off right away. Ching Lin was usually furious at Yuan Quin for being an arrogant jerk. Yuan Quin was a poor, struggling male model, but he was very honorable, even though he can be thick-headed. Li Zheng was the estranged grandson of Korea’s biggest fashion company, and he swore to take back his heritage. Li Zheng was handsome and polished and charming, and Ching Lin chose him over Yuan Quin. And Ching Lin worked closely with Li Zheng to form their own fashion company. Ching Lin designed the clothes, and Li Zheng handled the management. Yuan Quin could only stand aside and watch the woman he loved from afar.
When Ching Lin was battered and almost raped by Yuan Quin’s mafia boss, Yuan Quin was so angry he trashed their office and quit his job, even though he had nowhere else to go. But when he and Ching Lin had a fight and when she said they (she and Li Zheng) felt sorry for him, his pride took a beating. Yuan Quin swore to her that one day he will be successful, and he will do it to prove to her that he can do it. The next day, he knelt in front of his mafia boss and begged forgiveness, and asked him to make him famous.
One year later, Yuan Quin was the hottest male model in the country. He looked polished and charming, but deep inside he was still the same ex-gangster. And he was still in love with Ching Lin. And Ching Lin was still happily in love with Li Zheng.
Li Zheng, however, thought success more important than love, even though he sincerely loved Ching Lin. Again and again they fought bitterly because Ching Lin was angry that she was last in his list of priorities. And when Li Zheng’s ex-girlfriend from America came back and committed suicide over Li Zheng’s cold treatment of her, for Ching Lin it was the last straw. She broke up with him.
There was a brief time when Ching Lin frequented bars to drown her sorrows away, but Yuan Quin was there to bring her home and talk some sense back into her. Soon she went back to work, and she and Yuan Quin became good friends. Li Zheng still loved her and wanted her back, but Ching Lin was too angry and disappointed in him. They engaged in a battle of wits. It was like to see who can hurt the other more. In the end Ching Lin admitted defeat and wanted Li Zheng back, but Li Zheng was finally accepted by his grandfather and success was in his reach, so he chose success over Ching Lin.
Ching Lin suffered an emotional stress and would have temporary blindness because of Li Zheng. To help her recover, Yuan Quin brought her to a cabin in the woods to help her relax in body and spirit, so that her sight would return. Alone in the middle of nowhere, faced again with Yuan Quin’s selfless, unconditional love, Ching Lin’s sight returned, and she finally accepted Yuan Quin’s love.
Li Zheng saw them together and realized he really loved Ching Lin, and he gave up his position in the company and was betrayed by his mafia-partner, so he asked Yuan Quin to report him to the police so he could seek safety in the police’s protection, and he landed in jail for three years. Meanwhile, Ching Lin left to study in Paris.
Three years later, Ching Lin came back to Korea as a successful young designer, and she and Yuan Quin are still together. Yuan Quin, however, still felt guilty for getting Li Zheng in jail and felt that he only “got” Ching Lin because Li Zheng was out of commisson. Li Zheng also got out of jail, and this time he wasn’t obsessed, he only wanted to be a successful model and earn back the love of Ching Lin (exactly like what Yuan Quin did 3 years ago). Ching Lin loved Yuan Quin now, but Yuan Quin was still feeling guilty for his role in Li Zheng’s imprisonment. Ching Lin finally showed him her sketches of her gown and his tux for their wedding, and Yuan Quin finally proposed to her.
That night, Yuan Quin went out to see an old friend – Yui Zhu, who used to be in love with Li Zheng, and almost got killed trying to protect Li Zheng. She was now a little crazy – she had the mind of a 6-year old. When a picture of Li Zheng flew onto the street, Yuan Quin went to pick it up for her. He ran onto the street, and right in front of a speeding truck. Yuan Quin was killed, and it was indirectly because of Li Zheng.
Ching Lin was heartbroken, and Li Zheng was oddly guilty. He’d finally realized Yuan Quin was his best friend all along, but now he was dead. He wandered aimlessly, drunk and alone, until Yuan Quin’s “ghost” visited him and asked him to help Ching Lin recover. So Li Zheng saved Ching Lin from killing herself, and Ching Lin finally recovered. She cancelled her big show, and opted instead to stage a free fashion show with all of Yuan Quin’s friends, all for one audience only – she hoped Yuan Quin would come and hear her say the words in her heart. Li Zheng helped her with the details, and they finally became good friends again. Li Zheng, meanwhile, was planning to leave for Paris after the show, to pursue a new life. After all that’s happened, all they could be was just to be good friends.
And on the night before the show, Yuan Quin’s ghost visited Ching Lin, and she was finally able to say the words in her heart: Thank you. Thank you for loving me, Yuan Quin.
MODEL was the very first Korean series I’ve ever seen, and I fell in love with it at first sight. Most people liked Li Zheng, who was charming and handsome and spoke his lines like a movie script. But I didn’t like him because he was *too* polished, and because he said he loved Ching Lin, but he kept putting her aside to pursue his obsession with getting back his birthright.
On the other hand, I fell in love with Yuan Quin immediately. He was honorable – he never deserted his friends, and he stayed loyal to his cruel boss, just because that same boss saved him from a sentence to rot in prison in order to make him a model. His desire to succeed was admirable, but he would never hurt the woman he loved just to achieve his goal. And his love was everlasting, and he loved only one girl even though he knew she didn’t love him.
