South Korea’s capital will stop issuing permits to build basement apartments after four people drowned in floodwaters trapped in their homes.
Authorities in Seoul are moving to ban often cramped basement apartments in the South Korean capital, after several people drowned in floods caused by record-breaking rains.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday said it is planning to get rid of tiny underground houses – known as “banjihas” and featured in the Oscar-winning film Parasite – that are often cheap but easy to rent. wet and flooded.
The local government has said it will stop issuing permits to build such homes, while pushing for the gradual phase-out of apartments with basements and the sale of existing basements.
The city plans to begin discussions with the national government to ban the use of basements or semi-basement spaces for residential purposes, it added.
About 200,000 households live in such apartments, about 5% of the housing supply in Seoul, according to official figures.
Four out of 11 people died in this week’s downpour – heaviest for more than 100 years – drowned after their basement apartments were flooded with floodwater, officials said.
The dead – including a disabled woman and a teenager, who were trapped by country in their basement apartment – caused public outrage.
President Yoon Suk-yeol visited their destroyed home this week, before urging officials to do more to help the poor and vulnerable in the disaster.
Banjiha has received global attention due to Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, win Academy Award for Best Picture in 2020 and features a scene of a poor family living in such a basement house.
Activists blame the deaths on the government’s housing policy, saying they are preventable disasters.
“We condemn the government’s negligence regarding the marginalized in this home,” the Civic Economic Justice Coalition said in a statement.
“As rainfall becomes stronger and more frequent under the effects of climate change, [Seoul] must embark on a fundamental change of approach towards basement residents,” it added.
Yoon also blamed climate change for the rain and floods, which he said were the worst since weather records began more than a century ago.
“Those who are financially or physically challenged are more vulnerable to disasters,” he said.