Woman attacked on Wuhan subway after filming noodle-eating passenger

Photograph showing woman flouting food ban goes viral

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 10:52am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:09pm

Citizen Journalism 101: always switch to “silent mode” when secretly taking photos with your smartphone - especially in a crowded subway train.

It was a lesson learned the hard way for a 34-year-old Wuhan resident on Thursday, who was only identified by her last name, Ye.

After failed attempts to stop a fellow passenger on a subway train illegally eating her “hot and dry” noodles - a popular local snack - in a rush-hour car, Ye said she  took out her mobile phone and snapped a picture of the young woman, according to her Weibo account.

The woman, realising she was being photographed, exploded with anger.

“She stormed in front of me and slammed her bowl of noodles on my head,” Ye wrote, “then she tried to grab my phone to delete the photo.”

Passengers who witnessed the attack came to Ye’s rescue. At this point, the young woman quickly escaped the car.

Ye, apparently shaken by the assault, called police.

While the police search failed to locate the attacker, Ye posted her photo on Weibo, where she shared her experience with China’s millions of netizens.

The post soon went viral.

Among the tens of thousands of bloggers who commented on Ye’s post, many expressed sympathy. Some even called for a “human flesh search” to identify the woman in the photo.

But many netizens also criticised Ye for posting the photo, claiming the woman's privacy had been breached.

In an interview with a Chinese news website, Ye said she did not expect so much attention and now regreted posting the photo.

“Please do not reveal her identity even if you know who she is,” she said. “But I do deserve an apology.”

While eating in the subway is banned in most Chinese cities, violations are common. Passengers used to ignore the bans in the past, but this has become harder following the widespread use of smartphones and Weibo. 

In a separate incident on Thursday, another viral photo of a Beijing woman eating on a subway train attracted drastically different responses. 

“The woman looked tired and she must be starving after a day’s work,” wrote the photographer. “So I didn't think I was in a position to criticise her. Let’s just show some tolerance.”

The photo only showed the hands of the passenger, without revealing her face.