Arts

Arts

‘A Little Red Flower’ blossoms in China
One may think that a global pandemic would turn people off of films about illness, but in China, the recent box office darling explores the toll that severe illness takes on the human psyche.  The movie, titled A Little Red Flower, is a love story about a couple with cancer and the stress it puts on their families.  The movie stars Jackson Yee, whose performance in Better Days (2019) brought much critical acclaim, and Liu Haocun, who plays his girlfriend who also has cancer. Released on December 31, the movie has grossed more US$155 million in ticket sales in China as of January 11. By comparison, Hollywood blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 has made around US$25 million despite being released o
Director’s plagiarism background may have gotten his movie pulled in China
The first rule any writer learns is that plagiarism often results in the death of a career, and popular Chinese novelist and screenwriter Guo Jingming may be learning this lesson first hand.  The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity, a recent blockbuster movie directed by Guo, was pulled from cinemas across China last week, with many in the industry suspecting it has to do with a belated plagiarism apology.  In 2003, Guo was accused of copying In and Out of the Circle, a book by Zhuang Yu, for his novel Never Flowers in Never Dreams, which became a major hit.  In 2006, he was ordered by a court to issue a public apology, but he did not do so until the final day of 2020 after 156 people from t
K-pop may help end China’s dispute with South Korea
Perhaps BTS’ next song should be titled Time heals all wounds because four years after China banned the K-pop supergroup, their songs have finally returned to Chinese airwaves.  In a promising sign this week that suggests warming relations between the two nations, the band’s hit song Dynamite was played on Beijing radio. One academic described the move as “hopeful”, but said it was too soon to tell if the nations’ long-running disputes would end.  Since 2016, relations between China and South Korea have been frosty after China strongly opposed South Korea’s decision to deploy the US anti-missile defense system THAAD.  Beijing’s backlash was swift, with Korean television shows banned and K-p
Will Western museums return treasures taken from Asia and Africa?
American and European museums are reassessing whether and how to return artefacts claimed in Asia and Africa during conflicts and colonial eras as global sentiment changes over their rightful ownership. Museums are considering which items should be given back to their countries of origin, whose governments have been asking for decades for the return of pieces of their heritage, with activists becoming increasingly strident. Treasures from China’s Qing dynasty, including a carved white jade figure of the star god of longevity, Shulao, are scheduled for auction in Hong Kong on November 30 in a sale titled “Imperial Glories from the Springfield Museums Collection.” The decision by Springfield M
BTS face trial by Chinese social media over RM’s Korean War comments
K-pop group BTS has been targeted on Chinese social media over comments made about the Korean war, prompting some major brands to drop references to the band in online advertising. There was an angry reaction after the boy band’s leader RM told an awards ceremony that the South Korean band would always remember the country’s “history of pain” and shared “sacrifices” with the United States. The war began 70 years ago when North Korea invaded the South. A US-led coalition then joined the conflict on the side of the South, pushing the North’s troops back to the Chinese border, which prompted China to intervene on behalf of its communist ally. The conflict, which went on for three years, is offi
Patriotic movies may have unlocked China’s blockbuster machine
In the climactic scene of a recent hit Chinese blockbuster, a handsome military leader gives his troops an inspirational speech, urging them to fight for the nation against Japanese imperialists.  As the music crescendos, the inspired soldiers chant, “The Chinese nation will not perish! The Chinese nation will not perish!” But as the camera zooms out, we see a surprising sight that viewers in China might have expected to be censored: the blue and red flag of the Republic of China, now known as Taiwan, waving from a rooftop.  Considered a symbol of Taiwan “separatism,” the flag was spotted a few times in the war epic The Eight Hundred, a movie set during the second Sino-Japanese war, when Chi
Why tattoos are still frowned upon in East Asia
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Tattoos may be increasingly embraced by young people in China, particularly in cities like Shanghai, which has a burgeoning tattoo scene, yet age-old prejudices against those with inked skin prevail in many parts of Chinese society. Chinese state media have blurred David Beckham’s tattoos when he appeared shirtless on TV.  In Lanzhou, capital of the northwestern province of Gansu, authorities implemented a no-tattoo rule in August, ordering taxi drivers to remove their tattoos for good.  In countries like Japan and South Korea, attitudes toward tattoos ar
English construction worker found Chinese relic while clearing out his garage
An English construction worker has found a valuable Chinese artifact initially thought to be a “teapot” while clearing out family belongings from a garage during lockdowns to fight the spread of Covid-19. The 51-year-old from Derbyshire in the UK said he was about to send the item to a charity shop before discovering it was an 18th-century imperial wine ewer. It fetched a life-changing sum at an auction this week. 
Disney’s Mulan is besieged by critics. The worst may still lie ahead
Hit with bad reviews and accusations of complicity in China’s mistreatment of ethnic minorities, Mulan is getting no respite ahead of its opening in Chinese theaters. Disney’s live-action remake has racked up dismal advance ticket sales for its opening day in China on Friday, according to China’s largest film ticketing app Maoyan. As of Wednesday morning, the sales amounted to $307,000 after three days’ presale, a fraction of those of recent hit movies in the country. Love You Forever, a time-traveling romance, took in $20 million in advance tickets before it opened in August. Mulan has faced a fresh storm of criticism since its September 4 release in the US after it was found to be partly f
Why China’s hip-hop stars are staying silent on Black Lives Matter
After a 2017 rap show got a generation of China’s youth hooked on hip hop, the musical genre has created dozens of Chinese stars and, along with them, billions of streaming views. But despite their enthusiasm for a culture that originated in the African-American community, Chinese hip-hop stars and their legions of fans have largely stayed silent on the Black Lives Matter movement, which has swept across the world after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis. Canadian-Chinese hip-hop star Kris Wu has made no comments on the anti-racism protests to his 50.9 million social media followers on Weibo and 7.3 million on Instagram. GAI, a rapping competition winner