Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages… Literally

Posted on November 21, 2009

Hong Kong is a vibrant city chock-full of people — so much so that the quality of life for those at the bottom tier is atrocious. And I’m not talking about, “Oh my goodness, I have to share a bathroom with my brother and sister.”  I’m talking about up to 18 strangers being smashed into a tiny 625 square foot flat with just one toilet to share.

Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

One such former cage-dweller is Chau Kam-chuen. Mr. Kam-chuen used to be one of over 400,000 working poor who paid approximately $167.6 USD to live in such an environment. According to him, it’s extremely uncomfortable, especially if you get the top bunk: “You hit your head on the ceiling.”

The way it works is that a flat is chosen and then partitioned into multiple cubicles, each composed of wooden planks and wire mesh. Each cubicle then becomes home to one resident.

Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

The cage that the woman sits in above contains all her possessions, from clothes to cooking supplies and even family heirlooms. Realistically speaking, the cage is smaller than a jail cell; yet, these cages house thousands of poverty-stricken men and women who have nowhere else to turn.

Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

And they aren’t comfortable either. Oftentimes, the air-conditioning and heating doesn’t work. Or if it does work, it rarely gets turned on before 9m.  As Lai Man-law, an employed man from Hong Kong explained, “It’s dirty and hot. There are cockroaches and bedbugs, and the air-conditioning doesn’t work.”

One wonders though why someone would choose to live like this. Most of these people have no alternative option. These are normal everyday citizens who befell upon hard times and ended up unemployed, homeless, and struggling to make ends meet. The horrific floods of 2008 didn’t help either, as it forced many into homelessness and poverty.

To bring this unfortunate situation to light, Hong Kong’s Schoeni Gallery decided to focus their annual art charity event on displaying these cages directly to the public. Their goal was to showcase the widening gap between the poor and rich in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

The cages displayed are real cages from real flats. In fact, the man pictured above is Mr. Kam-chuen himself. He hopes that this event inspires more people to offer a helping hand to those in need — especially the poor cage dwellers of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

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Hong Kong Citizens Are Living in Cages... Literally picture

V Saxena

I am a 28-year-old heterosexual male hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina. I was raised in America and intend to bring up my children as proud Americans because I am defined by neither my past nor the color of my skin, but rather by the path I choose to take in life. It is this option to be who and what I want that has me so enamored with my Mother country: the United States of America. For more information, please visit feelgoodfriday1.blogspot.com.
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120 comments
Gareth
Gareth

There are people responding to this article whom I hope die slowly of cancer. This is disgusting as it is disgusting everywhere in the world where economics chooses its winners and its losers. Where there are dense concentrations of humans - life is cheapened. It is a symptom of two fundamental problems; too many humans; economics are not the basis of any model that shall succed humans beyond this current animal-like evolutionary state. Populations down over the world. Replace the monetary system. Easier said than done but this kind of thing will always be a symptom of the two aforementioned global diseases. I am right. Fuck anyone that contests this.

Gareth
Gareth

Also, anybody who believes Godly forces are responsible for this and that this 'the order' needs to stop hiding behind imaginary friends and excuses and be brave to question the world alone, with intellect.

Destroyer
Destroyer

Maybe a job is a human right. Would it really destroy civilization if we guaranteed everyone a job that paid enough to pay rent? According to bankers it would. The reality is that poverty helps government hold power because it keeps people in fear. Karl Jung wrote extensively on the effects of keeping humans stressed and powerless.

Destroyer
Destroyer

During the depression the government actually paid writers to write books (fiction, non fiction and poetry)! I am sure most of them were garbage, but that is why we had so many great writers through the 1940s and 50s. Now government "stimulus" spends $800k to create a single $40k a year job with $760,000 in kickback to the "Job Creator". Government was much more efficient in 1933.

