One of the longest media stakeouts finally came to an end this week when photos of Andy Lau (劉德華) and Carol Chu (朱麗倩) holding hands hit the front pages of the Chinese-language tabloids. Chu has long been rumored to be Lau’s secret love, but the relationship had never been publicly acknowledged by either party. The image of Lau and Chu, hands firmly clasped, in Kuala Lumpur’s airport on their way back to Hong Kong, was one press photographers had been waiting to capture for 24 years.
The occasion of this revelation was the funeral of Chu’s father. To avoid disruption to the funeral, all references to Lau’s decades-long connection with the family were omitted from the event, but Lau, for reasons that are still unclear, decided that it was time for the secret to be conclusively let out of the bag, making his first public appearance as Chu’s partner.
Rumors of the relationship have long been present in the media, with many pointedly referring to Chu as Mrs Lau
(劉太太), although the couple have not married. Lau’s reluctance to have an acknowledged partner is closely linked with his image as one of the Chinese-speaking world’s biggest male sex symbols. Based on comments left on Lau’s many fan sites, it seems that fans have been overwhelmingly supportive of the star’s decision to give Chu what many regard as her rightful status.
Lau’s relationship with the media has never been easy given the huge interest his slightest action creates. Under pressure from Chu’s family to regularize the relationship, it was reported that Lau intended to marry Chu in April, even going so far as handing over a house worth more than NT$30 million as a dowry. Leaks to the press about the forthcoming nuptials angered Lau to such an extent that he called the marriage off, making the particularly hurtful comment that he wasn’t sure if he loved Chu enough to make the commitment of marriage.
Lau is not the only superstar who has worked hard to keep a long-standing relationship secret. Jackie Chan’s (成龍) relationship with Joan Lin (林鳳嬌) was only acknowledged quite recently (though they married in 1982), partly as a result of son Jaycee Fong (房祖名) emerging as a celebrity in his own right. In 2000, Taiwan’s own Jackie Wu (吳宗憲), who had long been thought to be single, was exposed as not only having a wife, but also four children, all of whom he had kept out of the media limelight. While both Wu and Chan were notorious for their numerous extramarital affairs, a situation that may have prompted their reluctance to open up about their domestic lives, Lau has never been strongly associated with any woman other than Chu. There is ongoing speculation as to whether Lau already has a child by Chu.
Meanwhile, A-mei (張惠妹), or rather A-mit (阿密特), as she is now known after the release of her new experimental album, is basking in the glow of success. Although struggling to hang on to a place in the wrong half of the Top 20, the announcement last week that her new album will be re-released with a number of cuts after the original was given an 18+ rating for the nudity and sexual content of the accompanying DVD, will give her plenty of kudos. The refrain “It’s bullshit” will be removed from the song Black Eats Black (黑吃黑) in the new edition. In compensation, a new song with Taiwanese lyrics will be added, capitalizing on the huge popularity of the Wu Bai (伍佰) inspired Come If You Dare (好膽你就來), which also features on the album. A-mei has clearly arrived as an artist pushing at the boundaries of the acceptable in Mando-pop, though watching the unexpurgated tracks on YouTube, it’s hard to see anything particularly transgressive, and A-mei’s take on female domination and sex as a power game is unlikely to shock anyone but a government censor.
In other music news, Sodagreen (蘇打綠) is hemorrhaging money in the making of its upcoming album Summer.Wild (夏．狂熱) after producer Will Lin (林暐哲) lost NT$900,000 in cash he was carrying while taking care of post-production in London. Hopefully the band will be able to make some of this money back in its concerts at Taipei Arena on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20.
The Lunar New Year vacation had just ended when Alice Wu began to worry about COVID-19. Not long after, on Feb. 10, Wu — who didn’t give her Chinese name to speak freely for this story — received the first of several coronavirus-related sales messages through her smartphone. The pitch came from an acquaintance who represents Amway, an American multi-level marketing (MLM) company that’s been active in Taiwan since 1982. “I’ve only met her once, and I’ve never bought from her. If her sister wasn’t one of my daughter’s teachers, I’d probably block her,” says Wu, who lives in Taichung. MLM, sometimes
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
For more than a century, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has been connecting the north and south of the nation. Between 1912 and 1926, the rail network was expanded to the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung. Even though the number of people living in Taiwan has grown massively — it has more than tripled since World War II — a combination of population outflow in certain places, and a greater range of transportation options, has led to the closure of several TRA stations. One of the most-visited retired stations is in, and named for, Kaohsiung’s Cishan District (旗山). Until the late
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there