The identity of a Shanghai vagrant, who has become an overnight online celebrity after videos of him explaining Chinese classics to passers-by went viral on Chin
ese social media, has been confirmed by his employer, the auditing office of Shanghai’s Xuhui district government.
The office said the vagrant called Shen Wei became one of its employees in 1986 but
has been on sick leave since 1993, during which he has been paid with a basic salary.
For the past seven years, Shen, usually in rags and tangled long hair, has lived near the metro st
ation of Yanggao South Station and collected garbage every day. He began to get online attention over the past few
days when videos taken by passers-by, and then online broadcasters, show his eloquence, resourceful knowledge of Chinese classics and “wor
ds of wisdom” as he advises onlookers to spend more time on reading rather than taking videos of him.
He spends most of his spare time reading books, mostly Chinese classics which he has bought wit
h the money he earns from garbage collecting. He refuses to receive help and told the Red Star News reporter that he has around 10
0,000 yuan ($14,991) in his bank account. The money comes from his 2,000 yuan monthly salary and his father’s savings.