Residents refuse to leave Korean-Chinese building hit by fire

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 27, 2014 - 16:16
  • Updated : Feb 27, 2014 - 16:59
Despite growing concerns about safety, residents refused to leave a partially burned housing facility in Seoul, originally built for Koreans of Chinese ancestry, known as “hwagyo.”

The building, located in Jung-gu, caught fire earlier this month, killing two people and injuring six before firefighters contained the blaze.

Some 20 residents returned to the burned building, defying the district administration‘s eviction order to vacate the premises. The residents had been staying temporarily at nearby buildings in the immediate aftermath of the fire, but returned to the site, saying that they had nowhere else to go.

Flames engulfed most of the building in a fire on Feb. 17, and what remains of the construction is in poor condition, with parts of the building collapsed and with cracks in the walls and floors.

But the building’s occupants are unwilling to leave despite the hazardous conditions.

“I don’t know why I have to leave, when I’ve had no trouble living here by myself for 30 years,” said a resident surnamed Jeong. “I don’t feel any anxiety about the building breaking down, so I just want to live here.”

A representative for the residents said they paid money for the space when they first came to live there, which makes it difficult for them to just abandon the place.

The Jung-gu district office considers enforcing the eviction of the residents after safety reports suggested all the residential structures should be torn down.

Residents seem unlikely to get monetary compensation for the fire that destroyed their assets because the building itself did not secure a legitimate permit from the government, according to the Jung-gu district office.

By Suh Ye-seul (

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