We tend to think of North Korea as the deprived country, but here's a peek at Guryong, a shantytown in downtown Seoul. Residents have been living in shacks here for more than 3 decades, ever since they were evicted in the 1980s as Seoul went on a development kick for the Olympics.
A recent fire has drawn attention to the community that is adjacent to the luxurious downtown neighborhood of Gangnam.
I spent most of the past four years hanging out with street hawkers, smugglers, and sub-rosa import/export firms to write Stealth of Nations, a book that chronicles the global growth of System D--the parallel economic arena that today accounts for half the jobs on the planet.
Prior to that, I lived in squatter communities across four continents to write Shadow Cities, a book that attempts to humanize these vibrant, energetic, and horribly misunderstood communities.
My articles on cities, politics, and economic issues have appeared in many publications, including Harper's, Scientific American, Forbes, Fortune, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Metropolis, and City Limits. Before becoming a reporter, I worked as a community organizer and studied philosophy. I live in New York City and do most of my writing on manual typewriters.