Prompt: Kowloon Walled City

This isn’t fiction, this is real. Like Christinia in Copenhagen, or the Favelas of Rio, there is actually a real city, up to 1994 at least, housing 33,000 (other records say 50,000 which is hard to tell since it’s mostly illegal immigrants) in an area of only 0.01 miles.

So many writers and film makers out there going for the whole science fiction urban dystopia thing, and there is one right there in one of the major urban centres of the world. It’s gone now, the people at least, but parts of it still remain as a monument to its bizarre and fabled past.

Talk about epic setting:

– Buildings are so densely packed, no light shines through for most of the city

– Residents ‘extend’ the city by building cages along the other walls, you know, so that they get sunlight and see stuff

– It exists beyond Hong Kong’s police jurisdiction, yet has its own laws stemming from the fabled Hong Kong triads.

– Most buildings require you to traverse across several other buildings to get to the ground floor or go outside.

– Electricity is smuggled in by tapping on the wider city’s network.

Kowloon Walled City

I’m getting giddy just thinking about the potential of this place. Plus enough documentation of the place remains for you to be historically accurate of just use it as a base for a wider city, though keeping it in Asia makes it more believable.

A city of the past, a glimpse of the future:

Science Fiction? A thing of the past? More like a premonition of the future. Residents of Hong Kong, driven by sky-high inflation due to its banking community, China immigrants and land scarcity, is already living in Kowloon-like conditions, or much worse.

The 67-year-old former butcher pays 1,300 Hong Kong dollars ($167) a month for one of about a dozen wire mesh cages resembling rabbit hutches crammed into a dilapidated apartment in a gritty, working-class West Kowloon neighborhood.

Read more:

That article was posted just last month by the way, not in 1997 or something.

What do you think? What kind of story will fit into this setting aside from the typical thriller material. Would be possible to use this as a foreshadow of living in the distant future when the population reaches its bursting point, though that’s pretty typical as well.

I’ll go with some sort of screwed up Oliver Twist tale of a group of orphans / neglected children forming their own gang in this city and going on a reign of terror across Hong Kong, where some rich guy’s son gets kidnapped, but eventually becomes one of them and raises to the top to become the 2nd key figure in the group, then cue plot twist, bloody betrayal and the burning down of the fabric of the group as we know it. Got that 1% vs 99% vibe going for it as well.

The only problem is putting it in Hong Kong for me, it’s like an exotic location within an exotic location, so the setting isn’t perfect. But I’ll still keep this in mind for future use.

Could use some of the ‘God’s children’ material from Africa civil wars as well if you need more material, transplanting a real war in one continent into a real setting into another continent, than for the reader’s sake, just plonk the whole thing down in New York or something, usually after a nuclear holocaust or go with the whole destruction of the US economy thing.

Like this article? Check out my earlier prompts:

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