Fans of the late Canto-pop star Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing proved his popularity has not waned as they gathered yesterday to remember him on the ninth anniversary of his death.
Dozens of wreaths and bouquets from fans around the world were laid outside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, where Cheung leapt to his death on April 1, 2003. He was 46.
And the legendary superstar seems to have attracted a raft of new young fans.
Ma Zijun, 16, came to Hong Kong alone from Zhuhai yesterday morning and immediately went to the hotel to pay respects to Cheung. She stood in front of the wreaths and wept noisily, although she was only a small child when he died.
'It's my first time to commemorate him here,' she said. 'It feels so real. My parents let me come this year because I'm in high school now. They're his fans too, but they couldn't come as they had to work. I grew up listening to his songs, like Monica, and would dance around to them.'
But she could not explain why she missed Cheung so much. 'I think he was a funny guy. I've never watched his live performances but I have his concert VCDs at home,' she said.
Another young fan came all the way from Nanjing . 'I only started to like him last April. I watched his movie The Bride with White Hair and music videos of his songs,' said Evian Yang Yiyun, 24, who also came for the first time and laid a bouquet of white flowers outside the hotel.
She said she was considering whether to join the other memorial events but she was afraid she might get too upset.
Outside the hotel yesterday, fans from Singapore, Korea, Japan, Europe and North America expressed their love for Cheung on the wreaths' cards. One said: 'Never forget you, always miss you, still love you, from fans in Korea.' Many addressed him as 'Gor Gor', an affectionate nickname meaning 'older brother' in Cantonese.
One local fan said she had suffered several sleepless nights on this ninth anniversary of his death. 'I won't say I'm his fan, he's like family to me. I like him more than I like myself,' said Joan Lau, 46. 'We've been following him for more than 20 years. We watched him grow up and we grew up watching his movies and listening to his songs.'
She recalled how fans who did not know one another started to gather after Cheung's death and organise memorial and charitable events. 'We're motivated by him to do good deeds because that's the kind of person he was,' she said.
Hong Kong remembered the actor-singer in several ways. A memorial night programme was held in Chater Garden, Central, last night, an exhibition was held at the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, charity screenings for two of Cheung's movies were held on Saturday, and a tribute area was set up at Madame Tussauds, where fans were allowed to lay flowers around Cheung's wax statue.
Famous blogger Han Han yesterday dedicated a post to Cheung, his 'idol'. It was the first blog post he had written in the past two years, and had already been read by hundreds of thousands of people as of yesterday.