Celebrity stalker finds herself under the spotlight

Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2017/1/5 20:03:39

Gong Yuwen (right), known as

Gong Yuwen (right), known as "Hongqiao Diva" has her picture taken with actress Ma Sichun. Photo: CFP 

Swarms of fans chase their idol at the Shanghai Hongqiao International airport. Photo: CFP

Swarms of fans chase their idol at the Shanghai Hongqiao International airport. Photo: CFP

For years, Gong Yuwen, an ordinary-looking 18-year-old high-school dropout, spent most of her days camped at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, stalking and taking photos of the celebrities who passed through.

Gong calls herself an "all-loving fan," which means she isn't obsessed with any one particular star, but enjoys following all of them - whether they are K-pop singers, Chinese actors, models or comedians.

Gong enjoyed an exciting life as a full-time fan, until she herself was one day thrown into the spotlight when this story of a die-hard fan at Hongqiao airport, a dropout and jobless girl living off her grandparents went viral on the Internet. Now nicknamed "Hongqiao Diva" by the media, she had to deal with the unexpected fame, criticism, and people who want to profit from her notoriety.

Unexpected fame

Gong was suddenly thrown into the spotlight in December, when Shanghai singer Yuan Chengjie posted a photo on microblogging site Weibo of Gong and another girl at a McDonald's in Hongqiao airport, writing that he was sharing breakfast with "two little fans."

That post soon attracted the attention of other fans who recognized Gong. As an all-loving fan, Gong is notorious among other loyal fans for following celebrities regardless of who they are. They told Yuan that he had been duped by Gong, posting pictures of her pursuing other celebrities in the comments section, which was soon flooded with hundreds of similar pictures.

In some of them, Gong is seen taking selfies with famous people who were passing through the airport. In others, she is chasing celebrities or jostling through crowds to get a picture of them. The list of stars she has taken photos of include Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, supermodel Liu Wen and South Korean actor Lee Min-Ho.

Gong's ubiquity left many in awe. When some fans browsed through previous photos they had taken of their idols at the airport, they were astonished to find that Gong was in them.

Yuan's average Weibo post gets 100 reposts. But the post featuring Gong has been forwarded over 46,000 times, with most Weibo users marveling at her star stalking techniques and her brazenness in asking every celebrity she manages to hunt down for a photo.

Tables turned

Gong became an Internet sensation, and as the celebrity of the moment, real celebrities had to borrow her fame.

At first, she continued to show up at Hongqiao airport, waiting for the stars. Every time when celebrities took a photo with or offer an autograph to Gong, it made headlines.

Actress Ma Sichun, who recently won the Golden Horse Award for best lead actress, even did a short interview with Gong when she passed through the airport. The video of the interview was later posted online, in which Ma advised Gong to "find a boyfriend" rather than "photographing celebrities." Some entertainment industry insiders questioned if this had been a scheme to boost Ma's exposure using Gong's fame.

Some netizens joked that you could now judge the level of a celebrity's fame by the attention they had received from Gong. "Don't say you're famous if you haven't been stalked by Hongqiao Diva!" one netizen said.

But the criticism and loss of privacy that came along with fame was something Gong found difficult to handle.

Just after she became famous, reporters sought to dig out details of her past, and the story of her allegedly low IQ and poor academic performance at school soon emerged, prompting many to criticize her for being a terrible example of China's fan culture.

Gong's grandmother told reporters that Gong had stopped attending school after she flunked her high school entrance examination, and had since devoted her time to waiting for celebrities at the airport.

The great satisfaction she gets from taking photos with celebrities is something that is far more fulfilling than attending school, and cannot be measured by money. Her grandmother says although she hasn't a source of income, Gong has never sold any of the celebrity autographs she collected.

Loss of freedom

But for many, Gong's fame means nothing more than money. And those around her soon started to take advantage of that fame.

Gong's friends vied to represent her. Yezi, a fellow fan who used to pursue stars along with Gong, announced that she was her agent and opened an official Weibo account for her. But when reporters approached Gong, she said she didn't control the account and that the commercials on it had been posted against her will. The account is now idle.

She seems to have lost her freedom. Last week, when she returned to Hongqiao from a trip to Changsha to record an entertainment program, paparazzi snapped photographs of her wearing a mask, followed by a group of four, including her agents and her mother. When one reporter tried to approach her, she refused to be interviewed, while her mother threatened to call the police.

She no longer shows up at the airport stalking stars. She told one reporter by WeChat, "Whenever I go to the airport, there's a crowd waiting for me. I have no freedom," she said.

Global Times - Agencies

Newspaper headline: Stars in her eyes


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