Ex-Kung Fu kid relishing new role

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, May 11, 2013 - Page 3

Yen Cheng-kuo (顏正國), a former child star who was jailed for 11 years for abduction and extortion, is now using his brush strokes instead of his fists to solve problems.

The young star of the wildly popular The Kung Fu Kids (好小子) movie series screened in the late 1980s was charged with drug use, burglary, causing bodily harm and possession of firearms before being sentenced to a lengthy jail term for abduction and extortion.

He was part of a five-man group involved in an abduction and ransom case in July 2001 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in July, 2002, after being convicted of the crimes.

He was released early in March last year because of good behavior while in prison.

On Thursday, Yen announced the publication of a book titled Giving Up Fists and Painting a New Life through Calligraphy —- Kung Fu Kid Yen Cheng-kuo’s Youth and Awakening.

The book tells how he started a new chapter in life a year after he finished serving his jail term.

While serving time in prison, Yen studied the art of writing Chinese characters from calligrapher Chou Liang-tun (周良敦).

Yen said he made the decision because he believed calligraphy could help change his personality.

He now makes a living selling his calligraphic works and teaching calligraphy.

Yen said he had lost a great deal, but hopes to “regain what I’ve lost by enriching myself so I will find a good future.”

The 38-year-old also talked about his relationship with his son, saying “there is no distance between us.”

He said he is not so concerned about whether his son has a good academic record, adding “I only hope that he will be a person of good character.”

What he does not want his son to do is to become a young actor like himself.

“A child cannot tell right from wrong. A child star faces great pressure at school,” he said.

Asked if he will go back to his old job in the entertainment world, Yen said that will depend on the circumstances.

“If it is a good role, I will try even if it is very challenging,” he said.

However, he said he will not play a gangster or drug dealer because he does not want people to associate his new life with his time in jail.