Ko likes to quote his father’s words to describe the nature of magic, “Shen Kei” in Chinese is a combination of “shen” which refers to things that people cannot do while ‘Kei’ refers to things people have not seen before. Magic is the combination of these two elements.
While he was initially blown away by magic, he began to lose the sense of excitement after he had practised it for a while. He used to feel very proud of himself because he felt like he had learned all the magic in the world. Later however, he discovered the more he learns, the more he realises there is no end to learning.
“Performing magic is far more difficult than learning it. You have to practise for a hundred times before you can play magic in front of strangers,” Ko says.
Now that performing in front of strangers is no longer a challenge to Ko, he needs to come up with more new and creative ideas for making magic and to improve his performing skills.
“When I play magic, I enjoy the performance and I can entertain others. This is the meaning of playing magic,” Ko says.
Although he comes across as playful and fun, he is also devoted to his craft and is determined to treat being a magician as a lifelong career. “If you are interested in something, you will try your best to do that,” he says.
It was this determination that motivated him to turn his interest into a career and set up Magic Kingdom in 2006 with a partner. Magic Kingdom is a social enterprise that organises magic classes and performances for schools, the underprivileged, sick children and the elderly.
November and December are his busiest times as he is preparing for Christmas, which is the peak period for Santa Claus and magic performances.
After returning from Sweden and meeting the more “authentic” Santas there, Ko wishes the adults in Hong Kong could also believe in Santa Claus and regain their childish sense of wonder and playfulness. He thinks Hong Kong people are suffocating under the stress of work and other pressures. Thinking like children can help them find some relief.
“When you are small, you believe there is magic, just like you believe there is Santa Claus,” Ko says. “It’s wrong that adults think magic and Santa Claus do not exist at all… It is just because they have lost their innocence.”