Made in Taiwan

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John takes advantage of his country's economic boom to launch his first company at age 25. In the summer of 1980, he returns from a trip to the US with a Sony Walkman and comes up with the idea of creating a more affordable generic version. As it is impossible to sell in the US or most of the Western world, John found a weak spot: The Eastern Bloc; with whom Taiwan's diplomatic relations were officially null since 1949 but following the reestablishment of relations between the US and The People's Republic of China in 1979, Taiwan's newly nominated President (an old army friend of John's father, Ao-nan) informs John of a legal loophole which makes trading with the Soviet Union, possible. Eager to take advantage of this opportunity, John learns basic Russian through Ipat'evna Vakhreva, the President's wife, and then ventured on a tour of the Eastern Bloc to find potential customers. He came back with orders for 10,000 units, enough to launch production.



1980 Sony Walkman Ad

A San Francisco born China Airline Boeing 747 lands at Chung-Cheng International Airport. As the plane's door open, a woof of hot and humid air enters the cabin. John Wang a 25 years old engineering student is in a deep sleep when a flight attendant gently taps him on the shoulder to wake him up.

-Sir... We have landed... You have to get your things...

John pulls down the complimentary eye patch the was provided to him, smiles at the attendant and grabs a blue Nike sports bag form overhead compartment. In the corridor linking the plane to the terminal, holding his bag over his shoulder, he uses the other hand to skilfully raise his orange headphones from his neck to his ears then presses the play button of the brand new Sony Walkman attached to his belt. Call Me transforms this ordinary transpacific arrival into a conqueror's march. As he crosses the terminal with Travoltaesque allure, he is the greeted by his ecstatic mother, [[Ju-ling], at the arrival door.


John grabs Ju-ling, western style, and places his headphones over her head to share the vibe of the music with his mother, now 50, not too sure about how to react to Blondie.

-What happened to you my son, you lost your mind? says Ju-ling jokingly.

-No mother, I think I actually found it... answers John as he grabs back the headphones.


John recounts his journey to his mother, who can't hide her disappointment when learning that he visited Soong May-ling in New York.

-I don't think you should mention to anyone that you went to see her.

-She was always around when I was a kid and got me present. She's like a grandmother I never had.

-Don't say that. You have a grandmother. You just never met her. Because of her. She poisoned my life.

-Why have you always been so bitter towards her. Ever since daddy died, you've kept us way from her.

-Of course I did, she's a witch.

Ju-ling gets so upset that she walks to the kitchen and grabs a pack of cigarette from a drawer and lights one.

-Did she talked to you about me? She asked questions?

-Not really, we mostly talked about me, what my plans were, things like that.

-And what did you tell her?

-Nothing. Just that I had completed my studies and that I was going to find work when I got home.

-The Witch!


John sits in the living room and turns on the standalone white Grundig television set. A newscast shows excerpts from the Moscow Olympics closing ceremony. Ju-ling comes and sit next to him. She lights another cigarette.

-I didn't know you smoked?

-They were your dad's. I never threw them away.

-Wash.. Aren't they like rotten.

-Dried... She says as she exhales thick some towards the TV.

The broadcast shows Russian athletes lowering the Olympic flag.

-Well, poor Russians. What a disaster, they organized all this and no one showed up. Even the Mainland boycotted it.

-We should have gone then.

-Yes but the Mainland was invited. So we pulled. Don't you follow the news, big boy? I wonder if they watched at the palace. They sure do speak Russian!

-That's true, Aunt Fang-liang is Russian, no?

-Jewish. Jewish Russian, or Belorussian.

-We should go see them. They'll be happy to see you. But don't tell them about the witch...


John walks into the campus for the first day of the fall. Yung and Li, his two friend who continued on with their engineering degrees, sit on the lawn.

-Naah you got one! Says Yung as he sees John walking up to them empowered by the music playing into his years.

-Well you can't walk in New York City without one.

-New York City, Wow. Let's me try, asks Li as he pulls his head forward to receive the headphones from John.

Li's expression becomes ecstatic as he grabs the Walkman, stands up and starts walking looking at other students amongst the cypress trees.

-Let me try, let me try, shouts Yung to a hypnotized Li who finally hands him the magical device. -Crazy...

-You guys keep it for a few day. Here, says John as he pulls a couple of cassettes from his bag.


TPS-L2 Exploded View

Two mattresses are stacked one top of the another as hundreds of screws, parts and circuits are taped to the bed's plywood bases. Yung and Li are mesmerized by the puzzle they've created.

-Shit, are you sure we'll be able to make Walkmen out of these? Says Yung as he looks at a couple National Panasonic portable cassette recorders laid on the main table.

-The problem is more whether or not we'll be able to reassemble it! answers Li comparing the drawn exploded view to its real life version.-Let's get to it if want to build ours before John want's his back.


Yung & Li walk into the youth filled fast food restaurant, each wearing their own counterfeit Walkman on their belt with oversize headphones on their heads. Sitting alone at the end of the restaurant, John looks incredulously at the pair and cracks up.

-No, no, no, no, no... You didn't!

Still plugged-in to his DIY device, Yung hands the original Walkman's box to John, who pulls out the reassembled machine, wears the headphones and press play in front of the two anxious forgers. Blondie's starts singing at a slightly uneven speed. Bearing smiles of success, the trio start munching on the fried chicken parts laid in front them.


John demonstrate the prototype of the Runman, the quasi-clone of a Sony TPS-L2 Walkman to be manufactured entirely in Taiwan to his godfather, now President of the Republic of China.

-Congratulation my boy. Your late father would have been very proud of you. This is a great school project, but I don't see how you could market this without having the Dōngyáng all over our asses.

-Yes, I understand, this uncle... but what about abroad.

-You couldn't even enter any civilized country who's population could afford one of these...

-What about The Soviet Union, uncle?

The President looks at his old friend's son with hesitation... -The Russians... You know that we don't have any commercial ties with them...

-Yes, I know, uncle, but times are changing, replies John still wearing his orange headphone around his neck.

-Indeed they are, indeed they are...


A China Airlines 747 lands. A Turkish Airlines DC-10 takes off.


On a sunny fall afternoon, John steps down on the tarmac, Blondie pouring out of his headphones but is stopped short when a Russian custom's officer signals him to clear his ears to questions him.

John launches Han Hoi Industries and runs the first order of 10,000 units.