How does a super popular actor lose 27 brand endorsements in one day. Even in China that’s still lightning speed. The way C-actor Zhang Zhe Han was cancelled was so astronomically fast and widespread many people have wondered if there was more going on than he visited Yasukuni Shrine (housing Japanese war criminals who committed atrocities against Chinese people) and a wedding at another shrine dedicated to a Japanese military family also participating in Japanese expansion activities that impacted Chinese people. The kick off was on August 13th when the pictures were circulated. It was on his IG account long before but this circulated went to number one on search terms immediately due to his popularity from BL-tinged wuxia drama Word of Honor. He really only hit superstardom 6 month earlier. Zhang Zhe Han immediately apologized but his explanation was that he was not well learned in history and did not know the significance of those sites. But that opened another can of worms as he (or his agency) has been selling the image that he’s very well learned and well read. He is often recommending literary works to his fans, so how can someone who is projecting an image of educated and well read then claim to not know very broadly known historical and political sensitivities and facts? The reporter says the series of events that led to his cancellation felt very orchestrated, that pictures were first posted and then after his response additional facts highlighted that just made it near impossible for him to explain away his past mishap. So this felt like a targeted action to take him down, whether due to envy or because of conflict. The reporter claims Tencent played a role in pushing is both from search and also they have another BL drama ready to air later this year, hence why something that happened three years ago and was visible to the public got escalated now.
The reporter says it’s all the fault of his agency (team) – his rise to stardom in WoH attracted legions of BL fans who ship him with Gong Jun but then didn’t handle things well when shortly after rumors rose that Zhang Zhe Han had a girlfriend and he didn’t clarify either way and his team called deserting fans “the hands of the devil” for leaving him. It led to his BL fandom abandoning him (since they were fair weather fans) but then his original fandom felted slighted by how much his team courted the new BL fandom over them. The abandoned fans were so angry they actually set up anti-fan pages (6 different ones) to blast him. On top of that, his team pushed how literary he was with his reading of books, tagging him in literary and novel tags. And he would consistently recommend novels on his SNS to fans and even bookstores would join in promoting books he tagged, but honestly no one knew whether he read it or not. One time during an interview onstage, a host off the cuff asked him if he read any new good books recently to recommend and he stuttered and looked awkward and glanced at his manager off stage before giving a cursory explanation that he doesn’t want to give specific novel names on television.
The Zhang Zhe Han rise and fall just feels so theatrical. He has been in the industry for 11 years since 2010 and never once had any hint of being popular. He was just there. Only in 2018 when he was in the drama Legend of Yunxi did he start having a warm up in popularity. He saw that he didn’t have any chances staying with Yu Zheng’s agency so he found Zhao Wei who he courted and buttered up for over a year before she signed him. And after that it was off to the races as she found him promising projects and even brought him on a variety show about acting she was on. But in the end, the forces against him was bigger and he left a pretty wide swatch of material to speed up his downfall so in the end it wasn’t that he did nothing wrong just that those who fly high can also fall fast and hard as the saying goes.