Also interesting to note is Li Zheng and Yuan Quin’s relationship. Of course, the two men were rivals for the love of the same woman. Yuan Quin was antagonistic towards Li Zheng, at first because Ching Lin chose Li Zheng, and later because of the way he treated Ching Lin, and the lengths he would go to achieve his goal. But there were odd moments between the two when they would act like close friends getting together for a drink. Yuan Quin changed his mind first and treated Li Zheng as a friend, but Li Zheng said, “a friend doesn’t lust after his friend’s woman.” And in the end, after Yuan Quin died, he realized that they had been best friends all along.
Yuan Quin, definitely. For the reasons stated above.
Han Jae Suk. After MODEL, I decided I liked him immensely. I saw many Korean actors after him, but none I liked as much as I liked Han Jae Suk. (That is, until I saw Bae Yong Jun in “Hotelier” )
Li Zheng had much more sweet, flowery things to say to Ching Lin, but my favorites were the lines from Yuan Quin. Short and sincere and from the heart (though I’m not saying Li Zheng’s weren’t sincere).
Yuan Quin (to Ching Lin): “I don’t care what Li Zheng or anybody else says about me. I just want you to be happy. As long as you’re happy.”
Yuan Quin: “When the confusion between the three of us (Yuan Quin, Ching Lin and Li Zheng) is resolved, then we’ll get married. I can still wait.”
But one more of my favorite line is, incidentally, not from any of the main cast. It’s when Yuan Quin’s sister told Ching Lin, “Marriage is not always based on fiery, passionate love. Love grows with time. To marry the man who loves you the most, it is a woman’s true happiness.”
(1) When Ching Lin was sleeping, her foot wrapped in a marble cast, Yuan Quin came in quietly and looked at her sleeping figure, then wrote “I love you” on her cast, without signing his name.
(2) When Ching Lin was devasted over Li Zheng’s betrayal and was cavorting with strangers in bars, Yuan Quin rescued her. He looked at her unconscious face and tenderly brushed her hair from her forehead, then lifted her into his arms and took her home.
(3) When Ching Lin’s sight returned and she finally accepted Yuan Quin
(4) Yuan Quin’s death, Ching Lin’s face flashing before his eyes before he blacked out.
(1) Yuan Quin’s funeral, when Ching Lin was talking to herself, pretending Yuan Quin was there beside her, and then broke down into tears when she realized Yuan Quin had given her the world, and she’d not done a thing for him, not even cook him a single meal.
(2) When Ching Lin tried to kill herself, crying that there were so many things she had to say to Yuan Quin. And when Yuan Quin’s ghost finally visited her, she realized she had only one important thing to say: Thank you.
(1) When Ching Lin’s sight returned, and she and Yuan Quin embraced, happy tears in her eyes.
(2) When Ching Lin “proposed” to Yuan Quin, and Yuan Quin gave her the engagement ring.
The BEST part – the LOVE factor
Yuan Quin was the embodiment of a selfless, unconditional love. Even though he met Ching Lin first, when Ching Lin fell in love with Li Zheng instead, he couldn’t do anything. When Li Zheng started taking Ching Lin for granted, Yuan Quin was angry and indignant. So he was always there to protect her, to cheer her up, to make sure she was safe. He did it not because he hoped he could make her love him by doing that, but because he wanted her to be safe and happy. Ching Lin spurned him and made him angry and stepped all over his pride, but still he loved her unconditionally. Such a selfless love deserves a reward, and finally Ching Lin fell in love with him, they were even going to get married, but he died before he got the happy ending he deserved. Such a sad fate for a wonderful, generous, loving man.
Even though Yuan Quin died in the end without his happy ending with Ching Lin, I still think it is the perfect ending for this story. Because Yuan Quin loved with all his heart, it was too good to be true.
Most Jan Dong Gun fans hoped the ending meant that in the future Ching Lin and Li Zheng would get back together. But I disagree. I think they went through too much, and had one special person who affected their lives so much (namely, Yuan Quin), that there was too much bad water under the bridge, so all they could ever be is just to be good friends.
As for when Yuan Quin’s ghost visited Ching Lin before the last fashion show, some people had hoped Ching Lin would finally tell Yuan Quin that she loved him – you see, in all 36 episodes, she had never told him that she loved him. But instead, what she said was “Thank you.” I happen to think what she said was perfect. “I love you” is not enough to cover everything Ching Lin feels for Yuan Quin. But “Thank You” is perfect. Thank you for your love and everything you’ve done for me.
I thank Yuan Quin too. It was because of him that I first saw what unconditional love was like. He was not perfect, and the woman he loved was not perfect, either. She was talented, yes, but she was also competitive and prideful and she hated to lose. Of course there was also the beginning when she was blindly in love with Li Zheng and took Yuan Quin for granted. But no matter what she was, he still loved her selflessly, always forgiving her, always protecting her. Not because he was an idiot, but because he accepted her for all she was. And I think it is also because he loved her for exactly that reason – for her fiery spirit.
Actually, MODEL is longer than the average Korean series. Most of them are only 20 episodes long. But MODEL has a lot more story aside from Li Zheng/Ching Lin/Yuan Quin. It also tells the story of other struggling models, their love lives and their families.
For those interested, there are lots of beautiful girls and handsome guys in this series.
All in all, MODEL has an interesting, engaging storyline, it’s fast-paced and intriguing, and I certainly spent the time sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for Yuan Quin’s happy ending. Above all, it’s a love story of a woman’s choice between two men – one whom she loves more, or the one who loves her the most.
Jan Dong Gun and Han Jae Suk had another series together, “ALL ABOUT EVE”. 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…
Here’s a page I made for MODEL: CLICK HERE