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Snapchat Adds New AR Story Tools for Lunar New Year to Highlight the Influence of Chinese Culture

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Snapchat Adds New AR Story Tools for Lunar New Year to Highlight the Influence of Chinese Culture


Snapchat has launched some new AR activations for Lunar New Year which aim to educate users on Chinese culture and influence, in addition to celebrating the broader event.

The first Lens is a new AR experience that takes users through the story of Asian-American businesswoman Lucy Yu, the owner of ‘Yu & Me Books’ in NYC, which is an independent bookshop that’s dedicated to showcasing stories from underrepresented authors.

As explained by Snap:

Lucy, an avid reader from an early age, started Yu & Me books in 2021 to help showcase stories from underrepresented authors. She believes that shared storytelling can drive meaningful change, and it’s her hope that Yu & Me, which focuses on books by immigrant authors, will serve as a space to celebrate underrepresented writers.”

The AR experience, which can be activated by scanning the Yu & Me Books storefront through the Snapchat camera, uses animated visuals to tell Yu’s story, with graphics inspired by traditional Chinese watercolors “and engineered to replicate the gentle sway of a paper pop-up book”.

In addition to this, Snap’s also adding Snap Map Markers to key Chinatown businesses across Chinatowns in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, which could help to inspire more discovery and engagement with local Chinese communities.

It’s a good way for Snap to share more diverse stories in the app, and use its Lunar New Year tools for more than basic celebration.

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Finally, Snap’s also added a new Year of the Tiger Lens, which uses Sky Segmentation technology to add an animated watercolor tiger jumping through the clouds. 

Snapchat Year of the Tiger Lens

It’s an interesting tie-in, using the Lunar New Year celebration as an educational prompt, in order to help more people get a deeper understanding of the impact that Chinese culture and people have had on American society. And as noted, it could also help get more users to make new connections with their local Chinese communities.

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You can check out the new activations in Snapchat.



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‘Crime not to help’: South Korean ex-SEAL has no Ukraine regrets

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South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine

South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine – Copyright AFP Jung Yeon-je

Cat Barton and Kang Jin-kyu

A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine says it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help.

Ken Rhee, an ex-special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul the moment President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March.

To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from travelling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations patrol there, was met at the airport by 15 police officers on his return.

But the celebrity ex-soldier, who has a YouTube channel with 700,000 followers and documented much of his Ukraine experience on his popular Instagram account, says he has no regrets.

“You’re walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying ‘no swimming’ — but you see someone drowning. It’s a crime not to help. That’s how I see it,” he told AFP.

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Rhee was born in South Korea but raised in the United States. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and planned to join the US Navy SEALS, but his father — a “patriot”, he says — convinced his son to return to South Korea to enlist.

He served for seven years, undergoing both US and Korean SEAL training and doing multiple stints in war zones in Somalia and Iraq before leaving to set up a defence consultancy.

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“I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help,” he said, adding that he viewed breaking South Korea’s passport law to leave as equivalent to a “traffic violation”.

– Backlash in Korea –

But the reaction in South Korea — where Rhee shot to fame as a trainer in the popular YouTube series “Fake Men” — was swift and unforgiving.

“It was instant. People in Korea, they just criticised me about breaking the law,” said Rhee.

His critics claim the 38-year-old’s decision was criminally irresponsible, and point to his posting of war footage on his YouTube and Instagram accounts as evidence of showboating.

Rhee says he tries not to let the furore get to him. “I think it’s pretty obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are,” he said of Russia and Ukraine. 

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On his first day on the frontline in Irpin — which he describes as “the Wild West” and “chaos” — he says he witnessed Russian war crimes.

“I saw a civilian get shot. He was driving… and they shot him through the windshield and he died in front of us,” he said.

“It was like: there’s my proof. There’s definitely war crimes going on. It reminded me and my teammates what we were doing and why we were there,” he said.

Because of his military training, Rhee was told to set up his own team, so he recruited other volunteers with combat experience and set up a multi-national special operations group.

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“I was eating Canadian MREs. My gun was from the Czech Republic. I have a Javelin missile from the United States. I have a rocket that’s from Germany… but nothing is Korean,” he said.

He tried to take his Korean-made night vision goggles but was not given government export permission. Seoul has provided non-lethal aid to Kyiv, but Rhee said they could do more.

“Korea has state-of-the-art equipment… they’re very good at making weapons,” he said.

– ‘See you in Taiwan’ –

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Russia said this week that 13 South Koreans had travelled to Ukraine — including four who were killed. Seoul said it was trying to verify the claims.

Although Rhee did not know the fate of all his teammates, he said “a lot of my friends have died”.

“I don’t want my friends’ sacrifices to be forgotten,” he said, adding that he plans to write a book — and maybe a screenplay — about his team’s experiences.

But first, he needs to deal with the official repercussions of his trip. He is quietly optimistic South Korea’s new conservative administration won’t put him in jail.

Rhee is not allowed to leave the country until his case is resolved, and is receiving treatment for his injuries. But he hopes one day to fight alongside his teammates again, for a cause they believe in.

The joke as people left the frontline was: “See you in Taiwan,” he said, referring darkly to the risk that Beijing will follow Moscow’s lead and invade a neighbouring democracy.

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