Have you ever wondered why people in Hong Kong wear masks?
As a Sociology and Journalism student in the University of Hong Kong, I recently conducted a research on the behavior of mask wearing in the city. Through speaking with classmates, holding in-depth interviews, and making general and measured observations.
After a thorough exploration, these are some of the reasons with which I was presented.
1. Illness (SARS / Influenza)
In 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) hit Hong Kong and killed 299 people. This sent the city into panic. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority issued guidelines in the hope of containing the spread and calming the general public.
Although SARS is long gone, influenza remains a threat. According to Flu Express published by Center of Health Protection, 131 deaths were recorded this year. Class suspension has been issued for both kindergartens and primary schools. The government continues to advise the use of medical masks when feeling ill.
2. Fashion (K-pop / J-pop)
The video is of a fashion show in Hong Kong from a few years ago now. However, the trend of mask wearing continues. It’s also been a staple of K-pop fashion for a while now.
Hong Kong’s weather has been known for being surprisingly cold in the winter. I recently wrote an article about the cold weather we are experiencing for the past few weeks. People said they had worn masks to shield the wind and keep warm.
4. Appearance (No Makeup / Pimple)
This particular reason is mostly provided as an answer by young women, I was told on days they were tired or didn’t want to put on makeup, they would wear a mask. I heard this from a few men, too.
5. Air Pollution
When I first moved here in 2013, pollution was my concern. I didn’t realize it before living here, but the air quality in Hong Kong can be quite bad at times. Actually, this was an answer seldom given by people who identified as a ‘local’. It was mostly westerners living in HK, like myself, who mentioned it. You can get live Air Quality Health Index on the website of Environmental Protection Department.
So, there are many reasons people choose to dawn a mask, and this list is not exhaustive. Perhaps you have one of your own – comment below!
Reporter: Justin Chatman
Copy editor: Skylar
Content Manager: Amanda