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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Seoul homeless update

A bit of a footnote to my earlier post about the homeless of Seoul. Since writing that I discovered that with impeccable timing the most recent issue of Ta Hamkke carried a piece about the problem of homelessness (written before the recent events) which has some interesting facts:
In 1998 [during the 'IMF Crisis'] the numbers of homeless people living on the streets and in shelters together amounted to well over 5000 people. By 2001 the number was around 3000. The government claimed that this as a success of government policy. But during that period 1700 homeless people had died...
Every year 400 homeless people die, that's roughly one every day. The average lifespan is thought to be somewhere in the late forties.
There is also more about the brutality meted out by security guards at Seoul Station:
In 2002, a certain homeless man named Mr. Lee was begging at Seoul Station when he was caught by the railway security guards and beaten. Mr. Lee lay collapsed on the street for a week before he was taken to casualty where he died. That year, another homeless man named Kim Yong-hyôn was taken to a security guard's office at Seoul Station where he was tortured by having hot water poured onto his neck. He suffered second degree burns on this neck.

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