Asia's eternal idol: Teresa Teng songs still resonate 20 years on

TOKYO - Two decades have passed since the death of Taiwanese pop star Teresa Teng at the age of 42. Fans across Asia - from Japan to mainland China to Southeast Asia - still adore her, and plans to commemorate her life and songs are underway throughout the region.

"Some customers, who seem to be Chinese, will buy several of records of hers at once, with each one costing tens of thousands of yen," said Hiroshi Sugimoto, the manager of diskunion Showa Kayou Store, a record and CD store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The store offers about 20,000 records and CDs, mostly of Japanese pop songs from the mid-to-late Showa era (1926-1989). Secondhand Teresa Teng LPs released in the 1970s and 1980s are among the most popular items. Records of hers in good condition and which still have the obi - a strip of paper bearing the album's title - over the record sleeve sell for around 10,000-30,000 yen (S$110-S$332).

Enduring appeal, growing popularity

Prices of Teresa Teng LPs began rising about three years ago. "Pop records were largely singles in the 1970s and 1980s, so her secondhand LPs are hard to come by," Sugimoto said. "Moreover, you can listen to many of her songs only on LPs issued in Japan, which is one reason for soaring overseas demand for them. A sizable number of these LPs have been taken to the greater China region."

Fans around the world have launched an Internet campaign to have Teng, who was also known as Deng Lijun, appear on the top pages of major search engine sites, including those of Google, Yahoo and Baidu, on May 8, the anniversary of her death.

They have created Japanese and English email templates that fellow admirers can use to send their request to the search engine operators.

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