Internet star finds a city that tames his passion for travel
Donning a pink wig and pajamas to match, Josselin Sautetner, 32, a Frenchman, appeared in a music video singing a Chinese love song in various areas of Kunming, Yunnan province.
The song Sautetner sang, Thinking of You So Much, is a catchy number that has become popular in China over the past year.
It has appealed particularly to young female singers in music videos performing it in cities across the country to promote local travel attractions with a special appeal to young lovers.
Sautetner became an internet star after his music video presenting the delights of Kunming became a hit on Sina Weibo. The video was played more than 10,000 times just hours after going on the internet.
Sautetner, from Lyon, arrived in scenic Kunming in southwest China last November and was bowled over by its charms.
He calls himself “a Kunming resident from France”, and he considers the city a haven that has allowed him to refocus on what is important in life.
It is not difficult to spot him. He is more than 190 cm tall and tends to stand out, as does his ability to speak various languages. When talking to China Daily, he exchanged greetings in pitch-perfect Chinese, and his Gallic roots give him a charm and vitality that seem boundless.
His passion for travel has taken him to a few countries, and he can speak English and Dutch.
In a previous life he had a steady job in the Netherlands but the urge to see, to explore, to reach out would not be compromised. He went to Africa to reflect on what he wanted to do.
After returning to France his wanderlust had probably only got worse, he says, and he came to China at the invitation of a friend in 2007.
He took the opportunity to visit a number of cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Sanya in Hainan province and Chongqing.
Something was changing; he still had a yearning to experience the new, but the destination seemed to fit his requirements.
Even with little understanding of Chinese he was attracted by the culture.
“Deep in my heart I knew I was going to live in China,’’ he says.
However, he had other matters to attend to, and he left, but returned in 2011 for a friend’s wedding. It was not until last November, when he arrived for a third time, that he decided to settle in Kunming. “Although I have been to other provinces and cities, I was deeply intrigued by the climate and environment. It is wonderful here.”
While in Europe, Sautetner Josselin Sautetner, was determined to learn more about China and improve his communications skills. He searched for Chinese-language songs on the internet and tried to familiarize himself with the lyrics, a dictionary on hand for anything he could not understand.
After settling in Kunming he was even more determined to get a grip on the language and enrolled in a course.
Now he can communicate with locals in simple Chinese and understand a lot of what he reads in newspapers, and he spends between four and five hours a day on the four key language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.
He uses We Ch a t in Chinese, he say s , Asked about his online fame, Sautetner says making videos is simply a hobby and he has been amazed by the attention they have drawn.
“I’m an optimistic and extroverted person… I want to spread my joy by sharing videos.”
The wig and pajamas, he says, allow him to take on an alter ego and become confident enough to sing in public.
Sautetner said he plans to produce a video every week and put it online. One offering, Because of Love, was released on Sept 2.
He prefers directing to singing and dancing, he says.
While he has no plans to leave Kunming, he realizes life can lead you to unexpected places, he says.
He wants to master the language and become a Frenchlanguage teacher in China. One expects this will come relatively easily to him given that he has already done a lot of the hard work.
I’m an optimistic and extroverted person… I want to spread my joy by sharing videos.” French singer
Josselin Sautetner considers the city a haven that has allowed him to refocus on what is important in life.