- Lawyers for Tibetan shepherd Dingzhen Zhenzhu are taking action against people flaming him on social media.
- Dingzhen first went viral in November 2020 for his bright smile in a clip from a short film.
- But Dingzhen has also been criticized online by those calling him the epitome of superficiality.
A Tibetan yak herder once known as the most handsome man in China has learned a harsh lesson: social media fame comes with a heavy price.
This week, lawyers for Dingzhen Zhenzhu issued a letter via his agent warning people to stop making defamatory comments about him, particularly those containing “insulting, terrifying, vulgar, or vilifying words.”
Representatives for Dingzhen said in the letter that the Tibetan-farmhand-turned-social-media-star had been the target of vulgar and belittling comments on social media that have had a “serious impact” on him.
Dingzhen first went viral on Chinese social media in November 2020, when a short clip of him smiling captured the hearts of Chinese internet users. The clip of Dingzhen, then 20, spread like wildfire on China’s TikTok, Douyin, leading web users to dub him the most handsome man in China, per the SCMP.
The clip originated from a short film of Dingzhen in Tibet, walking over the plains and talking about his daily life on the grasslands.
The clip went so viral that Hua Chunying, a Chinese government spokesperson, highlighted his “bright, sunny, and innocent smile” on her Twitter page.
—Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) November 29, 2020
Because of that clip, Dingzhen managed to secure a job in his county of Litang in the southwestern Sichuan province as a tourism ambassador, and was even sent as one of China’s representatives to a United Nations Development Program event for World Earth Day in 2021.
However, while Chinese social media users fawned over him and dubbed him the “smile of the plateau” and a “sweet wild boy,” he has faced continuous criticism. For one, his image took a hit after a photo of him vaping was leaked on social media.
He has also been the target of putdowns on China’s Twitter-like site Weibo, with online posters calling Dingzhen the epitome of superficiality in China, and mocking the success he’s attained despite not being highly educated.
In a statement attached to the lawyer’s letter, Dingzhen cautioned people to not “do anything evil, no matter how trivial you think it is.”
Dingzhen and his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.