Seodaemun Prison In Seoul, Korea

Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun PrisonSeodaemun Prison was originally built in 1907 and opened in 1908 to imprison Korean independence fighters who resisted the Japanese colonization.

Seodaemun Independence Park, Seoul, KoreaOriginally called Gyeongseong Prison, at its height held more than 2,000 prisoners when it was only meant to house 500. At the time even the capability to house 500 inmates made this a huge prison as the entire capacity of all of the prisons across the country at the time only totaled 300. Inmates not only died from torture and starvation but because of the cramped space and lack of basic human necessities died of heat stroke in the summers and froze to death in the winters.

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Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

After purchasing a ticket, visitors follow signs throughout the eerily quiet  complex that is unsettlingly beautiful with the red brick against the bright blue skies that Seoul often enjoys. The first building is the museum itself which offers three floors of information. The first floor is “A Place of Reverence” to learn more about the prison and its history. Visitors then follow the signs up to the second floor which is “A Place of History” with one room that might be the darkest of all, three walls covered from top to bottom with photographs of those that died here and finally the signs lead into the basement where the torture scenes are depicted. Videos and lifelike mannequins portray what the imprisoned went through and though the English subtitles and translations are lacking they are unneeded with these representations. Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

If you’ll be visiting Seoul, make sure you know the best places to stay downtown near it all! Royal Hotel Seoul, IP Boutique Hotel and Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongaemun are all in some great spots to see the sights and enjoy the night out too.

Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

After this in depth look at the grounds and the history, arrows lead visitors into the prison halls. The doors swing open and some rooms house mannequins to allow visitors to see how they communicated by knocking on the walls and how they got through the daily struggles housed here.

The dimly lit dank feeling of the prison gives visitors an overwhelming feeling of loss and hopelessness especially when one tries to picture how 2000 activists could possibly be housed here at one time.

Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun PrisonAfter the prison halls have been visited, the arrows lead to the execution chamber and a small tunnel. The dead bodies were removed through this tunnel so that the executions could be concealed. Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

In 1987 part of the prison was moved to Uiwang, Gyeonggi-do but the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th prison halls as well as the leper house and the execution building were left in the area because of their historical significance. The area around the prison became a park in 1988 and monuments were relocated and erected and in 1992 the block became known as Seodaemun Independence Park. The park and prison are worth a visit to learn more about the history between Korea and Japan and the Korean fighting spirit.Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

To learn more about war on the Korean peninsula, also visit The War Memorial, a large and free museum in Yongsan. Also, check out these 6 places I recommend visiting to learn about the wars in Korean history, the comfort women that are still protesting today and the DMZ.Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison

Seodamun Prison


251 Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

서울특별시 서대문구 통일로 251 (현저동)

Seodaemun Independence Park, Seoul, KoreaDirections: Dongnimmun Subway Station exit 5. Turn left out of the station and walk through a small thicket of trees and bushes and you’ll come to the prison.

Hours: March – October: 9:30AM – 6:00PM; November – February: 9:30AM – 5:00PM

(last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing)

Closed on January 1st, Seollal, Chuseok and every Monday. If a holiday falls on Monday, the museum is closed on the following Tuesday.

Admission: W3,000

Amenities: Wheelchair rental, bathrooms, parking (parking fee is W1,000), English and Japanese tour guides are available but must be reserved one week in advance by calling 82-360-8586

Website: Seodaemun Prison History Hall



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Seodaemun Prison, Seoul, Korea: Seodaemun Prison was originally built in 1907 and opened in 1908 to imprison Korean independence fighters who resisted the Japanese colonization. This is a must see site in Seoul, Korea.

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5 Responses

  1. February 17, 2016

    […] or wounded and even more were rounded up and arrested and many of them taken to the infamous Seodaemun Prison. Inside the park, statues of notable Korean patriots and stone carved depictions  of the movement […]

  2. December 16, 2016

    […] area surrounding the Seodaemun Prison Museum is now well maintained and lush with green areas, walking paths and statues commemorating the path […]

  3. February 6, 2017

    […] Hallie Bradley  […]

  4. February 9, 2017

    […] The exhibit is a collection of comics by 14 different artists that depicts different aspects of the lives of the comfort women from the past, the present and into the future and it is powerful. The artists did not hold back with some drawings showing men crawling all over naked women and drawings with women draped in a sea of blood. The hall that was chosen for the exhibition once held independence fighters that were tortured over and over again on their path to freedom and it seems a fitting place for such an exhibit as the dark dank hallways make the screams depicted in the comics that much stronger. (To learn more about Seodaemun Prison, check out this post.) […]

  5. March 24, 2017

    […] this mountain, you can also take a walk down to see Bongwonsa Temple, Seodaemun Independence Park and prison or the waterfall that spills into Hongje Stream. There’s plenty to enjoy on the […]

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