Recently the famous smartphone application LINE has turned into a platform for prostitution and other illegal and semi-legal activities connected with the sex trade. LINE is hugely popular in Taiwan, with around 16 million users (out of a population of 23 million). The potential for profit has been soon recognised by businesses, but also by people who engage in unlawful pursuits.
According to Apple Daily, a man surnamed Lai, who claimed to be an entrepreneur from Taichung, used the LINE app “meet people” to contact potential mistresses and then cheat them out of their money.
A 26-year-old girl (XiaoY) told the paper that last month Lai had contacted her through LINE and offered to “provide for her” (包養, meaning that he wanted to take her as his mistress). The practice of taking a mistress is popular among wealthy men both in Taiwan and in China (more on this in my next post). She thought that he was a weirdo, but when he said that he was a well-off entrepreneur she began to change her mind. He said he would give her 80,000 NTD per month and she would have to sleep with him three times a week. XiaoY had recently given her ex-boyfriend 130,000 NTD as “break-up money”. So she gladly accepted the man’s offer, and they met up for a meal.
The man said that he had had three mistresses in the past and that they had taken his money, so he hadn’t brought his credit card. XiaoY ended up paying 600 NTD for the restaurant. He then asked her to sleep with him. Since she had her period that day, she only had ‘oral sex’ with him. And she paid 2,000 NTD for the hotel room.
Afterwards they met a few times. Once he brought another girl, XiaoS, and said that he would help the two of them set up a store. But instead of giving them money, he borrowed some from them in order to launch their future business. Lai and XiaoS also met privately. Since he kept asking for more money, she decided to refuse and they broke off their relationship.
Lai told XiaoY that he knew the famous Taiwanese star Jolin Tsai and he introduced them via LINE. But XiaoY grew increasingly suspicious, because Tsai always replied quickly to her messages, which a busy superstar would hardly be able to do. At last she discovered that Tsai’s account was a fake. But it was only after reading an article about Lai published on Apple Daily that she realised she had been deceived.
After the story was made public, a man sunamed Chen that claimed to be speaking on behalf of Lai, who was apparently too busy at that time, called Apple Daily and explained that Lai did not owe anything to XiaoY and XiaoS, and that the opposite was true: they owed him more than 200,000 NTD. The paper contacted the girls, who denied this. “I didn’t get a penny from him!” said one of them. When they listened to the recorded voice of Mr Chen’s, they both said, “That’s him!“, meaning that it was Lai’s voice.
Meanwhile, Lai has been summoned to court. He denies all accusations.
This story is interesting because it shows some aspects of the custom of taking a mistress. It also shows that despite being a wealthy country, there is still a pool of young Taiwanese girls willing to become mistresses. This practice not only reflects traditional gender roles and social attitudes, but it also reinforces them.
In the next post, I will provide a very interesting example of concubinage from ancient China, which will show some similarities between past and present-day mistress culture.