A star makes a costly introduction


  • Colours of China
  • Monday, 16 Oct 2017

YOU may not know who they are, but these two youngsters crashed the Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, broke tens of millions of hearts and forced a web engineer to skip his wedding ceremony – in minutes.

This happened when Chinese heartthrob Lu Han (pic) dropped a bombshell on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, on the last day of the Golden Week holiday when most people were preparing for work or school the following day.

“Hello, let me introduce you, this is my girlfriend @Guan Xiaotong,” wrote the pop star with the highest number of fans (over 41 million) among the post-1990s celebrities at noon on Oct 8.

This surprise announcement spread faster than wildfire to reach a record high of over 820 million Weibo users within just a few minutes, according to data released by the social media site.

The fans not only visited the accounts of the couple, they also checked on Dilraba Dilmurat, the Uyghur on-screen lover of Lu Han.

And the result – the Weibo server was paralysed for some four hours.

About 30 minutes after the server went down, its customer service team apologised for the inconvenience caused and at the same time, did not forget to poke fun at the new couple by writing: “What caused this, you all should know very well”, followed by three smiley faces sticking their tongues out.

Dilraba and Lu Han were made a pair for variety show Keep Running (Season 5), a spin-off from the popular South Korean game show, Running Man.

This orchestrated relationship was well accepted by fans and brought a significant amount of popularity and commercial returns to the duo.

Many Weibo users, especially Lu Han’s fans, reacted with disbelief to his post, comforting themselves that it was a publicity gimmick for the new Chinese idol drama Sweet Combat, in which the actor- singer and Guan play two students at a sports school.

Diehard fans expressed their sadness about the end of their “fruitless love stories” with the 27-year-old Lu Han.

The post “Click like if you think this is fake” garnered more than 220,000 likes in minutes.

In their imaginary relationships with Lu Han, they could only accept Dilraba, 25, as the third party, thanks to the successful marketing gimmick.

Guan, 20, who started her acting career four years ago, is currently a Year 2 student at Beijing Film Academy, a cradle for the Chinese film industry which has nurtured stars like Huang Lei, Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming as well as award-winning directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige.

She is less popular compared to Dilraba, who has over 34 million Weibo fans.

Now, how popular is Lu Han in China and how crazy can his fans be?

Born in Beijing, Lu Han was recruited as a member of the popular South Korean boys group EXO in 2011 when he was studying there. He left the group and returned to China three years later.

This xiao xian rou, literally translated as little fresh meat – referring to young, good-looking and innocent men – can make a product shoot to fame overnight without spending a single cent.

Around 11pm on April 8, Lu Han posted a picture of himself next to a mailbox at The Bund of Shanghai and the miracle happened soon.

A long queue of people started lining up to take photos with the dark green pillar-like mailbox, one that can also be found anywhere else.

At its peak, the queue stretched up to 300m and the security team had to reschedule their roster and patrol beats to maintain peace and order at the location.

This celebrity effect is not something strange in China and is one reason why many companies still stick to “low-budget” television commercial plots but are willing to pay sky-high fees for celebrities to advertise their products.

Chinese TV commercials are boring and usually feature celebs saying a few words about how good the products are.

Apart from Weibo users, one person who was greatly affected by the collapse of the server was Ding ZhenKai, who posted a picture of himself in front of a laptop.

It was his wedding day, but the website engineer was forced to put aside his ceremony and bride to deal with the emergency.

“The server is stable, my father-in-law asked me to go for a glass of wine, it’s all Lu Han’s fault,” he wrote later.

To make up for this, Lu Han has expressed his regrets while his manager replied that he would buy the couple a meal.

Ding and his newly-wed wife also received tonnes of well wishes from Weibo users.


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Opinion , Beh Yuen Hui , columnist

   

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