The Monkey King, a Chinese Epic Figure that comes to life at Union Square

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Since his arrival to New York City five years ago, Taiwanese immigrant Jung Chin has made a living by performing as the epic Chinese figure “The Monkey King” at Union Square.

Although Chin’s English is limited to “hello” and “thank you” he uses his smile and charisma to convince passersby, especially young ones, to take pictures with him in exchange for some money.

The character he has chosen to personify is the hero the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. According to the 16th-century masterpiece, the Monkey King walked from modern-day China to modern-day India. During his trip, the king found more than 600 Buddhist scriptures that he translated after returning to China. The book is based on the life of a famous monk called Xuanzang, who is now considered one of the most important Buddhist scholars in Chinese history.