NATIONAL

Coals to keep Guryong shantytown warm

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 8, 2012 - 21:01
  • Updated : Feb 8, 2012 - 21:01
Guryong shantytown in front of Seoul’s affluent Gangnam area
The international community is to help people living in a Gangnam shantytown keep warm this winter.

Guryong Village is an unauthorized settlement of about 1,200 shacks located near the affluent southern Seoul area. The residents settled in the former green belt zone after being evicted by city authorities for redevelopment projects in the 1980s, in the run-up to the Seoul Olympics.

Expats will deliver coal to some of the 2,500 people still living there whose shack homes were damaged by a fire this January.

“We want to purchase and deliver coal briquettes to the needy families in Guryong so that they can stay warm this very cold winter,” said volunteer Choi Bo-hye

“These families have lost everything recently in tragic fires that swept a large part of their community.”

The fire raged through the slum community on Jan. 29, wrecking 17 homes.

“I heard that these people are living in the Guryong community center because now they don’t have their own homes,” Choi added. “They need help.”

Because the people in the settlement near the luxury Tower Palace high-rise block live on unrecognized territory, they are unable to receive any government welfare.
Volunteers help clear up the flooded Sadang area of Seoul at a previous Mannam event. (Mannam)

Volunteers are being asked to each give 10,000 won to buy enough briquettes to offer warmth for one week. They made a visit last week and now plan to return on Feb. 18 to help the Guryong community stay warm.

The group will meet at Dogok Subway Station’s Exit 4 at 12:30 p.m. to help distribute the coals to families between 1-4 p.m.

The event is being organized by Mannam volunteers. Mannam International is an association of about 54 volunteer organizations that started in Korea but is now expanding in other countries, focusing on art, culture and volunteer services.

Those interested in participating in the Guryong Village volunteer day should first apply to mannamvolunteers@gmail.com. For more information, also go to the “When Lights Unite” Mannam Facebook page.

By Kirsty Taylor  (kirstyt@heraldcorp.com)