Operation Santa Claus
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Hong Kong magician and mentalist Zenneth Kok with the children who attended his workshop on November 27. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Operation Santa Claus: Hong Kong underprivileged children get a peek into magical world, learn its secrets at workshop

  • Event hosted by magician and mentalist Zenneth Kok in November 2021 was part of the performing arts theme of Operation Santa Claus
  • Children were taught tricks such as how to make pens vanish and cause the coins in their hands to disappear, using everyday household items or upcycled objects

Hong Kong children were given a peek into the world of magic and the secrets behind popular tricks such as the disappearing coin during a workshop last month.

The event, hosted by magician and mentalist Zenneth Kok on November 27, was part of the performing arts theme of Operation Santa Claus (OSC), an annual charity campaign organised by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK since 1988.

Kok’s eager audience included about 25 underprivileged children from two of OSC’s beneficiaries, and 10 families from event sponsor Credit Suisse who joined the workshop online.

Magician Zenneth Kok teaches children the secrets behind popular magic tricks. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

“Having the opportunity to share magic with children is amazing. Not only can workshops like these trigger their interest in the subject, but pulling a perfect performance requires showmanship as well as good presentation and communication skills that will surely apply in their daily lives,” said Kok, a member of the Hong Kong Magician group.

The virtual nature of the workshop did not affect the quality of the magic performed so long as the audience was paying attention, he added.

Kok performed a number of tricks and taught the children to read minds, make pens vanish and cause the coins in their hands to disappear. All the props, he said, were household staples or upcycled objects.

“The tricks I designed today could all be easily replicated with things they could find at home,” he added.

A professional magician, industry judge and lecturer for more than 20 years, Kok experienced the lowest point of his career during the coronavirus pandemic, when the number of his live shows slumped from the usual 100 per year to a mere four in 2020. This further motivated him to share his talent with the needy.

“I usually work with luxury brands, corporations and wealthy families,” said Kok, who had performed for clients such The Hong Kong Golf Club and Lan Kwai Fong Group.

“While I am grateful for their support, I thought it would be nice to perform for those who need our help. All the kids I met today were really bright and eager to learn,” he added.

OSC supported 18 beneficiaries last year. Other performing arts partners in the programme included lion dance and martial arts group Li Fei Piu Chinese Martial Arts Association, family centre for creative arts Baumhaus and theatre group The Nonsensemakers.