Hundreds displaced from fire in Seoul slum

The low-income Guryong village is prone to fires, floods and other disasters. Around 500 people have been safely evacuated and taken to nearby facilities.

Hundreds displaced from fire in Seoul slum
Hundreds displaced from fire in Seoul slum


Around 500 people were evacuated from the slum region of Guryong Village, in the South Korean capital of Seoul after a fire broke out in the early hours of Friday, local authorities said.

The fire, which broke out at around 6:30 a.m. local time (2230 GMT Thursday), burned down at least 40 homes in a 1,700-square-meter radius.

No casualties have been reported so far.

Video posted online showed flames tearing through the shantytown in the shadows of high-rise luxury towers in Seoul's Gangnam district, which was made famous by rapper Psy's global hit "Gangnam Style."

More than 800 firefighters, public workers and police officers are working on the rescue operation under the cover of dense smoke.

Officials believe the fire is likely to have started in one of the houses made of plastic and plywood.

What is the Guryong slum?

One of Seoul's last remaining slums, Guryong is home to some 1,000 households.

It was formed in 1988 just as Seoul prepared to host the Olympics, as squatters evicted from other areas of the capital moved in.

Many homes are made of wood and cardboard and the area is prone to fires, floods and other calamities.

Since 2012, the village has been hit by at least eight fires, Seoul's Gangnam district office, the local authority which oversees the area, told Agence France-Presse.

The slum has become a symbol of inequality in South Korea because of its location — next to the affluent Gangnam district.

Plans for redevelopment have made little progress because of disputes between residents and landlords.

How have authorities responded?

Evacuated residents were moved to nearby facilities including a school gym and were then due to be moved into hotels, according to Kim Ah-reum, an official at the Gangnam district office.

Speaking from the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for the mobilization of all available firefighters and equipment in an effort to minimize damage.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Lee Sang-min instructed authorities to protect neighboring areas from secondary damage.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines