Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Seodaemun Prison in Seoul

With the kids in vacation, getting up late, keeping me busy and messing up by perfect schedules, I decided enough is enough and pulled them out of the home to experience a bit of the Korean heritage. We just happened to choose to go and visit the Seodaemun prison which was built by the Japanese to confine the Korean freedom fighters. It was an interesting but somber experience.

The main building of the prison houses a complete history of the Korean Independence movement from the Japanese and the gory details of the torture and executions performed by the imperialists. We were not allowed to take pictures of the interrogation and torture and the death chamber. There were torture boxes in display - a small box where a prisoner was kept in had nails poking in in all directions to hurt the prisoner. The box was kicked repeatedly to make sure the prisoner got hurt. Another scary item was the torture tools used to poke the skin under the nails, mutilating the extremities and hurting the internal organs. Here was the first time that I witnessed the gallows. It really creeped me out. It was even more upsetting to hear the moans and cries of the elderly Korean couple who were visiting this place for the first time :(

Just off exit 5 from Dongnimmun station is the way to the prison.

The red brick-walled structure with the watch tower is the entrance to the prison.

The map of the prison.   
Tiny entrance to the prison

The main building houses the torture chambers and the History of the Korean Independence movement. 

The jail which housed the Koreans.

 Worser crime calls for lesser rice :( The blocks varied in sizes to reduce the size of the rice portion for each prisoner according to the crime committed.

The prison cell that housed so many inmates under very bad sanitary and climatic conditions.

Solitary confinement cells. Even lesser space.

This is an exercise area where inmates where allowed to exercise but not allowed to talk to each other
I took this from where the warden could have a clear view of all the inmates.
This is an Execution building where the Koreans were sent to the gallows. We were not allowed to take pictures inside here. There is a popular belief that the poplar tree inside the building is spindly and frail while the one outside is sturdy because it witnessed the atrocities that has happened inside. 
I have not been so close in seeing the atrocities of war or the Independence struggle movement. I am now terrified at the thought of Jallianwala bagh massacre, and I think I can understand and appreciate the millions of soldiers all around the world, fighting and enduring atrocities for something they believe in. It is going to be long night for me tonight...  :(


  1. Depressing places displaying the futility of war..

  2. Definitely sad .... and must work as an eye opener for the war crazy powr hungry nations. The detail regarding the poplar trees is unsettling ...just like when they say that the well in the Jalianwala bagh was brimmed full with dead bodies right to the top.

  3. PS .. Tagged you for the 3 day quotes challenge (still remember your ocean quote dear :D ) hope you'd enjoy it :):)

  4. This surely is not a nice place to be in.

  5. One should know the cost of ones freedom by visiting such places and feel it entirely with utmost empathy. Btw, it seems to be a grand prison by your pics.

  6. Gallows too. I'm sure that was a little hard on you.
    Thank you for showing us as much as you could and sharing all this info with us. I'm so thankful for the Korea I see through your blog, Devi. :)

  7. It must be a learning experience, and thus painful to know how
    worst lives would have treated in name of prisoner. I think each country has
    its own history bearing ruthless treatment going through their independence.
    Excellent capture and perspective on the prison!


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