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Turk in Taiwan for school, becomes TV star

TEKİRDAĞ - Doğan News Agency | 7/29/2009 12:00:00 AM |

A local from the northwestern city of Tekirdağ, Uğur Rıfat Karlova, goes to Taiwan on a Culture and Tourism Ministry scholarship and by chance winds up appearing in TV commercials and series. He is now performing in one of the country's most popular shows and receives great interest from the people

Uğur Rıfat Karlova went to Taiwan to study and has become a TV star along the way.

Karlova, 29, is from Turkey’s northwestern city of Tekirdağ and is now among the most popular people in Taiwanese show business. The name Karlova is not even known in Turkey but he has acted in many popular TV commercials and TV series in Taiwan.

Born in Tekirdağ’s Hayrabolu district to a working class family, Karlova finished his primary and secondary education in Tekirdağ and then studied tourism and hotel management at Mersin University Anamur Vocational High School in the Mediterranean city of Mersin. After working as a tourist guide during his university years and finishing his education, Karlova passed another university exam. He then entered the Ankara University Sinologue department upon the advice of one of his friends who was working for the Tourism Ministry.

Karlova explained the reason why he chose that department, saying: “The school’s Web site said successful students could go to China on a scholarship, so I decided to attend the Sinologue department hoping to win this scholarship. I was working in a repair shop during the day while studying for the exam in the evenings. I planned to enlist in the army if I could not pass the exam, but otherwise I would be able to enter a new world. My father also supported my decision.”

[HH] Show business by chance

Karlova graduated from the Sinologue department in 2006 and won the scholarship provided by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in the same year and got a chance to study for a master’s degree in Taiwan.

In his first year in the country, he attended one year of Chinese classes at the National Taiwan University. During this time, he participated in many Taiwan and Chinese television productions as an actor or a guest. At the same time he continued his master’s degree at the same university’s political science department.

Karlova explained the story of his entrance into show business, saying: “One day, while walking on the street, two Taiwanese people wanted to talk to me. They were looking for a foreigner to play in a commercial. They took my photo and told me to wait for their call. They also told me to tell my friends and that they needed to fill a bar with foreigners for the commercial. I told this to my friends and they accepted. I went to shoots with three friends from Guatemala, Turkey and Nauru. We created an atmosphere where a group of people were having fun. The commercial is on TV now.”

[HH] He hit the jackpot

After the commercial, Karlova was offered a role in a national history documentary by Taiwan State Television. He played the Canadian character George Leslie MacKey, who was a missioner who came to the country near the end of 1800s and became very well known there.

He has also acted in commercials for Volkswagen, Beko, 3M and Gigabayt. He played the character “Engineer Abdullah” in a Taiwanese film about the Aug. 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake. Karlova continues to appear on the popular program “Halin’s Show” and receives great interest from people. He sometimes sings Turkish songs and cooks Turkish dishes on the program.

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