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Form "International Tribunal on Evictions”

Friday 19 August 2016 5:54:39 pm

General Information

Republic of Korea (South Korea)
Seoul
Yongsan District 4
Yongsan District 4 Forced Evictees’ Committee
1 (Housing)

Description of case of forced evictions

1 (already taken place)
- In 2008, areas near Gukje Building in Yongsan District, Seoul were designated as ‘development project area’. Local tenants of both residence and commercial building established the Yongsan District 4 Forced Evictees' Committee, and requested their right to house and right to live. - On 19 January 2009, tenants of Yongsan District 4 protested against forced eviction and occupied empty building which was scheduled to be demolished. They built a temporary building on top of the empty structure and started to protest there. - As soon as evictees started protest, police and private security forces hired by private construction company jointly started to crackdown protesters. - On the morning of 20 January 2009, around 6am, SWAT team was deployed and started severe crackdown. - On 20 January 2009, at around 7:30am, a huge fire of unknown origin happened at a temporary building on top of the empty building where evictees were protesting. As a result, five protesters (evictees) and one SWAT member were killed. (It is knowns as ‘Yongsan Tragedy’.) - South Korean civil society organisations and general public argued that this tragedy happened because of excessive use of force by the Government and police and called for independent investigation and punish responsible person for this crackdown. - However, the Prosecutor’s Office concluded that the crackdown was justifiable and did not even indict responsible people. - Civil society and Yongsan families (families of deceased victims) argue that Seok-gi Kim, the then Chief police officer of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency was responsible for this crackdown. But, the Prosecutor’s Office did not even investigate Mr. Kim and acquitted him. - The Government, Prosecutor’s Office and Court only conducted a trial on one SWAT member’s death during crackdown and found ‘survived’ forced evictees (protesters) guilty. After the crackdown, seven protesters were arrested and the court put responsibility of the death of one SWAT member on them. Seven protesters were imprisoned for 4~5 years. - Rather than investigating the tragedy, the Government tried to cover up the case by resignation of Mr. Seok-gi Kim. Later, Mr. Kim was appointed as a chairperson of public companies and recently at the 17 April 2016 General Election, he was elected as a parliament member from the ruling party. - Yongsan District 4 where the tragedy happened was abandoned after the eviction and demolition until today, and the construction just started this year. - Civil society and Yongsan families (families of deceased victims) are calling for independent investigation of the tragedy and punish Mr. Seok-gi Kim as a responsible person for crackdown.
800 households (400 residential household, 400 commercial households). At the time of protest, 23 households were members of the Yongsan District 4 Forced Evictees' Committee. Because of the protest, around 20 people were indicted. - 80% of people who were living in the Yongsan District 4 were tenants, but in the development project, tenants were totally excluded in the negotiation process. Most tenants who were almost 800 households decided to move out with such a small compensation because they suffered from severe threats by private security forces as a daily bases. 23 households, who were members of the Yongsan District 4 Forced Evictees' Committee at the time of protest, were all commercial householders, and some of them were living in those commercial households, so it was both commercial/residential households for them. 23 households did not have anywhere else to go with that small amount of compensation. Also, 90% of them were women who were responsible for their family’s livelihood by running small stores.
- The then Seoul Metropolitan City Mayor, Sae-hoon Oh, announced mega size downtown development plan, which is to develop Yongsan area as ‘international business zone’. As a result, a large scale of development project rapidly implemented around Yongsan, including Yongsan District 4. - This large-scale development project was conducted by Samsung C&T Corporation as major consortium construction company and many other construction companies participated in the project. Samsung C&T Corporation was also major construction company of Yongsan District 4. - With political interest of the then Seoul Metropolitan City Mayor and interest of construction companies, development project was rapidly implemented. Forced eviction was enforced while relocation plans were not even introduced for tenants.
- 19 January 2009, around 30 forced evictees of Yongsan District 4 occupied an empty building and start to protest - 20 January 2009 (6 am) SWAT started to crackdown protesters - 20 January 2009 (7:30am) Unknown huge fire started in the protest building and 6 people (1 SWAT member and 5 protesters) died.
Due to excessive use of force by the Government with SWAT, 5 forced evictees and one SWAT member died, around 10 people were injured. - General public were outraged due to 6 people’s death during police crackdown. - The Government and Seoul Metropolitan City defined it as a tragedy happened due to city development project, and tried to change its development policies. - Even so, the Government do not recognize police excessive use of force and all responsibility lies on dead and survived forced evictees. Survived protesters even had to face judicial charges as well. - Yongsan families (families of deceased victims) and survived forced evictees are psychologically and physically suffering until today, for more than 7 years.
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- Planning : The then Seoul Metropolitan City Mayor, Sae-hoon Oh - Responsible for Monitoring: The then Mayor of Yongsan District - Executor of the business: Private Holding Cooperation - Construction Company: Samsung C&T Corporation, Daelim, POSCO - Executor of forced eviction: Private security forces hired by construction companies and private holding cooperation

Support, measures taken and follow up

sì (yes: which?)
As soon as the tragedy happened, around 110 civil society organisations established a network to support victims' families, and called for independent investigation and punish the responsible person. Also, the Korean Human Rights Commission adopted a view that the police crackdown was illegal and submitted this view to the judicial body, with comments that responsible police officer including Mr. Seok-gi Kim should be indicted. Amnesty International, UN Special Rapporteur on housing also expressed their concerns on this matter.
Other forced evictees from other districts held series of protests in front of the development project sites and in front of Yongsan District government office in solidarity with Yongsan District 4 forced evictees.
- Suggested alternative polices and call for amending laws and polices relevant to city development project - Called for re-investigation of the tragedy in an independent and transparent way, and end impunity
- Before the demolition of buildings, forced evictees filed a complaint and protested against Yongsan district government office and Private holing cooperation, calling for opening a negotiation table - After the tragedy, the group not only called for independent investigation of the death, but also call for negotiation for relocation plan and compensations
extra (yes: which?)
Yongsan District 4 Forced Evictees’ Committee
- At the time of Yongsan tragedy, no alternative solutions were suggested by local government. - Currently, Seoul Metropolitan City plays a role to mediate conflicts through mediation agency, and tries to transform in a way to urban restoration. However, relocation plan for tenants are not guaranteed by law.
- We addressed news to media and general public, held protests against local and central government, press conferences, submitted cases to the UN Special Rapporteurs
Every year, around 20 January, we hold memorial event to remember those victims of Yongsan Tragedy and call for independent investigation and end impunity. By doing this, we remind people about problems of urban development project.

Details of the person registering information

Gayoon Baek
Coordinator
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
16 Jahamun-ro 9-gil, Tongin-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul
South Korea
+82 2 723 5051
pspdint@pspd.org
http://www.peoplepower21.org/english
English
Mr. Won-ho Lee (Prefer Korean Language)

Documents (to upload)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPgI3CHuOiE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cybDR_8ml_s PICTURES http://mbout.jinbo.net/webbs/list.php?board=mbout_19
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No media file is available.
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Publication Conditions

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