Expats enjoy 'cosy' HK

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am

HONGKONGERS may regard their home as a big city, but its Korean residents tend to take a different view. Seoul, after all, is in the top 10 of the largest cities in the world.

'Hong Kong seems quite small and cosy to me,' said former Seoul resident Annie Park Joo-youn, who lives here with her English journalist husband Jon Marsh and their two children. Ms Park finds life agreeable, like the more than 5,700 other Koreans who call the SAR home, and she enjoys the fact that the city is in the throes of a love affair with Korean culture.

'Hong Kong is very practical ... and there is a very large Korean community, but the weather is not very good for me. I brought many winter clothes and almost all of them are damaged by mould,' she said.

Occasionally, she feels pangs of homesickness.

'The Autumn Festival and [Lunar] New Year are also very big holidays in Korea, and I miss home at those times, but I have good friends in Hong Kong and I have many Korean friends that are very happy to visit,' she said.

Ms Park takes solace in soups, especially kimchi, bean paste and seaweed broths. She finds professional life here harder than back home. She remains well known in Korea as a popular lyricist but finds it difficult to work at a distance from the music business.

'When I lived in Seoul, everything was quite easy. I could meet people and go to the studios, but here I can't do that. But I live in the countryside and that's good for my kids. I like the school system here,' she said.

Lena Wang works as a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific and has lived in Hong Kong for 13 years. What she misses most about Korea is her family. 'I miss the atmosphere of being with them,' she said.

Ms Wang also likes the schools here. 'We like the whole system - transport, education, the people, working environment and the no discrimination between men and women,' she said.

The working mother speaks Korean at home some of the time to keep her children aware of their cultural heritage.