Long Story of Daldongnae
The origin of towns where low-income people lived together like Daldongnae was started from the Japanese ruling era. In the Japanese ruling era, people escaped from Japanese’ exploitation and they left their hometowns and settled down at the city’s mountain slope or next to a small stream. Daldongae is one of those kinds, and through the Japanese ruling era, the Independence Day, the Korean War, and economic development in the 1960s, the population of cities soared. In this process, due to the lack of housing, the poor were kicked out to higher areas. However, the residents of Daldongnae were demolished or kicked out, without any notice. Since people had to live and work in the city, they couldn’t just leave. Therefore, they would move to another place and create another Daldongnae. The vicious cycle continues.
Daldongnae, which shared Korea’s history, is under the danger of disappearance. In the book entitled The small ball which a dwarf fired, by Cho Sehee, there is a scene that workers cruelly demolish residents houses with iron hammers. The main character was powerless and lethargically watched as his house became ruins. Last year was the 30th anniversary of the publication of this book. In the ceremony to celebrate the publication, writer Cho Sehee, criticized, “The process of demolishing Daldongnae is much more uncivilized compared to 30 years ago. The economic logic of the haves, who have both power and money, is ruling everything.”1 Now, in Seoul, many Daldongnae were demolished and just one is left.
Specialness of Daldongnae
Is Daldongnae just a fallen-down dirty place as it is seen? There are many people who find special value in Daldongnae that can’t be found in other places. There is one famous photographer who themed Daldongnae as a life time work. His name is Kim Gichan. He said, “Daldongnae was my home town of mind. When I first entered there, the affectionate atmosphere reminded me of my youth. At that moment, I decided Daldongnae as my life time theme.”2 Also, famous architecture, Seung H-Sang, said in a lecture, “The momentum of ideas for modern cities and architecture comes from disappearing Daldongnae. In glamorous architecture, life can be full of lies and unreliable. On the other hand, in humble architecture, good traits such as affection and respect to neighbors can be aroused.” Fortunately, by some people who recognized the value of Daldongnae, there are various activities to save Daldongnae. People draw beautiful mural art and there are many efforts to help the residents. In SMU every year, on November, there is a voluntary act which delivers briquettes for low income people in Yongsan-gu. Also, for the last Daldongnae in Seoul, the plan to partially preserve its original form is in motion. Can Daldongnae keep its’ beauty like its’ original name?