News / Asia

Murder Victim's Blog Post Leads Police to Killer, Inspires New Film

Short film explores isolation of Asian students far from home.

On May 12, 2005, Simon Sek Man Ng, a 19 year-old Hong Kong Chinese student in Queens, New York, wrote the following blog post:

“Today I missed my Japanese class again, since I have gotten a bad throat. I only went to the class once this week … Anyway today has been weird, at 3 some guy ringed the bell. I went down and recognized it was my sister's former boyfriend. He told me he wants to get his fishing poles back. I told him to wait downstair while I get them for him. While I was searching them, he is already in the house. He is still here right now, smoking, walking all around the house with his shoes on which btw I just washed the floor 2 days ago! Hopefully he will leave soon…”

What looks like the rather mundane post of a teenage slacker turned out to be his ghostly digital epitaph as Ng was brutally murdered the same day. His blog still lives online.

The post left a big clue for police and led them directly to the killer, the sister’s ex-boyfriend Ng mentioned.

It is the premise for the new film short “Today Has Been Weird,” which premiered recently at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. In it, Chinese-Canadian Director Quentin Lee adapts Ng’s story to the Vancouver environment he knew as a student, when he too had “parachuted" into a foreign culture for an education, alone and far away from his family back in Hong Kong.

Alone together

Lee first heard Ng’s story in 2005, when he was a blogger on the same Xanga network. The story stuck with him through the years, and he jumped at the chance to bring it to the big screen.

“I had always been moved by [Ng’s situation]. My parents just shipped me off,” Lee said. “For Thanksgiving, I stayed in my dorm. I felt isolated and not connected to the culture.”

Lee said he was moved by the dramatic irony of Ng’s story. Ng wrote so many blog posts that no one read, seeking connection from imaginary friends.

“The first time his blog became popular was after his death.”

Lee did take some artistic license, moving the scene of the crime from Queens to Vancouver, changing the protagonist to a video blogger named Clement, and making the killer Caucasian.

The real murderer was 23 year-old Jin Lin, who also killed Ng’s sister later the same day.

Parachute kids

While Ng’s brutal murder was unusual, his desire for connection in a foreign culture is common among “parachute kids,” primary or secondary school-age children sent alone to study in the U.S. or Canada.

“The stress of immigration, coping with separation from parents, and having high academic expectations greatly affects the psychological and emotional well-being of parachute children,” write Yuying Tsong and Yuli Liu in Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives. “Whether the children live alone, with relatives, or with a paid caregiver, many of them expressed experiencing loneliness and homesickness.”

And it’s not just a few cases. While exact numbers are hard to come by, it’s estimated that since the 1980s, hundred of thousands of Asian youth, mostly from Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China have come to the U.S. and Canada without their parents, some as young as eight.

In an interview, Tsong, a psychology professor at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California, said the numbers from Taiwan and Korea are decreasing as the education systems there improve, but anecdotally she sees an increase in kids from China and other countries.

“I know for Taiwanese and Korean parents, what they’re looking for is essentially a better opportunity to have a good education, which leads to better careers, which I think in traditional Asian countries leads to supposedly better lives.”

"Parachute kids" usually end up living with siblings, like Ng did, or with other relatives or friends of the family.

“Typically these parents don’t drop these kids off in Akron, Ohio, where there aren’t other Asians,” said Tsong. “They drop them in Irvine [California] or in communities where there are Asians around, and they know people. There is a sense that if [the child does] anything, [their] parents are going to hear about it.”

She said the majority of these students adjust fine, but that the media only talks about the one percent who become Nobel Prize winners or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, those who fail miserably.

“I think the norm is that there is quite a range,” Tong said. “It really comes down to how parents try to maintain the relationship.”

And that, she said, is a struggle for every family. When asked if she thought Lee’s movie fairly reflects the culture of parachute students, Tsong said except for the comment about the boyfriend wearing shoes in the house, “Today Has Been Weird” could be about any teenager trying to find a connection.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid