Monday, April 24, 2017

China's Dancing Aunties Take Over Highway in Traffic Jam

By Asia Pop Culture

Ever wonder what to do if you are in the middle of a back-to-back traffic jam like the picture here?  Some travelers on a bus stuck in nearly 100 vehicles traffic jam on a Xi'an highway in China decided to take it to the highway.

More than a dozen passengers on a long distance bus stepped out onto the freeway to perform some traditional Chinese square dancing, somewhat similar to the opening scene from the movie La La Land.  Later, passengers from other cars also joined in on the impromptu dance party.

Most people probably do not realize how popular public square dancing is in China.  It started out as a seemingly harmless community social activity with people in groups dancing to easy to follow steps and pop music in an open space such as a parking lot or park.

Typically retired older ladies are the main force behind this Dancing Aunties move (younger people usually have to go to work and do not have time for group dancing). Problems and conflicts arise when nearby residents fed up with the blaring, monotonous music (on very loud loudspeakers) that often accompanies the outdoor dance sessions.  It sometimes even posed a disruptive force to the normal order of live.  Back in 2015, more than 10 nice dancing grannies pushed three parked cars aside with their bare hands at a Metro station in Yanta district, Xi’an Province, just so to have more space to 'shake and groove'.

Local governments have tried to "regulate" Dancing Aunties by passing certain standards, guidelines and even laws.  Nevertheless none of them have worked. The damas have only grown stronger and even started coordinating their movements on social media.  One social media app, Tangdou Guangchangwu (糖豆广场舞), specifically for dancing has just received $15 Billion in funding late last year.  The app is scheduled for launch in 2017.  Dancing grannies or wanna-be may find a nearby group, coordinate the meet and even learn new dance moves, via the app.  

Some attributed the popularity to the fact that many of the dancing aunties/grannies grew up in an era of revolutionary song and dance during the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Back then, music was loud (the louder the better) and passions ran high.  Many dancing aunties are reminiscent of their past and see the hobby as a peaceful and healthy pastime and will stand by and support it with with the same devotion and passion like they once had during the Cultural Revolution era.

But recently local governments have started pushing back. Last year, a community in Hefei began instituting a real-name registration system for its dancing aunties. The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region placed a ban on playing music or using loudspeakers for dancing between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in parks located near residential buildings.  We will have to wait and see the next moves by the Dancing Aunties in China.  Meanwhile, here is a video (narrated in English and English subtitle) taking a look at this social phenomenon in China.        

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Is Up with China's Korean Ban?

By Asia Pop Culture

Beijing has issued a “Korean restriction order” as a retaliation after South Korea granted land for Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system deployment to U.S. military.

Wikipedia explains that THAAD is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system which is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

China has been vocal about its opposition to THAAD and has claimed the system's powerful radar could be used to monitor its military.  Beijing's military is reportedly building a new missile defense unit against THAAD.

From TV dramas to fried chicken, South Korean products are popular among young people in China, earning the S. Korea a record $5.3 billion in 2014 exports. even though Chinese citizens apparently love Korean culture, they have expressed support for the government’s tough stance.  China is in effect throwing around its purchasing and economic power to show who's the boss in Asia.

Korean TV shows and K-pop music videos have been blocked from streaming in China.  South Korean culture is a big deal among Chinese young people from fashion, cosmetics, music, food, to TV shows and defines what's cool among  young people.  Even so, Chinese citizens expressed support for Beijing's harsh stance.  Some netizens s have posted about boycotting Korean beauty products.

Quite a few Korean celebrities have already canceled tours or commercial events in China. To counter China's ban, many big Korean entertainment companies and K-pop stars are avoiding China altogether and trying to diversify into other Asian regional markets.  “Korean Wave” (韓流 or “Hallyu”) has already swept Southeast Asian countries, so it is not hard for South Korea to make that switch at all.

China previously being the focus, now K-pop stars are targeting the Southeast Asian market.  For example, although EXO, a K-pop boy band hugely popular in China, canceled two concerts in August in Shanghai, the group just held a concert in Taipei Taiwan last November, three more concerts in Malaysia last month, and just finished another show in Singapore this month.  Another K-pop boy group Super Junior already has huge fan base throughout Asia.

The question remains if the rest of Asia will make up for the loss from China's "Korean restriction order" and how long this "ban" will last.  For now, let's enjoy an MV, Growl performed by EXO to appreciate the K-pop craze in Asia.  

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Only in China: 'Building Shaker' to Avenge Noisy Neighbors

By Asia Pop Culture

Unless you live on acres of land with no nearby neighbors, you most likely have been annoyed by some of the things your neighbor(s) did seriously disrupting your live.  For example, if you live in a inner-city condo building sharing wall(s) or ceiling/floor with neighbors, your life would be in near-hell if one of your neighbors constantly plays loud music at night or smokes like a chimney. Typically, there is not much you can do except to go talk to the offender or report it to Property Management or police.    

Well, here is an idea for you.  According to Shanghaiist, a man living in Xi'an city at Shaanxi Province in China was also having problems with his noisy upstairs neighbors. The upstairs family has a young boy who likes to jump around disturbing his rest. The guy did go upstairs to talk to the family about the situation, but nothing changed.

Looking to give the noisy neighbors a taste of their own medicine, this guy went online at Taobao and bought a "building shaker" for 400 yuan (about $60). Powered by a motor, the machine is designed to continually thump against walls.  So at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, he switched the machine on and left his flat for the weekend.

With the constant thumping on their floor over the weekend, the neighbors went to the property management office, but there was nothing the management company could do to help. So the neighbors contacted the police who were unable to track the guy down (he had left for the weekend, remember?). 

Finally, it was not until Sunday afternoon after the machine had been thumping for nearly two days straight, the guy returned to his flat and the police was able to get him to turn off that machine.

Of course, it's not clear if the guy was punished for his act of revenge.  This will most likely get you into a whole lot of trouble with the police in the US.  I am not even sure how this 'building shaker' machine is utilized in a normal application.  On Taoboa, the item headline in Chinese says "Prevent Upstairs Noise with Multi Functional Remote Control".  The price range is about $13 to $60.  I guess that guy just bought the largest model and correctly used it for its intended purpose.  

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