Stephen Huynh: A Mr. Hong Kong from France
Stephen Huynh (aka Wong Cheung Hing) started playing with a bouquet of flowers. With his electric eyes and dimpled smile, many women should fall under his spell. This is typical of the ideal, romantic French Man. Although he is from France, he is also a Hong Kong man.
Stephen was born in Hong Kong. At the age of five, Stephen’s family immigrated to Paris, France and has been greatly influenced by French culture. When he was twenty-five years old, he returned to Hong Kong and intends to remain there.
Stephen’s younger brother, Francois Huynh (winner of the 2007 Mr. Hong Kong competition) recently became the focus of tabloid headlines. Francois fell in love with Karen, a woman 16 years his senior. Francois also vowed to leave the entertainment industry due to his relationship with Karen. Francois’ behavior fits the general perception that French men place love above other priorities in life.
Stephen commented, “In the past, I have also attached great importance to love.” When he was 10 years old, one of Stephen’s classmates said she had a crush on him. While residing in Paris, he dated many French girls. As for his current perspective, Stephen’s primary focus is his career and to make more money. As a Mr. Hong Kong from France, he is similar to a Hong Kong-style milk tea mixed with French coffee, yielding a unique taste.
Francois is Still a Young Boy
Due to the negative press over Francois and Karen’s relationship, Stephen wrote on his blog, “I need your support” [to his readers]. Due to the Francois’ negative rumors, Stephen has also felt stress and tried to avoid eye contact with street pedestrians. “Some pedestrians said, ‘I support your younger brother [Francois]. But do they really agree with his actions? I can only laugh and say ‘Thank you.'”
Francois sacrificed his career for love. Stephen is uncertain whether he should support his younger brother or not. “When a couple first starts dating, both the man and woman are blind. From their perspective, everything is wonderful and sweet. At this time, we should not comment too much. They will need time to look outside of themselves and judge whether their relationship is right or wrong. If Francois were to ask directly for my opinion, I will not say anything.”
In Stephen’s eyes, Francois is still a young boy protected by his elder brother. Without adequate experience in society, Francois’ thinking is too simple. “For French men, love is paramount. Francois does not have much experience. He competed in Mr. Hong Kong 2007 as a 19 year-old after finishing his studies. He is still a child and was never involved in a serious relationship. His past relationships only lasted a few months and he never encountered a woman he loved. When he met Karen, she gave him confidence and made him feel like a mature man, making him feel very happy.”
Stephen suggested Francois join the 2007 Mr. Hong Kong competition to broaden his vision, so that he can become more mature. Stephen was surprised when Francois won the competition.
“When Francois turned 19, he stayed out late at night. My parents and I objected; perhaps he never had a right to decide anything. We treat him like a child. Actually I stayed out late when I turned 16. Why did he not have the same rights as a 19 year-old? As an elder brother, I have acted unfairly and can not continue to just scold him. This time, I just want to say to him, “Francois, you have grown up now. Just go ahead. Whether the relationship is right or wrong, it does not matter. If it does not work out, the family will be here to support him.”
French Fashion Chinese Manufacturers
Stephen has not met Francois’ girlfriend, Karen yet. He does not know what type of woman she is, so Stephen is unable to judge the relationship. “It is difficult to say how a relationship will work out. I dated a woman for 4 years in the past. I thought our love would last forever, but it did not. Only the couple involved in the relationship is truly aware of what is going on; other people have not right to judge it.”
From Stephen’s perspective, the biggest difference between the brothers is that Francois was born in Paris while he was born in Hong Kong. When Stephen was 5 years old, his parents were afraid of the upcoming changes as a result of the Hong Kong handover in China in 1997 and decided to move the family to Paris. The first eleven years after moving, Stephen’s family lived in Paris’ Chinatown district.
Before moving to Paris, Stephen’s father worked as construction foreman and lived in Tung Tau, Hong Kong. He was part of the working class. After moving to France, Mr. Huynh did not enjoy luxuries such as drinking daily red wine either. He met a group of Chinese-Cambodian immigrants from Phnom Penh and started a Chinese garment factory manufacturing French fashion.
