With a population of nearly 7.5 million and very little developable land remaining, Hong Kong has become the least affordable real estate market, making so-called 'coffin cubicles' common. United Nations have condemned these nightmarish living spaces as "an insult to human dignity," but according to the Society for Community Organisation, for some 200,000 people, it's still the only alternative.

"That day, I came home and cried," Benny Lam told National Geographic, describing his experience of photographing said tiny apartments. With his series "Trapped," Lam seeks to illuminate the suffocating local dwellings that stand outside the reach of Hong Kong's glamorous neon lights.

"You may wonder why we should care, as the Hong Kong population isn't a part of our lives," Lam wrote on his Facebook page. "They are exactly the people who come into your life every single day: they are serving you as the waiters in the restaurants where you eat, they are the security guards in the shopping malls you wander around, or the cleaners and the delivery men on the streets you pass through. The only difference between them and us is [the quality of life]. This is a question of human dignity."

"From cooking to sleeping, all activities take place in these tiny homes," said Lam. To create the 'coffin cubicles,' flats are usually illegally divided into 15 - 120-square-foot (roughly, 1,5-12 m²) 'apartments.' To illustrate, Wong Tat-ming, 63, who is on benefits after sclerosis in his leg left him unable to drive a taxi, lives in an 18-square-feet dwelling for about $307 (HK$2,400) a month.

More info: Facebook (h/t: nationalgeographic)

#1

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Tersa Smith
Community Member
4 years ago

It makes me feel so grateful for my home.

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#2

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Jenni Ester
Community Member
4 years ago

Where are the windows!!! At least one window. This is terrible!

LRo
Community Member
4 years ago

I think it's being covered by a towel

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Yvonne Bernal
Community Member
4 years ago

I cannot imagine what it does to your posture just laying propped up like that

Cesi Baca
Community Member
4 years ago

You'd be better off living in a van than like this. How can people charge rent for this.

AnikatheUnicorn
Community Member
4 years ago

The worst part is, it isn't even really cheap. I come from HK and the cost is about a few hundred to 1,000 for a month.

Oscar
Community Member
4 years ago

This is sad.

Jill Coert
Community Member
4 years ago

Just think if there were a fire! It would be horrible with all these people crowded into these tiny spaces. It must be like a maze inside those flats that are divided into these tiny spaces.

DancingToMyself
Community Member
4 years ago

Where are they going to bathroom, take shower, take care of themselves? They can't have a litter box like cats, this is really something. Wow. I'm really shocked. :/

A. Creations
Community Member
4 years ago

this little space COSTS the same as your apartments. HK has the highest land price in the world, thus fortune favors the owned.

Karol CH
Community Member
4 years ago

Pretty much the same in Tokyo - geki sema. But in difference to be used by young professionals who spend most of their time at work. It always looks like this in crowded areas no matter what social class

Lou Wow
Community Member
4 years ago

Eating from a tin in a tin.

Aimee Miller
Community Member
4 years ago

Where would a bathroom and shower be??

Stephen Machutta
Community Member
4 years ago

If they are not sleeping on the streets and being killed and mugged for what they own this is far better than what our homeless have here in the US.

Pablo Dalmasso
Community Member
4 years ago

I feel that I'd have a LOT less stuff if I had to live in a place like that. Like, minimalistic stuff.

Vanessica Bloxgirl
Community Member
4 years ago

Your telling me these are for sale??

FABULOUS1
Community Member
4 years ago

This is smaller then my bathroom, and no window would make me Closter phobic.

Dianne Hess
Community Member
4 years ago

I wish I could let that poor man with sclerosis come sleep on my sofa! I'm disabled & poor by American standards, but I feel sorry for him!

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Mrta Brzoza
Community Member
2 years ago

There is a TV set

Stephen Machutta
Community Member
4 years ago

This is far better than sleeping on the streets, being robbed and mugged, wet and cold. I would prefer this to what we have in the US. If the big building is heated and a/c all the better. Bathrooms, showers etc. We really should consider this here. We can make them 50 square feet larger if you desire.

rick hctep (Rick45)
Community Member
4 years ago

This is the rich draining what few pennies the poor have from them, and people in the west moan about keeping chickens in cages, or rabbits in cages, look what china are doing to human beings, how revolting is this.

Isabel Tamayo
Community Member
4 years ago

Breathing in there is a real challenge :(

ReeRee Yarbrough
Community Member
4 years ago

can we say... Fire hazard

Marie-Louise Chenois
Community Member
4 years ago

How are you supposed to even breathe in it?

Arlene engel
Community Member
4 years ago

What about bathrooms and a place to prepare a meal?

Alexander Nijman
Community Member
4 years ago

Horrible!

