A family of three drowned in their Banjiha house, a half-basement home shown in the Oscar-winning movie Parasite. As South Korea experiences unprecedented rainfall, many areas in the capital city of Seoul have undergone severe flooding. The casualty count is rising and so far there have been eight reported cases of death, six missing people and nine injured.
However, the casualty that has caught the attention of the media is the tragic death of an entire family in their Banjiha home. Banjiha is a small half basement residential location that gained popular recognition after its depiction in Bong Joon-ho’s iconic movie.
According to reports from international media outlets, this is the heaviest rainfall received by Seoul in the last eighty years. In certain parts, the rainfall was as high as 141 millimeters per hour.
Parasite-styled Banjiha houses banned after death of a family
After three people drowned to death in their semi-basement due to the torrential rainfall and flooding in Seoul, governmental authorities in Seoul have decided to phase out semi-basement flats entirely due to the severe safety concerns posed by such properties.
Banjiha, made famous by the Oscar-winning film Parasite in 2020, are residential properties typically inhabited by people with low incomes. Following their vivid depiction in the film, these cramped quarters have come to represent rising socioeconomic inequality in South Korea, which is Asia's fourth-largest economy.
However, after the chilling death of three, which has enraged the masses, officials have decided to no longer grant permission for such premises and to convert the existing Banjiha’s in a phased manner.
Two sisters in their forties were identified as victims, as was a 13-year-old girl identified as the younger sister's daughter. According to media reports, another victim who died in the severe flooding also resided in a banjiha.
According to a Korean news agency, the three victims lived in the Gwanak district of Seoul. During the flooding, the family yelled for assistance as water rushed into their apartment. Neighbors tried to rescue them but were unable to open the front door due to immense water pressure. By the time firefighters managed to access the apartment after draining out the water, the three individuals had already drowned.
The South Korean Government took notice of Banjihas and its residents after Parasite
Previously, the South Korean government had promised rehabilitation to all residents of Banjiha after its graphic depiction in Parasite.
The award-winning film depicted the appalling living conditions of a four-person family who lived in a moldy basement flat.
Director Bong Joon-ho, speaking about Banjihas opined:
“People live underground but want to believe that they are above the ground because they have a moment when sunlight comes into their room. But at the same time, they are afraid of falling into a complete underground situation if things get worse.”
Currently, Banjiha’s comprise of 5% of the total urban households, with most of it being present in the capital city Seoul.