When a celebrity is rumoured to be dating someone new, netizens often go into a frenzy trying to find out more about their new love interest. When it came to Hong Kong actor-singer and former national swimmer Alex Fong, internet sleuths believed that his new girlfriend, an artist named Maple Yip, is a cult victim who appeared in the new Netflix documentary In The Name of God: A Holy Betrayal to expose the South Korean Jesus Morning Star (JMS) cult.
In the trailer for the documentary, an interviewer asked: “Why is JMS threatening you, Maple?”
Maple responded: “Probably because I might expose the truth?”
Alex, 43, recently confirmed to Hong Kong media that he is indeed dating the same Maple who appeared in the documentary.
“I watched the [Netflix] interview. It was tough to watch but I admire her courage greatly, that she would come out and talk about such injustices and report them,” he said.
“It chilled me to the core initially, and I wondered why she could be so naive and immature, but she was probably more resilient compared to the rest of us in the things she did.
“I treasure her more after watching it. It chilled my heart, and it hurt, but I felt she is all the more amazing.”
He added that Maple is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) and has required therapy after her ordeal.
“Normally she is fine, no need to worry, and she doesn’t need to take medicine to suppress her emotions,” he said. “But it’s not over yet, she will have to go to South Korea to appear in court, and it will be very painful for her to revisit the incident and talk about it.”
He added that he would go with her when she gives her testimony and fights by her side, though he doesn’t know when her court appearance will take place.
JMS, also known as Providence, is a Christian new religious movement founded by Jung Myung-seok in 1980. Jung was sentenced to prison on rape charges in 2009 and subsequently released in 2018.
In a press conference held by an anti-cult organisation last year, Maple revealed that she joined JMS in 2011 during a time when she felt her life lacked purpose, after being approached by someone from the cult with a questionnaire.
She quickly rose up the ranks but alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Jung after his release from prison in 2018.
The Hong Kong national left South Korea and returned to her hometown during the Covid-19 pandemic, but alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Jung once again when she returned to South Korea in 2021.
‘She didn’t do anything wrong’
Despite her tragic past, Alex only had positive things to say about Maple.
“You would like her too if you know her. She’s very grounded, a girl-next-door,” he said. “The first time we went out to eat, I brought her to a hotel for lunch. Afterwards, she told me there was no need to bring her to a hotel to eat. Instead, she loves going to the cha chaan teng (tea cafe).”
He added that he trusts her completely, saying: “She’s very frank. The first day we met, she had already told me her experiences and her personality — she trusted me so quickly.
“I thought she was very special and wanted to know more about her. I’m the type of person where, if you’re good to me, I’ll be better to you. If you trust me, I won’t let you down.”
It’s not just Alex who is enamoured of Maple, he revealed that both parties have met each other’s parents and that his parents are very fond of her too.
“Sometimes when I go home, my parents ask if she’s joining us for dinner. If I say she isn’t, they would insist that she can still come over, even if she wasn’t eating,” he said, adding that she once helped do the dishes despite not eating with them.
Maple’s parents, on the other hand, were wary of Alex being an artiste and worried about gossip and news coverage, but Alex is relieved to have garnered their trust since then.
When asked if he was afraid that more of Maple’s “dark history” would be revealed, Alex said: “I don’t think it’s ‘dark history’. She didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s not a stain [on her]. It’s her experience that will make the future better.”