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Chunyun: A Spring Migration

In recent days, many Chinese people have been asking the same question over and over: “Have you got your ticket? ” They’re not talking about Noah’s ark—rather, it refers to the ticket to their hometown. Why? Because Chunyun is coming. Chunyun (春运, chūnyùn) has two meanings. First, it’s short for the chunyun period(春运期间,Chūnyùn qíjiān) which […]

01·19·2013

Chunyun: A Spring Migration

In recent days, many Chinese people have been asking the same question over and over: “Have you got your ticket? ” They’re not talking about Noah’s ark—rather, it refers to the ticket to their hometown. Why? Because Chunyun is coming. Chunyun (春运, chūnyùn) has two meanings. First, it’s short for the chunyun period(春运期间,Chūnyùn qíjiān) which […]

01·19·2013

In recent days, many Chinese people have been asking the same question over and over: “Have you got your ticket? ” They’re not talking about Noah’s ark—rather, it refers to the ticket to their hometown. Why? Because Chunyun is coming.

Chunyun (春运, chūnyùn) has two meanings. First, it’s short for the chunyun period(春运期间,Chūnyùn qíjiān) which is a period of travel in China with an extremely high traffic load around the time of the Spring Festival. The period usually begins 15 days before the Lunar New Year’s Day and lasts for around 40 days. Secondly, it refers to the phenomenon of transport before and after the Spring Festival. The number of passenger journeys during the chunyun period has exceeded the population of China, hitting over 2 billion from 2006 (according to the news from the http://www.chinahighway.com/news/2006/129458.php), and the amount increased year by year and reached more than 3 billion in 2012 (according to the news from http://politics.people.com.cn/GB/101380/17130963.html), It was called the largest annual human migration in the world. Because many people (especially the students and the migrant-workers) don’t live in their hometown but the big cities. Each year, during the Spring Festival, they will go home for the holiday. After the holiday, people have to come back again. People carried large luggage and move from one place to another place.

The Chunyun phenomenon reflects a host of China’s social problems. First of all, it demonstrates China’s poverty gap: poverty-stricken migrant workers look for job and live in a place with a higher income. This has resulted in China’s population dynamics shifting towards the urban areas and a decline in rural population; moreover, in developed coastal areas, the population increased much more sharply. The second reason is China’s underdeveloped transportation system: the rail system still can’t meet the demand  during this heavy period of human migration. In order to meet the requirements of the Spring Festival travel season, the railway system is continuing to expand.

Some netizens have parodied the Chunyun by making short videos or short films, the most famous one called The Empire of Spring Transportation or Chunyun Empire (《春运帝国》,Chūnyùn Dìguó), 2006, directed by Hu Ge(胡戈).

It parodies The Matrix trilogy,Stephen Chow (周星驰)movies and Hero (《英雄》,Yīngxióng) and satirizes China’s chaotic Chunyun period.

In this video, A famous actor Chen Daoming(陈道明) plays the role of a news anchor and covers the experiences of ordinary people during the Spring Festival, as well as a ticket scalper. It  shows that the spring of this year (2006) seems to be more crowded than the previous years, it’s so hard for the migrant-workers to get a ticket, the journey to home seems far far away. In one scene, with long queue for buying tickets, the broadcaster says loudly: “Our team has now extended to three kilometers away, my new-coming friends, please go to three kilometers away to line up, not to jump the queue. Thank you!” Stephen Chow plays the part of a migrant-worker who has been unable to return to his hometown for nearly 20 years. While he tries a number of ways to buy a ticket, he always fails to get one. Finally he finds a ticket scalper(票贩子piào fànzi)which is also  called “黄牛党(huángniú dǎng)”  to buy a ticket. When he squeezes onto the crowded train where the people don’t even have space to move, he laments: “If I had known the train was so crowded, I would have just traveled by plane!”

The short film was very popular in 2006. .

Seven years later, another  famous video named Meet Chunyun Again((《又见春运》,Yòu jiàn chūnyùn),was created by Xuduba(胥渡吧).

 Picture courtesy of Jike.com