20 March 2010

Gruelsome: Man Accused of Eating Children's Brains to "Cure" Epilepsy

Only the Fairbank Report (not even the Drudge Report) brings you exotic but true stories from around the world -- for free!

Yunnan Province, PR China

A village near Baoshan is in shock after the arrest of a man who stands accused of
murdering two children and eating their brains, allegedly to cure his epilepsy.

29-year-old Wang Zhaoxu (王朝旭), a resident of the village of Xianqi, is awaiting trial in a local detention center for the grisly murders of a three-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy earlier this year.

Another villager reportedly discovered Wang crouching over the boy's corpse in a field on January 23.

Zhang Huansheng told local media that when he approached Wang and the dead boy, Wang began shaking the child's body and said, "My child has passed out and I'm trying to wake him up. Baby, wake up, wake up."

Later that day after Wang's arrest, the girl's body was found in another part of the village. Both children's skulls were opened, their brains missing.

Wang was attempting to cure his severe epilepsy by eating a mixture of children's brains and earthworms, which is reportedly a local folk treatment for epilepsy.

The names of both victims are being withheld while the investigation continues.

Source: http://www.gokunming.com/en/blog/item/1416/baoshan_man_accused_of_murder_cannibalism

24 Hours Away from Socialized Medicine


03 March 2010

Silence -- A Drama Worth (re)Watching

As a recent reconvert to Asian dramas and movies, I am always looking out for new, and in the case of this review, older titles.

Silence (aired in Taiwan in 2006) is a Taiwanese drama starring the island’s most popular male entertainer, Vic Chou (of the pop band F4 fame), and Korean singer/actress Park Eun-hye (of a recent sex scandal infamy). While I am always leery about singers becoming actors and vice versa, Chou (playing the role of Qi Weiyi) and Park (playing the role of Zhao Shenshen) perform their starring roles movingly and almost flawlessly. Since she does not speak Chinese, Park plays a mute girl who falls in love with Chou's character when the pair, then 12, spent a week together in a hospital ward.

Thirteen years later in 2006, the two young adults become intertwined in a series of interesting coincidences. Not knowing each other’s identity, Shenshen and Weiyi develop a budding romance that becomes even more intense as they painstakingly find out their true identities.

For me, the power of Silence is this unique plotline: Two lonely adolescents meet for one week and become instantly and passionately bonded. One is mute, and they communicate via written notes and hand gestures. Indeed, silence is golden, and in this case, passionately romantic. And even after a separation of 13 years (which is more than a lifetime in an adolescent’s life), both Shenshen and Weiyi would not and cannot love anyone else. There’s something mystically innocent and pure about an adolescent love that is carried into adulthood. How many moving obituaries have we read about so-and-so who returned to marry his high school sweetheart and lived happily for 60 years? In the case of Shenshen and Weiyi, they do not have 60 years as the drama ends with Weiyi’s most “beautiful” death.

The rest of the story is the generic stuff of soap opera. After all, the producers have to come up with 19 hours’ worth of content. What makes the generic branches and twigs of Silence interesting and worth watching is the charisma of Chou and Park.

Certainly, there are parts in the drama where Chou’s acting is a bit weak. He sometimes comes across as stiff and lethargic. But Chou is a talent not to be underestimated. His “singing” scene (singing Cai Qin's forlorn 恰似你的温柔 ["Just like your tenderness"]) as Shenshen is about to (yet) leave him (again) is gut-wrenchingly moving and effective. Let me admit it: I cried.

Some reviewers have said that the ending is particularly sad. Quite to the contrary. Silence’s last episode is one of hope – perhaps too hopeful and idyllic. Qi Weiyi’s mother finds hope in Ah Han and adopts him. Even his hate-filled half-sister experiences a change of heart. And Shenshen accepts Weiyi’s pending death as he dies in her embrace. The stylistic death scene here is particularly evocative and artistically beautiful.

The weakness in the concluding episode lies in the immediacy of Shenshen’s acceptance of Weiyi’s pending death. Throughout the last four or five episodes, everyone, except for Shenshen, knows of Weiyi’s terminal illness. And each goes through a grieving process. Yet, Shenshen discovers Weiyi’s death sentence only a few hours before he succumbs to it. And are we, then, to believe that she instantly accepts the loss of this great love without immense anguish? Perhaps an alternative 19th episode is needed for Shenshen to undergo a grieving process before the “beautiful” death scene in an additional 20th episode.

Silence is a rare gem among Taiwanese dramatic series. I watched this entire drama (19 hours) over the course of two and a half days. If Silence is a precursor of more great Taiwanese dramas to come, then we’re in for a treat!