Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Vandalism near mural in Keelung draws criticism

By Lin Hsin-han and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A graffiti painting of the character Totoro from the popular Japanese anime film My Neighbor Totoro is pictured on a wall at Chung Cheng Park in Keelung on Saturday.

Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Taipei Times

Netizens reacted angrily after finding that a new attraction in Keelung has been damaged by overeager and careless visitors.

Visitors to the Chung Cheng Park were pleasantly surprised earlier this month when they discovered graffiti of “Totoro,” a popular character in the Japanese cartoon My Neighbor Totoro, on a wall by Shoushan Road.

The work became an overnight sensation, attracting large numbers of visitors.

However, in recent days, some netizens reported that visitors have reduced an entire area of flowers and greenery in front of the Totoro painting to a small heap of trampled vegetation.

The discovery quickly sparked outrage as many Internet users raised the question: “Why can’t visitors just appreciate and photograph the artwork from afar?”

A Facebook post aimed at raising public awareness of the egregious deed has received quite a number of “likes” and “share,” with many laying the blame on Keelung residents.

A netizen based in Keelung countered the criticisms by saying “most of the tourists come from other municipalities.”

“Many of us who live nearby [the graffiti] have not been there yet,” the netizen wrote.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to conserve beautiful sights and the environment,” another netizen wrote.

“Pointing fingers at people from certain municipalities is not the sensible way,” the netizen wrote.

Commenting on the matter, Keelung Department of Public Works Director-General Lee Tung-cheng (李銅城) said the popularity of the graffiti has drawn huge crowds of visitors to the site and that access to the artwork has become very difficult during and after showers since the meadows were worn out.

The department plans to pave trails leading to the site, and grow the grass back to beautify its surroundings, he said.

Huang Yi-wei (黃毅維), head of the department’s public utilities unit, said that illegal parking around the park has been rampant recently in the wake of the graffiti’s popularity, causing much inconvenience to tourist buses.

He reminded visitors to the site to heed traffic rules or risk paying a fine.

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