Korey J. Lee: Blog https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog en-us Korey J. Lee Photography (Korey J. Lee) Fri, 15 Jul 2022 03:42:00 GMT Fri, 15 Jul 2022 03:42:00 GMT https://www.koreyjlee.com/img/s/v-12/u996447751-o127704539-50.jpg Korey J. Lee: Blog https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog 120 120 a nomadic season https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2022/7/a-nomadic-season These COVID years alongside hybrid and remote work have massively shifted social norms. While the new normal certainly varies by region and one's risk appetite, I can certainly say I feel a bit lost. In the past year, we have moved six times, which is six times too many in my opinion. I was fortunate in New York to only have moved 3 times in 7 years, and in Hong Kong to be able to stay in the same place for the 4+ years I was there. Any notion of building community is incredibly difficult, and while Zoom calls, WhatsApp, and Hangouts can fill some of the gaps in physical or social distancing, there's no real substitute for a real life interaction.

GersGers in the open plains of outer Mongolia

In this season, I am reminded of the nomadic tribes who wander the picturesque grasslands of Mongolia. They move camp anywhere from 4 to 30+ times a year depending on seasonality and the grazing needs of their animals. Favoring mobility, exploration, and fluidity, they have built their lives around perpetual movement and intentional change, limiting their personal possessions to only what they can move quickly and easily over vast distances. In my limited experience and interactions with these nomadic tribes, my sense was that they placed less value in material goods and accumulation, but instead find deeper value in immersing themselves in nature, exploration, and cherishing the challenge of constant change.


I think we have much to learn from the nomadic life. While my nomadic season bears no little resemblance to that of the nomadic Mongolian tribes, I have learned a few things from my very limited observations during my time there a few years back:

  • Accumulating experiences is better than accumulating stuff
  • Building relationships with people you love and care about is more valuable than building empires
  • When you have to pack your life into a suitcase or ger (yurt) to live out of for an indeterminate amount of time, it is a good forcing function to understand all the stuff that's non-essential


The overused trope "less is more" certainly holds true for the freedom that comes with having less literal baggage, but there's also a mental freedom that is derived from not having to worry, protect, and preserve that stuff. Perhaps the anxiety shifts to different persuasions - the uncertainty of not knowing the next place to live, having to find new community and make new friends, feeling like a stranger everywhere you go.


“The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire..”

- C.S. Lewis

(Korey J. Lee) covid less is more mongolia nomadic https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2022/7/a-nomadic-season Fri, 15 Jul 2022 03:41:55 GMT
distinctly hong kong https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2018/1/distinctly-hong-kong A number of months ago, I went back to New York for the first time since I left. It was odd feeling like a stranger in a city that was and still is so familiar. You realize there’s certain things, idiosyncratic things that you miss and you crave aside from the people you love and the amazing food. Diversity was one that I never really thought about. You can walk down 9th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen and hear 5 different languages within a few blocks.

Someone asked me the other day, what do you have in Hong Kong that you don’t have in New York and after thinking about it for a while, I replied, “a different kind of diversity.”  Hong Kong’s largely Chinese, (Cantonese) with a  rising number of Mandarin speaking folks coming in from Mainland China.

However, there’s also an amazing diversity of expats from all over the world. Kids with parents from UK, Australia, Canada, US who were born in Hong Kong, grew up in international schools and went to Uni (Uni, not college) abroad. HK locals who get sent to boarding school and come back with impeccable British English. People who grew up all over the world and come here for work. Sub-cultures. Macro cultures. Worlds within worlds. Hong Kong has a degree of diversity of Chinese people that I’ve never seen before. Third culture kids - ethnically Chinese people who local Chinese see as outsiders, It’s quite incredible.


