A Beloved Hong Kong Alt-Weekly Says Goodbye

HK magazine was launched in 1991 by expats Steve Freeman, Gretchen Worth and Greg Duncan.

As the cover story compiled by senior editor Adam White for HK magazine’s final Oct. 7 issue reminds, it all started in June of 1991:

HK magazine was the first free-distribution English-language magazine in Asia, and the skeleton of the magazine you’re holding today was there—complete with event listings and restaurant reviews. It seems Al’s Diner, Grappas and Tai Ping Koon have survived us… and that’s about it.

In those early days, the English-language publication’s monthly “balcony parties” became infamous as parent company Asia City Media Group gradually expanded to other markets: Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

White’s rundown includes a May 2012 cover (pictured) with a key word misspelled. He recalls that many readers thought the error was a deliberate “meta” move. There are also colorful memories shared by former staffers, including:

Joyce Lau, managing editor: “I was managing editor when HK magazine fought its way through the 2003 SARS crisis. We wore masks to work, held our own salaries and drew cover art with crayons. It was a true alternative weekly, one that was equally critical of both terrible restaurants and overbearing politicians.”

John Roberston, features editor: “We once ran a cover story titled ‘Hong Kong’s God Problem.’ Religious groups threatened to sue, advertisers pulled out, and I thought we were going to be struck down by lightning. But we lived to sin another day. God bless HK.”

HK magazine was sold in 2013 along with other Asia City Media Group titles to the South China Morning Post, which in turn was acquired by the Alibaba Group in 2015. A source told Coconuts Hong Kong that some staffers are being offered jobs with SCMP.