Living in China’s Underworld


Sim recounts the words of one woman she photographed: “The people upstairs were just born into better circumstances. We dress the same. We have the same hairstyles. The only difference is they can see the sun and we can’t.”

Over at the Financial Times, Singaporean photographer Sim Chi Yin has an amazing photo series of people who moved to Beijing in search of a better life, but can only afford to live underground in single rooms without windows (the ones that do have windows have views of what appears to be just never-ending darkness). The photograph to the left shows a 26-year-old electrician with his 23-year-old wife, a beautician. Sim Chi Yin says the purpose of the photos isn’t to make us feel pity for those who live underground—she says they’re supposed show glimmers of hope: These people moved to Beijing because they wanted a better life for themselves, and just because they’re living underground now, doesn’t mean they’ll always be there. I hope that’s true, and that the life they’re living in Beijing far exceeds whatever life they were living before.

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