Copyright 2007-2013
Built with Indexhibit

Demolition of Guryong, the last slum in Seoul's otherwise glitzy Gangnam district, is expected to start this summer after redevelopment plans were mired for years by squabbling among the city, district and developers.

Guryong, a shantytown of 2,000 residents, is close to the luxury high-rises of Seoul's most expensive neighbourhood, made famous by Psy's Gangnam Style song and video.

Left behind by South Korea's economic miracle, Guryong is a grim symbol of growing income inequality in a country where nearly half the elderly live in poverty, the highest rate among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Kim, a widow who shares her cramped wooden dwelling with one of her sons, is ready to leave the fire-prone slum, where the church she attended burned down about five months ago.

"I am scared that I will continue to live here and die here," she said. "I want to die in a slightly better place."

Kim uses a shared toilet around the corner, while she takes showers and does laundry at public baths.

In December, city and district officials agreed on a redevelopment plan to build thousands of units of low-cost housing, including subsidised homes for current slum residents.

After the failure of previous resettlement efforts, Ahn Young-chan, a 79-year-old grandfather, is wary of getting his hopes up.

"We have to wait and see," he said. "We have no choice but to follow what the authorities tell us." (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg (layout (comp)).jpg