Stories: Digital Recall - Kowloon Walled City in Japan

Digital Recall

Kowloon Walled City in Japan

Words | GoJim
Translation | Edwin Lo
Design | Debby Poon
Photography | Kit
Camera | Nikon D4
Lens | 20mm 2.8、24mm - 85mm 3.5 - 5.6VR
Special Thanks | HK Express
While some people like to reminisce about the past, this likely does not apply to certain people that grew up in the 70's and 80's in Hong Kong for which the horrific Kowloon Walled City was a reality. Due to complications in political sovereignty, it was rumored that the Kowloon Walled City was deemed ungoverned (meaning the Mainland, British, and Hong Kong government did not partake in the governing of the district due to political sensitivity). Due to this absence of governance, the City became its own independent and autonomous unit and a hotbed for criminal activity such as prostitution, drugs, gambling, and a variety of unlicensed businesses. Combined with the ever expanding number of illegal immigrants, the Kowloon Walled City became known as the world's most densely populated area. At its peak there were over 50,000 people cramped into the 6.5 acres space, which meant the population density was up to 190 people per square kilometer.

With its rich and dark past, the Kowloon Walled City captured the imagination of the Japanese. In fact, one could say a love affair blossomed with the City, from their video games Kowloon’s Gate, comics Ghost In The Shell, to movies Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo Hong Kong Kowloon Zaiho Satsujin Jiken, the overbearing dark shadows of the Walled City are reimagined through a Japanese filter. Before the Walled City's official demolishment in 1993, there was a team of Japanese researchers and explorers who spent a week's time documenting the City's final hour. The photos were later collected and released as a photo album called City of Darkness (it is ironic that there were no such publications done by Hong Kong locals). Going one step further, there is a theme park In Kawasaki City in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan called WAREHOUSE, which is based on the Kowloon Walled City and attempts to recreate the crowded, noisy, and dirty experience of the original location. The park is like a time tunnel back to this dark and scary place.

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