Header image courtesy of Dmytro Novitskyi (via Shutterstock)
With all of us spending more time at home during the last year or so, the popularity of podcasts has gone stratospheric. Whether you’re a New Territories-dweller with a long commute or a homebody who wants something to chuckle along to while doing the chores, we can all appreciate a good podcast.
From the ever-popular true-crime shows to moving personal stories, frank discussions about mental health, and deep dives into the city’s heritage, here are our favourite Hong Kong podcasts to tune into.
Catching Worms is a brand-new true-crime podcast which derives its name from the colourful Cantonese idiom “捉蟲入屎忽” (juk1 chung4 yap6 si2 fat1; “catch worms to put in your bottom”), which means to cause unnecessary trouble for yourself. Made by professional production house Create, the show dissects a different true crime case every month, with new episodes dropping daily from the first of the month.
For the first instalment, the inaugural story revolves around Lam Kor-wan, a.k.a. “The Jars Killer,” one of Hong Kong’s two known serial killers. Lam, whose story inspired the podcast, is the subject of three episodes that recount his crimes in unflinching detail, with first-hand anecdotes provided by detectives who worked the case. Listeners can expect future stories to touch on some of the most gruesome murders in Hong Kong’s history, involving “strangled accountants, missing children, and undercover drug smugglers.”
Regular Localiiz readers will know that we are always down to learn more about Hong Kong’s history, whether it relates to the city’s infrastructure or myths about Hong Kong’s fishy “ancestor,” and everything in-between.
In the same spirit, RTHK host Annemarie Evans delves into Hong Kong’s social, cultural, architecture, and artistic heritage in her show, Hong Kong Heritage. Tune in every week to learn all about topics like the history of Gurkhas in Hong Kong or the curious story of Yim Tin Tsai, a largely abandoned Hakka village that has turned into an unlikely artist’s haven. With a library of over 530 episodes, you don’t have to worry about running out of fascinating stories.
Produced by Hong Kong-based non-profit youth organisation KELY Support Group, this bilingual podcast invites a different young Hongkonger to speak candidly about various topics, from academic opportunities to mental health struggles and how to maintain close friendships. Guest speakers come from many different backgrounds and range from mixed-race international school students to budding actors and ethnic minority teens whose families have resided in Hong Kong for generations. Each season has a different theme, with season four—which is currently airing—revolving around the subject, “New Normal under the Pandemic: A Year After.”
Like This Hong Kong Life, Hong Kong Stories is a storytelling podcast featuring different guests from different backgrounds—except that each story is recorded in front of a live audience. Each episode features two true stories, with speakers often riffing off pre-determined themes like “For You,” “Belonging,” and “50 Shades of Red” to tell moving and deeply personal stories. From mid-life crises to lasting friendships, struggles with addiction, and international adventures, no topic is off-limits.
Despite only launching late last year, HomeGrown has quickly become one of our favourite English-language podcasts in town, providing a much-needed platform to the woefully underrepresented Black expat community. Founded and hosted by Nigerian-British expats Marie-Louisa “Lou” Awolaja and Folahan “Fo” Sowole, the podcast’s mission is to “inform, inspire, and entertain through personal stories of Black expats.”
Episodes drop every Sunday, and feature guests like asylum-seeker-turned-Goldman-Sachs-analyst Innocent Mutanga to musician Janaia Joy Farrell, and barber Sammy Dodoo. Over the course of each episode—which can run from 20 minutes to an hour—the guests share the highs, lows, and daily realities of being Black expats.
For a judgement-free and often hilarious discussion about raising children in Hong Kong, look no further than The Hong Kong Parenting Club. Hosted by two British expats in Hong Kong—“Lantau mum” Justine Garrett and father-of-three Bhav Bhuptani—this show is a no-holds-barred look at parenthood, with topics including dating after divorce, sex after having kids, adoption, raising a vegetarian family, and more.
While all that sounds heavy, Bhuptani and Garrett’s cheeky banter and easy chemistry make the show a breezy listen, while expert guests like relationship coach Valentina Tudose and sleep consultant Jade Dharmana provide professional insight into common parenting woes.
If you were captivated by the twists and turns in Dirty John, the true-crime podcast and mini-series about a real-life romance scammer, then you’ll love Fool Me Twice. Hosted by Australian expat Jules Hannaford and her daughter Zara, the first season of the show explores Hannaford’s first-hand experience as the victim of an internet dating scam. The second season, entitled “All About Diamonds,” debuted earlier this month, with each episode revealing a new development in a captivating diamond scam that took place right here in Hong Kong.
This much-needed podcast sheds light on the importance of mental health and how different factors—quality of sleep, organisation, and a little something called the Covid-19 pandemic—can affect your state of mind. Founded and presented by Aaron Stadlin-Robbie, who is a long-term sufferer of anxiety and panic attacks, Talking Mental aims to have necessary and honest conversations about mental health. Through the podcast, the Talking Mental team hopes to destigmatise the topic of mental illness both in Hong Kong and further abroad.