South Korea, birthplace of giants like Samsung and LG, is one of the most advanced countries in the world. But life is not easy for people with few resources. Many end up living in a goshiwon.
The housing problem is one of the most serious in South Korea. Citizens with few resources end up living in a Goshiwon, houses between 5 and 10 square meters, where the rent skyrockets to 600 euros.
South Korea has a somewhat larger population than Spain, 52 million inhabitants, but its territory is five times smaller. And also, 90% is mountainous. So The majority of the population lives overcrowded in large cities.
The houses there are a luxury. Not only are they small, but they cost a lot of money. That’s why they were invented Goshiwontiny homes that have ended up becoming a desperate solution for many people.
Goshiwon, 5 square meter houses
Goshiwon are rooms of between 5 and 10 square meters, which are rented as houses. They contain a bed, a refrigerator, a TV, and a chair. Many of them do not even have a window.
The most “luxurious” ones have their own bathroom, but most do not. exist common areas shared by several goshiwon tenants, such as the bathroom and kitchen.
The difference with a rented room in a house is that you have total independence. There are no arrival times and you don’t have to interact with anyone if you don’t want to.
There is a variant called Goshitel, which are goshiwon that are rented to tourists.
Goshiwon were designed as temporary residences for students, during exam times. Paying a low rent, about 150 euros per month, students rented one of these rooms one or two months before final exams, to study without distractions.
But successive economic crises have made many Goshiwon have become permanent housing for immigrants, and poor people. The photos you see in the news are the work of photographer Sim Kyu-Dong.
The rent has not stopped rising. Many goshiwon rent for between 400 and 600 euros, which is a prohibitive amount for poor Koreans. Of course, they include food (ramen and other basic foods), dish soap, and water and electricity costs.
Having decent housing should be a basic right, but it is increasingly complicated, not only in South Korea. Also in Spain and other countries. The Goshiwon are a sad example of this..