Protect Residents of Seoul’s Slums and Shantytowns

Guyrong shantytown

Target: Mayor of Seoul and the Seoul Metropolitan Government

Goal: Change policies to promote the improvement of slums in Seoul rather than to bulldoze them

The Seoul government is planning to displace thousands of residents of Guyrong village and wipe out approximately 1,200 homes in order to build high-rises. The village is located in the United States’ equivalent of Beverly Hills, and new high-rises would bring a lot of profit to the already rich. Many residents, such as 72 year old Cho Su Ja is fighting a helpless battle against the wealthy and the prominent; she and many of her neighbors had established a community there and have come to love the humble village. They have built churches, stores, and even a beauty salon. The government is planning to bulldoze all of that away.

Slums and shantytowns such as Guyrong village are not uncommon in Seoul, and their being bulldozed is a frequent occurrence.  Policymakers in Seoul are turning a blind eye to the impoverished villagers’ situations, and are promoting the wiping out of these establishments completely and building apartments for the well-to-do. Because of the government’s actions, the inhabitants of these shantytowns are never at ease. In their slums, they’re in fear of their homes being wiped out. When the poor are displaced to other living quarters by the government, they are constantly anxious that their rent will be increased beyond what they can afford, or that their belongings will be thrown out when they can’t pay for their rent anymore.

Instead of destroying the shantytowns, the government should create policies to better their situations. The current homes in the slums are in dire situations; they are not only unsanitary due to a lack of an efficient sewage and draining systems, they are also in danger of collapsing as they are loosely and poorly constructed with materials such as bamboo and scrap metal. The residents of Guyrong, for example, have no indoor plumbing and must use outhouses.

The people of these slums don’t want to be pushed out, and yet the government is deciding what it thinks is best for them just because the villagers are poor and helpless. Although Guyrong residents have put up banners that read, “We’ve been here for decades. We’ll die before we’re pushed out,” the government continues to ignore them in order to benefit the wealthy. Help urge the Seoul government to respect the villagers’ basic rights to lead a clean, safe, and secure life.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,

The impoverished villagers living in Seoul’s shantytowns are suffering and need help. The villages don’t have indoor plumbing systems, and residents use water from wells to drink and wash. The buildings also have poor ventilation and are often constructed loosely, and are under the threat of collapsing. They are suffering from unsafe and unsanitary conditions, but they are also in constant worry of their belongings and their homes being bulldozed by the government. They live either in fear of high rents or being displaced.

Although the villages need much improvement, residents such as Cho Su Ja in the Guyrong village are struggling to keep their rights to live in a community that they have built up over the years. They have tried to keep a dignified state of existence by establishing churches and stores, and they are pleading to maintain what they have established.

Instead of wiping out these slums to make land for the wealthy private businesses, please help the citizens living in the shantytowns by installing indoor plumbing, access to public services, and better ventilation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Here are some other points of view on the matter of squatters’ rights: http://view.koreaherald.com/kh/view.php?ud=20110502000378&cpv=

    It’s messy. It’s not just “the poor” vs. “the rich.”

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