Jenn
Jenn

Wow, the people commenting and comparing these people to soldiers - they are not! They do not have money accumulating in their bank accounts while they live here. As stated in the article, these people have fallen on hard times - and those that say they should leave the city if they do not work there: where exactly should they go? This city is what they know, and where they come from. Yes, there is worse poverty in the world, and that it something we should all address. This is not a competition. Hopefully the people of HK and the government (local and the PRC) can understand this situation and provide a possible solution to the future for these 18 people and others in similar positions.

MeowMix
MeowMix

I hate how everyone is saying WELL it's worse over here at _____ It's still terrible! Doesn't make it any less bad :/

Living
Living

It's all thanks of our hard working government and real estate giants we made our best appearance to the whole world. With PPP ranked #8 in the world, we will now survive horay!

house painter
house painter

wow its hard to believe that we as humans can still live a full life even in these conditions, it should make us all gr8ful for what we have. House Painter Brisbane

juju
juju

Just like New Orleans. Wanted to see how people really live and it's not a pretty sight in large part. Yes there are pockets of areas uptown with truly beautiful homes, prosperous people. THen there is the gritty, dirty underbelly. The drug soldiers on the corners, the areas devastated by hurricanes, the streets that look and drive as if an earthquake has hit them. It's a disgrace. When you go as a tourist, you see Canal Street, the French Quarter. The touristy areas are not the real city

judy
judy

For the truly filthy rich of the world to see this situation and turn their heads is a disgrace. There are many super wealthy people of that country, but they justify their selfishness by just not wanting to "throw money" at people.

Stu
Stu

Call me cold but Hong Kong is a bustling business capital, it is clear that none of these people are working or require to live within the proximity of the city. There are places with simpler affordable lifestyles elsewhere, where your $176 will go a lot further. Life is difficult and you have to make your own breaks, you can't expect to be unproductive yet live in anything more than a crate in a city where accommodation is in high demand. There are people out there that are dying through disease and famine. These people just live a bit close together and appear to be unable to tidy up after themselves.

Andre
Andre

I can't believe this. Our government does nothing about this. This is the most embarrassing s*** for us HK people

The Hierarchy
The Hierarchy

Could I use the last picture of this article for an Adobe contest that I am entering? My entry is a website about the division between social-economic classes in Hong Kong. Please reply as soon as possible because I have to submit it soon. Thank you very much.

Bobo
Bobo

omg is this true??=( I am from HK but I have never heard of this...

jajaja
jajaja

Than you are probably one of the rich asses in HK who doesn't have a clue what the big picture is like in Hong Kong

jesse?
jesse?

Buncha panzies. I've been in a homeless shelter in NYC, and these folks have got it GOOD. I've seen way worse right here in America.

JJJ
JJJ

I see both sides of the coin. One toilet for all those people is unspeakable, I'm sure the conditions are not much better. However, at least they have a roof over their heads and a place to sleep at night. As for the comment about people in america sleeping on the streets: the majority of those people choose to. They either refuse to follow the rules of shelter (not drinking smoking drugs etc) there are fewer people on the street who are seeking help and not getting it. TTT's comment on Karma. Karma doesn't kick you in the ass for not working. It is true, you reap what you sow. However, you do not know any of these peoples story. I am sure that some are there for a life of laziness, I bet that a good bit of them have just had a horrible hand in life. Sometimes you struggle and not get anywhere. Don't be so judgmental! I agree that the there should be something done about the conditions. I think they are also very thankful to have some where to live too.

Mark B
Mark B

I am planing to travel to Hong Kong in January to help run a project to help these people. Its hard to believe that in a City that recently had a Apartment sell for 55+ million US $ that such places not only exist but that thousands of people are forced into living in these places. Very sad, but in documentary films I have seen about these people they still smile. Thats what you call a real human, living in these conditions and still being able to smile.

Mark Barry
Mark Barry

my goodness. people living in the cage are really living horribly. nice post.

John Avagliano
John Avagliano

well this is a great post. thanks for increasing my knowledge that people of Hong Kong lives in cages. well this is really tough, but god has made them like this. The living conditions are really miserable but still people are staying there.