(Korey J. Lee) china chinese diversity hong kong nyc https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2018/1/distinctly-hong-kong Fri, 26 Jan 2018 11:27:15 GMT
to know and be known https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/6/to-know-and-be-known Cities are funny little microcosms of people crammed into tiny little apartments. Hong Kong, New York, London, San Francisco, Paris, Beijing being cities I’ve visited that all fit this model. Increasingly so even smaller cities start to take on these characteristics.

causeway dusk

Certainly, anyone inside the city could move 30, 60, 90 minutes away and find increasingly larger lodging for decreasing prices. Yet everyone wants to be where everyone else is - we are communal beings. I saw an abandoned house in Lantau Island a couple weeks ago that reminded me of one I saw in Staten Island. Not to knock Lantau or Staten Island, but I bet if those same houses were in Hong Kong Island or Manhattan they’d be sold, knocked down and turned into high rises or overpriced lofts within a matter of months.

abandoned abode

People are willing to sacrifice comfort, space and lifestyle to be surrounded with other people, yet at the end of the day, find themselves rushing to find that corner table, the not yet discovered restaurant, the private club, to seek solitude and quiet in a city they chose for one reason or another – proximity to something. I suppose one could fill that blank of proximity with grandeur, invention, beauty, art, culture, or genius – things that might keep some of our hearts and minds captivated. I would suggest that fundamentally, it’s an innate human desire to be in some form of community with others.

The more introverted among us may perhaps desire more solitude so one might preclude that introverts have a greater appreciation for suburbs but this doesn’t seem to be the case.  On the contrary, we also don’t find that densely populated cities are filled with extroverts either. Thus, I return to the assertion of humanity’s need for community. Fundamentally, we desire to be known by others and to know others deeply.

foggy twilight

Going to San Francisco this past weekend for a dear college friend’s wedding and reminded me of how nice it is to know and be known. Years may have separated the last time I spoke to some of these friends but having a shared history of growth, struggle and joys, mostly we pick up where we left off. I’m excited to see the seeds of some of these friendships being planted here in Hong Kong as well.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of His work from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

(Korey J. Lee) California Hong Kong San Francisco cities community https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/6/to-know-and-be-known Sun, 04 Jun 2017 01:41:51 GMT
the pendulum swing https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/4/the-pendulum-swing An older, wiser man told me that making big decisions in life is like a pendulum swing. There are moments when you feel absolutely exhilarated and all is right in the world, and then a few moments later, you ask yourself, "what the crap am I doing?!" - second thoughts, doubts, and fear overwhelm.

There have been many moments like this in the past few weeks both leading up to this decision and even after moving and settling in a bit. While my convictions are still clear in coming here, a late night at the office or a dinner alone at a table of strangers in a curry pork chop over rice type dive can often feel unsettling and quite lonely even though the food is undoubtedly stellar.

New friends, new language, new job, new apartment, new city, new church - it all takes adjustment, adaptation and a staunch refusal to compare even though it's very much in my nature to do so.

Lantau Island . West Dog Teeth

The one thing I found refreshingly consistent is faith. I've gone to four different churches over the past few weeks, a variety of local and expats, congregants of varying denominations, yet something about the sentiment, warmth and love of the people is joyfully familiar. The fervent passion with which people sing even as I make poor attempts to join in with broken Cantonese although linguistically unfamiliar is spiritually refreshing. One minute, I'm thrilled to hear a familiar song and to have met some friendly faces, the next, I'm saddened when I open my eyes and realize that I'm not actually at a little auditorium in Midtown.

Tomorrow might be another pork chop dinner at a table of strangers, but I'm sure the pendulum will swing again.






(Korey J. Lee) decisions hiking hong kong lantau peak pendulum scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/4/the-pendulum-swing Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:10:25 GMT
density and diversity https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/4/density-and-diversity From one concrete jungle to another, it's shocking how much more dense Hong Kong is than New York. Every last square inch is utilized for something. Efficiencies (which I'm a massive fan of) aside, there's also generally an aesthetic flair and appeal to the efficiency that further lends to a notion of intentional efficiency or perhaps more elegantly put - designed density.

The contrast between new and old is also incredible in it's parallels to New York, skyscrapers stand adjacent to temples (Man Mo Temple - 1847) that date back 200+ years much like One World Trade sits across the street from Trinity church (building1839, history 1696). 

The next amusing parallel is the diversity of cultures, food and people. Most people are Hong Kong locals but there's a fascinating sub culture of other ethnicities that only makes life all the more interesting. In one corner there's a sushi chef importing from Tsukiji everyday, across the street, a taco place (not great but props for trying), a couple blocks down, a Filipino hipster singing Yellowcard and serving up craft beers from New Zealand. Simply stunning.

