Chinese Pop Culture Primer: What You Need to Know About Luhan, China's Top Androgynous Celebrity Endorser

Chinese Pop Culture Primer is a feature on the Beijinger that explains the ongoing trends in popular Chinese culture.

If you don't know who Lu Han is, you're not alone. As Hollywood actor Matt Damon soberly discovered during the shooting of Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall, you may not be the star of your own film whenever Lu is around.

"It's a little overwhelming when someone like Luhan shows up with fans. I think the first night before he started shooting, there was something like 400 flower arrangements came to the hotel and took up the entire hallway." said Damon.

Recently running away with 37 percent of the vote in a Tencent poll that named Lu the most popular celebrity among Chinese millennials, it's clear that Lu Han is a big deal in China. 

READ: Chinese Pop Culture Primer: What You Need to Know About TFBoys, China's Most Popular "Fresh Meat"

It would be easy to dismiss 27-year-old Lu Han (鹿晗) as China's top pop idol entertainer who, as a product of the South Korean pop idol industry, is best known for his acting roles and singing steamy RnB-infused songs in sexless music videos. But, as it turns out, the pop star popularly known as "Luhan" has many sides to him.

So who is Luhan? What's so special about him? If you've heard his name before, it's probably because he is ...

China's top celebrity endorser and an actor with a less-than-sterling track record

Luhan is a big star in China, and big stars in China endorse products. Lu's name has been associated with selling everything from fast food giant KFC, the Volkswagon Beetle and laptop maker Lenovo. Unfortunately, Lu's golden touch doesn't extend to everything he touches.

Lu served as an "ambassador" to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, donning the robes of a Jedi as well as releasing a music video in support of the first Star Wars movie to have a theatrical release in China. However, Lu was unable to mobilize his fans to support the film. The Force Awakens went on to have a disappointing box office run in China, much the same way as The Great Wall, that starred Luhan, was panned by Chinese audiences and critics alike.

Lu will continue to take on big roles, and is set to cameo as Chinese Deng Xiaoping in a film to be released this year.

Western observers who find Lu to be androgynous-looking may not be surprised to discover that ...

Luhan is a celebrity endorser of women's cosmetics

"Fresh meat" (小鲜肉 xiǎo xiān ròu) is the unflattering label female Chinese fans give to their make celebrity crushes, but it's not always because of their overt masculinity. This is clear from the recent trend of using male Chinese celebrities to endorse female products like cosmetics and feminine hygiene products.

Luhan serves as a celebrity endorser for L'Oreal cosmetics while other "fresh meat" known to hawk make-up products include Kris Wu, Li Yifeng and Zhang Yixing. 

Lu is also responsible for a number of Chinese internet memes, the weirdest one of which is ...

Luhan turned a Shanghai mailbox into a tourist attraction

In April of last year, Luhan posted a photo of himself standing next to a mailbox on Zhongshan Road in Shanghai. From then on, that mailbox became famous due to its association with Lu. The Paper reported that crowds wishing to have their photos taken with the mailbox had to wait in a 300-meter-long queue while the SCMP reported the paint on the area of the mailbox touched by Lu has already been worn out.

But Lu's rabid fans are also responsible for setting a record both impossibly vast and mundane ...

The Guinness World Record-setting Weibo post with the highest number of comments was made by Luhan

In September 2012, Lu published an innocuous post on the Weibo micro-blogging platform about his favorite football team, Manchester United. Since then, his fans have continued to add more and more comments to it to the point that it now exceeds 100 million, thereby setting a Guinness World Record. Lu's fans continue to add comments to the post to this very day.

Even though he is a superstar in China, he has a lot in common with fly-by-night expat English teachers. That's because ...

Luhan's improper visa use has gotten him into hot water

Luhan went to Taiwan last year to film a TV show, Off to School. Unfortunately, he and many of the show's crew came to Taiwan to work by using tourist visas, something that has gotten the popstar banned from entering the self-governed island for five years.

But, being famous is tough because ...

Luhan has complained about his fans being too fanatical

Lu has a convoluted history in the entertainment industry due to prior involvement with boy band EXO (and its "sub-group" EXO-M) that has earned Lu many South Korean fans called "sasaengs." However, Lu thinks some of them have gone too far.

Lu's recent single "Roleplay" contains the following lyrics

I have to wear helmets because of the gaze that follows me anywhere I go

Don't touch me! You chased me day and night, you're insane

Don't come to my house's parking lot anymore,

if I see you again, I won't forgive you

The conservative nature of Chinese culture limits the amount of sexiness permissible in today's society, shaping the country's pop idols into innocent models of chasity who try not to gyrate too hard. Even though some celebrities have been involved in scandals of vice and corruption, the worst thing that can happen to a Chinese pop idol is to suggest that they aren't available as a potential "mate" for their fans.

That's why it's not so surprising that the latest gossip says ...

Luhan is rumored to have a girlfriend and a child

"China's top paparazzi" is credited with the juicy career-ending rumor that China's top pop idol is a responsible father and family man. We don't know what to think except that it must be difficult to raise a child while having to always wear a helmet.

Want to listen to the K-Pop sounds of Luhan? Check out these jams (all Youtube):

  • What If I Said: Lens glare, auto-tune, copious product placement, wistful staring off into the middle distance ... this video has got it all.
  • Skin to Skin: Lots of Rorshach, little dancing in this music video in which the song is completely sung in English.
  • Roleplay: If you're going to be caught on video surveillance, you might as well be caught looking good wearing eyeliner.
  • Excited: Lasers, holograms, and a 90s cellphone ring.
  • The Witness: Standard Mandopop fare.
  • And here's a live performance in Beijing (warning: LOUD screaming by fans).

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath

Images:Youtube, Koogle, AllKpop (1), KPop Hotness, Writer Dek, Destintion KPop, Soompi, Wowkeren, Star Wars, Google Plus


I had no ideea this kid was so so famous...... I have seen him in Beijing. This kid lives really close to the place where my boyfriend lives. Actually they are neighbours.... He is actually really polite/humble and salutes everytime he passes by. ..but yes. I have no ideea that he was that famous. My boyfriend told me that he is a huge celebrity in China, I asked him once about him, because I have seen him all time souronded by bodyguards and a lots of people and I asked why. And he told me that is he is famous. He is down to earth in so many ways, not actting like a celebrity at all. I see him kind of all the time when I am back at my boyfriend place. Next time when I see him I will ask for a picture, now that I know what he does.. Also, I have seen him with girls a lot, maybe they are collagues or staff members...But I see him going in and out with girls...Sometimes there are the same ones and more than one... so for this reason I think they are his staff members. I have seen him a few times with just one girl, I think she is white...but I can not asume is his girlfriend... as I never been too interested in stalking him around. But I remember that specific girl, because I have passed her one time and she was talking on the phone in perfect english accent... and that got my attention because people here dont have that perfect accent. I am not sure of her race...but I am pretty sure that she is white.... Also she has a nice perfume... Back at him... he has cats... Not kids...Cats... a few of them... as far as I have seen...he has more than 1 cat.....I have never seen a kid around... and I see him kind of a lots of times when I am there... for the past 1 and a half year......

Luhan actually left the kpop group band EXO; because 2 reasons; but we dont know if thats true or fake.

its between being paid or their cruel treatment.

EXO is from SM Entertainment; which is not known as a good treatment. most of them have been treated so bad; like really. these are probably the reason too why Kris and Tao left EXO as well. since 3 of them are Chinese. Korean employees have been treated nicely; while sometimes or many times; Chinese one has been treated cruely. i dont know thats true or not, but they're having tight schedules before.

there are still a Chinese member who still didnt left the group, and thats Lay. i was glad about that.

i dont know if Luhan,Kris and Tao left the group because of them, but i highly doubt that.


and if there's something wrong in my comment, im so sorry Sad

and sorry for my awful grammars

One more thing: 4/20 was Lu Han's birthday! This "fresh meat" is now almost 30-years-old!

Really?? Are you chinese? Luhan with a white girl... it seems a lie. Pls dont play like this with my heart..

I dont know why people are stepping beyond the borders of celebrities privacy. In Entertainment Industry it was a very Messy World, Honestly. That is why my parents doesnt allow me to enter to that world, since kid there is a lot of agencies coming on my way but my parents(They knows best)a big NO!..They are so conservative and I understand their feelings that they wanted to protect me, and live a normal life and taught me how to have relationship from above. I am happy!because I enjoy my childhood, my teenage life and now I am matured they molded me for who I am now. Since the first time I've heard EXO way back 2012 I was 24 then, I never Idolized them, infact they ignite my desire in dancing because of their music. That despite of working in a Corporate world, I started to follow my heart thru dancing. Thanks Guys!My family are my fans.haha!

Anyway, Luhan is a very humble person, I can see that. Since I'm a fan girl of EXO, since they left the group I still support them as 12. The thing is that some people dont have the understanding why people come and go. The three of them have their own reasons to leave. And, we dont have the right to know the reason because we are just only human,and they are human too. About their privacy, can we leave them alone. They wanted to live like us also, who cares if Luhan is Dating?that paparazzi guy has no evidence that he is having a child, so of course he will burst out of anger, but (Luhan, dont stoop out of his level)he was born to destroy your life.hehe!Just be yourself like what you used to do. He is a man, let's accept that girls are coming in and out to his house. Your neighbors giving the testimony that you are a good person. So I hope we can have a DANCE SHOWDOWN!!haha!but I think its impossible. Goodluck!

Yes but luhan being with a white girl is doubtful

Why is it so doubtful?

I dont believe its his girlfriend, it would be too good to be real loool, since hes raised in china he would prefer a chinese girl to date and she must speak chinese very well to comunicate with him since his english isnt that good.Then it could be his staff member or his english teacher, what do u think?

We dont owe him to explain about the white girl. We dont know whether they are friends or lovers. Luhan wants to live a normal life, who cares?Dont give a benefit of doubt.

Sa123456789na wrote:
I dont believe its his girlfriend, it would be too good to be real loool, since hes raised in china he would prefer a chinese girl to date and she must speak chinese very well to comunicate with him since his english isnt that good.Then it could be his staff member or his english teacher, what do u think?

Why speculate when we have no way to find out anyway ... ?

the Beijinger

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