iShop Letter Writer

Leung Lo Yik, letter writer

From love letters to tax reports

Letter writers were once an essential part of Hong Kong society, providing a service to the illiterate population, which was about 40% in the 1950s. Once in their thousands, there are now just 7 letter writers left in Hong Kong. They used to be found sitting at individual desks all around the city, offering their services to those who wanted to write their relatives in mainland China or overseas. They also helped British sailors and foreigners pen love letters to their Chinese girlfriends. Today, with very few illiterate people in Hong Kong, their letter writing services are largely unrequired, so they provide help with filling in tax reports instead.

One of the last

Mr Leung Lo Yik is originally from Vietnam, where he worked as an accountant for a film production company. He learnt English from reading the scripts that would be delivered to his office. He journeyed to Hong Kong in the 1970s in search of a better life and started working as a bartender. After discovering his talent for accounting and his literacy in multiple languages, his friends encouraged him to become a letter writer. As the government no longer issues licenses to letter writers, Mr Leung Lo Yik and his colleagues are literally the last of their kind in Hong Kong. When these men have passed away their industry will be gone forever.

A talented man

Leung Lo Yik can speak 5 languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Vietnamese and French. He refuses to use computers or modern technology and continues to use the same typewriter that he has been using for over 40 years. As he is partly retired, Leung Lo Yik is not always in his stall.

I think my job represents the people from the lower social class in Hong Kong. We represent a different Hong Kong, one from the British colonial period.
— Mr Leung Lo Yik
Opens in a new window