TAIWAN: Magazine issues full-page apology to Nobel laureate

Next Magazine has issued a full page apology to Nobel Literature Prize laureate Gao Xingjian after it claimed he was entertained by bar girls while visiting Taiwan

Taipei Times
Saturday, December 27, 2003

By Cody Yiu

Next Magazine has issued a full page apology to Nobel Literature Prize laureate Gao Xingjian after it claimed he was entertained by bar girls while visiting Taiwan.

"The paragraph regarding Gao Xinjian's visit to Taiwan in Feb. 2001 and his entertainment by bar girls had not been verified and therefore is a false report," the magazine said in its latest issue, which hit newsstands on Wednesday.

"Mr. Gao has been greatly bothered by this report. For our oversight, Next Magazine offers its deepest apologies to Mr. Gao."

Next Magazine's report triggered controversy in Taiwan's literature circles over whether highly praised writers could visit red-light areas.

"There are so many sensational scandals, such as extramarital affairs, prostitution and sexual harassment, in celebrity circles that the public has gotten used to hearing about them," wrote UK-based Taiwanese author Huang Bao-lian in the Chinese-language Liberty Times. "So why make such a big deal out of someone receiving entertainment from bar girls?"

Living overseas for years, Huang said he had witnessed how Chinese academics were eager to explore pornography abroad.

"In 1983, I was living in New York when a friend who was a college instructor was visited by a group of Chinese academics. Once these Chinese academics had dropped their luggage off, they asked my friend zealously to show them the red-light district on 42nd Street. Furthermore, they also requested to watch porn movies. Back then, China's sex industry was not as prosperous as today. Therefore, I can understand how these men felt frustrated," Huang wrote.

Huang also said that Gao had the freedom to pursue any kind of living style.

"Gao is not a saint nor a monk, he just unfortunately turns out to be a Nobel prize laureate. However, this title should not have deprived him of his right to pursue happiness," Huang wrote.