Little Hong Kong: Are HongKongers “fake”? (Part 14)

When I first returned to Hong Kong, I had the feeling that HongKongers were “fake.”  Hong Kong people never “tell” you what they’re thinking.  Many expats or returnees who grew up overseas feel out of place here socially.  Other than their workplace acquaintances, they have difficulty connecting with locals.  A college schoolmate who was Korean once told me that he felt HongKongers were selfish and shallow.

HongKongers don’t tell you what they think

It is true that most HongKongers don’t always “tell” you what they’re thinking.  In this city of 7 million, the social circle is small.  Many are afraid to share their feelings for fear that everyone would know their weaknesses.  Many only share their feelings with a very selective few.  But more often than not, HongKongers don’t try to hide their feelings.   They don’t always put it into words, but they do share their emotions in other ways.

HongKongers lack emotions

On first glance, it may seem that HongKongers show no emotion on their faces.  But this cannot be further from the truth.  From my experience, there are tons of emotions deep inside, hidden from their smiles.  Their masks are there to greet people as a courtesy, but deep inside, many feelings and thoughts are suppressed.  As a matter of fact, I find even ordinary HongKongers have extremely strong complicated emotions hidden inside.

HongKongers are shallow

Wearing luxury fashion everywhere, HongKongers might seem “shallow.”  But this is only the surface.  There are many reasons for this : (1) they might genuinely like the designs (2) they might be insecure (3) they might need a successful image for clients (4) everyone else is wearing them so they just want to fit in.  There are always reasons why people consume what they do.  If you try to find out why, the reasons are often complicated.

HongKongers are ruthless

Hong Kong is a competitive place.  There are often hundreds if not thousands fighting for a few positions.  Whatever they are doing, they have fought many others to get to where they are.  Their struggles are often unimaginable.  Since their birth, they have fought thousands of people over one position.  They might have done something they’re not so proud of.  But they got to do what they got to do to survive and feed the family.

Beyond a HongKonger’s “poker face” are often struggles, pain, hardship and frustrations hidden within.  He or she must nevertheless put on a smile and carry on, because there is not turning back.  As social services are very limited in Hong Kong, failure is not an option.  But this fighting spirit is the backbone of Hong Kong and is what makes Hong Kong so special and so full of human emotions beyond the surface.


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