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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

early Korean apartments and marmots

Discovered an interesting contribution that marmots have done to Korea other than maintaining blogs. Back in the early 1960s when the first apartments were built in Mapo, people were not yet very enamored with the new kind of housing, and only one tenth of dwellings were occupied during the first winter. As so much of the apartment was unheated, pipes began to freeze and the few occupants got worried of coal gas poisoning, which was well known from floor heating systems. [Mapo Apartments didn't have floor heating 'cos it wasn't modern.] To alleviate the residents' fears, the Korean Housing Corporation (Taehan Chut'aek Kongsa) acquired six marmots and placed them in the rooms to show that there were no gas leaks. No marmots died, but people were still suspect, so the chief of construction bureau stayed overnight in the room where the leak was said to be biggest. Also he survived. (Ch'oe Chae-p'il: 서울주거의 사회문화적 특성 [Socio-Cultural Particularities of Housing in Seoul] in 서울 20세기 생활, 문화 변천사 [History of Life and Culture in 20th Century Seoul].)

That was before the collapse of the Wau Apartment, so the residents were right to be suspicious. But Korea has come a long way in regard to apartments, if not in regard to trust in officials.

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Comments to note "early Korean apartments and marmots" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 27.4.06 : 

Funny... I live in a Mapo apartment now. Huge chunks of Mapo are being razed and turned into apartments, especially between Sogang University and Hongik Uni. The new apartments, however, are quite nice.

- Haisan

<Anonymous Julia from Illinois> said on 16.2.08 : 

I lived in the Mapo apartment bldg 10 in 1969 and 1970. Our landlady switched from charcoal to oil heating while we were there.

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