GBA Lifestyle News
City Living Section
By Leanne Mirandilla | October 31st, 2018

Hong Kong Homies: Julie Park, Kindergarten Principal

My dad was working as a tour guide at a Korean company that relocated him to Hong Kong. He thought it was a good opportunity, and so our family moved here 28 years ago.

On Hong Kong’s liveability

I don’t think Hong Kong is a popular place for Korean families to emigrate to. I think the living standards are higher and definitely more expensive than Korea. I asked my dad why he thinks this is the case, and he said that one reason is that the Korean passport is ranked higher than the Hong Kong passport. So Koreans don’t see Hong Kong as a popular place to emigrate to compared places like the USA.

To be very honest, I am in a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a very small but very fast-paced city, driven by money and status. It can be quite stressful and overwhelming sometimes. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and went to primary school, secondary school and university here, while all my friends went abroad for university at least. At one point, I hated Hong Kong and wanted to work abroad, but because I am the breadwinner of the family I had no choice but to stay here.

However, I would never consider moving back to Korea for good. I think Korea is best for short holidays, but not for me to live in. The work culture and way of life is very different compared to Hong Kong. For example, in Korea it’s all about age and hierarchy. Rarely would you find a young female boss with staff older than her, working for her. I don’t think I would be able to adapt or  fit into that kind of working environment.

On making a home away from home

Since I moved here when I was relatively young, there isn’t much that I miss from Korea. The only thing would be attending family gatherings during the holiday seasons. In Korea, they are huge on family gatherings during the Korean New Year, or our grandparents’ 70th or 80th birthdays. But when I was still in school, my parents didn’t fly us over to Korea that often, so we missed out on most of these.

Every time I have visitors or gatherings with friends, we go to my favorite Korean restaurant, Won PungWon on Prat Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui. I think the food there is best and most authentic in Hong Kong.

I believe that some Korean restaurants have different menus for different people. For example, if a table of local people walk in, they might offer a menu that is catered more for locals and is less spicy. However, when they know a table is full of Koreans, they will usually bring out the more authentic and spicy, dishes that locals don’t like to eat.

On the popularity of Korean culture

I remember that, back in the day, J-pop, Japanese movies and dramas, restaurants and fashion were very popular. Locals would learn Japanese and go on holiday to Japan. But now I feel that K-pop has taken over, and people here love Korean dramas, beauty products, and fashion. There are even specific “beauty group tours”. It’s nice that more Korean brands and products are becoming popular in Hong Kong because I don’t need to ask family or friends to bring me things from Korea anymore!

At one point I had friends asking if I would be interested in teaching Korean or opening a Korean language center in Hong Kong. I didn’t want to commit to anything back then, but now I wish I did!

Hong Kong Homies is where we get deep real fast with Hongkongers.