A shock field workplace hit telling the story of a poor South Korean household dwelling in a tiny, darkish semi-basement, and a rich household dwelling in a glamorous dwelling in Seoul.
However whereas the Oscar-tipped movie Parasite is a piece of fiction, the house shouldn’t be. They’re referred to as banjiha, and 1000’s of individuals reside in them in South Korea’s capital, Seoul.
Julie Yoon, of BBC Korean, went to fulfill a few of them, to search out out what life is like there.
There’s principally no daylight in Oh ke-cheol’s banjiha.
It will get so little gentle that even his little succulent plant could not survive.
Folks can peer into his house by means of the home windows. Youngsters sometimes smoke outdoors his flat, or spit onto the bottom.
In the summertime, he suffers from insufferable humidity and battles with quickly rising mould.
The tiny toilet has no sink and is raised half a metre above the ground. The ceiling of the lavatory is so low he has to face together with his legs extensive, to keep away from banging his head.
“After I first moved in, I obtained bruises from banging my shin on the step and scrapes from stretching my arms in opposition to the concrete partitions,” says Oh, 31, who works within the logistics business.
However now he says he is used to it.
“I do know the place all of the bumps and lights are.”
Parasite, the stealth hit by legendary director Bong Joon-ho, is a twisted story of the haves and have-nots.
The acute disparity between the 2 households – the prosperous Parks and the poor Kims – is proven by means of their two houses. One a gleaming mansion up on the hills above Seoul; the opposite a dingy semi-basement.
In real-life Seoul, although, banjihas are the place 1000’s of younger folks find yourself dwelling, whereas they work arduous and hope for a greater future.
The banjihas should not only a quirk of Seoul structure, however a product of historical past. These tiny areas truly hint their roots again a long time, to the battle between North and South Korea.
In 1968, North Korean commandos slipped into Seoul on a mission to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung-hee.
The raid was thwarted, however the pressure between the 2 Koreas intensified. That very same 12 months, North Korea additionally attacked and captured a US Navy spy ship, the united statesPueblo.
Armed North Korean brokers infiltrated South Korea, and there have been a variety of terrorist incidents.
Fearing an escalation, in 1970 the South Korean authorities up to date its constructing codes, requiring all newly constructed low-rise house buildings to have basements to function bunkers in case of a nationwide emergency.
Initially, renting out such banjiha areas was unlawful. However in the course of the housing disaster within the 1980s, with area working quick within the capital, the federal government was compelled to legalise these underground areas to reside in.
In 2018, the UN famous that regardless of having the world’s 11th largest economic system, South Korea’s lack of reasonably priced housing was a considerable barrier – significantly for younger folks and poorer folks.
For under-35s, the rent-to-income ratio has remained at round 50% over the last decade.
So the semi-basement residences have change into an reasonably priced response to rapidly-growing housing costs. Month-to-month rents are round 540,000 Korean received (£345; $453), with common month-to-month salaries for folks within the 20s round 2m received (£1,279; $1,679).
However, some banjiha dwellers wrestle to beat the social stigma. However not all.
“You recognize, I am genuinely OK with my house,” says Oh.
“I selected this place to economize and I am saving loads from it. However I’ve observed I can not cease folks pitying me.
“In Korea, folks assume it is necessary to personal a pleasant automobile or a home. I feel banjiha symbolises poverty.
“Maybe that is why the place I reside defines who I’m.”
Halfway by means of Parasite, because the poor Kim household infiltrate the lives of the Parks to attempt to generate profits off them, the youngest Park, Da-song notices a odor among the many Kim household.
When Kim Ki-taek, the daddy, tries to eliminate the odor, his daughter says coldly: “It is the basement odor. The odor will not go away except we depart this place.”
Park Younger-jun, a 26-year-old photographer, watched Parasite quickly after he moved into his banjiha house. Initially, Park’s motive for selecting a banjiha was simple: affordability and area.
Nevertheless, he could not assist however really feel aware concerning the odor after watching the film. “I did not need to odor just like the Kim household,” he says.
That summer time, he burnt numerous incense sticks and stored his dehumidifier on more often than not. In some methods, he says the movie motivated him to repair up his flat and adorn it.
“I did not need folks to really feel sorry for me simply because I reside considerably underground,” he explains.
Park and his girlfriend, Shim Min, stored a vlog about their banjiha house makeover.
They’re very proud of the place, however it took months to get the place they’re now.
“When my dad and mom noticed the house for the primary time, they have been in dismay. The earlier tenant was a heavy smoker and my mother could not recover from the odor,” says Park.
Shim, a 24-year-old YouTuber, first strongly disagreed with Park when he decided to reside in banjiha house.
“I had a really damaging notion of banjiha. It did not look protected. It jogged my memory of the darkish facet of the town. I grew up in high-rise house complexes all my life, so I used to be fearful about my boyfriend.”
However their dwelling makeover movies have had optimistic suggestions from their subscribers. Some even envy how fashionable their flat is.
“We love our dwelling and are pleased with the work we have carried out right here,” says Min. However she factors out that it doesn’t suggest that they need to settle in banjiha endlessly. “We’re going to transfer up.”
Oh can also be saving as much as purchase his personal place. By dwelling in semi-basement, he hopes to grasp his dream a lot sooner.
“My solely remorse is that my cat, April, cannot benefit from the solar by means of the window.”
All photographs Julie Yoon