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Jobless Chinese man hacks payphone for free internet, becomes slacker hero

“I don’t have a mobile phone,” the man said. “I use this to read novels and watch movies.”

Published onMarch 4, 2019

A mysterious Chinese man who hacks a payphone in order to connect to the internet.

Being unemployed can be a real bore, even if you still have every basic comfort you might desire. But being unemployed without a smartphone or even access to the internet? That must be absolutely mind-numbing.

One mystery man in China used some ingenuity to solve this very issue. Each evening over the past several years he’s taken to the streets of Chongqing and set himself up at a public phone booth. Using a small screwdriver-like tool, he hacks the machine and uses it to surf the internet. He’ll spend several hours at the booth reading books, watching movies, and even playing video games. When he’s done, he sets the machine back to normal and heads back home.

In the YouTube video below (completely in Chinese), you can see the blurred-out mystery man as he explains his situation, his payphone-hacking method, and what he does with his time.

According to South China Morning Post, the man explains in the video that he used to be a mechanical worker. “I don’t have a mobile phone,” he says in the video. “I use this to read novels and watch movies.”

What's Spanish for phishing? Hackers now use Google Translate for scams
The Google Translate Play Store page.

The man doesn’t appear to be using the hacked phone booth to search for a job.

The video also features interviews with local residents who say they have seen the man there most evenings for the past two or three years. He usually spends multiple hours at the booth.

China Telecom, which owns the booth and the internet service connected to it, has opened an investigation into the mysterious freeloader. China Telecom doesn’t appear to have been aware of the piracy until the video blew up on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo. There, the thousands of comments under the video suggest that most citizens hope the mystery slacker doesn’t get into too much trouble, with some even hoping this hacking ingenuity will help him land a job.