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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"vinyl house" housing in Gangnam

Kyunghyang Sinmun gives a glimpse to life in "vinyl houses" (pinil hausû) or greenhouses fitted for people to live in. Ironically, Gangnam where the biggest wealth in Korea has concentrated also has the biggest concentration of people living in such houses, some 6300. But these people are not actually Gangnam residents, as the authorities do not accept a "vinyl house" as a residence legit for registration of removal and residence. (As far as I know there are people in this kind of housing without any kind of official registration anywhere.) An apartment block ("Citizens' Rental Apartment", Kungmin imdae ap'at'û) is going to be built at the site where the plastic shacks now stand, and as often is the case with residents of this kind, they are likely to be left without any kind of compensation because of their extralegal (?) existence. Their houses do not exist in documents.
[...]
비닐하우스에서 사는 것도 모두 무능력한 제 탓이죠. 그래도, 잘나고 유식한 사람 있으면 저같이 못 배우고 무식한 사람이 있는 게 세상 이치 아니던가요. 대한민국 헌법이 어떻게 되어 있는지는 잘 모르지만, 짓눌린 약자의 설움을 절감하는 요즘입니다. 김수미씨가 부른 ‘젠틀맨’이 시리도록 가슴을 부벼판 적이 많다면 믿겠습니까?
욕심 없어요. 그냥 여기서 살면 안될까요?. 지금까지 그랬던 것처럼, 대한민국 국민이 아닌 것처럼 그냥 조용히 살께요. 사글세방 한 칸 구할 형편도 못된다는 것은 매일 들르는 까치도 알고 있습니다.



Photographs from Kyunghyang Sinmun.

Update.

Korea Center for City and Environment Research (KOCER, in Korean Han'guk Tosi Yôn'guso, "Korean Urban Research Institute") has published a few years back a 62-page research report on the "vinyl house" communities, which is available for download as a pdf file (3MB) at the institute homepage: The Last Resort of Destitute Families in Korea: Investigation report on vinyl house communities and actual conditions of its residents.

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