(Korey J. Lee) concrete jungle culture history hong kong new old temple travel https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/4/density-and-diversity Mon, 10 Apr 2017 16:30:02 GMT
the next chapter https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/3/the-next-chapter Someone told me when I first moved to New York seven years ago that this was a transient place. I certainly didn’t think a city this dense and this fluid could ever feel like home. Yet, as time passed, facades and buildings grew familiar, rounding a corner brought the expectant smell of a chocolate croissant, bars and restaurants became landmarks of memory – an insightful conversation, epic meal or hilarious story.

I love this city’s energy – the unique amalgamation of hearing five different languages as you walk down the street, wandering into a restaurant as if transported to another country, the contrast of raw grit and hustle on one block and top-end epicurean refinement on the next. Not to mention street art, museums, snow days, summer streets, pizza, artists, singers, architecture, climbing, hiking, sailing, cycling - the list goes on.


Of all the things in New York, I love the people in this city the most. New York is a hard place to live - it’s expensive, the weather is brutally temperamental, and the hustle will chew you up and spit you out hopefully just once if fortune smiles.  Survival in NYC is an act of sheer will and yet, in my tenure here, I’m thankful to have journeyed alongside friends old and new, each walking, running and some dancing through with elegance and tenacity.

I’m going to miss my family, friends, church, and colleagues turned friends who hustled alongside me as we built companies, volunteered, conceptualized products, road mapped projects, prayed and counseled each other through hardship and and dreamt together about how we could make this world a better place one relationship and conversation at a time.

This next chapter of life brings me to Hong Kong where I’ll be leading the analytics team at the South China Morning Post, a newspaper & media company recently acquired by Alibaba. While I’m excited for the new opportunity and working in Asia, I’m also anxious about the unknown and saddened to leave this little town that has become ever more like home.

With more joyful memories than I can count or express gratitude for, I bid this beautiful city and its lovely people farewell for now. Thanks to each of you who made this city home - for sharing a piece of your life and story with me. A wise man once told me, "humanity desires one fundamental thing - to know and to be known, to be loved and to be missed." If you're reading this, I'm thankful to know you and be known by you and I will miss you. May we cross paths again, whether it be New York, Hong Kong or beyond - the adventure continues!

Finally a little touch of CS Lewis for the road.

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors."


Ps. All contact info is the same including phone # which can still receive texts so don't be a stranger! 

(Korey J. Lee) CS Lewis asia hong kong love new york nyc https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2017/3/the-next-chapter Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:13:46 GMT
little green kingdom https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2016/5/little-green-kingdom A couple of friends recently started taking flower arrangements to the next level right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. I had the opportunity to shoot for them a few weeks ago. Here's some of their work!


In a concrete jungle it's nice to have @LittleGreenKingdom.





(Korey J. Lee) New York city flowers friends instagram https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2016/5/little-green-kingdom Mon, 09 May 2016 20:57:21 GMT
architectural change https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2012/5/architectural-change Buildings in Dubai seem to go up overnight. Makes me wonder why they take so long to go up in the US sometimes. 

building updubai . uae . 2010

(Korey J. Lee) architecture dubai middle east uae https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2012/5/architectural-change Wed, 23 May 2012 11:08:02 GMT
software for good! https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/11/software-for-good Attended a conference last week in Boston called Business as Software that was engaging, inspiring, and aspirational. Frankly it’s a conference that’s helpful for anyone who does business, even though much of the topical examples are in the technology or startup context. The sheer amount of intelligence, talent, and creativity present was simply stunning. From VCs to internationally renowned high-tech entrepreneurs to old school brick and mortar entrepreneurs, each keynote speaker was clearly hand picked and sequenced day by day with great discernment and care.

Topics included disruption, people management, hiring, social media, social change, UI/UX design, culture, psychological influence in marketing and many more. Like drinking water from a firehose, I eagerly wrote as much down as I could in hopes that I could digest everything afterwards.

Josh Linkner’s encouragement of creativity within organizations resonated with me as he spoke to choosing the road less traveled, “playing it safe has become the riskiest move of all.” With technology, the speed of disruption has increased and companies that resist innovation perish.

Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy provided excellent insight into the human psyche, “attitudes are a post rationalization of our behavior,” alluding to the fact that we change our path of thinking as a justification of our decisions - good and bad.

Aside from the awesome keynotes (which on a sidenote - I never saw anyone doze off in simply because they were so engaging and interesting), this conference was a great opportunity to meet other minds and leaders in the industry. Bouncing off ideas, brainstorming, and getting feedback on product philosophy, market sizing, development strategy, and building company culture was invaluable. As the adage goes, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes, a wise man learns from others mistakes.” I suspect most folks fall somewhere between the two, but I think it’s how we move forward from the mistakes and the learned mistakes of others that makes all the difference.

Through technology, business and software, we all play a part in making the world a better place. At the end of the day, this is not only a noble motivation, but a critical necessity to the improvement of humanity, revitalization of our economy and provides each individual with the realization and fulfillment of visibly contributing to the greater good.

Thought this photograph had a metaphorical parallel in its linear display of code juxtaposed by unique fingerprint of each individual software application's impact on the world - some fuzzily obscure, others sharply present, but each part of a rich tapestry.

(Korey J. Lee) Black n White abstract https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/11/software-for-good Wed, 02 Nov 2011 07:52:57 GMT
- https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/10/stone-town-in-zanzibar-is-famous-for-its-beaches

Stone Town in Zanzibar is famous for its beaches, doors, and apparently license plates.

(Korey J. Lee) Black n White africa https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/10/stone-town-in-zanzibar-is-famous-for-its-beaches Fri, 28 Oct 2011 15:41:24 GMT
barnhouse https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/9/barnhouse  

taken off the highway outside of salt lake city utah

(Korey J. Lee) architecture landscapes scenery winter https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/9/barnhouse Fri, 09 Sep 2011 10:55:42 GMT
spirals https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/8/spirals  

spiralshong kong . china . 2012


(Korey J. Lee) asia hong kong temples https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/8/spirals Wed, 10 Aug 2011 12:07:48 GMT
stop wait go https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/8/stop-wait-go  

the peak was fogged over so i decided to take the tripod and camera down the streets. turned out to be a pretty fun shoot. always something going on in HK even at 1am.

(Korey J. Lee) hong kong night urban https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/8/stop-wait-go Thu, 04 Aug 2011 12:54:33 GMT
one tree https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/6/one-tree

(Korey J. Lee) africa landscapes scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/6/one-tree Wed, 29 Jun 2011 10:01:59 GMT
beams and crosses https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/6/beams-and-crosses


(Korey J. Lee) architecture dubai https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/6/beams-and-crosses Thu, 23 Jun 2011 08:39:09 GMT
trees and mountains https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/3/trees-and-mountains  

(Korey J. Lee) Nature Utah scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/3/trees-and-mountains Tue, 01 Mar 2011 07:51:44 GMT
through the trees https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/2/through-the-trees  

(Korey J. Lee) Black n White Nature Utah winter https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/2/through-the-trees Mon, 28 Feb 2011 18:34:26 GMT
above park city https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/2/above-park-city  

(Korey J. Lee) Nature Utah scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/2/above-park-city Mon, 28 Feb 2011 07:51:34 GMT
- https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/every-now-and-then-we-all-need-a-little  every now and then, we all need a little

]]> (Korey J. Lee) https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/every-now-and-then-we-all-need-a-little Fri, 14 Jan 2011 13:46:12 GMT war https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/war Taken a few months ago in DC at Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. Quite a sobering and sorrowful place.


(Korey J. Lee) Black n White DC https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/war Sun, 09 Jan 2011 21:32:34 GMT
milk! https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/milk

Try their eggnog if it's still out. Quite spectacular.

(Korey J. Lee) New York food https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/milk Sat, 08 Jan 2011 14:45:47 GMT
the most valuable commodity https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/the-most-valuable-commodity clock

(Korey J. Lee) Black n White New York https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2011/1/the-most-valuable-commodity Wed, 05 Jan 2011 22:58:37 GMT
winter is here https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/12/winter-is-here 26 degrees with chance of snow flurry.. 


