Others, such as Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was then serving time in prison, chose to step down from their political platforms and stay out of the public eye.
The Post takes a look at the current lives of Chow and four other young activists who once helmed the opposition movement in Hong Kong.
The 27-year-old was a co-founder of the now-disbanded political party Demosisto, alongside fellow activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, with the group’s manifesto advocating self-determination for Hong Kong.
Thanks to Chow’s fluency in Japanese, she also gained a social media following among internet users in the country.
In 2017, Chow was disqualified by election authorities from running in a Legislative Council by-election on the grounds that her party, which called for self-determination, had rendered her ineligible under rules to curb advocacy for independence.
The activist was detained in 2020 over allegations she had plotted to collude with foreign forces by calling for sanctions on Hong Kong. While Chow was not charged in connection with the case, police confiscated her passport.
In December of that year, she was sentenced to 10 months in prison for inciting protesters to besiege police headquarters for 15 hours during an unauthorised demonstration amid the 2019 social unrest.
Chow largely kept a low profile after her release from prison, before revealing on Sunday that she left Hong Kong three months ago to pursue a master’s degree in Canada.
The activist also said she had no plans to return to Hong Kong, despite being connected to an ongoing national security case, prompting Beijing and local authorities to condemn Chow for her “irresponsible actions” in “openly challenging the law”.
Fellow Demosisto co-founder Law first entered the public spotlight in 2014 as a key student leader during the Occupy movement that year.
For 79 days straight, protesters blocked off key roads in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok as they called for the further democratisation of Hong Kong.
At the age of 23, Law was elected as Hong Kong’s youngest lawmaker in 2016. A court later disqualified him from his Legislative Council office after he and several other opposition figures attempted to use an oath-taking ceremony to challenge the government.
Ahead of his swearing-in, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi, saying: “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.” He also changed the tone of his voice during his oath, as if asking a question. “I swear allegiance to … the People’s Republic of China?” he said.
In August 2017, he was sentenced to eight months’ jail time for his role in the storming of government headquarters at Tamar in 2014, an event which helped to trigger the Occupy movement.
In 2018, the Court of Final Appeal overturned jail terms handed down to Law, Wong and fellow activist Alex Chow Yong-kang over the incident, but upheld strict sentencing guidelines for future illegal protests.
Law travelled to the United States in May 2019 to seek Washington’s support for scuttling the controversial extradition bill, which later triggered the months-long anti-government protests that year.
The activist is believed to have left Hong Kong to live in the United Kingdom before the national security law was imposed in 2020, severing ties with his family. He was granted asylum in the country in 2021. He revealed his departure hours after he testified via videoconference before a US congressional committee hearing criticising the new legislation.
In July 2023, Law was named as one of eight activists wanted by Hong Kong police over violations of the national security law. Authorities have offered a bounty of HK$1 million (US$127,960) for information leading to the arrest of any one of the eight.
Hong Kong security chief Chris Tang Ping-keung later dared Law to leave the United Kingdom and stand trial in the city, dubbing the opposition activist a “modern-day traitor” after the 30-year-old disputed the charges against him.
Police that same month raided the Hong Kong home of Law’s family and took several members away for questioning. They were later released.
Wong, 27, achieved international fame as a student activist, appearing on the cover of Time magazine and becoming the subject of a documentary.
The opposition figure first became a household name in 2012 when he co-founded pupil-led group Scholarism at age 15 and led protests, alongside activists such as Chow, that forced the city government to drop plans to make national education a compulsory part of the local school curriculum.
Wong was later involved in the 2014 Occupy movement, playing a role in the storming of government headquarters that helped to trigger the protests.
Wong fell afoul of the law as the movement wound down and defied a court order for protesters to clear out of an occupied site in Mong Kok.
He was sentenced to three months in prison over the incident, but won an appeal for a reduced jail term and was released amid the early stages of the 2019 social unrest.
Wong was among the city’s activists who spearheaded lobbying to get the Trump administration, and US politicians in 2019, to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
The act was signed into law by President Donald Trump, who later ended the US’ preferential trade treatment for Hong Kong. Wong later pledged to stop asking foreign countries for sanctions on the city in a bid to save his candidacy for legislative elections.
The activist has faced a slew of charges in connection with several illegal protests, including jail time for his role in a banned Tiananmen Square vigil in 2020.
The former Demosisto co-founder is currently remanded in custody as one of 47 opposition accused of violating the national security law by attempting to subvert state power through an unofficial election primary in 2020.
A student leader in the 2014 Occupy movement, 30-year-old Shum received a suspended sentence after being convicted for defying a court order requesting people to leave an occupied Mong Kok site.
He later ran in the 2019 district council election at the height of the anti-government protests, with the resulting landslide victory by the opposition victory in the poll netting him a seat in Tsuen Wan.
Shum was later among the district councillors disqualified from their seats in 2021 after the government expanded an oath-taking requirement to include members of the municipal bodies.
Arrested in January 2021 over his role in the unofficial Legco primary a year earlier, Shum has been remanded in custody throughout the subversion trial.
Leung, now 32, previously acted as a spokesman for localist group Hong Kong Indigenous and served as the face of the city’s pro-independence movement.
The activist was jailed for six years for rioting and assaulting an officer during the 2016 Mong Kok riot, which was sparked by scuffles between street hawkers and municipal staff on the first day of Lunar New Year and escalated into violent clashes between police and demonstrators.
He popularised the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” during his 2016 Legco bid. The phrase became widely popular in the 2019 social unrest, even as Leung spent the demonstrations in jail for his past conviction.
Judges later argued that the slogan was a potential indicator of secessionist ideas, putting it in the cross hairs of the national security law.
Leung was released early in January 2022 under unprecedented security arrangements after serving four years behind bars, with his term being reduced due to good behaviour.
The freshly released activist at the time said he would observe a supervision order under the security law and “stay away from the spotlight”, “stop using my social media” and turn down visits and interview requests from the press.
He has subsequently deleted his Facebook profile and withdrawn from the public eye.