“[The] ‘Made in France’ [label], many of them are made by Chinese people in France.”
During the first several years of his life in Paris, Stephen did not understand much French. Although he did not face racial discrimination, he was ridiculed by others and often heard them say “rice” in his presence. However, children adapt quickly. Within 4 years, Stephen learned to speak French and often translated for his parents when they interfaced with the government.
It was necessary for the young Stephen to take care of the family. However, Francois grew up under a more stable environment, so his thinking is more simple. Paris has a diverse mix of immigrants, including residents from Vietnam and Arab countries. [Immigrant] children are often bullied in school.
“At school, I acted as the big brother. When Francois went to school, I watched over him covertly. If there were anyone bullying him, I would defend Francois.”
The Prettiest Girl Demonstrated Her Love
The romantic French people often start dating when they are young, as demonstrated by Stephen’s personal experience. The principle that “Students should not date” does not exist in France. When he was 10 years old, a girl announced his love for him.
“In primary school, there were no shy French girls. A female classmate said to me, ‘My friend thinks you’re cute. She wants to date you.’ She was in one grade above me. However, I was very shy then. My face turned red and I did not know how to react. I refused her. The next day, the whole school learned of the incident. My classmates asked, ‘How come you refused the prettiest girl in the school?’ Afterwards, several female classmates expressed interest in me, but I rejected them too.”
When Stephen changed schools at the age of 14, he dated for the first time. This was considered a late age to start dating in France. “She is a French girl. We started dating very gradually. Afterwards, I dated several French girls. Most of my male friends are Asians, such as Vietnamese, and they asked, ‘Why don’t you date Asians girls? It’s more comfortable and you will feel closer.’”
“One time, after parting with a French girl, one of my friends introduced me to a Hong Kong girl. She was very beautiful and easy to talk to. In front of French people, we can talk in Cantonese and share our secrets. She brought me home to meet her parents and it was a great feeling. Afterwards, I no longer dated any more French women.”
Working for Cathay Pacific
Hong Kong people perceive French people to be more romantic. However this is common place in France. Due to the leisurely lifestyle and quiet environment, just taking a simple stroll on the streets while on a date is already very romantic.
“We do not have to go to school on Wednesdays. It was very simple to see a movie or go swimming with my girlfriend.”
From the age of 14 to 20, Stephen dated countless girls; the “puppy love” relationships ranged from 2 weeks to 6 months. “The French people treat relationships very casually. If you are incompatible, you just become friends again. When the romance ends, ‘life does not end.’”
As a Business major in university, Stephen wanted to become a pilot after graduation. However, his English was not good enough. Thus, he went to the United States for 6 months to improve his English skills. He joined Cathay Pacific Airways, working at the Paris airport counter to do ground handling.
“While serving the First Class customers, I met a lot of businessmen from Hong Kong. They often said, ‘It’s a waste of your talent to work this job. You know French, English, and Cantonese; why don’t you go to Hong Kong to see if there are more opportunities?’ Many people left their business cards and asked me to call them if I were to go to Hong Kong, promising to place me in a suitable job.”
To idea of going to Hong Kong gained root in Stephen’s mind. When he was 23 years old, he returned to Hong Kong for the first time. His journey also launched a 4 year long-distance relationship. “On the flight to Hong Kong, I met a flight attendant. She is a Hong Kong native and acted as my tour guide. Soon afterwards, we started dating.”
Why are French men especially romantic? Hong Kong men lead very busy lifestyles, but French men have more free time. “When I worked at the Paris airport, my work schedule was from 10 AM to 4 PM. I had 3 days off every week. My girlfriend was a flight attendant and often flew to France, so we had a lot of time together. Sometimes I flew to Hong Kong to see her. When she flew to the Netherlands or Germany, I would drive to pick her up. Or we would fly to Greece together.”
