SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

YUN Jaeun “Victoria Peak in Fog”


For the people in South Korea, Hong Kong was the only “advanced area” where culture was permissible to import up to the decade of 1990s. Japanese cultures especially video contents were prohibited to import, a lot of movies which were set in Hong Kong were accepted as longings in South Korea. Hong Kong movies were popular and captured hearts of Korean people especially in Chinese New Year and the O-bon period. As Hong Kong has been colony of United Kingdom, various races of people appeared in movies and created exoticism. Movies by Wong Kar Wei (film director), who took the world in 1990s created a cultural sensation. Hong Kong was “Symbol of Freedom” for Korean society which has just democratized.



Hong Kong is intricate from Korean viewpoints. Hong Kong was “victim of Imperialism” and is suppressed by authoritarianism even now. South Korea had the same experiences (colony and dictatorship) as Hong Kong but South Korea broke free from them. Because of this, I think I can talk about Hong Kong more objectively than the media in Europe and America.



In China, Hong Kong is said to be a symbol of “humiliation for a hundred years” by colonialization of the imperialism by United Kingdom. (It is said that it was after 1990s that the Mainland China attracted their attention to Hong Kong) United Kingdom (suzerain) gave freedom to a certain level to Hong Kong people. But they did not guarantee democratic right i.e. voting rights until 1980s. In 1980s, negotiation between U.K. and China for retrocession started.



U.K. began to introduce new election system and the last Governor General Chris Patten, had to hasten introduction of new election systems compulsively. It is inevitable that U.K. is not so “serious” about democratization of Hong Kong. The aspect is not paid attention when we think of the present Hong Kong. especially in the media of Europe and America. As a result of negotiation for retrocession, China agreed to guarantee democratic system “One country, Two systems” for fifty years. Then, is United Kingdom free from obligation of present Hong Kong?  I do not think so.



After the retrocession to China in 1997, there were several demonstrations on a massive scale in Hong Kong. Especially “Umbrella Movement” in Autumn 2014 drew attention from the world. I visited Hong Kong twice in 2013 and 2014. Business trip in 2013 which had no concern with Hong Kong politics and had an impression “it is so warm!”  And I had an impression that Hong Kong was not influenced by U.K. 



My second business trip in November 2014 changed my way of looking toward Hong Kong. I listened to the opinion of the youngsters, though it had no relations with my business trip, but in order to know about Hong Kong youngsters more precisely. What noticeable was financial predicament of youngsters. There are three groups in the University of Hong Kong. Hongkongers, Main Landers and oversea students. It is said that finding employment by Hongkongers is difficult because they speak Cantonese and English only. Mainlanders are treated too kindly or generously by companies who comes from Mainland. Finding employment in financial business is yearning by Hongkongers. But it is a “Narrow Gate”. Finding employment in IT field is comparably easy. But salary is low. I realized that resistance by youngsters after 2010s is intertwined with economy problems not political problems.



Such youngsters’ dissatisfactions grew bigger but not resolved and they directed their ire toward amendment of law by Chinese Government conjointly. The Chinese Government took a wait-and-see policy first considering the Trump Administration. But they changed to tighten their regulation under the Corona pandemic. Students and entrepreneurs, symbol of democratization, were imprisoned one after another and nipped in the bud. Moreover, a bill “Representatives of Hong Kong shall be limited to Patriots” was enacted at the National People’s Congress this year. I think there are a lot of ways “How to love a country” and people love their countries variously.  Not only democracy but freedom, which have been protected under U.K. Administration, are in crisis now. It was a snug excuse for China under the COVID-19 pandemic in which worldwide support cannot reach.



In Korea, a lot of people (especially University students) were suppressed and some of them were killed by the Government till 1980s. Military dictatorship kept refusing intervention of NGO etc. by the reason of “interference in the domestic affairs”. There was a reversal composition. The Reagan Administration (U.S.A.) admitted Chun Doo-hwan Administration. University students developed anti-America movement shouting “Stop interference in the domestic affairs (admit dictatorship)!”.



Whenever I visit Hong Kong, I go to Victoria Peak which has beautiful nightscape every time. My last visit was during 2019 and it was just before a big demonstration. I could not see anything due to thick fog. For me, it was the first time to see such thick fog and I thought it symbolize the future of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a key for the future of democracy not only in China but in whole Asia also. We must keep watching Hong Kong.



SGRA Kawaraban 666 in Japanese (Original)



YUN Jaeun / 2020 Raccoon, Associated Lecturer at Hitotsubashi University



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala