The term was first created in Japanese language: マック難民 (makku nanmin). That term had been largely replaced by ネットカフェ難民 (nettokafe nanmin), literally "net cafe refugee". In Japan, most McDonald's restaurants are operated around the clock. Due to unemployment and high rents and transportation costs in Japan, McRefugees choose to stay at a McDonald's overnight.
The phenomenon and word spread to Hong Kong as 麥難民 (mahk naahn màhn), where some McRefugees play video games and are known as McGamers. McDonald's opened 24-hour branches in mainland China in September 2006, which quickly attracted McRefugees.
In early October 2015, the death of a woman in a 24-hour Hong Kong McDonald’s restaurant in Kowloon Bay brought attention to the problem of McRefugees. McRefugees can be found in other 24-hour branches as well. Among the more than 1,600 homeless people in Hong Kong in 2015, about 250 were McRefugees.
In 2018, A study conducted by the Society for Community Organization found that there were 384 McRefugees in Hong Kong. In August of the same year, a movie concerning about this topic started to film in Hong Kong, with the title "I'm living it", mimicing the slogan of the restaurant "I'm loving it".
- "'McRefugees' in Hong Kong?". USA Today. 2007-05-01.
- "コーヒー1杯で「宿泊」 「マック難民」が急増". Livedoor. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- "日式麥難民現象殺到香港". 蘋果日報. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2016-07-06.
- "McD's shelters 'McRefugees'". New24/Associated Press. 2007-05-01.
- Wang, Danyang (2010-06-02). "Homeless discover home comforts in restaurants". China Daily. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Wang, Yanan (2015-10-06). "In Hong Kong, a crowded restaurant, a death unnoticed and 'McRefugees'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
- "The night time 'McRefugees' of Hong Kong". BBC News. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
- "'McRefugees': McDonald's Shelters Hong Kong's Homeless". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
- Ng, Naomi (2016-01-09). "Hong Kong's shame: homeless numbers soar amid high rents and squalid living conditions". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
- Su, Xinqi (2018-03-04). "Homeless women more vulnerable in rising McSleeper trend". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
- Ryan (2018-08-27). "黃慶勳《麥路人》正式開鏡拜神" [I'm living it the movie started filming.]. 講。鏟。片 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
- Video on YouTube