A-pop! September Edition

A monthly column about all things Asian in popular culture

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

Between fall television premieres and online dowries (you read that correctly), September saw Asians popping up in the media in random but interesting ways.


Are you a regular Casanova? Hong Kong billionaire Cecil Chao wants you.

The dowry still exists! (Even though it’s 2012)

In one of the more outrageous news items I’ve read in a long while, Hong Kong billionaire and property magnate Cecil Chao Sze-tsung announced a HK$500 million (USD $65 million) “dowry” for a male suitor to woo away his 33-year-old daughter, Gigi Chao. The proposal for his daughter’s hand emerged after reports surfaced online about Gigi Chao’s recent civil union in France to her long-term girlfriend, Sean Yeung.

From poetic online proposals to nude photographs alike, thousands of people from around the globe have already reached out to both the father and daughter to become part of the Chao clan. Cecil Chao hoped that the reward money would elicit talented suitors hoping to start their own businesses, ensuring his daughter lives a comfortable life in Hong Kong — even though Gigi Chao is already a successful businesswoman.

Despite the audacious advertisement, Gigi Chao, who holds an executive director position at her father’s company, as well as running her own model management and public relations firm, responded to her father’s reaction with surprising grace.

“I’m actually on very, very loving terms with my father,” Gigi Chao told the Associated Press. “We speak on a daily basis. He just has a very interesting way of expressing his fatherly love.”

She also went on to claim that her father’s reaction was not necessarily born out of intolerance for her relationship with Yeung, but a vested desire to ensure that Gigi Chao does not fall victim to the social stigma that continues to exist with same-sex couples in Hong Kong.

Although I recognize that Cecil Chao’s reaction was born out of paternal concern for his daughter’s wellbeing, it’s still hard to not find this concept of a “marriage bounty” incredibly weird and dated.

Still, if she isn’t fazed by her father’s reaction, why should anyone else be?

Gigi Chao isn’t the only one amused by the situation. British comedian Sasha Baron Cohen, who has starred in several satirical mockumentries such as “The Dictator” and “Borat,” is in the process of developing a film inspired by this situation.

The film is currently titled, “The Lesbian.” Apt and to the point, I guess.


Korean-flavored food trucks mark another one in the win column.

Television: The reality side

“The Great Food Truck Race” — a reality show that pits food truck entrepreneurs against each other in a competition that spans the nation — had a photo finish in their recent season finale, leading to a victory for the Los Angeles-based food truck, Seoul Sausage.

The team behind Seoul Sausage — Korean Americans Chris Oh, Ted Kim, and Yong Kim — won with their Korean barbecue fare, raking in more money than their competitors. Congrats to the trio for winning the top title!

The web reality show “K-Town,” which follows the drunken party hijinks of Asian Americans living in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, wrapped up its first season last month. The show is currently in production for its second season.

Word on the street is that the producers of “K-Town” have been casting for reality spin-offs that will feature other Asian ethnicities partying down. Say what you will about the show’s concept, you have to credit the producers for going out of their way to showcase different Asian cultures with these spin-offs, as opposed to simply lumping the Asian American experience altogether into one show.


Mindy Kaling becomes the first ever South Asian American lead on U.S. television.

Television: The scripted side

Meanwhile, television premieres are in full-force this season with a few well-known Asian American faces popping up in the fray.

Indian American comedienne, writer, and producer Mindy Kaling finally had her show, “The Mindy Project,” debut on Fox after much hype. Kaling stars as an OB-GYN trying to have it all in work, love, and life. Think Bridget Jones if she were wearing scrubs. And if she were Asian. The comedic writing is fantastic, but the jury is still out about how I feel about this show overall. Regardless, I will continue to loyally watch the show as a testament of my undying love for Kaling and her limitless talents as a leading, Asian American female entertainer.

Actors John Cho and Suzy Nakamura can be found on the new dramedy/sitcom “Go On,” which debuted on NBC.

The show follows a sportscaster — played by funnyman Matthew Perry — trying to move on from the loss of his wife with the aid of a grief support group. Cho is most recently known for his role in the films “Star Trek” and “Total Recall,” while Nakamura may be best known from the short-lived ABC sitcom, “Help Me Help You.”

