Seodaemun Prison

It is time to announce the winner of the last Instagram Challenge! This time, Stephanie beat out Ryan in the competition with this eerie photo. Thanks again for everyone who took the time to vote for your favorite picture. We hope you all enjoy the rest of the haunting shots we took of this historical museum.

Seodaemun Prison was used during the Japanese occupation of Korea to detain independence activists. The prison has since been turned into a museum as a symbol of Japanese cruelty and oppression and the enduring spirit of Koreans during that time. The prison was built to house 500 prisoners, but has held more than 3500 at one time. The cells were packed so tightly with people that they could not sleep or even sit down comfortably. Moreover, there was no heat or cooling system, so in the harsh Korean summer and winters, many of the prisoners died from the conditions.

The prisoner barracks allow visitors to see the suffering that prisoners endured in a “safe for children” kind of way. Torture rooms and devices as well as photographs and videos of political prisoners were on display here. As we walked through this building we saw kids crawling into torture boxes to pose for a picture for their parents, while a soundtrack of screaming came from one of the cells . It was really strange to say the least. We snapped a few quick pictures and headed out of this building quickly, anxious to escape. The feeling definitely was intended to create a connection with the actual prisoners.

After exploring the grounds, we ventured into the women’s barracks. Here, they had some really inspirational audio reinactments of the women consoling each other and also discussing the revolution and their desires to continue to fight the Japanese oppression. One of the cells has been converted into a memorial for all the women who were imprisoned. It was very beautifully done, with mirrors and photographs of all the women. This room was done in a way that the photographs seem to go on endlessly, their faces fading from focus, their numbers becoming daunting. This room does a fantastic job forcing onlookers to reflect upon the dedication and relentless spirit of these Korean prisoners as they sacrificed so much for an independent and free nation.

A tribute to the women who were political prisoners in the fight for Korean independence.

A tribute to the women who were political prisoners in the fight for Korean independence.

This museum is well worth the visit. Knowing the morbid nature of the museum and grounds had deterred us for some time, but it more than impressed us with its displays and thoughtful portrayal of such a horrific period in Korea’s tumultuous past. This museum certainly gives a better perspective on Korean-Japanese relations and the attitudes some Koreans still hold onto for their former imperialist occupiers.

This place is really worth a visit if you’re looking for an interesting perspective on a historical museum in Seoul. Here is a link to some more information as well as directions to the museum.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s