Recently, after the huge backlash over Zhang Zhehan’s visit to shrines in Japan, his hit drama – Word of Honour – was allegedly taken down from the major broadcasting site, Youku.
The major broadcasting sites in China such as Youku are the platforms with which most people use to access Word of Honor. By taking down the drama from such a major provider, it made it more difficult for Chinese citizens to access the drama. While many thought the “Word Of Honor” drama had been removed form Youku for good, as of the morning of the 20th of August, sharp-eyed netizens realised the drama was back up.
Youku Re-uploads TV Drama, Word of Honour
Weibo Influencer : Previously, Word of Honour (leads: Gong Jun, Zhang Zhehan) was taken down. Now, if you search for it on Youku, you can still watch it.
[+43,000] No credibility to speak of at all. Keeps buying hot searches for themselves to get discussion. I want to choke
[+30,000] Doing situps? (t/n: Making fun of Youku for changing their mind suddenly, and multiple times)
[+18,000] Liar. Hope he can get a hot search soon.
[+14,000] Youku took it down a second ago. In the next second, they put it back up and re-uploaded someone’s face. Is this false promotion?
[+9262] They’re just trying to get attention. At midnight, they took it down to get that tag, and now they’re putting it back up.
[+3229] Can’t you see they’re doing their best to get attention
Weibo Influencer : Bug? A short few hours after Word of Honour got taken down, Youku put it back up.
[+4188] ZZH, get out
[+3366] What’s Zhang Zhehan’s background? How come he’s even better than Kris Wu?
[+1961] Took it down on purpose, so the fans of the drama got upset? It’s now targeting on purpose, you have such a big lian (t/n: Chinese concept of saving face)
[+1257] Faked taking it down so that people would scold them. I heard that Tencent was supposed to have a new surprise drama today. Youku definitely made it harder for them
Criticisms Rain In Against Youku
Sohu Entertainment : This morning, netizens realised that Youku took down Word of Honour. Just now, Youku reuploaded it. Right now, Word of Honour can be played normally.
[+7927] It’s just attention-seeking. They’re doing this for attention.
[+7307] Youku, this is going against citizens’ wishes
[+4840] Are you okay?
[+1110] Free advertisement
[+1004] Who are you kidding? You got a top hot search and then put it back up
Even Southern Daily spoke out, accompanying it with citizens’ reaction: Youku’s actions are very mysterious.
[+11,000] They’re doing situps here
[+7409] Using this to gather attention?
[+3835] It’s not even a good show, if it gets taken down, it gets taken down
[+1495] Thank goodness I’ve never watched it, but the evil Zhehan’s work must be taken down
[+1201] Using this to earn money huh
Youku Speaks About Zhang Zhehan
After netizens found out about the issue, they went to ask the customer service of Youku. Here’s the evidence:
In response to the netizen’s question about whether Word of Honour was being taken down, the customer service said that last night, they were repairing the website, so some videos couldn’t be seen. Now, everything was back to normal.
The netizen that repeated their question. Youku didn’t reply, instead apologising for the inconvenience.
Leshi Video Streaming Platform Announces The Removal of Kris Wu’s Related Videos and Zhang Zhehan’s Drama, “Demon Girl”
Leshi Video  Following the controversy surrounding Youku’s re-upload of “Word of Honor”, Leshi has announced that they will be removing all their content involving Kris Wu and also the Zhang Zhehan and Li Yitong led drama, “Demon Girl”.
[+37.2k] Die without regrets about Kris Wu or Zhang Zhehan [restrict the drama], @Youku you should look at Leshi!
[+27.7k] Are you guys still trying to whitewash this issue, [treacherous] fans of Zhang Zhehan?
[+21.6k] The ‘pure youngster’ Kris Wu and ‘nationalistic’ young adult Zhang Zhehan.
[+12.1k] Gotta give likes to Leshi!
[+5.9k] The treacherous fans of Zhang Zhehan can f*** out of China together with the traitor himself.
Why Are Netizens So Upset Over Zhang Zhehan’s Photos Documenting His Visit To Controversial Japanese War Shrines?
News source: (1)
The China Association of Performing Arts, a semi-official organisation, had already submitted a proposal to boycott the 30-year-old actor, who has starred in Word of Honour, a hit BL drama series in China. Zhang Zhehan had already lost more than 25 of his endorsements after various companies terminated their working contracts with the actor.
While many international viewers may be appalled by the harsh reaction faced by the actor in China, the harsh backlash cannot be understood without first delving into the historical circumstances of the Japanese war shrines Zhang Zhehan had visited. The war shrines sought to commemorate the wartime soldiers who have committed numerous atrocities against the Chinese during their 8 year occupation of China. The Yasukuni Shrine in particular commemorates 1,068 convicted war criminals, 14 of whom are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of the war).
For the Chinese public, the shrines were seen to pay tribute to war criminals who committed wartime atrocities (not limited to, but including) the Nanjing Massacre which saw up to 300 000 Chinese citizens killed and raped.
The Nogi Shrine visited by Zhang Zhehan for his friend’s wedding was also a shrine dedicated to Nogi Maresuke, who was a commander during the battle of Lushunkou. The victorious Japanese troops massacred the Chinese residents in the city that is now a part of modern day Liao Ning.
In the words of the Chinese military newspaper, PLA Daily, summed up the sentiments of the Chinese public aptly, “For the Japanese side, it is a denial of history to worship an executioner whose hands are stained with the blood of people in the world and a historical sinner who committed a heinous crime.”
“For the public entertainer, can a claim of ignorance cover up what he has done?”
CCTV also said in their live broadcast that the acts of Zhang Zhehan had “touched the scars of history”. The state news outlet also reiterated, “as Chinese, we should remember history and build on it,” it said. “We must not lose sight of right and wrong, or mislead our youth. Remember: Yasukuni Shrine is full of ghosts, so don’t forget history, and be strong.”
A more detailed understanding of the situation can be found on the South China Morning Post.
While fans may be understandably upset and confused over the massive backlash faced by Zhang Zhehan over the issue, we hope that the historical context can provide some information on why the Chinese public is behaving as such. It would be useful to understand the cultural context of such a harsh reaction from the Chinese public, so as to come to a more informed opinion surrounding the matter.