‘Everybody knows me’: internet meme sensation ‘Hide the Pain Harold’ astonished by ‘thousands’ of Hong Kong fans during his first trip to city


Andras Arato, the man behind the famous internet meme “Hide the Pain Harold”, says he has been left astonished by the recognition he has received from thousands of fans during his first trip to Hong Kong, where he sampled local delicacies such as chicken feet.

The 78- year-old from Hungary shared his surprise at being stopped by “hundreds of guys, thousands of guys, who wanted to take a photo with me.”

“It’s a strange feeling,” he said. “I’m in a foreign city where I don’t know anyone, but everybody knows me.”

Andras Arato says his trip to the city has inspired him to learn more about Chinese culture. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Arato, who arrived in the city on Wednesday, said he had “never seen anything similar to it before”. The experience has inspired him to learn more about Chinese culture.

Local treats such as dim sim and chicken feet have left an impression on him.

“Chicken feet is not bad,” he said while laughing, noting that he often fed the delicacy to his cat. “It has too many bones.”

Arato, better known by his internet persona “Hide the Pain Harold”, is a retired lighting engineer who has been married for 52 years and has a 50-year-old son. He first shot to fame in 2012 when stock photos of him were turned into internet memes.

His smile made him a viral hit, as internet users joked that it suggested he was actually unhappy.

The meme sensation was invited to the city by Hong Kong-based entertainment website 9 GAG for an event co-organised by its Web 3-focused venture studio Memeland.

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Hundreds of Facebook users have thronged Arato’s page on the site with “Welcome to Hong Kong’’ comments, with others on local forum LIHKG saying they wanted to “catch him in the wild’’.

The news of his visit to the city took social media by storm, attracting hundreds of thousands views and reactions from users.

Ray Chan Chin-ching, founder of Memeland and CEO of 9 GAG, said inviting Arato was part of their efforts to raise awareness about Web3 in the city and that they were open to inviting more meme personalities.

During his visit, Arato took a boat ride across Victoria Harbour and toured around Central and Wan Chai.

He said his world famous smile was likely due to boredom and that there was “no hidden meaning behind it”.

Ray Chan, CEO of 9 GAG, with meme sensation Andras Arato. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

“I was just bored,” he said. “I had to pause for so many times for a shot and the photographer made so many set ups and I had to sit and smile all the way.”

The viral meme featuring him smiling while holding a coffee mug, along with other creations that replaced his face in stock images with famous artworks and landmarks, which could sometimes be offensive, were initially concerning for Arato and his 75-year-old wife.

Nobody wants to see their face being made fun of, he said.

“I didn’t like that at the beginning,” he revealed. “It took five years until I realised that was a thing that I cannot alter. And if there is no chance of altering it, the only way is to embrace it.”

He added his wife was initially unhappy about his fame, but later changed her mind after he started to make money from it.

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In recent years, some city residents have also unwittingly become internet memes during television interviews, ranging from schoolchildren hoping for their continued “survival” in the new academic year, excited train fans and angry commuters.

Arato’s advice for those people become the subject of memes is to “accept it without hesitation.” He added he was glad he had not experienced much bullying or trolls on the internet.

Arato, while having no intention to retire from being a meme, said he hoped he would be forever remembered as “Hide the Pain Harold”.

He also noted that the memes carried a deeper meaning in terms of one’s attitude to life.

“Everybody is facing smaller or bigger annoyances,” he said. “And it is a kind of mentality to not take these annoyances too seriously. You have to overcome them with a bitter smile.”

Before becoming a meme, Arato also contributed to a book chapter about lighting engineering, and that is what he was most proud of in the previous chapter of his life.

“I have something more in my brain than just smiling,” he said.


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