Viral Video: Korean Police Just Stand and Watch Thugs Destroy Street Vendors' Stands

The shocking destruction is part of a city-wide initiative to rebrand Gangnam more 'tourist-friendly.'

In Gangnam, Korea, a police raid on street vendors has gone viral thanks to a video that shows the level of brute force used against the owners of the stands—and all while the police do nothing.

The Gangnam District Office and the Gangnam police reportedly hired a group of 50 city workers in February to aid the city in forcefully evicting street vendors by whatever means necessary. The result was a borderline physical altercation between workers and vendors resulting in both the eviction of the vendors and the complete destruction of several of their stands.

Gangnam has made it largely illegal to run a business on the streets since 2001, though enforcement has been slight. Now, district chief Shin Yeon-hee says the area, which over the last few years has been slowly developing into a proper metropolitan hub, needs to be more assertive about its rules and regulations in an effort to make the area more “global and foreigner friendly” for incoming tourists.

The video, nearly fifteen minutes in length, is difficult to watch if only because the process of eviction gradually involves harassment and violence, as the city workers take hammers to the vendors' stands, destroying nearly all the merchandise in the process. Most shockingly (though perhaps not surprisingly, considering who prompted the eviction), the police officers stand by and rarely interfere. It has been reported that a few brave vendors have ventured to set up new stands since then.


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Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.