Concerns raised over semi-basement homes in South Korea following the catastrophic rain flood on Monday have prompted officials to phase them out.
Semi-basement homes, known as “banjiha” in Korean, first gained global recognition after they were shown in Bong Joon-ho’s popular 2019 film “Parasite.” The homes, typically occupied by lower-income individuals, became a symbol of South Korea’s growing financial disparity in society. After four people died in their semi-basement homes following the flooding on Monday, South Koreans were outraged over the dangers of the homes. This prompted officials to begin phasing out banjiha homes, discontinue the granting of permits for semi-basement apartments and set in motion plans to convert existing ones over time.
Two sisters in their 40s and the 13-year-old daughter of one of the sisters, as well as a fourth person, all died in their semi-basement homes during the flooding.
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With the new proposal, banjiha landlords will be given 10 to 20 years to convert the apartments for non-residential use.
“We condemn the government’s negligence on those marginalized in housing for this tragedy,” the Citizens Coalitions for Economic Justice stated per The Korea Herald. “As rainfall becomes stronger and more frequent under the influence of climate change, it must embark on a fundamental change of its approach to semi-basement residents.”
“The government must provide a great number of public houses for tenants so that they can avoid homes that lag behind minimum housing level,” the Joint Action for Setting Right the Basic Livelihood Security Act, a coalition of 34 groups, said in a statement.
Seoul and nearby cities were hit by a catastrophic flooding triggered by a historic rainfall that began on Monday morning and intensified through the evening. Streets were flooded as people waded through thigh-high waters and cars were half-submerged. There have been 11 confirmed deaths so far.