Keeping K-pop fever in check
Music fans here take part-time jobs, cut spending to fund their hobby
He killed his daughter because she had a K-pop obsession that, in his eyes, had gone too far.
Last November, Mr Zhou Kai, who is from Beijing, hacked his 13-year-old daughter Xiao Nan to death with a chopper after she had screamed at him that her K-pop idols would always be better than him.
Mr Zhou, 42, who was unemployed, slashed his own wrist after he murdered his daughter, but the suicide attempt failed.
Xiao Nan died two months before her 14th birthday.
The shocking story, which was reported by Chinese media last month and circulated widely on the Internet, has horrified K-pop fans all over the world.
Local K-pop fans, however, say that this was an extreme case of obsession gone wrong, and that most fans here are not so obsessed.
Miss Jeanie Chan, 26, president of 13elieve SG, the biggest local Super Junior fan club, with 90,000 members, told The New Paper: "There's a stigma associated with liking K-pop bands which is that K-pop fans are all crazy and obsessed.
"That is a misconception because there are also many fans like us who know what our priorities are."
The sales and marketing executive added that in her experience, most parents here are okay with their children loving K-pop idols and have learnt to deal with it.
She said: "I'm shocked at how something like that could have led to death. For me, my parents have always put the onus on me to manage my passion for Super Junior.
"They let me chase stars but whatever money I spend on Super Junior I earn myself and I've never let my passion affect my studies or the respectful way in which I treat my parents."
Miss Chan gave the example of how at one Super Junior album collection event, she had called a fan up and reprimanded her for making her mother collect her album for her.
She said that she was scolded by the fan and asked to mind her own business but she "didn't care" because what the fan had done "wasn't right".
Miss Chan's mother, Madam Lee, 52, said that she felt that both sides had a part to play in the China tragedy.
She said: "Xiao Nan was disrespectful to her father and only thought of her own wants without thinking that she was adding to the financial (and mental) stress on the family. Mr Zhou should also have tried to understand the root of her obsession with her idols."
Her way of dealing with her daughter's love of K-pop?
"I have always given my children the freedom to pursue whatever they want, on the condition that they don't harm themselves and others," she said.
"They must also achieve their goals on their own, such as saving up or getting a part-time job if they want to spend on their idols. Parents are not money trees."
Two other 13elieve SG members, Miss Jeng Jing Fang and Miss Shirley Low, both 21-year-old students, agreed with Madam Lee and shared their methods of supporting Super Junior without asking their parents for money.
Miss Low has taken up part-time jobs, such as being an exhibition assistant, while Miss Jeng cuts down on her food expenditure.
Other parents of local K-pop fans said that instead of yelling at their children, they have resorted to more "creative" ways to check their obsessions.
EXO fan Goh Xin Ling, a 16-year-old student, said her parents were strict and have controlled her allowance whenever they felt that she had got out of hand.
She said her older sister Xin Yi, a 24-year-old administrative assistant and fellow EXO fan, has taken to "hiding" her posters in the office.
Said Xin Ling: "My sister and I try not to upset our parents who feel that liking EXO will affect our studies.
"So we have kept our grades up and also try to minimise the presence of EXO in front of our parents.
"This is a win-win. I think our parents like to feel loved and like they are important to us so we make sure we respect that.
"I learnt this lesson last year."
Her father, Mr Samuel Goh, a 50-year-old taxi driver, said: "Last year all Xin Yi could talk about was EXO and all she wanted to buy was EXO things so I cut her allowance from $400 to $300 a month and told her that she had to get her head out of the clouds.
"Children are very adaptable, they will behave in the manner you want, to get what they want. Soon after I cut her allowance, she became 'normal' again and I reinstated her original allowance.
"I know she's still crazy over EXO but it's okay now because she has done well in her studies and doesn't bring the topic of EXO to the dinner table any more."
Dealing with unhealthy obsessions
Do your children have an unhealthy obsession with pop idols? Dr Vanessa von Auer, clinical director and clinical psychologist of VA Psychology Center, tells parents how to spot warning signs and how to deal with it.
1 What are the signs that a child has an unhealthy obsession?
A change in behaviour. If the child withdraws or is irritable, neglecting his hygiene, well-being and responsibilities, parents should intervene. Of course, he would also be preoccupied with the topic of obsession and either talk about it frequently or be involved in it somehow.
Simply put, his behaviour would be significantly different to what parents have been used to.
2 How should parents deal with obsessions such as K-pop bands?
It is vital that parents go about supporting their child the right way. Do not punish, threaten or lecture. These behaviours will only distance the child from parents further, and may even cause more resentment. Engage the child in the real world.
Create opportunities for the child to enjoy with the parent - even if you have to start out talking about his/her interests (for example EXO). This way, the parent is leaving the door open for the child to come to the parent in moments of need. Once the parent has managed to establish this rapport, the parent can gradually engage the child in other activities which bring the child equal amounts of joy as their obsession.
In addition, counselling with a professional psychologist may help to further work on life areas of dissatisfaction with the child and improve family relations. In severe cases medical intervention through a psychiatrist may also be helpful.
3 How much responsibility should the parents and child share when the latter acts out because of the obsession?
A child is a child. They do not know yet how to control or cope with their emotions, especially if he does not feel good about himself or his life.
It is not uncommon for children to provoke their parents just because they are feeling angry or resentful. The adult, if not mentally ill, should know how to calm themselves and stop the situation from escalating.
Walking away or implementing rules and boundaries would certainly be options. The father probably didn't have support or guidance to help him with a difficult daughter, which may have led him to lose control.
Man kills daughter who loved K-pop idols more than him
Mr Zhou Kai told a court in China that his daughter Xiao Nan turned on him and his mentally unstable wife last year after she started her first year at secondary school.
He said that his daughter would demand that he buy her K-pop boy band EXO's memorabilia and tickets to their concerts even though they were poor.
When things didn't go her way, she threw tantrums, damaged four mobile phones and one computer and refused to eat or go to school.
According to media reports, Mr Zhou had a heated argument with his daughter before he attacked her.
He had told her: "Please don't only think about chasing your idols, no matter how good they are, they will never be better than your parents.
"If you continue to chase them, they will affect your studies, do you understand?"
Replied Xiao Nan: "I just love my idols, the love I have for them is stronger than the love I have for my parents. Idols are much better than you (and mum)."
Mr Zhou rushed into the kitchen, took out a chopper and put it on the living room table.
Said Mr Zhou: "At that time, I just wanted to scare my daughter.
"But she came up to me and used her fists and viciously hit me a few times and repeated again that 'Idols are better than you parents!'."
He said he took the chopper and hacked her till she fell from the sofa to the floor.
Mr Zhou then slashed his left wrist but was discovered before he bled out.
He told Chinese media: "At that time, after I hacked my daughter, I wanted to save her but it was already too late.
"It was when she said that her idols were better then me and my wife that my heart went cold. I felt that why not we (my daughter and I) just die together and get this all over with."