Made in Hong Kong
I am presenting these portraits of the Kwun Tong district in Hong Kong, through which I want to explore the current issues of trade and globalization.
After World War II, Hong Kong, blessed with a unique geopolitical position, along with its abundance of cheap labor and land, soon became one of Asia's largest manufacturing centers. Kwun Tong was at the heart of this phenomenal rise. At its peak in the 80s, this small district, which measured just over 11 square kilometers, was home to thousands of factories producing all sorts of goods, including garments, toys, watches, and cameras. I vividly remembered a visit to a camera manufacturer here with photography club members from my secondary school. Towards the end of the tour, the manager would go to the end of the assembly line, proudly picked up a finished product stamped with the "Made in Hong Kong" label, and took pictures for all of us.
Unfortunately, starting in the 90s, as China gradually opened up to the world promising ever cheaper land and labor, factories began to move out. How ironic and sad that the very same force that brought prosperity has all of a sudden turned its back! Now, 20 years into the decline, what is left in Kwun Tong are abandoned mills, unattended buildings, and soon-to-be demolished factory complexes, the walls of which are peeling from years of relentless corrosion, leaving teary trails of brownish yellow. At the end of 2008, unable to find the original camera manufacturer I had visited, I decided to paid tribute to these once prosperous streets and buildings by taking what I believed to be their last portraits. They will serve as fond memories to remind Hong Kong citizens of the pride that Kwun Tong had once given them.