Seoul’s Redevelopment – Relocating Guryong Village Residents Again

Mrs. Im, 2015

 

Photographer Soohyun Kim is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.   From his project ‘Guryong Village in Seoul‘. To see Soohyun’s body of work  click on any image.

 

Factory, 2015

Factory, 2015

 

House, 2015

House, 2015

 

Ian, 2014

Ian, 2014 My son is sleeping underneath the old photographs in my mother’s room.

 

Outhouse, 2015

Outhouse, 2015 Over a locked outhouse, I see the luxurious 75 floors high-rise apartment buildings. They are the tallest buildings in Seoul, built in 2003. From any point in the Guryong Village, they can see the skyscrapers. They are in 20 minutes walking distance.

 

Guryong Village, 2014

Guryong Village, 2014

 

Guryong Village is an enormous shantytown in Seoul’s wealthiest district, Gangnam. It was formed in the 1980s, when thousands of people were pushed out of their homes by redevelopment projects for the Olympic Games. The 2,400 residents of Guryong Village live in shelters cobbled together from plywood, metal, sheets of plastic, even cardboard boxes amid some of Seoul’s most expensive real estate. My mother has lived in Guryong Village for the past decade; I lived there for three years prior to moving to Chicago in 2012.

 

Door, 2015

Door, 2015

 

Meat House, 2015 People in the neighborhood use any accessible material to protect their house. Thick felt cloth is used often as material for walls of houses. As the cloth is not waterproof, the owner of house picked up abandoned plastic billboard and attached it to his wall.

Meat House, 2015
People in the neighborhood use any accessible material to protect their house. Thick felt cloth is used often as material for walls of houses. As the cloth is not waterproof, the owner of house picked up abandoned plastic billboard and attached it to his wall.

 

Mrs. Kim, 2015 I visited neighbors to make photographs they needed. The photographs for their practical use are not only the evidence of my exchange with them but also the motivation for my attempt to involve such photos in the discourse of the art world.

Mrs. Kim, 2015
I visited neighbors to make photographs they needed. The photographs for their practical use are not only the evidence of my exchange with them but also the motivation for my attempt to involve such photos in the discourse of the art world.

 

The billboard used for the promotion of high-rise apartments in the past represents the dream of many residents of Guryong village.

The billboard used for the promotion of high-rise apartments in the past represents the dream of many residents of Guryong Village.

 

Corner, 2015

Corner, 2015

 

In the winter of 2014 and fall of 2015, I visited her for six weeks, documenting the village, and providing much-needed photographic services, such as passport photos and funerary images. This project was a very personal one, but it was also political. In making portraits of my family members and their neighbors, I wanted to do more than show my great respect for them, I also wanted to call attention to the struggle of their daily lives. There was a sense of urgency in my documenting the physical spaces that they have called home for so long, given that this village is now scheduled to be redeveloped–these people are certain to be displaced once again. Rather than showing the shabbiness and miserableness of poverty in the neighborhood, I wanted to bring out a question about the socio-political and structural reason why the shanty town had to be built, and how human nature has worked there. The outside observer may see in these homes nothing but crushing poverty; what I see, as an inside observer, its ingenuity, perseverance, and pride.

 

Burned Wall, 2014

Burned Wall, 2014

 

Facade, 2014

Facade, 2014

 

Mr. Lee, 2015

Mr. Lee, 2015

 

Looftop, 2015

Rooftop, 2015

 

Fence, 2014

Fence, 2014

 

Mr. Kim, 2014

Mr. Kim, 2014

 

House with Rack, 2014

House with Rack, 2014

 

Orange Wall, 2015

Orange Wall, 2015

 

Mrs. Lee, 2015

Mrs. Lee, 2015

 

Window, 2014

Window, 2014

 

See also:

South Korea

By Soohyun Kim

 


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