Normally, being a journalist involves a certain kind of detachment. When we write about Hong Kong’s sunset industries—the culturally significant businesses that are becoming less and less common—there is not much else to do but watch as broader economic and social forces change the city’s landscape.
That has certainly been the case for Hong Kong’s neon signs. In the past, we have written about the neon masters who created the signs that for decades defined the city’s landscape, and how a change in government policy has permanently altered that landscape as many classic signs are removed. But there wasn’t much we could actually do about it. Hong Kong’s neon is disappearing, and as a magazine, we can only document the trend.
That is, until now. When our contributor Billy Potts visited a famous Happy Valley dim sum parlour that was closing for good after nearly three decades, he remarked that its neon sign would be extinguished and removed like so many other signs around the city. But this time, we were able to alert StreetsignHK, a non-profit organisation dedicated to saving Hong Kong’s shop signs, which is run by Zolima’s contributor Kevin Mak. Together we ensured that the dim sum restaurant’s neon would not end up in the rubbish tip.
In the latest instalment of our Forgotten Icon video series, see how a valuable piece of Hong Kong’s heritage will be preserved for posterity.