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What is the last slum of Seoul?


Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, has undergone rapid urbanization and modernization in the past few decades. However, despite its impressive economic growth, Seoul is still home to many underprivileged communities. In this article, we will explore the last slum of Seoul and how it reflects the challenges that the city faces in terms of inequality and social justice.

History of Slums in Seoul

Slums have been a part of Seoul’s landscape for centuries, but their prevalence and size have changed over time. During the Japanese colonial period, slums were concentrated around the city’s ports and factories. After World War II, as the population grew rapidly, slums expanded to other parts of the city. The government’s efforts to eradicate slums in the 1960s and 1970s led to the relocation of many residents to public housing complexes. However, some residents were left behind, and new slums formed in areas with poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services.

Definition of Slum

Before we dive into the last slum of Seoul, it is important to define what we mean by “slum.” According to the United Nations, a slum is a “run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing, squalor, and lacking in tenure security.” Slums are often overcrowded, with inadequate sanitation facilities and limited access to clean water and electricity.

Location of the Last Slum of Seoul

The last slum of Seoul is located in Guryong Village, in the district of Gangnam. Gangnam is known for its affluence and glamour, with high-end shopping centers and luxury apartments. However, Guryong Village is an exception to this image. It is a small enclave surrounded by skyscrapers and posh neighborhoods, but it is also a place of poverty and neglect.

Population of Guryong Village

Guryong Village is home to about 4,000 people, mostly low-income migrants from other parts of the country or from neighboring countries like China and Vietnam. Many of them work in informal sectors such as construction, cleaning, and food delivery, with irregular income and no job security.

Housing Conditions in Guryong Village

The housing conditions in Guryong Village are deplorable. Most residents live in small rooms or makeshift structures without proper ventilation or insulation. Some families share a communal kitchen and bathroom, which are often dirty and infested with pests. The lack of privacy and space makes it challenging for families to maintain their dignity and well-being.

Health Risks in Guryong Village

Living in Guryong Village exposes residents to various health risks. The lack of sanitation facilities and clean water increases the risk of infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A. The poor air quality due to pollution from nearby construction sites and traffic worsens respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. The stress and anxiety caused by living in such precarious conditions can also lead to mental health issues.

Economic Challenges in Guryong Village

The residents of Guryong Village face many economic challenges. Most of them earn low wages and have limited access to formal financial services such as banks and credit unions. They often rely on informal moneylenders who charge exorbitant interest rates, trapping them in debt. The lack of job security and social protection also makes it difficult for them to plan for the future or cope with unexpected expenses.

Community Life in Guryong Village

Despite the harsh living conditions, the residents of Guryong Village have developed a strong sense of community. They support each other through mutual aid networks, sharing resources such as food and clothing. There are also community centers and NGOs that provide educational and cultural activities for children and adults. However, the threat of eviction looms over the community, as the government plans to redevelop the area into a high-end residential and commercial complex.

Government Policies towards Slums

The Korean government has implemented various policies to address slums in Seoul, including relocation, demolition, and redevelopment. However, these policies have been criticized for their lack of consultation with affected residents, their focus on physical infrastructure rather than social welfare, and their reliance on private developers rather than public participation. Many activists and scholars argue that a more holistic and participatory approach is needed to address the root causes of slums and to promote social justice.


The last slum of Seoul, Guryong Village, is a stark reminder of the challenges that the city faces in terms of inequality and social justice. Its residents live in deplorable conditions, exposed to various health risks and economic challenges. However, they also demonstrate resilience and solidarity, building a sense of community despite the threats of eviction and displacement. The government’s policies towards slums in Seoul have been criticized for their shortcomings, highlighting the need for a more participatory and inclusive approach to urban development.

What is the last slum in South Korea?

Guryong Village, a slum in the capital city of Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has experienced at least 16 fires since 2009 and is one of the few remaining slums in the area. This information was reported on January 20, 2023.

Are there any slums in Seoul?

Guryong Village, also known as Guryong, is an unapproved settlement located on private property in Seoul, South Korea. It is often referred to as a shantytown or “moon village” in Korean. The village is situated on the outskirts of Dogok-dong, a wealthy district on the south side of Seoul, and is separated from it by a six-lane highway.

What is the high end neighborhood in Seoul?

As of October 2022, Gangnam-gu was the priciest district in Seoul, South Korea, with the average selling price of apartments around 2.28 billion South Korean won. The Gangnam region, comprising Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, Yongsan-gu, and Songpa-gu, is among the wealthiest neighborhoods in South Korea.

What is the most common crime in Seoul?

Petty theft, such as pickpocketing, is the most common crime experienced by tourists in South Korea, particularly in major cities. However, it is a preventable issue.

What is the abandoned town in Korea?

Kijong-dong, also known as the Peace Village or Propaganda Village, is located in North Korea at GPS coordinates 37.9453°N 126.6556°E.

Does Busan have slums?

Within just a few months, the population of the city had doubled and reached a total of 1.4 million people. Arriving refugees were greeted by the coastal slums that eventually became the Gamcheon Culture Village, which was one of the first things they saw. This occurred on August 22, 2021.

Recommendations for Addressing Slums in Seoul

To address the issue of slums in Seoul, several recommendations could be considered. First, the government should adopt a more participatory approach to urban development, involving residents and community-based organizations in decision-making processes. This will help ensure that the needs and aspirations of residents are taken into account.

Second, the government should prioritize social welfare over physical infrastructure in its policies towards slums. This means providing access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and social protection, as well as promoting income-generating activities and micro-finance programs.

Third, the government should work towards reducing income inequality and promoting affordable housing. This could be achieved through progressive taxation policies, subsidies for low-income households, and incentives for developers to build affordable housing units.

Finally, the government should promote sustainable development practices that take into account environmental concerns and the needs of future generations. This means investing in renewable energy sources, improving public transportation systems, and promoting green spaces.


In conclusion, the last slum of Seoul is a complex issue that reflects the broader challenges of inequality and social justice in the city. While the government has implemented various policies to address slums, there is a need for a more participatory and inclusive approach that prioritizes social welfare over physical infrastructure. By working towards reducing income inequality, promoting affordable housing, and adopting sustainable development practices, Seoul can become a more just and equitable city for all its residents.

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