What life is like for homeless people in South Korea (18 photos)

29 November 2023

There are not many homeless people in South Korea, but they still exist. Local tramps know where to sleep and where to come for free food and almost always feel comfortable.

Despite the fact that South Korea is considered one of the most prosperous modern countries with a good standard of living, even among its seemingly always busy and always immersed in work residents, there are so-called disadvantaged elements - in other words, homeless people. These comrades hardly differ in anything other than the shape of their eyes from European or American homeless people.

They also like to drink while sitting on the sidewalk - although they mostly drink local vodka soju; they spend the night on cardboard or in tattered tents, which they set up wherever they want, and, of course, subsist on unobtrusive begging.

By the way, the existence of homeless people in South Korea is partly justified by the government’s loyal attitude to this problem. More precisely, no one considers this a problem. On the contrary, as in any other developed country, in South Korea homeless people are exactly the same full-fledged members of society as other citizens who have the right to lead the lifestyle they see fit - within the limits of the law, of course.

And those who violate this very law will receive an absolutely deserved punishment, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a working citizen or a homeless person - from a legal point of view, all Koreans are in equal conditions.

In general, the country’s government’s loyal attitude towards the homeless generates a response. Korean homeless people do not pester passers-by, do not beg aggressively, and certainly do not get into arguments or conflicts. The most a Korean homeless person can do is put a bucket next to him or a hat, where passers-by can throw a coin if they want, and nothing more.

Otherwise, during the day, Korean homeless people prefer to sit on the sidewalk, alone or in the company of their own kind, drink their favorite soju and not disturb anyone. Yes, the surroundings and the smell around them are appropriate, but, as they say, not without it. That's why they are homeless...

Another characteristic feature of the loyal attitude towards homeless people in South Korea is, in fact, official permission to spend the night at metro stations.

During the day, when there are a lot of people in the subway, Korean homeless people try not to catch the eye of security, but closer to midnight, when there are only a few minutes left before the subway closes, the homeless flock to the underground passages, spread out their sleeping bags and blankets there and stay overnight.

Homeless people spend the night in an underground passage

Security closes them at the station, as a result of which the homeless get a relatively comfortable overnight stay under a roof, warmth and access to a toilet, and this, sorry, is already a lot. Moreover, no one chases homeless people: even the police, seeing this, do not pay special attention to their comrades without a fixed place of residence, despite the fact that they often camp right under the cameras for the night.

No one really cares about this fact, because when morning comes, all the homeless people leave the metro stations, and until the next night they will be neither seen nor heard.

Homeless people in the underground passage

Well, with the onset of truly winter cold, special shelters for the homeless begin to operate throughout South Korea, one part of which exists with subsidies from central or local authorities, and the other with funds from charitable organizations. Shelters are also opened at churches and Buddhist temples.

YuzhnokKorean volunteers

In them, every homeless person is given warm clothes and a roof over their head, but, unlike citywide shelters, not for free. For this, the homeless person must sweep the yard, cook food, remove garbage... in other words, work off all the benefits that were provided to him. Therefore, only a few people turn to the church for help.

Church shelter

This is understandable: why work for food and the opportunity to spend the night in a warm place, when all this can be obtained for free, and with absolutely no effort, in one of the shelters organized by a charitable organization?! Korean homeless people know very well where to sleep, where to come for a free hot lunch, where they give out clothes and basic necessities. And, in general, everyone is happy... well, or almost everyone.

Free canteen

Korean volunteers working with the homeless note that such a loyal attitude turns homeless people into lazy people who don’t even try to improve their lives and find at least some kind of work. They simply do not see the need for this, because the state provides them with everything more or less necessary: food, clothing, some kind of roof over their heads.

South Korean volunteer

And money...passers-by give money for soju, so Korean homeless people have everything they need, if not for happiness, then for a harmonious existence.

Free canteen

As for the problem of homelessness in South Korea, this, as I mentioned above, is not a problem - at least for the Korean government. And although the number of homeless people in the country of morning freshness is only increasing every year, the authorities do not yet see this as any kind of disaster, much less a catastrophe.

Yes, perhaps the presence of homeless people sleeping on the streets and in underground passages of Seoul and other South Korean cities somewhat spoils the ideal image of modern South Korea, but this in no way harms security within the country and its image in the world community.

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