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Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Beggars in Korea...

When we first arrived to teach English in Korea, we immediately noticed something: the absence of homeless and beggars on the streets. Compared to the situation back home in Canada, we were surprised at the lack of homeless people and beggars. However, as we further explored the city we realized that this problem exists but mainly in the busier areas, such as Seoul Station.

In Mokdong, you would be hard pressed trying to find people camped out in parks and in the subway stations. Move towards the inner core of City Hall and you will see people sleeping on the lawns of Namdaemun gate (where I bought my digital SLR...right on the lawns, baby) and inside the subway stations.

Beggars can be found in high traffic areas, either roaming from car to car on the subway or wandering the streets of busy markets. It's very common to see handicapped people going from car to car, with a radio hanging around their necks playing a tune, while holding a basket in front of them. Some are partially "blind" and take their time walking through the cars. I say this because every time I watch them, they open the car doors by grabbing the handle on the first try. If you're blind, how the heck can you reach for the handle and open doors with such accuracy? I'm not saying their fully handicapped, but they are walking with a white cane. Who knows, it could be habit for all I know!

Here are a few candid snapshots...this fellow was stationed right at the exit of a subway station in Gangnam. It's a pretty dangerous spot to be in...imagine the 1000's of pairs of high heels that could potentially step on him:

Let's jump to Myeongdong...you can see many of these homeless and handicapped individuals on the streets. They have either one or two legs missing, so they are pushing themselves on a board with wheels. The most interesting part of this is that they have music playing--powered by a car battery:

These are just some of the sights you will expect if you're coming to Korea. Although there is a fairly high standard of living here, there are always people who still end up falling through the cracks. The government has tried solving this problem in the past but only time will tell if things will change for the better.

Wow, a somewhat serious post for once that wasn't food related. That will change soon, I promise!


Bryan Leung said...

I think I saw the same bums!

Gdog said...

Are you for real? Where were ya?

Anonymous said...

Arrgh, this seriously pains me.

Seong Jong said...

this picture is
really moving....
Gdog, i was looking for a
subject for my artwork
and i was wondering if u would allow me to use this photograph.

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