About Luc Forsyth
Luc Forsyth is a freelance photojournalist and writer who specializes in social and humanitarian storytelling. This is his blog, a place to share photography, writing and ideas.
You can contact Luc at email@example.com
Luc is a collaborating member of the Ruom Collective. Bringing together journalists, researchers, videographers, and photographers, the collective provides an opportunity to exchange and share information - providing multiple perspectives and more depth to long-term documentary projects.
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Category Archives: Guest Posts
I was recently contacted by Ruban Selvanayagam, a journalist and social enterprise activist based in Brazil, about using some of my images for an article on Habitation for The Planet’s web site. While I am happy to share my photos around the web, I was a little bit hesitant about emailing full resolution files to people who email me out of the blue. But after reading the article he has written on the lack of adequate housing for the poor in Korea, I am proud to be involved. Well written and thoroughly researched, this article is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the reasons why places like the Guryong Panjachon exist.
This is just an excerpt from his article. Read the full version here.
Now well reputed as an Asian economic success story, South Korea has made huge strides in terms of growth since the end of the war with the North – transforming from an aid recipient nation with an income per head on a par with the poorest parts of Africa to a member of the OECD development assistance committee (the so called “rich man’s club”). When looking at the housing sector in its current form, however, progress has not been so exemplary with the familiar global story of poor living conditions mirroring rising disparate wealth distribution. As outlined below, despite modern history demonstrating some impetus from the government to incentivise and regulate the social housing sector, much of what has been achieved has fallen short of what is necessary – evidently placing more priority on middle-upper class biased models.
Since the late 1980s, the government´s role in housing policy increased somewhat and, as Kim Dae Jung was ruled into power, it was acknowledged that past policies did not pay enough attention to the needs of the poor. The notion that it was the South Koreans themselves that needed to develop their own communities broadly based on bringing a more balanced relationship between individuals, communities and the government was deemed as the most appropriate direction. From the 1960s up until this point, the country – as with much of East Asia – adopted a guiding principle of social policy being immediately linked to economic growth and that rising incomes would assumedly lead to better standards of housing, fuelled largely by the private sector but supported by preferential interest rates / mortgage finance and delivery system improvements. However, particularly due to rapid urban population growth, demand outpaced supply which not only led to rapidly inflated prices but also the growth of slum settlements, particularly in urban areas such as Seoul. The growing conflict of interest was well demonstrated in the eviction of an estimated 700,000 people between 1985 and 1988 in the build up to the Seoul Olympic Games.
Under the pressure and watchful eye of increasingly present NGO and other housing campaigning activity, the government was seen stepping up its efforts towards the end of the 1980s. Yet whilst the 1989 launch of the “Two Million Housing Construction Plan” was deemed successful from a broader market perspective, it left the low income market relatively untouched. Indeed, by 1995 the Korea National Housing Corporation (KNHC) demonstrated that 13 percent of urban households were using one room for the whole family; 34 percent of national stock did not meet national minimum standards and 49,370 households were living in squatter settlements (a figure that had doubled by the year 2000 as a result of the Asian financial crisis). The early 1990s saw private rented housing being given more permanent status – however due to the very small size of the units; the distant locations from where residents worked and complicated financial management which limited access to those in the low income groups, real demand remained low. The government subsequently continued to remain largely criticised for not addressing the issue of poor housing standards in contrast to the bullish growth of urbanisation and real estate development for the privileged economic groups……read the rest of the article here.