Hong Kong is running out of space to put its dead

Even finding a place for cremated remains is almost impossible

In land-scarce Hong Kong, finding a final resting place for the dead can be a nightmare. And new regulations that kicked in this year have made it even harder.

Permanent cemetery plots ran out a long time ago, so cremation has become the preferred option for Hong Kong residents. But finding a spot, or a niche, in a government-run columbarium (buildings where urns are stored) involves a lengthy wait that can take years.


Watch: We followed a Chinese couple on their annual 1,000-mile journey to see their kids.

Private columbaria are the best alternative for those who can afford it, but in 2017 the government decided to regulate the market and forced private operators to get licensed. Private operators had until March 31 to submit their applications, but no licenses have been granted yet. In the meantime, private columbaria haven’t been allowed to sell or let out any new niches, effectively causing a freeze in the market since last June.

VICE News went to Hong Kong to see just how hard it is for Hongkongers to find a resting place, and to look at some of the solutions being offered.

This segment originally aired April 11, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.