To foreigners, South Korea is known for its advanced technology, impressive skyscrapers, delicious food, and honorable traditions. However, there is a side of the country that visitors rarely see, such as ‘Goshiwon’ and ‘Goshitel’—tiny, cramped, cheap housing units where South Korea’s poor live.
South Korean photographer Sim Kyu-dong spent around 5 years living in Goshiwon in Seoul when he moved there for work and documented the lives of the people there with his camera. The photographer who arrived from Gangneung in Gangwon Province had no other choice because the rent for Goshiwon was cheap, there was no need for a deposit, and there were no maintenance fees.
In an in-depth interview with Bored Panda, Sim explained what inspired him to do the photography project, talked about his passion as a photographer, and mused about what it takes to become a professional photographer.
“Goshiwon is actually built for examinees preparing for various tests such as the state bar exam or civil service examinations. I used Goshiwon whenever I leave my home and stay in Seoul. It was good accommodation,” Sim said. “In such a way, I spent about 5 years in Seoul’s Goshiwon.”
Goshiwon rooms are very similar to dormitory rooms, have shared kitchen areas and bathrooms, and attract a lot of students and migrant workers. Meanwhile, Goshitel rooms are slightly more spacious but much barer. Goshiwon and Goshitel are often used as synonyms in South Korea.
Scroll down for the full interview with the photographer, upvote the photos that left an impression on you, and share what you thought of them in the comments below, dear Readers.
More info: Instagram