Authorities in Seoul to phase out ‘Parasite’-type basement homes following devastating flood

  • After four people died in semi-basement homes during the recent historic rainfall, Seoul will no longer be granting permits for semi-basement apartments.
  • “Banjiha,” meaning semi-basement in Korean, gained global recognition after they were shown in the film “Parasite,” symbolizing financial inequality in South Korea.
  • Outrage over the danger of the homes following the devastating flood prompted officials to phase out the apartments and begin plans to convert the existing ones.
  • During the catastrophic rainfall on Monday, two sisters in their 40s, a 13-year-old girl and a fourth person living in a banjiha died in the flooding.

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. 

With the new proposal, banjiha landlords will be given 10 to 20 years to convert the apartments for non-residential use. 

Civic groups have demanded the government assist semi-basement residents in moving out of their homes.

“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.

 

Featured Image: KBS News

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