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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs