Homeless Shanghai Man Achieves Internet Stardom

By Tristin Zhang, April 2, 2019

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Shen Wei, a scavenger in Shanghai known for his scruffy beard and long hair, found himself in the limelight recently. 

People have been fawning over the man throughout the month of March, with one woman holding up a board on a public street in Shanghai that read “Vagrant master, I want to marry you.”

So, what’s the deal with this ‘vagrant master?’


Image via @信贷上海频道/Weibo

According to a report by Sina, Shen Wei started living as a scavenger about 10 years ago after quitting his job as a government employee at an auditing bureau in Shanghai. He is also rumored to have graduated from Shanghai’s Fudan University, one of the top institutions of higher learning in the Middle Kingdom. 

Up until March 25, Shen was living in a deserted building and was often seen reading books at the Yanggao Nan Lu Metro Station, according to the report. He has captivated audiences with his “outstanding eloquence” and “logical thoughts.” In videos that have gone viral on TikTok, Shen talks about what he has learned from Chinese classical books, including History as a Mirror and Strategies of the Warring States

After his story was made public, Shen entered the internet spotlight. According to Beijing NewsShen’s dwelling had been visited by fanatic crowds who wanted to hear him speak or simply take a photo with the vagabond. People would often take selfies with Shen as he was reading or picking up trash. One woman who started livestreaming Shen’s daily routine on TikTok quickly gained over 300,000 followers.

If you thought that was strange, a video of a middle-aged man claiming to be the son of 52-year-old Shen recently surfaced. People have hailed Shen as a ‘vagrant master,’ while filming him with their phones. One Chinese man dressed up in a dishdasha said he had flown from Dubai to discuss waste sorting with Shen (we’re not buying it). 

fzCc-hutwezf8003128.jpgImage via Sina

Image via Beijing News

Unfortunately for Shen, his disruptive followers have deprived him of both privacy and sleep, with some showing up at his doorstep early in the morning and knocking on his window, according to Beijing News. “I’m standing here. I don’t care how you would like to film me to make money. Honestly, I can’t do anything about it. You don’t even give me the slightest of respect,” Shen was quoted as saying. 

The firestorm of interest in Shen died down after he left his temporary home, and he has not been seen in public since March 25, according to Beijing News. 

Netizens on Weibo have sympathized with Shen’s situation, with one user writing “One man is sane, but the rest are out of their minds.”

READ MORE: Woman Rides Horse on the Streets of Shanghai

[Cover image via @波士堂纹身/Weibo] 

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