It is just a staircase apart from a busy thoroughfare in Wan Chai, but it is haunted: ghost stories abound on the infamously haunted Nam Koo Terrace, previously owned by the wealthy Shanghainese merchant To Chung Man. Though the building’s design was much like European-style houses at the time, To also ensured that the building design was compatible with feng shui (“Story behind,” 2014).
However, during the Japanese occupation in the Second World War, Nam Koo Terrace was converted into a military brothel for Japanese soldiers for four years until 1945. It was in this period when rumors began to spread that local women were being abducted from their homes, taken to Nam Koo, raped, and murdered by the soldiers. Many victims were reported to have been decapitated, with their bodies dumped to be found by loved ones (“Story behind,” 2014). Rumors that people have ended their lives in Nam Koo Terrace have also proliferated (Lee, n.d.).
Nam Koo Terrace captures the horrors of war from the eyes of the elderly people of the city. As the countless ghost stories would show, this location largely remains in the minds of the general public as they seek to reconcile globalization and increased cultural interchange with Japan with the atrocities committed during the war.
Like many buildings that have survived World War II, there have been changes of ownership, yet Nam Koo, along with the memories that it represents, remains largely intact, though it has fell into disuse for many years. Though there are now threats by Hopewell Holdings to redevelop the heritage building, it seems that this danger has in fact renewed interest from conservation activists.