SEOUL, Dec 5 (Korea Bizwire) – A press conference was convened at Seoul Station Plaza on the afternoon of December 4 to announce the 2023 Homeless Memorial Action, organized by the 2023 Homeless Memorial Action Coordinating Committee.
The participants of this initiative are committed to engaging in activities aimed at bolstering the human rights and welfare of the homeless until December 22, when the memorial ceremony is scheduled to take place.
Annually, on the winter solstice, Seoul Station Square hosts the Homeless Memorial Ceremony. Homeless individuals, living in unstable conditions without adequate housing—whether in side rooms, high schools, on the streets, or in institutions—are the focus of this event.
The winter solstice, being the longest night of the year, symbolically mirrors the experiences of homeless individuals who endure many lonely nights.
Since 2001, Homeless Memorial Day has been observed every year on the winter solstice to honor the lives of homeless individuals who have succumbed to the challenges of poor living conditions.
This year, 47 organizations are actively preparing for the event, advocating for the welfare and rights of homeless people.
Participants in the press conference emphasized, “The mortality rate among homeless people is estimated to be 2 to 9 times higher than that of non-homeless individuals. Their untimely deaths underscore the inadequate welfare and human rights safeguards within our society.”
They elucidated that commemorating homeless people is a movement aimed at scrutinizing the systems, policies, and societal responses to homelessness while demanding substantial improvements.
Concerns were raised about the difficulties faced by homeless individuals in accessing proper medical treatment. Despite the creation of a “homeless type 1 medical benefit” in a 2012 amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Medical Benefits Act, qualifying for this benefit remains a challenge.
Eligibility criteria include a person having been “homeless” for at least three months, not being enrolled in National Health Insurance, or being in arrears for at least six months. This applies to residents of temporary shelters, self-support facilities, and street homeless individuals who consult with the director of a comprehensive homeless support center at least once a week.
Life on the streets for homeless individuals is fraught with challenges. They face restrictions in using public facilities and entering public institutions. Last year, Seoul Metro posted a warning sign near Exit 2 of Seoul Station, instructing individuals to report instances of homeless persons defecating inside or outside the elevator.
This action was criticized by the National Human Rights Commission as a “violation of personality rights” and promoting homophobia. Homeless people remain one of the most marginalized and invisible segments of our society.
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