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'Eat and get paid' job attracts applicants

By Liang Shuang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-16 08:54
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A recruitment notice that offers to pay actors to eat may seem like a dream job, but it actually requires a little more than just eating, according to a worker at the company.

According to a screenshot of the job advertisement on social media, Taihang Wuzhishan Scenic Area in Shexian, Hebei province, is recruiting actors to play the Monkey King, or Sun Wukong, a popular hero from the novel Journey to the West, one of the four classic novels in Chinese literature.

The screen grab said that all the actor has to do is eat the food provided by tourists and they will be paid 6,000 yuan ($850) a month, with reasonable hours and shifts.

The post quickly attracted the interest of netizens, as many jokingly said that such a position was their "dream job" for getting paid just to eat. Others, however, worried that binge eating and a lack of exercise every day would lead to health issues.

An official from the scenic area surnamed Jiang told news outlet Red Star News last week that the area was indeed recruiting actors to play the Monkey King, but the position was not quite as straightforward as "just eating".

"The actor also needs to like the Monkey King, be able to imitate the character's signature postures, facial expressions and voice, and needs to be friendly and interactive with tourists," Jiang said, adding that those with a background in acting or who are good at making short videos and livestreaming would be very suitable.

In the novel Journey to the West, the Buddha uses magic to trap the precocious Monkey King and keep him under his control for 500 years, and through the macaque's penance he cultivated kindness. Upon his release, he would go on to guard the Tang Monk on his journey to the Western Heaven to acquire scriptures.

Wuzhishan, meaning "Mountain of Five Fingers", is said to have taken its name because the five peaks resembled the five fingers of the Buddha that trapped the Monkey King. The Monkey King actor will recreate the scene for visitors: staying in a cave and poking out his head and hand so that people can feed him fruits and snacks.

Jiang said there are already two actors doing this job, including one who has played the role for several years and earned more by often participating in large performances that recreate scenes from the novel. More tourists are expected as Spring Festival approaches, and the area plans to add one or two more. He added that there have been more than 100 inquiries every day since the recruitment notice recently went viral.

Although the cave the actor will be in is only 3 square meters, it is equipped with heating and chairs, and actors take turns every one or two hours, he said.

Wang Xiaoyun, one of the existing actors, told news website that he has been working in the role for about a year. A former folk opera performer, Wang joined the scenic area as the acting troupe he was in did not have enough gigs during the pandemic.

"I'm indeed tired, but I'm also happy as there are so many tourists, which is way better than having no tourists," he said. "Some tourists like Journey to the West so much and want to experience it more deeply."

Wang added that there are some occupational hazards. "There is so much food, and I just can't finish it all," he said.

"I've gained some 15 kilograms since I got this job. Maybe in the future, I'll have to play Zhu Bajie (a gluttonous, obese and pigheaded supporting character)," he said semi-jokingly.

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