(Korey J. Lee) https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/12/winter-is-here Thu, 16 Dec 2010 10:49:35 GMT
little woman https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/9/little-woman not everyone has fancy name brand baby carriers.. a blanket seems to suffice though

(Korey J. Lee) https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/9/little-woman Fri, 03 Sep 2010 21:24:07 GMT
the doors https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-doors-1 Stone Town in Zanzibar is famous for its elaborate doors. Though some have fallen into disrepair due to neglect or weathering, there are many which are still as they were back in the days when Stone Town was a bustling seaport for spice trade over 500 year ago.

(Korey J. Lee) africa architecture https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-doors-1 Wed, 18 Aug 2010 11:35:00 GMT
the doors https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-doors Stone Town in Zanzibar is famous for its elaborate doors. Though some have fallen into disrepair due to neglect or weathering, there are many which are still as they were back in the days when Stone Town was a bustling seaport for spice trade over 500 year ago.

(Korey J. Lee) africa architecture https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-doors Wed, 18 Aug 2010 11:35:00 GMT
the burj khalifa https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-burj-khalifa at a staggering 2700 ft tall, this burj (arabic for tower) is currently the tallest building in the world. the viewing platform boasts an above the clouds view.

not sure if king kong could climb this puppy.


(Korey J. Lee) architecture dubai https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/8/the-burj-khalifa Mon, 09 Aug 2010 16:07:39 GMT
dhows in zanzibar https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/dhows-in-zanzibar Traditionally, these boats were hand built without nails. They dot the slow paced sleepy skyline of Zanzibar. Most of them are still powered completely by wind and sail, so one can still hear the light splashing of sea when sitting on one.

(Korey J. Lee) africa boats scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/dhows-in-zanzibar Thu, 29 Jul 2010 11:25:42 GMT
the maasai lady https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/the-maasai-lady this little old lady was banging on the window of the car trying to sell necklaces. i said i didn't want her necklaces but would be happy to give her a couple bucks if i could take a shot of her. she seemed quite delighted at the prospect of that.

(Korey J. Lee) People africa https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/the-maasai-lady Fri, 16 Jul 2010 15:37:01 GMT
Moon and stars https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/moon-and-stars

taken en route to the summit of kilimajaro at ~ 13,000 feet in -10 C weather. worth every minute of the icy chill.

(Korey J. Lee) africa moon mountains scenery stars https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2010/7/moon-and-stars Wed, 07 Jul 2010 15:19:42 GMT
the 9 to 5 https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2008/8/the-9-to-5
Hanoi . Vietnam

(Korey J. Lee) People Vietnam https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2008/8/the-9-to-5 Fri, 29 Aug 2008 15:43:00 GMT
Peru! https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2008/8/peru Apologies for the lack of an update in many moons.

Just returned from a trip to Peru. Will be adding more photos shortly. Here's a night shot taken up in the Peruvian Andes at 13,000+ feet.

]]> (Korey J. Lee) Peru scenery https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2008/8/peru Fri, 29 Aug 2008 12:24:00 GMT Chicken Scratch https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/chicken-scratch

(Korey J. Lee) Brazil Rio De Janeiro abstract animals https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/chicken-scratch Tue, 25 Sep 2007 01:23:00 GMT
Sandy Glimmer https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/sandy-glimmer


(Korey J. Lee) Brazil Rio De Janeiro abstract https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/sandy-glimmer Mon, 24 Sep 2007 01:22:00 GMT
On Tilt https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/on-tilt  

(Korey J. Lee) Brazil Rio De Janeiro sunrise https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/on-tilt Sun, 23 Sep 2007 01:19:00 GMT
Sunrise in Solitude https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/sunrise-in-solitude

(Korey J. Lee) Brazil Rio De Janeiro scenery sunrise https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/sunrise-in-solitude Sat, 22 Sep 2007 01:18:00 GMT
Cloudlines https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/cloudlines

(Korey J. Lee) Brazil Rio De Janeiro scenery sunrise https://www.koreyjlee.com/blog/2007/9/cloudlines Fri, 21 Sep 2007 01:16:00 GMT