Jin Yong show opens at Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Renowned martial arts writer, now 93, thanks city ‘for everything it has given me’
A major exhibition of the work of one of the greatest living martial arts novelists will show the city’s popular culture at its best for young writers to emulate, its curator has said.
The collections of Dr Louis Cha, whose 15 sets of martial arts stories under pen name Jin Yong have been bestsellers since they were published between 1955 and 1972, found a new home on Tuesday with the opening of the Jin Yong Gallery at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum after three years of preparation.
“Those works by Jin Yong testify the rise of popular culture of Hong Kong in the 1960s with numerous films, TV series and comics associated with those novels,” Brian Lam Kwok-fai, the gallery’s curator, said before the opening ceremony.
“Over time, Jin’s works have exceeded the popular culture genre and become literature in their own right, and we are proud of what Hong Kong has produced that has an impact far beyond the city borders.”
Jin, who founded the Ming Pao newspaper, has lived in Hong Kong since 1948.
Among 300 items on display is a set of original hand-written drafts of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, which Jin wrote in Singapore in 1967, on loan from a collector from the Lion City.
“Hand-written drafts are extremely rare as they were mostly disposed of after going to print, but they showed the inner work of the master,” Lam said.
“Behind every word is a huge amount of knowledge the author has acquired for his creative work, and that could be inspiring for today’s young readers, [showing] what it takes to succeed.”
The exhibition, presented in both English and Chinese, was made possible with HK$10 million approved by the Legislative Council to cover procurement, copyright fees and renovation of a 2,100 sq ft former audio room at the museum into a permanent site for the gallery.
“To merit a permanent exhibition, the figure must be of importance, relevant to the mission of the Heritage Museum, and the family members would be willing to support,” Lam said.
And support even came from the master himself.
“I thank Hong Kong for everything it has given me,” Jin, aged 93, wrote in the preface to the exhibition. “Now I want to take good care of it and strive to repay my debt to this city.”