Reconstructing Harry – in China

Lin Pin, a 22-year-old graduate student in literature at Peking University, in his “Harry Potter”-styled graduation gown in July, 2009. Photo: Courtesy of Lin Pin

Harry Potter look-alikes aren’t a terribly rare sight nowadays, though in China it still might be a surprise to see someone as dead-on Potter-esque as Lin Pin, a 22-year-old literature graduate student at Peking University.

Lin finished his farewell rites to the Harry Potter film series on August 5 at his local cinema by wearing a long black robe and donning a magic stick as part of his film-going experience, which he called “ecstatic.”

“Dressing like this better integrates me into the movie,” Lin told the Global Times. “Harry Potter fans love my devotion to the movies,” he continued, “and as for non-fans, well, I could care less what they think.”

Long connection

Lin’s obsession with Harry Potter dates back 10 years, when he discovered the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

“I was swept away by [author J. K. Rowling’s] imagination,” Lin said, admitting that he’s read each of the seven books of the series at least nine times.

Indeed, Lin’s Potter mania dovetails nicely with his unusual appearance, which is highlighted by the owl-like presbyopic glasses given to him by a friend.

“As early as middle school I was christened ‘Harry’ by friends after I appeared as the boy wizard in a school play,” he said. “This moniker stuck with me throughout my formative years, well into high school, college and today.”

Since then, Lin has amassed all the Harry Potter wardrobe accoutrements, including the magic robe, hat and scarf.

“At my university graduation, I wore this tie emblazoned with the Gryffindor crest that my friends had bought for me,” he said. “Lately it’s gotten to the point where schoolmates might not even know my real name, or teachers will just call me ‘Harry’ in class.”

But Lin’s connection with the world-famous character extends beyond the superficial realm.

“My dad passed away in 2001,” Lin said. “I feel like I can understand what Harry’s gone through, and he inspires me to face my frustrations with the same kind of courage.”

Lin said that he feels like he’s grown up right alongside Harry, sharing the same joys and sorrows. “He and his friends were virtually the same age as me when we started and all the way until the end of his journey,” he said.

Lifelong lessons

Indeed, Lin has turned his Potter craze into something of an all-encompassing lifestyle.

In counting time, for example, Lin will use the books as reference points.

“Instead of saying such-and-such happened when I was 14, I’ll say it happened in between the release of the second and third books,” he said.

On his phone and online contacts lists, he also divides his friends into two groups – fans and non-fans.

Lin’s Potter love even extends to the professional realm, as he wrote his university dissertation on the relationship between modern technology and Potter magic – and got the highest marks in the entire literature department.

As a freshman, Lin also wrote a Potter-themed book entitled My Harry Potter: Predictions for Harry Potter 7. The book was published by China Youth Publishing Group in 2007 and has sold an impressive 13,000 copies.

“In the book I successfully predicted that [Hogwarts Professor] Severus Snape is a good person who is in love with Harry’s mother,” Lin boasted. “I also posited that there remained a piece of the spirit of [arch-villain] Voldemort in Harry’s body, which was also correct.”

Lin said that the ending of the Harry Potter series marks the end of a very important period of his life, but that rather on dwell on what’s missing from his life, he will cherish the memories that Harry Potter has given him.

“The positive outlook on life that the books and films convey to me will last forever,” he said.

Global Times

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