Lost in Guryong, the biggest slum of Gangnam

Lost in Guryong, the biggest slum of Gangnam

My visit to this slum was very muchy unplanned, instead of going to Gangnam Station for shopping, I found myself in 구룡마을(Guryong), my mind immersed  in the sudden uneasy feelings of the hidden danger around the corner: drug addicts, gangs or anyone is stalking around and waiting to steal from me. But actually it is not like that at all…

Lost in Guryong, the biggest slum of Gangnam

The view of Gangnam from Guryong.

In Seoul, 구룡마을 (Guryong) is the largest slum with ​​30 hectares of area. This residential neighborhood is located in the Geapo ward of Gangnam district, easily one of the most luxurious and bustling area in Seoul (South Korea) which became famous from the song Gangnam Style by Korean singer Psy. In Guryong, people can see a general view of shabby huts made from old wooden panels and canvas. These are houses of residents who relocated from other places in 1988 because of Seoul Olympic.

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Guryong entrance

It’s very difficult to locate the exact address of Guryong, although it’s separated from Gangnam by a 6-lane highway. “Guryong is Seoul’s biggest slum but totally it does not appear on any map,” said Lee In, local government official in Guryong. The majority of Guryong residents are between 50-80 years of age, live alone and do not receive any support from the government. “Many of these people have to do work hard to make a living, but they do not suffer from starvation thanks to volunteers and religious groups’ help”.

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Lost in Guryong – Another world in Gangnam

Professor Kyo-Seong Kim, Department of Public Policy at Chung-Ang University said: “Guryong is the symbol of the inequality in Korean society.” Ironically, this slum is smack dab  in the heart of the Gangnam district. In explaining the meaning of the song Gangnam Style fever worldwide, singer Psy means that Gangnam district of Seoul in South Korea is a great place where many wealthy people are living in. He wants to use Gangnam Style to deliver a message to everybody: Let’s narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in South Korean society. Today, thanks to great efforts of the Seoul city government, people living in this area have almost agreed to cooperate with the government in relocating away from Guryong.

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