Key Words: Li Lei; Han Meimei; post-1980s; nostalgic
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As time goes on, many of our memories will be subconsciously bounded together with objects, either tangible or intangible. For example, James Bond fans associate a certain experience with each of the 007 movies. And in China for the post-1980s generation, one of the most memory-inducing things is the story of Li Lei and Han Meimei.
And now that a TV series about the two figures is about to shoot, it once again calls up nostalgic feelings among the 30-something generation.
The Li and Han story
Li Lei and Han Meimei are fictional characters in a series of English-learning textbooks for middle school students in China issued by People's Education Press in the 1990s. For about a decade these textbooks influenced millions of Chinese students.
In 2009 People's Education Press issued a new English textbook edition. But this time, Li and Han, together with their pals Lin Tao, Lucy, Lily and Jim, are no longer middle school students but appear as grown-ups, with their own families and children. This made a stir among the post-1980s generation, most of whom spent their youth with the old edition and are now in their early 30s or late 20s.
Besides sighing about "how time flies" and that even fictitious characters are growing older, a number of people have commented on what a pity it is that Li and Han did not end up together.
In fact, in a previous interview with the Global Times, Liu Daoyi, who worked on the English textbooks with Longman Press, said that when they were writing the contents, there was no intention to create a love affair between Li and Han. Yet, many post-1980s, who once used these textbooks, still believe there ought to be something different between the two.
"The two names sound so perfect to be together. Both of them are Chinese, and it's more common for two Chinese people to be together. And Li and Han seem to have more contacts with each other than with others," Xu Yuteng, a singer born in 1981 told the Global Times in an interview. He added, to see the books as a whole, Li appears like the male protagonist while Han the female protagonist, and in the minds most people there would be a romantic relationship between two such characters.
Also in the new edition, the two children of Han are called "Keke" and "Xixi," which has led many of the post-1980s crowd to interpret it as Han's "pity" for not being able to marry Li. (In Chinese, "kexi" means pity.)
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