Brenda Brown
Community Member
4 years ago

So sad!😧

Lorraine Lau
Community Member
4 years ago

This is horrible,but the bright side is they won't make babies

WoAiZhongguo
Community Member
4 years ago

Very little developable land remaining? That is ridiculous! Only about 2% of Hong Kong's territory is developed at all! You look at HK from the tall buildings in Shenzhen, you see nothing but green barren land. There is more than enough land to build housing for everyone in HK one thousand times over! The rich just would rather see people live like this than see their property values drop one nickel by building more housing. This is the way it has always been!

Mama Panda
Community Member
4 years ago

where is the bathroom?

Mama Panda
Community Member
4 years ago

nvm I found it.... ewwww

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Jack Urquhart
Community Member
4 years ago

oh and the bugs...

Jack Urquhart
Community Member
4 years ago

THEY CAN'T STAND UP. HOW CAN YOU LIVE SOMEPLACE WHERE YOU CAN'T STAND UP.

DingoElGringo
Community Member
4 years ago

I am living in a space maybe twice that roomy in Panama City Panama!

Jon Chevalier
Community Member
4 years ago

bathroom? kitchen? yeah and windows??

Jane Bateman
Community Member
4 years ago

I just...cant.

Frank Mancuso
Community Member
4 years ago

Gota love growth and development.

Gabi Paris
Community Member
4 years ago

It's horrible. I cannot breath and open a window

Cynthia Koponen
Community Member
4 years ago

Is this a prison cell? Or a living quarters?

djinnjeannie
Community Member
4 years ago

This is why mainland China has a one child policy. People can call it cruel but is overpopulation that ends in this less so?

Caroline Gagne
Community Member
4 years ago

If u really activeand play in the mountain a lot .. who care where u sleep 😁

Amanda Barnes
Community Member
4 years ago

You know it's gotta be stuffy in there. He needs a fan and fresh air. ☹️

Phil Connors
Community Member
4 years ago

Oooh, come on... We are all responsible for this : we need more and more supplies that only these people can give us nowadays..... When you'll offer christmas presents, just remember what you've just wrote seeing these photos ! And, idil, Harry Potter ? Don't you ever think they're seeing this as magic ??? Well... Non need to argue.. The world is like this... Furhtermore, the walls are just steel panes...

İdil
Community Member
4 years ago

Even Harry Potter's cupboard was much more organized than this and he was 11 back then! If you're gonna live in a coffin, tidy up a bit!

Melinda Folcia
Community Member
4 years ago

Harry Potter's room is just a set up for a movie made by decorators. The tidiness of his room is only due to director's or decorator's choice. And even if Harry's room was real, he has a big house around it to keep everything related to cooking, cleaning, laundry, and maybe a cave and a garage to keep extra things. You can't compare to someone who has no other place to keep all of his belongings.

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Thuong Vu
Community Member
4 years ago

They have one thing in common: they all watch TV and smoke. As if TV is the most important (and healthy thing) on Earth. Living on the street is much better than that!

Doreen Ball
Community Member
4 years ago

Is it really? Have you lived on the street?

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Community Member
4 years ago

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actually feels cosy

Mike Greco
Community Member
4 years ago

Man, what an ignorant comment.

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#3

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Emre
Community Member
4 years ago

I'd be dead in 2-3 minutes because of claustrophobia

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#4

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

James Floyd
Community Member
4 years ago

The man on the TV should do something about this

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#5

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Chris Taylor
Community Member
4 years ago

Shit just go live in your car at least you'd have windows and a choice of view... actually if you live here I guess you can't afford one

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#6

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Yvonne Bernal
Community Member
4 years ago

This clutter makes me itchy.

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#7

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Benny Lam Report

Sheralyn
Community Member
4 years ago

Dear god. It's indeed like lying in a coffin.

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#8

Coffin Cubicles

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Lou Wow
Community Member
4 years ago

Is that Trump on the tv?

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#9

Coffin Cubicles

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varwenea
Community Member
4 years ago

Ironically, the red sign on the far left is a saying to improve wealth; perhaps he should add a few more of those signs.

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#10

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Sonia Leroux
Community Member
4 years ago

That is so sad

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#11

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Liliana V
Community Member
4 years ago

It really is like laying in a coffin...

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#12

Coffin Cubicles

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JillVille Child Care
Community Member
4 years ago

Forced minimalist living... wow, I couldn't imagine. My heart hurts for these poor souls.

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#13

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Lou Wow
Community Member
4 years ago

I suppose having a TV helps take their minds off their situation.

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#14

Coffin Cubicles

Benny Lam Report

Debra Starr Moon
Community Member
4 years ago

Amelia, I don't think 'boredom' is a primary concern for these poor souls. Lou, where exactly would he put a small dog when there isn't enough room for him? And Tiffany...lotion for a reason? Really? SMH.

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