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On a stranger's secret service

(China Daily)

09:46, August 22, 2011

Norwegian producer Joanna Syson, holding an old picture of herself, stands with Chinese actor Wang Weiguo in Beijing on Wednesday. Wang spent a dozen years locating the owner of some lost family photos that Syson and her mother Julie Ege, an actress in a James Bond movie, had long been looking for. Jiang Dong / China Daily

Discovered photos tie Chinese actor to Bond actress

Who knows what you will find in a flea market? For one Chinese actor, his discovery included picture frames, broken promises, recovered memories and a link to James Bond. During a trip to the Panjiayuan flea market in Beijing in 1999, actor Wang Weiguo stumbled across 20 exquisite frames and was immediately attracted by the photos in them - beautifully taken pictures of a blond woman's life from baby to young lady.

Some were obviously family photos that included both the girl and her parents.

"I was sure the photos' owner must have lost them by accident, because no one would sell such important photos," he said. "She must have felt very distressed."

He turned to police to see if anyone had filed a report about the lost photos, and he showed the photographs to everyone he knew from outside China. He also contacted media for help, but all came to naught.

"My grandma raised me. An important part of her education is one should never take things that belong to others," said Wang, 56.

"I couldn't be at ease until I found the photos' owner. And I believed I would."

In 2010 Wang told TV host Zhang Zequn about the photos. He was touched by the story and suggested Wang try China Radio International (CRI), a network that broadcasts in 43 languages to a global audience.

CRI made a video about the story and posted it on its website in English on Dec 27, 2010.

Soon many Web users joined the search for the lady in the photos.

On March 16, an Internet user noticed that one of photos was Norwegian actress Julie Ege and her daughter.

Ege, who passed away in 2008, was Miss Norway in 1962 and played one of the Angels of Death in the 1969 Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

The young girl in the photos turned out to be Joanna Syson, the elder of her two daughters, and a documentary filmmaker in Norway.

The video was sent to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and eventually reached the Facebook page of Joanna's younger sister.

Soon after, CRI got an e-mail from Joanna.

"It's a miracle, unbelievable. I never thought I was going to see them again," she wrote.

Joanna, now 42, was studying Chinese in Beijing in 1999. She left the photos with a friend when she returned to Norway to edit a film, promising to return in three months. However, she didn't come back until six months later.

"By the time I was back, everything had been lost," she recalled. "It was just gone. I tried to find my belongings but didn't know where to begin, honestly. My friend just disappeared. I was devastated."

She did not want to talk too much about that friend, saying she is very forgiving now.

"People make mistakes, I'm not angry any more. Maybe it was me who broke the promise first, by postponing my trip back to China," she said.

The loss became even more painful when a massive fire in her house in Norway burned all of her other family photos and negatives.

She thought she would lose all the prints of her childhood and youth forever.

Seeing the photos again, especially those with her parents, Joanna could barely hold back her tears.

Joanna and Wang met on Aug 17 in Beijing.

"I have known you as you were a baby," Wang said.

They went through the photos with her 10-year-old son, who came with her.

"Now the boy can see what his mother looked like when she was young," she said.

"The story is all about Wang," said Joanna. "He is a man of great integrity and gives faith in miracles."

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