Jul 21, 2011

WSJ video: living like cooped up rats in a Hong Kong apartment

The Wall Street Journal has some great stories usually. However, this article and video showing four people living like rats cooped up in 150 square food apartment in Hong Kong is a little off.

Have a look:

The first thing that tipped me off that this article is a bit sensationalized is the tentant's name, "Yang Lianchun". This is not a Hong Kong Cantonese transliteration, it's a Mainland Chinese name spelled using pinyin. The article does mention briefly that she moved to Hong Kong from Mainland China, but they don't mention much more. She's moved away from a bad life in the Mainland to try and make it in one of the most expensive cities with a meager income, and now she's got an even worse life.

In the US, it would be like a fry cook from Big Boy packing up and trying to make it in New York City on $500 a month. It would be the same story: a tiny, cramped apartment, and an unpleasant standard of living. You'd be stuck there until you hit on something where you could start pulling in more income.

I've visited apartments of normal Hong Kong folks in Hong Kong, and yes, they are small, but they don't live live rats cooped up in a cage like this lady. This is the background they don't give you in the article. Normal Hong Kong people live like people, although much less square footage than in the US. With good interior design, you can do a lot with a small apartment.

My view of this lady is, hey, give it a go in Hong Kong, but if you can't hack it, suck it up and move to the New Territories, or just go back to the Mainland and get a government "iron rice bowl" type job.


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