Seodaemun Prison History Hall
Seodaemun Prison was built at the end of the Joseon Dynasty. During Japanese rule, Korean members of the Independence Movement were imprisoned and tortured here. Many prisoners who entered the prison never left, as the majority were executed or died from injuries sustained during torture.
The Hall is located at Seodaemun Independence Park right outside of Exit 5 at Dongnimmun Station (Line 3). The beautiful park also houses the Independence Hall, March 1st Declaration of Indepedence Monument (currently under repair), and the Patriotic Martyr Monument.
The museum consists of seven jail cells, an exhibition hall, an execution room, watchtowers, fitness grounds and the basement jail cell where Yu Gwan-sun, a key member of the independence movement, was killed. Much of the site is comprised of reproductions of original structures on the grounds.
The first floor of the museum is entitled “A Place of Reverence.” Here is an impressive multimedia display about the prison. History is offered through timelines, models, videos and photos. The second floor houses “The National Resistance Room,” “In Prison Life Room,” and “A Place of History” room. The second floor’s exhibits illustrate a true display of determination as Korean people fought for freedom and held onto hope during this tragic time in Korean history.
The basement is called “A Place of Experience.” Here you will find the “Temporary Detention Room and “Torture Room.” Visitors can view torture scenes with life size replicas. You can also try on torture devices such as shackles and baskets and squeeze yourself into some of the torture chambers. The basement is both educational and disturbing.
After visiting the exhibition hall visitors can walk around the prison grounds. Many of the male and female prison cells are open for display. Some cells include hands-on exhibits about the prisoners who occupied their cells. Beyond this area, visitors can view the watchtower, fitness grounds and original wooden execution room.
The museum is open November through February from 9:30-17:00 and March through October from 9:30-18:00. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Tours are self guided and information is available in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English. If you would like a guided tour in English or Japanese, they are available every Sunday at 13:00 and 14:00. Entrance fee is 1,500 won. For more information visit the museums website at: www.sscmc.or.kr