500 Evacuees in Seoul After Fire Spreads in Slum

Fire destroys Guryong slum in Seoul: no fatalities reported

On January 20th, 2023, a fire destroyed around 60 homes in the Guryong slum in the Gangnam district of Seoul. Fire crews extinguished the flames at 11:46 a.m. (2:46 a.m. GMT), having started at 06:27 local time. Although covering 2,700 square meters, thankfully no fatalities or injuries were reported.

Guryong is located on the outskirts of the area known for it’s expensive real estate, and also where K-Pop is rooted – thanks to the famous hit “Gangnam Style” by Psy. The settlement arose in the 1980s, as poor residents of the region were evicted for urban development projects.

In response to the fire, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called for the “maximum possible mobilization” from a distance, while the interior minister, Lee Sang- Min, made sure no secondary damage would occur and that nearby residents were protected. Over 900 troops, including firefighters, police officers, and civil servants, went to the area to put out the fire and keep it under control.

Fires are not unusual for this makeshift settlement consisting of 666 homes, made of mostly plywood and vinyl panels. This isn’t the first one, as 16 fires have broken out since 2009, one of which saw a resident die in 2014. The Seoul government tried to vacate the area in 2011, but it failed due to disagreement between government officials and residents over negotiations for land compensation.

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