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  • ISSN 2508-8297 (Print)
  • ISSN 2671-7123 (Online)
The Characteristics of Alley Culture-Based Community among Urban Poor in Baeksa Village
Cho Oakla

Vol.5, pp.1 – 30, 2021


Abstract
(In lieu of an abstract) This article discusses the development of communal relationships among the urban poor in the Seoul neighborhood known as Baeksa Village. The characteristics of these relationships are analyzed based on field data collected between February and November 2012. The field site, Baeksa Village, has become well-known as Seoul’s last shanty town. I suggest that the current image of Baeksa Village has been constructed through stories narrated by its first inhabitants―known as “natives”―who emphasize the harsh conditions, in which they built the village with their bare hands and overcame hardship through communal cooperation from the first days of the village onwards. The present neighborhood, where the “good community” remains important, is characterized by frequent socializing and sharing of food and information among neighbors. Some natives play important roles as providers and mentors to their neighbors. It is they who repeat stories of the good old days when people helped each other through the harshest periods and took part in each other’s family and community rituals. Not only these narratives make this community special and instill spirit of mutual help, they also play a crucial role in linking the urban poor to various welfare services provided by local government and private volunteers. I argue that these narratives reflect residents’ strong identity as urban poor in Baeksa Village, which has created a cultural tradition of accepting poverty while helping and being helped by fellow impoverished neighbors.
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