A Chengdu security guard has become the latest Chinese Internet sensation after photos were posted to Weibo of him playing a guzheng at the gate of the residential complex where he works.
The guard has been dubbed "the cultured guard brother" by his online fans.
A West China Commercial Daily reporter tracked him down in Chengdu's Yuanhua Yixiang and learned that his real name is Chen Hong, that he comes from Suining, and has been working as a gate guard for more than one year.
Chen said that although has been interested in traditional Chinese culture from a young age, he started learning to play the guzheng only two months ago as a way to pass the time while on duty.
As a middle-school student, he admired painters and calligraphers that he saw, and even after he went to Mianyang to work, he continued to dream about doing such cultural activities, especially when he saw children playing the guzheng. But he dismissed such activities as too luxurious, out of his reach.
But once he became a gate guard he suddenly found himself with a salary and a lot of idle time. In November of last year, he spent one month's salary on a guzheng. But he had never had any musical training and had no idea how to play the instrument. By chance he met a teacher who was able to teach him the basics in two months. He sleeps five hours a day, works the twelve-hour night shifts, and practices his instrument during the day. Apart from playing the guzheng he also practices calligraphy and flute.
While Chen is playing, residents and passersby often stop in their tracks to take a closer look at this rare sight. And most of the tens of thousands of viewers who saw the Weibo post had nothing but praise and expressions of admiration for the young guard. Some posters, though, were not impressed. Is he really doing his job? they wondered. What a show-off, said another.
A resident of the community where Chen works said that he enjoys stopping for a moment to listen to the guzheng when he's passing through the gate and that he doesn't mind if Chen plays as long as it doesn't affect his work. Chen said his manager knows that he plays while on duty and hasn't asked him to stop, and also that he plays only when he is unoccupied with work duties.