'Sex Photos Gate' Shakes Hong Kong
New America Media, News Analysis, Jun Wang Posted: Feb 20, 2008
Editor's Note: A celebrity sex scandal involving more than a dozen of Hong Kong's young starlets swept headlines for over 21 consecutive days earlier this year. New America Media Chinese media monitor Jun Wang investigates what the press was focusing on.
HONG KONG - Some 500 compromising of Hong Kong movie star and singer Edison (Kwoon-Hei) Chen – and more than a dozen female starlets – have been leaked on the Internet since late January. The scandal, called “sex photos gate” by Chinese media, has been challenging Hong Kong police, its legal system and moral standards.
On Jan. 27, someone with the username “Edison Chen” posted a photo of the movie star Edison Chen and his former girlfriend – Hong Kong TV star Gillian (Ar Gill) Chung – on a heavily visited Chinese-language website based in Hong Kong, according to the Oriental Morning News. The photo showed Chen and Chung making love, with the comment saying another picture was coming soon. Online viewers immediately started trying to discern if the photos were real by comparing them to press photos of the celebrities. It was discovered that the background of the sex photo resembled Chen’s bedroom at home from a video clip on YouTube.
Although the first sex photo was deleted soon after being posted – more were to follow, showing compromising images of at least 14 Hong Kong starlets. The Information Times reported that Edison Chen left Hong Kong early morning the day after the photos were leaked – supposedly to visit his girlfriend in America. The women in the photos also dealt with major fallout from the scandal. Some said they would resort to legal action. Gillian Chung’s entertainment company put out a statement saying that the photos were faked, while she refused to leave her house for two weeks. Apparently, the starlet was embarrassed and angry to find out that she was not Chen’s only lover at the time they were together. Another one of the exposed women was left by her fiancé when photos of her with Edison began to flood the Internet.
“Congratulations! You’re not in Chen’s photos!” became the most popular greetings in Hong Kong and nearby Chinese societies in the Chinese New Year’s season.
The Hong Kong police set up a team of over 100 policemen to investigate the sex photos – both to examine the pictures and search for the people posting them. The photos are suspected of being retrieved from Chen’s computer while under repair. The police approached all major Internet companies in Hong Kong to make sure all photos are immediately deleted when posted. Then, user information was handed over to the police and about 30 suspect user IDs were located. However, even under such police scrutiny, more sex photos have surfaced.
The policeman did investigate the authenticity of the photos, finding no evidence of faked images. They said some of the photos were of very low quality, and were most probably captured by cell phone cameras. In the Information Times, experts said it would be almost impossible to make up such a huge collection of fake photos, some of which are consecutive shots all at one scene. Plus, physical identifications like tattoos clearly identify some of the women in the photos.
Cecillia Cheung, one of the women in the photos, acknowledged that she is in the photos with Chen. She also told the police that she was not forced into the sex act or to pose in the photos. Cheung, who recently became a mother, has received public support in the sex photo scandal from her movie star husband Nicholas Tse.
Chen, the main figure in the scandal, posted an apology on YouTube on February 4th – asking people to stop circulating the pictures and delete them immediately. According to the Sing Tao Daily, Chen has been afraid of being arrested because – under Hong Kong law – if any of the starlets in the sex photos were not aware of the camera or were forced into having their picture taken, Chen could be put into jail.
Chinesenews.com reported that Chen, who was born in Vancouver in 1980, was from a wealthy, but complicated family. His parents divorced and his father was said to be gay. Other rumors about Chen include a story about being betrayed by his girlfriend at the age of 15, which then made it hard for him to “trust people.” Chen has said publicly that his favorite exercise is love making.
Hong Kong police have been criticized for being weak during the scandal investigation process. They have been called out for being incapable of protecting people, especially youngsters from being exposed to sex scandal and moral deterioration.
Meanwhile, the scandal has opened up legal and illegal business opportunities. The sex photos are sold for $1 to $2 US dollars on some online stores. Plus, a company in Mainland China is working on the registration to have “Kwoon-Hei” and “Ar Gill” as the brand names of adult products, expecting lucrative benefits.
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