Seoul has a small underground life, but it is very unreliable and very dangerous, especially during the rainy season when water covers the city. The recent floods in South Korea, the worst in the 80s, swept away four people living in basements, known as bangjiha.
These small rooms, built underground in some buildings since the seventies, are now settled. The deaths in recent days prompted the city to announce plans to clear the dilapidated buildings that were home to the actors of the film Parasite, which showed the world the rise growth of social inequality in Asia’s fourth largest economy.
As in Bong Joon Ho’s 2020 Oscar-winning film, the basement where the two sisters, 47 and 48, and their young teenage daughter lived, was also flooded on Monday in one of the storms worst ever recorded in South Korea. Night fell when the three-room house began to fill with water, and the family of three could not push the door open. They called the neighbors and tried to get out through the window, but could not get through its bars.
They called the emergency number but could not help because of the increased number of calls due to the rain. They arrived the next day and found them dead after the father was kicked out. According to a New York Times writer, the mother and daughter moved there seven years ago to take care of their sister who has Down syndrome. They were aware of the flood risk, but the house was small and close to the health center to help the woman.
Eleven people, including three women and another man living in a banjiha, and eight others were missing in Seoul and nearby areas, which flooded nearly 4,000 homes and displaced more than 1,000 people. of people, according to information released Thursday. people. local authorities.
In places like Sillim, in the Gwanak district of south-eastern Seoul, the flood has left little hope for desperate people like Ha In Sik, who carried water and plastic container from his banjiha, attached to Wednesday. “I have no money, nothing. But I came here to live in this basement because it’s the only option for me and my daughter,” he told Reuters. “But now I have no hope. No more, no help, no spoon to eat.” The 50-year-old man, along with his wife and daughter, collected tools, furniture, books and tools and left them outside to see what could be salvaged. Like them, there are many other families in the area.
President Yoon Seok-yeol visited Sillim the day after the woman’s death. He apologized for the accident and asked for ways to improve the safety of these homes to protect the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and families whose homes are particularly vulnerable to flood.
The Seoul government has already promised to help the families living in Bangjih. Especially after Bong’s film the world became aware of the problems related to the story of the Kims, a family whose basement is different from the mansion of their employers. In one episode, the Kims had to walk through the rubble from the bathroom due to flooding.
The assistance offered by Seoul included the distribution of pumps and other flood control equipment to tenants. He also improved sewage systems in small areas to speed up the flow of rainwater. The government has encouraged those living in four-bedroom apartments to move to public housing with lower rents. Despite this, thousands of families still live in Banjikha.
The latest tragedy has prompted city authorities to take more action. As of this week, he will no longer issue building permits for those buildings, and existing buildings will be carefully repaired.
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