19 January 2019
Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and Korean actress Lee Young-ae support Hong Kong's Occupy protests. Photos:,
Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and Korean actress Lee Young-ae support Hong Kong's Occupy protests. Photos:,

Forget Kenny G: there are artists more sincere with their words

Who cares if Kenny G changed his tune on the Occupy campaign? 

Hong Kong’s indefatigable protesters, who have been out on the streets for the 27th day on Friday, won’t suddenly dismantle their barricades and fold their umbrellas just because a curly-haired American saxophonist chose to switch sides.

There are many more artists and kindred souls who are more sincere in their words of encouragement and support for our youthful activists.

There’s Korean actress Lee Young-ae of Jewel in the Palace fame, and Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto — just to name two of the many well-known artists who have rallied behind Hong Kong’s fight for democracy.

By now, Kenny G, you must have realized that you ought to think first before uttering any words in public or posting any pictures on social media. There will always be ears listening and eyes watching.

Can’t you remember what you told the students in Admiralty? “I hope you succeed in what you are doing. You know, we Americans take freedom for granted. I understand what it is like to deal with the Chinese government.” 

Yup, that’s what you said. And those fans of yours out there are not hard of hearing.

But, of course, You’ve Saved the Best for Last by taking back your words, and, By the Time the Night was Over, you’ve deleted your posts on Twitter. You did it Even If Their Hearts Would Break.

You can’t afford to cross a big market like China. And now you’re Going Home. Don’t Make Us Wait for Love. We won’t be Missing You Now.

Enter Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese musician who’s well known in the city for his composition The Last Emperor.

At 62, he’s just a few years older than Kenny G, but earlier this year, he’s been diagnosed to have throat cancer.

Despite his suffering, the Tokyo-born singer, pianist and activist managed to post a short message on Facebook for the Hong Kong democracy fighters: “I am on your side.”

Not all foreign stars who are popular in China can easily be intimidated by Beijing.

There’s South Korea’s No. 1 actress Lee Young-ae, best known for playing the title role in the top-rating Dae Jang Geum television drama series about an orphaned cook who went on to become the king’s first female physician.

In an interview with Ming Pao, Lee said the rise of Korea started when it began to democratize its society, unleashing the creative powers that drove the Korean Wave across Asia and entire world.

“Korea’s cultural development closely followed its political development,” said Lee. “From the 60s, 70s, and 80s, we made it step by step gradually from closed to open, and that contributed to today’s prosperity.”

Lee, who received the Medal of Culture Merit from the Korean government in 2007, recalled the days when she could not even wear a sleeveless costume on screen. But when the ban on sleeveless costumes was lifted, she went on to become a famous actress and eventually a superstar. That’s the power of democracy.

Now the ball is in Kim Soo-hyun’s court. Whether the matinee idol and star of My Love From the Star would speak out for Hong Kong’s democracy is a subject of intense speculation in Hong Kong.

Would he cast his lot with the activists when he’s a spokesman for dozens of Chinese products? Would he do it after no less than China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan said the Korean heartthrob is a spitting image of the love of her life, President Xi Jinping, during his younger years?

Whatever. Expect more “external forces” from Hollywood to Bollywood to bring their umbrellas to support Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

After all, this episode in Hong Kong’s history has the makings of a great movie.

And Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, has already furnished a memorable line for the screenplay.

During the student leaders’ dialogue with government officials, Shum told Chief Secretary Carrie Lam: “Some say we students were chosen by fate. No, you officials were in fact chosen by fate.”

It’d be a blockbuster. Guaranteed.

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EJ Insight writer

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