Seodaemun Prison History Hall is a museum and former prison in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It was constructed beginning in 1907. The prison was opened on October 21, 1908, under the name Gyeongseong Gamok by occupying Japanese forces in an attempt to impose order on the newly acquired territory. Prior, the country had a virtually non-existent penal system, and the introduction of Seodaemun Prison was a precursor to full out occupation. Its name was changed to Seodaemun Prison in 1923.
Seodaemun became a bastion for the Korean independence movement from its opening in 1908 until the liberation of the country in 1945. As the Japanese arrested more patriots, the prison's notoriety increased and it eventually became a symbol of perseverance. Many patriots died in custody, were tortured to death, or were executed within the prison's walls. The macabre execution hall still stands, housing the prison's gallows (with a tunnel nearby to dispose of corpses).
Throughout the preserved prison-turned-museum, you can see chillingly recreated torture chambers, jail cells, isolation cells, and more. The women's section has been preserved, basement cells in which no privacy was afforded. Some of the torture chambers have frighteningly realistic mannequins and effigies to famous Korean patriots who died within the prison.
Designated as a historic site in 1988 and renovated in 1995, Seodaemun is an interesting place to visit for those who want a tactile experience of the Japanese occupation and the horrors entailed. It stands out amongst Seoul's other historic sites as a monument to those who helped shape the modern Korean nation.
Opening Hours: March – October (9.30 am - 6 pm)
November – February (9.30 am - 5 pm)
Closed: Mondays, January 1, Lunar New Year, and Harvest Moon Festival
Admission Fees: Adults : 1,500 won
Youths : 1,000 won
Children : 500 won