Amusing history: Hong Kong man’s quest to make the past trendy again and ignite youth interest in Chinese classics

·3-min read

Anthony Wong Jon is keen to promote reading and writing among young people, and to ensure future generations have some real fun in the process.

“The younger generation today do read. It’s just that they prefer something trendy and that they prefer to read on screen,” the 57-year-old writer said.

“It’s a bit difficult to tell them to read Chinese classic tomes, such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms.”

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Noting the declining interest in Chinese classics and history in Hong Kong, Wong decided to take action – he wrote a light-read series that provides a more relevant perspective on the country’s ancient past.

Anthony Wong has a creative take on how to get young people interested in history – by presenting little-known facts about ancient events in a trendy way. Photo: Edmond So
Anthony Wong has a creative take on how to get young people interested in history – by presenting little-known facts about ancient events in a trendy way. Photo: Edmond So

Titled Amusing History of 4,000 years, the books present alternative views, which are often substantiated by hitherto little-known facts or scholarly research, on China’s history and culture.

“We need to package meaningful historical events in a way that appeals,” Wong, who formerly worked in the advertising industry, said.

Making things interesting is also central to his long-time efforts in fostering creativity in budding writers.

“I encourage young people to write,” Wong said, adding that he was always ready to provide support.

“People have dreams. As I have taken the first step to follow mine, I think: why not give others a leg up?”

‘Storyteller’ hopes cultural heritage can inspire discovery of Hong Kong

His inspirational work has earned him a nomination for this year’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.

The annual event, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, honours the achievements of remarkable people whose endeavours may otherwise go unnoticed.

Chu Fung-ling of Ground Culture recommended Wong for this year’s Spirit of Culture category, which recognises individuals who inspire others to preserve Hong Kong’s legacy or celebrate its heritage and traditions.

Wong, a writer himself, also holds brainstorming sessions for aspiring authors. Photo: Edmond So
Wong, a writer himself, also holds brainstorming sessions for aspiring authors. Photo: Edmond So

Wong founded Creative Power Bi-monthly in 2011, which has since served as a platform for student contributors. Free copies of the publication are sent to more than 100 schools across the city.

He is also eager to publish collections of stories written by young writers from secondary schools.

Another form of support that would-be writers often find useful is the brainstorming session, during which story ideas may be dismissed or redeveloped into more interesting ones.

“There could be as many as 20 aspiring young writers joining each session over the years,” Wong, also a convenor of such talks, said. “We discuss story ideas in these sessions, which sometimes take place in a fast-food restaurant.”

Wong said he was pleased to see young writers flourish and have their works published.

Describing his efforts as “planting a seed”, he said he was happy to stay by their side and only give advice if needed. “I can find publishers for them.”

This article Amusing history: Hong Kong man’s quest to make the past trendy again and ignite youth interest in Chinese classics first appeared on South China Morning Post

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