Live from a ‘haunted’ home


IT may have looked like a boring livestream of a man spending 24 hours in an apartment left vacant after the previous owner committed suicide.

While the unidentified man may have had his own reason for doing the livestream, it was an initiative by the Wuzhong District People’s Court in the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province to quell the fears of potential buyers of the apartment that was put up for auction.

During the livestreaming session, which began at 10am on Nov 9, the man was seen sitting on the sofa in front of a camera. There were several cameras set inside, overseeing the bedrooms, balcony and several angles of the living room.

The judge of the case showed up to answer queries from the public.

The unnamed judge said the main objective was to disprove potential buyers’ concern that the apartment was haunted.

He added that the court also wanted to reveal and inform bidders of the property’s background to avoid any disputes later.

He said the popular perception is that places where people died unnaturally are believed to be haunted.

“If someone bought a property and later found out about it (suicide), the person may not be able to accept it,” he explained.

The judge went on to introduce the property, saying it is airy, well-lit and comes with a spacious balcony.

“It has two bedrooms, a dining area, a kitchen and a living room.

“This is good for the first-time home buyer with a limited budget,” he added.

After the judge left, the man carried on with his daily routine such as working out, watching TV, having his meals, and using his handphone.

It was almost like watching the Paranormal Activity film series, except, the curious who tuned in to catch unexplained phenomena left with disappointment. The man was not “disturbed” in any way throughout his stay.

The livestreaming session, however, attracted over 50,000 views.

Posting a bunch of questions to the man – who works for an online auction platform – viewers wanted to know why he had agreed to such an arrangement and how he felt being alone there.

Some members of the audience also shared their thoughts on social media platforms.

“A haunted house costs 1.2mil yuan and I am worthless,” said one viewer.

Another viewer joked that ghosts would not appear knowing clearly there would be a livestreaming session going on.

“I am not buying this property not because it is haunted, I am just poor,” said one.

The opening bid on the 82.58 sq m apartment, which is fully furnished, was set at 1.2mil yuan (RM782,000), one-third lower than the market price of 1.8mil yuan (RM1.17mil).

The one-day auction received no bidders.

The property will be auctioned again at a later date, a court worker told local media.

According to the court statement, the unit’s owner – who was struggling with gambling debts – committed suicide on an unrevealed date.

His wife and child are currently living there.

Although the Chinese leadership does not encourage its people to believe in ghosts and spirits to root out superstitious practices, Beijing – being one of the oldest cities in the world – has its share of ghost stories.

Speculated to be the city with the most deaths since its completion in 1420, dozens of emperors and empresses, as well as countless concubines, palace guards, eunuchs and servants have been killed within the high walls of the Forbidden City, which was sealed from the outside world until it was opened to the public in 1925.

It is rumoured that one can hear the sounds of cries and screams, and sightings of ghosts clad in ancient dress while animal spirits wandered the compound.

Another famous haunted site is Mansion No. 81, a former church about 5km from the Forbidden City.

The property area, which is about half the size of a football field houses two blocks of a bungalow with French architectural design and a huge garden.

Completed in 1921, it is said to have been built by a French engineer, who later leased out part of the west building block to a church.

Another version of its story said the church was built by a British priest who disappeared mysteriously. Some say it was the training centre for priests or a British weapon factory.

During the Republic Period (1912–1949), a Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) general, who lived there, fled with his family when the party retreated.

He left behind a mistress, who went insane and took her own life.

Since then, locals claim they can hear the screams of the mistress’ spirit.

Although the government had clarified many times there were no reports of a death or missing person at the mansion’s compound, many still avoid the place, probably due to the 2014 film The House That Never Dies, starring Hong Kong actor Francis Ng Chun-yu and Taiwanese actress Ruby Lin.

The 3D horror film, which used the mansion as the backdrop, raked in over 400mil yuan (RM260mil) in the box office.

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