A 4 year relationship turned out to be a long vacation in Europe. No wonder young Hong Kong girls are eager to get acquainted with men from overseas.
In the third of the relationship, Stephen considered settling down and starting a family. “My intention to return to Hong Kong to find a job was partially due to her. The other reason was to establish a better future for myself.”
Perhaps Stephen and his ex-girlfriend’s distance was brought closer together. Perhaps their relationship turned to reality, Stephen and his girlfriend began to quarrel. After shortly arriving in Hong Kong, his company sent him back to France for training.
“We separated in our fourth year together, so it is difficult to say how a love relationship will turn out.”
In Hong Kong, Stephen found a Marketing job at a children’s clothing company. The company had a lot of interaction with France, thus his fluency in French helped immensely. Working in Hong Kong, Stephen had a lot of overtime. Going to work each day, he did not know what time he will leave that night. He realized making a living was very difficult.
“In the past, I attached great importance to love, as typical of French people. Going to Hong Kong in my twenties, I also learned the importance of money. It is a good combination to have both priorities.”
Does Not Like to Flirt With His Eyes
Stephen worked at the children’s clothing company for two years. In his first year, ATV sponsored a “Mr. ATV” competition; his colleagues asked him to join. “At that time, I did not actively weight train and thus weighed almost 180 pounds. So I did not go. When TVB held the “Mr. Hong Kong” in the following year, I applied. When I interviewed with Producer Wilson Qian Wei, I had to remove my shirt. At the time, I had not entirely slimmed down yet.”
“I am not embarrassed to wear swimming trunks. While still in France, I thought about entering a ‘Mr. France’ competition. But my friends said I had few chances of winning as an Asian contestant.”
“Since I grew up in France, I am more open-minded. While taking photos with female artists, sometimes I will put my arm around their waist subconsciously. Many people say I am a big flirt and that I have electric eyes. When I squint my eyes to smile, they think I am trying to flirt with women. This perception is very offensive. I am more careful in how I behave around Hong Kong women, so that there are no misunderstandings.”
When Stephen filmed his first series, “Wu Tung Tin Ha,” his voice had to be dubbed due to his heavy accent. Within the last four years, he filmed more than 10 series. Although his Cantonese is now very fluent, he still has a foreign accent, thus restricting the roles he can play. However, he is becoming more like a Hong Kong man. His parents sold their house in Paris. Stephen’s family of 6 people is all residing in Hong Kong. This was also Stephen’s suggestion. “Living in Paris is very unsafe; how can you compare to Hong Kong?”
Men Should Pay
Stephen’s current rumored girlfriend is Mandy Cho Man Lei. However he said he is not dating anyone now. “I got to know Mandy after filming a dance program. We were good partners. She speaks French, so we became close and have many things to talk about.”
Stephen’s phone rang and he answered in fluent French. It appears that Stephen’s main circle of friends still spoke French.
“If I were dating, I would like to give my girlfriend a sense of security. If I were still in France, I would say that money would not matter, only love would. However, my attitude towards money has changed now. If you were purchase a bouquet of flowers, you still need to know the price first. Thus you can not only have romance.”
Recently there were tabloid reports that former Mr. Hong Kong contestants acted as “gigolos” and sold themselves to rich ladies. If one’s goal to join the Mr. Hong Kong competition was to become a “gigolo,” this is an insult.
“My family is original from Chaozhou, China. Thus the men are little traditional. While dating in France, it is a common practice for the men and women to pay separately for themselves. If we were to go to McDonald’s, we would pay separately and then eat together afterwards. I felt this was an odd practice. Men should pay for their dates. If he does not have money, he can treat her to dinner at home or buy her a sandwich or scrambled eggs. I do not like to have women pay for themselves.”
Jayne: Stephen Huynh is a big hunk…but still playing small roles at TVB. I first noticed him in “Dicey Business” and didn’t realize that he was a former Mr. Hong Kong contestant until later.
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Stephen Huynh: A Mr. Hong Kong from France