#Urban redevelopment
Mapo District Office, KEPCO, GS Construction Corporation
South Korea

Duriban is a restaurant that served delicious bossam and kalguksu in Hongdae, DongGyo-Dong, Mapo district, Seoul until Christmas Eve, 2009. That day, all of the tenants of the area were forcefully evicted, except for Duriban's owner and a few supporters, who have been conducting a sit-in struggle in the building for more than 220 days now.

The redevelopment plan for the area aims to carry out “development” by forcefully evicting the tenants and without providing any compensation for their losses. Duriban's owner and supporters began their sit-in struggle with the single hope of continuing to operate the restaurant, thus resisting being completely run over by the unjust terms of the redevelopment plan.

In the early days of the sit-in, on December 26, 2009, the area's developer, GS construction corporation, under the guise of a phantom company, NamJeon DNC, illegally turned off the electricity in a frantic attempt to evict the tenants. Furthermore, the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) refused to do anything about it, even though KEPCO's basic supply contract guarantees electricity will not be cut without the explicit consent of the tenants. Instead, KEPCO has done nothing to restore electricity to Duriban, thereby violating its own contract with the public. After NamJeon DNC initially cut off the electricity, a nearby company began providing electricity to Duriban for humanitarian reasons. This company received constant threats from NamJeon DNC and thus stopped supplying electricity to Duriban on July 21. Since then, the struggle has carried on without electricity. Duriban's owner and supporters are now using only candles and limited solar power, but the dangers of fire and extreme heat (without air conditioning or fans), along with the impossibility of cooking food, are threatening the sit-in and their own survival.

The District Government Office in Mapo created the redevelopment plan for the area, thereby also generating the basic reason for the sit-in struggle to occur. Yet the District Government officials have idly stood by as the electricity at Duriban was illegally cut off. The Mapo District Office is simply pretending that it’s not their problem or responsibility, even though the redevelopment area falls directly under their jurisdiction. Recently, after the Duriban struggle participants conducted a sit-in inside the Mapo District Office itself for two weeks straight, the Office's director promised to negotiate between both sides and restore electricity to the building. In the end though, it became clear that this promise was all just superficial rhetoric after the director clarified that they would only supply an electricity generator, but with no fuel for operating it. And this clarification was only made after the Duriban struggle participants agreed to end their sit-in at the District Office! Now, in the midst of the darkness and intense heat at Duriban, a deep sense of betrayal remains for the restaurant's owner and supporters.

Electricity provides us with the means of life. Especially during a scorching summer heatwave, cutting electricity is a threat to life itself. The Duriban sit-in struggle represents tenants’ fight to survive in South Korean society, in this developmental republic. Please help bring an end the Duriban struggle by supporting the effort to keep the restaurant operating. We urge you to add your voice to help get these three demands met now:

1) The Mapo District Office director must follow through with his promise to supply Duriban with electricity!

2) KEPCO must not cut electricity illegally and must supply Duriban with electricity immediately!

3) GS construction corporation must guarantee the Duriban owner and supporters their right to continue operating the restaurant!

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The Bring Electricity Back to Duriban! petition to Mapo District Office, KEPCO, GS Construction Corporation was written by duribanstruggle and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.