Travelers have made many mistakes throughout the years. In recent times we’ve covered everything from a British tourist trying to take a selfie (and surviving with everything but their ego intact) to two German backpackers being fined $1,500 for the crime in Italy. You can’t forget the Australians who have visited Bali and the Parisians who make a sexy mess.
Suffice to say: knowing and respecting local customs and culture (and safety measures) is an important part of travelling anywhere. Humans are human, but they can make mistakes. There will always be mistakes. Now, the big difference is that many tourists are now exposing their faux pas.
Speaking of faux pas… Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan’s career was recently torpedoed by the emergence of photos of him posing at a Japanese war memorial (which honours some of Japan’s major war criminals) in 2018, on Chinese social media site Weibo.
When you live somewhere like America you might get an angry mob on Twitter calling you tone deaf. This kind of thing can happen in China, which is a more dangerous place.
Since the pictures of Zhang at the Japanese Yasukuni Shrine have gone viral, Zhang has been elbowed out of the entertainment industry with various mainstream platforms purging his films and television works, variety shows and music. Zhang was apparently new to these platforms.
The episodes that Zhang, 30, had played a part in reality shows Everybody Stand By and Keep Running cannot be found as of press time. Only news videos about Zhang could be found on video sharing platform Bilibili.
Global Times added: “Searching ‘Zhang Zhehan’ on the video platform Mango TV returns ‘the person doesn’t exist.’ ” Chinese netizens found that Zhang scenes in the historical drama Nirvana In Fire had been deleted, and it is currently on Shandong TV.
Music platforms including QQ Music and NetEase Music took down all his music and even deleted his personal profile.
“I deeply love my motherland.” He promised to “study history and culture more seriously,” the national press reports. He was backed by all corporate brands, including Wahaha beverage, Jewel brand Pandora, and Shanghai Mercury Home Textile fabrics.
Last week, Chinese streaming site Youku deleted Zhang’s name from the cast list of its martial arts TV drama Word of Honor. Douyin, a video-sharing platform, announced that Zhang had been cleared.
Though most tourists do not have the same high profile to look after as Zhang, this habit of taking photos everywhere we go, despite not always thinking about the exact historical context (or how it will look to be taking photos somewhere), is one likely to continue to keep catching tourists unaware well into the future.