Coffin, sweet coffin

Just around the corner from where Blade Runner met Bruce Lee, in the neighborhood where Hong Kong’s millions are made twenty-four people live their lives in coffins. They call it home but those are only 6 by 3 feet wooden boxes, nicknamed coffins and packed into a single room to make more money for the rich.

In crazy chase for more dollars, landlords in the island city are building something unthinkable in the rest of the world – a beehive for people collected from the margins of society. Math is a rat, pitiless and brutal – 24 times 1450 Hong Kong dollars a month is more than anyone would pay for this room, just over 500 square feet small.

Mister T, the only inhabitant of coffin homes who did not want his picture to be taken (“I have a big daughter, she would be ashamed”) calls it the bottom. After spending years in the States, of which not small number behind bars, this is as low as it gets for him. He spits through broken front teeth with routine of a street gangster and continues bitching about the life – “better than nothing, but not as good as the real life”.

Others here seem to be more relaxed about living in coffins and with their struggle against numerically inferior but invisible and stronger enemy. In the town where the size of living space is inversely proportional to the size of mobile phone screens, the rents and life in general are painfully expensive.

Blade Runner went digital, Bruce Lee got a full time job at Madame Tussaud so there are no more heroes anymore in the neighborhood to help fighting the injustice. Except maybe miss Sze, a community organizer with sweetest professional “everything is going to be okay” look I ever seen.

The only woman in the room, Sze goes from coffin to coffin to hear what living have to say. Chung’s mother died and he lost his place in the queue for a proper social apartment; Kam has to wear a medical corset for his bad back and can barely move and young King is here only for a month and wants to leave.

Miss Sze is saying over 100,000 people in Hong Kong live in inadequate housing. Living space was always the premium here and it’s not easy to find a decent accommodation if you are not wearing silk suit, golden watch and all that comes with it.

You can see more of pictures here.

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