Barclay Bathroom
Barclay Bathroom

This makes our prisons look like a luxury hotel. Many people don't seem to get how lucky we are to be born in the USA.Now the caged people will never have money to get out of the cage because no one employ them.Maybe increasing the minimum wage to... oh i dunno.. something! would help. http://black-bathroom-vanity.com/

$unny
$unny

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope...............thats the thing I want to say for these peoples

ndrew
ndrew

what a sad story.. ;(

San Diego Tax
San Diego Tax

Miserable condition.. The problem stands that there are, unfortunately, a large group of people worldwide that cannot make ends meet; and therefore must resort to living styles they normally wouldn't. But people who have the luxury of being able to go online and check little blogs such as these on a daily basis, don't realize that sitting here and bickering about it doesn't solve, much less alleviate the problem at hand. http://irstaxlawyers.org/CA/San-Diego

unwanted gold
unwanted gold

I think its painfull and shows the type of government that is in place and if not checked is worth international incursion

mlm help
mlm help

Government want to see this that there is to much problem. Really good video coverage by the news channel.

Capital Gold Group
Capital Gold Group

The condition is miserable.The photos show how badly the people are treated there. I feel very sad for those people who suffer all this unbearable conditions.Government should take some strict actions to help them out..

Dan
Dan

You are so heartless. There are people being poor and have to live in Cages. What if you live in there? What does it feel? You sicko man.

used cell phone
used cell phone

communist gov ? they will probably beat up these poor people when they go on riot and cover up for the big corporation as it's probably one of their own

used cell phone
used cell phone

communist gov ? they will probably beat up these poor people when they go on riot and cover up for the big corporation as it's probably one of their own

roro
roro

u is one sicko,may God help u

roro
roro

am living in poverty myself and can't assist u,i hope there would be help soon.

Sunny London
Sunny London

And you have the money to log into a computer, time to sit on your arse and hang around blogs

joe
joe

too many people in world is sad truth. china has led the way .couples must restrict there children to one or more people will suffer in the future around the world.

Sephi
Sephi

Some of you are real gold. I feel bad for the parents and countries (mainly US looks like) that raised you. Poverty is poverty. It doesn't matter where you are or whether you live in a capitalist democracy or a socialist communist state. Grow the hell up and educate yourselves. You have tons of problems in your own countries you'd be able to see and do something about if you weren't so blinded by patriotism and hate for the evil, evil communists.

@Rodney_Hart
@Rodney_Hart

What ever works for them. We all came from hard situations. Maybe they can market those bunk beds in America.

Tiny
Tiny

My god, how can they live in that cage for so long!!! DIY Awards

DIY Awards
DIY Awards

What they need is not only short term help, but the mechanism to drag them out of that kind of life...

Catherine
Catherine

i wonder where their children are .. seeing that most of them are elderly :S it's heartbreaking! :( i wish they receive help soooooon!

Justin White
Justin White

Wow, I cant even begin to imagine! That is so sad. I have been to Hong Kong on several ocassions and have never had to see this. RT www.anonymity-tools.ru.tc

Lub
Lub

Dude, as a tourist you only see the wealthiest 10% of Hong Kong

Toni
Toni

This is simply awful to hear about. I guess when there's all the talk about the environment and China not doing enough, it kinda makes sense when you hear that there are people living in cages. I think they deserve something better than that!

akos
akos

how is this funny? its not funny at all...why u so heartless?

Goatleg
Goatleg

If you don't feel sorry for them then you don't deserve to live. Yes they can clean up and crap but it costs money which they obviously do not have. Most necessities are donated. Listen before you comment. Coast guard, army barracks... you all make money and have the luxury to be PROVIDED with cleaning products to clean shit up. Basically, instead of talking yourselves up, do something about it. Write a letter or email them. I donate $500 a month to charities, what will you do?