After taking the exit of the gate No.5, of Dokripmun Station Seoul Metro Subway line No.3, the road flows toward Dokrip(Independence) Park. In the middle of the road, Seodaemun Prison Historic Museum, which was built with red bricks, comes up all of sudden.
Seodaemun Prison was designed and built by a Japanese architect, Shitennogazma in 1907. It is recorded as the first modern-type Korean prison in modern times. People who fought against Japanese Imperialism and dictatorship were imprisoned in here. Patriot imprisoners, they reminded grief of Koreans and strong willingness of independence & democracy. Visitors of nowadays, they can see the Korean history of resistance for liberty, independence, and democracy.
Actually, Seodaemun prison started from a small jail. The prison was originally named as ‘Kyeong-Sung Jail’ when it was opened in 1908. ‘Kyeong-Sung Jail’ changed its name to ‘Seodaemun Jail’ in 1912. However, increased number of imprisoners after 3.1 Movement of 1919 caused extension of the jail so Seodaemun jail became a large scale prison, instead of being a small jail. Finally, Seodaemun jail settled as ‘Seodaemun Prison’ in 1923.
After August 15th 1945, the independence day of Korea, the United States Military Governance of Korea renamed Seodaemun Prison as Seoul Prison. Under the government of Republic of Korea, the name has been changed twice: Seoul Jail (1961) and Seoul Detention Center (1967).
In 1988, Korean government designated Seodaemun Prison’s execution ground, 10th, 11th, 12th jail cells as National Historic Sites (No.324) since the government experts agreed these sites containing historic signification while people sacrificed their lives for independence and democracy. In 1996, the government brought records of independence movement leaders and legacies regarding Korean independence movement. From 1998, ‘Seodaemun Prison Historic Museum’ fully opened to public.
In the museum, visitors are able to experience the spirit of Korean independence movement leaders and how they got tortured by Japanese Imperialism. Also, many exhibition sites, such as torture rooms, head office, jail cells, operation rooms, execution ground, walls, and jail cells for women become ‘the cradle of live Korean modern history education.’ In other words, this is the place that people can fell the trace of independence movement and scarification for the country. Moreover, people are able to understand what really had happened in the past.
When Koreans visit this museum with their foreign friends, docents who speak Korean, Japanese, and English will guide the visitors with professional guidance & explanation.
The way to go: http://www.sscmc.or.kr/newhistory/introduce/map.asp
RSVP docents: http://www.sscmc.or.kr/newhistory/guide/reservation_02.asp