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Celebrity Worship Turns Tragic
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A young female fan of Hong Kong star Andy Lau has recently experienced both the highest and lowest points in her life. After finally receiving the chance to meet her long-time idol, she also received word of her father's death. There has been a public outcry of anger towards the girl, particularly from Chinese netizens. She returned to the mainland Wednesday night with her mother, but refused to claim her father's body.

Andy Lau has released a statement saying he was shocked to hear the news and urged his fans to be rational in order to avoid a repeat of this tragedy.

Yang Lijuan, a 28-year-old girl from northwestern China's Gansu Province, became a huge fan of Andy Lau 13 years ago. From that moment, the only thing she cared about in life was to meet her idol. She quit school, wrote letters, and spent many years watching the star's music videos. Yang even made public attempts to get close to him, two times in Hong Kong and once in Beijing, but both times was disappointed.

Andy Lau, one of the most famous Hong Kong stars, has had a brilliant and legendary career in both the music and movie industries, and is considered one of the most recognizable icons for Chinese people. Yang once said if she could not intimately meet Lau, she would never marry and lose the will to live.

Yang Qinji, the girl's father, was a 68-year-old retired middle school teacher who supported the entire family with his pension of 1,900 yuan per month. Her mother was unable to work due to poor health. Her parents tried to persuade her to give up the quest, but after these efforts failed, her father decided instead to help the girl realize her dreams at any cost.

They sold almost everything, including their apartment; when this was not enough, her father tried to sell a kidney but was rejected by the hospital. He then borrowed high-interest loans totaling 11,300 yuan to cover the family's travels to Hong Kong.

Previously, Andy Lau had openly rebuked the girl in a TV interview after he learned about the situation. He claimed what she had been doing -- dragging her family into a desperate condition -- was "not right, normal, natural, or filial." Because of this, Lau refused to see the girl.

However, Yang Lijuan insisted she was not an ungrateful person. To clarify the misunderstandings and restore her image in the star's heart, the girl and her family came to Hong Kong for the third time last week, and finally managed to meet the superstar at a fan event on Sunday with the help of Andy Lau's Hong Kong fan club.

But her father became furious after he was informed that his daughter wouldn't get a chance to spend enough time to talk privately with the star about her feelings for him. Yang Qinji jumped into the sea early Monday morning while his wife and daughter were still asleep in a fast food restaurant. He was rescued by the coast guard, but died later in the hospital. His last wish, expressed in a 12 page letter, was for Andy Lau to see his daughter again.

Lau's reps denounced the accusation and showed three photographs as proof the pop star did spend time with the girl. They offered some help on the day the tragedy occurred and expressed hopes that the family would return to their hometown to start life anew.

"Who do you think you are, Andy Lau?" The father protested in his letter, saying the reason why he committed suicide was because he was not satisfied with the way Any Lau treated his daughter. He blamed all the tragedies and his death on Andy Lau and told the star he would not rest in peace until his daughter spent time again with him.

"Andy Lau ... you are selfish and hypocritical ... my daughter has wasted her adolescence and we are living in heavy debt ... aren't you guilty for this?" 
It was reported that due to the incident, Andy Lau has cancelled a scheduled film shoot for his part in the epic Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon in Gansu Province, where the family's hometown is located.

The girl and her mother were stunned by Yang Qinji's death. They were back from Hong Kong to Shenzhen Wednesday night but refused to claim the father's body, citing money and heartbreak as the reasons.

Despite all of this, Yang Lijuan still wants to see Andy Lau and said she would be back to Hong Kong again to fulfill her father's last will.

Most Chinese people were angry with the girl after learning the news, which soon became the hottest headline across China. Netizens poured their anger and sympathy upon the daughter while a batch of Chinese stars accepted interviews and asked their fans to be rational and think twice before taking any extreme action.

Li Zixun, a well-known Chinese psychologist, told Chongqing Times that the family must be paranoiac to take these extreme actions, while professor and sociologist Zhou Xiaozheng with Renmin University of China said the case only represents an individual case of psychosis in the fan.

But Chinese critic Zhang Ruoyu said the incident might hint at the possible culture crisis for Chinese society in the entertainment era. When stars like Andy Lau have become the spiritual comforts for some hearts, people should realize that humanity is suffering.

Yang Qinji from China's northwestern city Lanzhou, is rushed to hospital after he drowned himself in the sea following his declined request by Hong Kong singer Andy Lau of a personal engagement with his daughter Yang Lijuan, a fanatical fan of Andy, in Hong Kong, March 28, 2007. Yang Lijuan has been seeking close contact with Andy for over a decade, flying across China to see his show, and her family have spent all they own to fund the woman's far-flung pursuit of the singer.

Yang Lijuan (L) from China's northwestern city Lanzhou, a fanatical fan of Hong Kong singer Andy Lau, and her mother rest at a street corner in Hong Kong.

The posthumous paper of Yang Qinji, who commited suicide after Hong Kong singer Andy Lau declined his request of a personal engagement with her daughter Yan Lijuan, a fanatical fan of Andy. In the paper,the old man accused Andy of being prideful and again solicited  him of meeting his daughter. Yang Lijuan has been seeking close contact with Andy for a decade, flying across China to see his show, and her family have spent all they own to fund the woman's far-flung pursuit of the singer.

(China.org.cn by Zhang Rui, March 30, 2007)

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