For Pan and others from his generation, such factories were a unique environment to grow up in. Isolated from the outside world, they provided workers and their families with everything — schooling, health care, entertainment. But as China’s planned economy was dismantled, so were the factories. Pan’s “475” has sat abandoned for years.
He now leads the “Children of Factories and Mines Group” on the social media platform Douban. Communal life as they knew it may no longer exist, but Pan and other members find it difficult, whether willingly or unwillingly, to shake off the past.