The show has received lukewarm reviews so far, but most NBC sitcoms tend to have a rocky start with viewers and critics, particularly if there is irreverent humor involved. Here’s hoping that “Go On” at least makes it past the starting line. (end)

Vivian Nguyen can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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2 Responses to “A-pop! September Edition”

  1. sam makaka says:

    Dear Vivian

    I read your article on this troubled father Cecil Chao Sze-tsung whose daughter is engaged in an unnatural sex.

    First let me introduce myself. My name is Sam Makaka, I am a journalist working for the Governemnt of Malawi news agency the Malawi News Agency- MANA.

    Malawi is found on the southern part of Africa, two hours flight from Johannesburg, South Africa.

    I am a born again christian of a Protestant Church. Ever since I became a true christian almost twenty years ago, I have been looking for amazing things of God especially miracles like what Jesus performed 2000 years ago but I never saw any till two years ago when a certain preacher, humble and uneducated was beaming his programs on his TV. Since then my life has never been the same in respect of looking for a true sign of the power of God.

    The answer to the problem of this father, believe me, is here and so many in Africa have been healed of such behaviour because it is the influence of the devil as God sanctioned man and woman for marriage and not same sex and that is also why he created them man and woman. I know there are many people in this world who dont believe in the existence of God but that is just fooling oneself, reality comes when dying and you ask yourself, what now?

    The purpose of writing you dear is to request for the contacts of Mr Cecil so that I can help him. This could be God trying to help him through the man of God whom I know can help this beautiful young lady to become what God created her.

    I have full confidence that this lady will be healed and begin getting attracted to men and not fellow women.

    Please let us help them, give contacts of him or his Assitants.

    May the Lord bless you as we labour to help them.

    Sam Makaka


    • anon says:

      Dear Sam,

      I fully understand that all are entitled to their own beliefs, and despite my appreciation for your nearly flawless grammar, I couldn’t help but notice a few of (what I find to be) spiritual errors. Now, personally, I am not a religious being. I will find out if there is a higher power and who or what it may be when the time is ripe for the picking. (meaning when i die)

      I also understand that, having been baptized nearly twenty years ago, you have had quite a lot of time to ponder on this. Before I go any further, i’d like to point out that what I am about to say is very controversial, and is not intended to offend any being or their beliefs. I am merely stating what I believe after observing as an outsider looking in.

      I’ll begin with, of course, the first thing I noticed in your letter. 2000 years ago was 12 A.D. Despite popular belief, Jesus was actually born 0 A.D. Therefore, he would’ve been twelve at the time. Jesus never preformed a miracle until he was a full grown adult. (he then passed away in 31 A.D. No, A.D. does not stand for after death. This is a common misconception.)

      Ignoring the fact that you did not even begin to explain how said preacher changed your life, when you began to speak of “the answer to the problem of this father”, that was when i realized that your letter was completely irrelevant. If you recall, in the article it clearly states, ““I’m actually on very, very loving terms with my father,” Gigi Chao told the Associated Press. “We speak on a daily basis. He just has a very interesting way of expressing his fatherly love.”
      She also went on to claim that her father’s reaction was not necessarily born out of intolerance for her relationship with Yeung, but a vested desire to ensure that Gigi Chao does not fall victim to the social stigma that continues to exist with same-sex couples in Hong Kong” You see, the father’s problem had nothing to do with her being “in the wrong” or “influenced by Satan”

      Furthermore, i’d like to add in my own views. Being in a homosexual relationship is not from the “influence of the devil” and whatever preacher fed you that line is full of it. If you recall, the law against homosexuality was created in the old testament. these laws were abolished when Jesus stated “it is done” as he made his final sacrifice for the sin of man.

      As well, marriage was not created by god for him to “sanction for a man and a woman and not same sex” marriage is a celebration of coming together and being one with each other for eternity created by Catholics around 1000 B.C. and sexuality is not something that can be “healed” no matter what anybody tells you. it isn’t a disease and it isn’t from any outside influence. sexuality is a beautiful thing which one is created with. If miss Gigi is interested in the same sex let her be. that is how she was created and who she is to be. And if this offends you, the I apologize, but when you tell somebody that their sexuality is wrong, you have no idea how hurtful that is. If you believe in god as you say you do, and are a follower as you say you are, you won’t be so insensitive.

      I won’t try and force my views upon you, as that would be exactly what i’m trying to prevent. however i do hope that you’ll take what i’ve told you into consideration for the future.

      I wish you all the luck in the world,


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