South Korean media recently reported the bizarre and sad story of an elderly couple who spent the last decade of their lives hoarding tons of trash for their 40-something son who refused to leave the house and find a job.
SBS, a South Korean national television network presented the shocking story of Choi, a 75-year-old man from Gwangju, who over the last decade turned his two-storey house into a dump full of garbage gathered from the city streets and from trash cans. Convinced that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, the pensioner literally filled up his entire house with junk, before doing the same with the balconies and even the yard. As you can see from the photos below, the house was quite literally buried in trash.
Because the front door of Choi’s home was covered by bags of hoarded junk, the SBS reporters who visited him literally had to climb the mountains of trash in order to squeeze through the door. Once inside, the smell of the garbage made them cough constantly and experience shortness of breath, but somehow the three people living there had been putting up with the smell for years.
Choi, his 70-year-old wife and their son had all been living in the trash-filled house for over a decade. They all slept in a small room, because the rest of the place, including the hallways, were filled with junk. The neighbors had complained about the garbage in the beginning, but Choi kept bringing home more, so they eventually gave up.
“Anything, as long as it’s used properly, is useful, and trash is just a misplaced treasure,” Choi said, adding that he roamed the city streets daily, collecting all kinds of random stuff.
The couple’s son, who was reportedly in his 40s, weighed over 100 kilograms and hadn’t set foot outside in over a year. He just sat in that one tiny room all day, doing absolutely nothing. Despite his parents’ repeated pleas to get him to go out and look for work, he preferred to live off their pension. Choi said he was the reason he spent the last decade collecting all the junk.
“My son just likes to stay at home, he doesn’t go out to find a job, and that worries us. I’m just afraid that my wife and I will die soon, and will be left with no support, so I decided to store more things at home, and then more and more. The more, the better,” Choi said.
Unfortunately, a medical checkup commissioned by SBS revealed that Choi’s wife suffered from serious heart problems. Doctors recommended that she live in a cleaner environment and get more exercise to improve her condition. Although reluctant at first, the 75-year-old man agreed to have volunteers clean up his home for the sake of his wife.
226 people and an excavator were brought in to sort the 150 tons of garbage reportedly collected by the pensioner for over a decade. At first, the couple’s son refused to leave the room and let workers put their hands on the hoarded junk, but he was eventually talked into it by his parents, and stepped outside the house for the first time in over a year.
Upon seeing his home clean and free of junk for the first time in years, Choi reportedly started crying and reportedly said “For the sake of my wife’s future and health, I will never pick up trash again”.
This story reminded us of Britain’s biggest hoarder ever, who filled two homes and two garages with junk estimated to be worth over $5 million. I guess Choi was right when he said garbage could be treasure.
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