Zhang Bichen, the winner of the third season of The Voice of China, denied all allegations of being a sasaeng fan of Korean male group EXO member Lay.
The new winner of this year’s The Voice of China is Zhang Bichen, a former member of Korean girl group Sunny Days. While competing in the Chinese reality show this year, she faced numerous attacks by EXO fans on social media about her past as a sasaeng fan in Korea. Bichen denied all accusations of being a sasaeng fan in interviews, but EXO fans declared her a liar, even influencing “Zhang Bichen tells lies” as a trending topic on Weibo.
Zhang Bichen first travelled to Korea in 2009 as an international exchange student. In 2010, she was accepted into Haeun Entertainment as a trainee. She debuted with Korean girl group Sunny Days in 2013 with the single “Meet a Girl Like You”. She left the group in early summer 2014, and filed a lawsuit to terminate her contract.
In numerous interviews for The Voice of China promotions, Bichen stated that her three years as a trainee were some of the most difficult years of her life. In one particular situation, she suffered appetite problems while as a trainee but could not go to the doctor because her company did not provide medical insurance, so she was forced to spend her own money to buy medicine. Bichen relayed to Chinese media that because the company was so poor, the Sunny Day members received very little income even after they made their debut, which was why two of their members chose to leave the company.
During this past season’s The Voice of China, Chinese EXO fans made allegations that Zhang Bichen spent these three years as a Korean trainee juggling both her role as a sasaeng fan and her role as an up-and-coming singer in Korea. EXO fans spread posts on Weibo saying that they “cannot accept Zhang Bichen” as the winner of The Voice of China, and nicknamed Bichen as “one of China’s five biggest sasaeng fans”.
Sasaeng fans are described as extreme fans in Korean pop fandom who stalk their idols, invade their privacy, and commit dangerous activities to get closer to their idols. Some sasaeng fan activities include: being paparazzi outside their idols’ apartment, following idols to-and-from events in a taxi, and installing surveillance cameras outside near the homes of their idols.
Chinese EXO fans accuse Zhang Bichen of four sasaeng fan activities:
1) Waiting for EXO on the main lobby of their Beijing apartment building
2) Moving to China not to be a trainee as suggested but to stalk EXO member Lay
3) Helping a well-known EXO fan “NanaZ” obtain Kris’ autograph
Weibo post dated May 25, 2012 thanking “@Bichen_Diamond” – Zhang Bichen’s old Weibo username, she was formerly called “Diamond” as her idol name – for the autograph:
4) Having already debuted in Korea, secretly helped numerous Chinese fans into the recordings of EXO’s TV show appearances in Korea, and taught other EXO fans how to enter into the recordings
Weibo post dated August 25, 2013 of EXO fans suggesting Zhang Bichen had helped EXO fans bypass TV show producers and TV show staff in admitting them into a EXO show recording:
In response to allegations that she was a sasaeng fan, Zhang Bichen told The Beijing Times, “I simply like EXO, particularly their member Zhang Yixing, but I was never as extreme as the Internet writes me out to be. I’ve never chased after them. I did not go to Korea for him. Back then, every day was difficult for me. I had no time to look for them. Also, I think there is no way for me and EXO to meet, because I only consider them as role models.”
When EXO fans continued to refute her denials, Bichen insisted that she considers herself too old to be a sasaeng fan – who are typically the age of high school students – and says she has personal ethics to adhere to, and sasaeng fan activities are not within these ethics.
In an interview for Sina, Bichen explained that the autograph she gave for a Kris fan was received through a fan signature meeting. “That was obtained through a fan meeting which you can attend if you buy their album. At the time, my friend liked him, so I gave the autograph he signed for me to her instead. That was how I received that autograph, it wasn’t through any other method.”
“In regards to EXO, I was hoping by saying little, I would be doing little wrong, but in actuality, even talking about them has made it seem I’ve done something wrong. They are my idols, and they have given me a lot of strength. But to say that I went to Korea to chase celebrities is not too accurate because while I was in Korea, I was given two options: Practise or practise some more. You honestly didn’t have much time to do anything else, so of course I am not a sasaeng fan.”
Finally, frustrated at the persistent discussion about EXO when asked about her favourite Chinese member (among the three), Bichen replied, “I’m too afraid to speak more on this topic. I don’t want to discuss them further because I’ve received threats every day. But alright, I like them all.”
In late September, during an interview done by Tencent QQ, Zhang Bichen defended her admiration for EXO member Lay – also known as Zhang Yixing in Chinese media – and said she looks up to him because of their similar positions as Chinese entertainers in Korea. “He is like an ideal benchmark. Because he worked hard in Korea for many years before making his debut, I was able to gain positive encouragement from his example. Aside from this, (my admiration for him) really isn’t as what people say it is.”
Meanwhile, Zhang Yixing has helped in refuting the rumours. The Chinese EXO member sent a video message to The Voice of China viewers in late September encouraging Bichen on her new journey as a Chinese female soloist. “I’ve heard of a contestant called Zhang Bichen. She is a great contestant, and I hope she will work hard in her own career.”
Videos of Bichen’s music video with Sunny Days, Bichen’s winning performance at K-Pop World Festival 2012, and Yixing’s video message have been included to the end of this post. What do you think of these allegations towards Sunny Days’ Zhang Bichen? Do you believe her? Let us know in the comments below!
- People.cn — EXO fans say Zhang Bichen followed Zhang Yixing to Korea
- Sina — Zhang Bichen not “sasaeng fan”, was asked to do plastic surgery
- QQ Tencent — EXO’s Zhang Yixing denies “sasaeng fan” rumour, encourages Zhang Bichen to work hard
- The Beijing News — Sasaeng fan? Zhang Bichen’s secret life in Korea exposed
- KpopStarz — EXO Lay: Zhang Bichen is great, hope her career path will go even further