Seodaemun Prison Seoul Review - - Singapore Wacky Digital Underground Outpost

Seodaemun Prison Seoul Review

If you are in Seoul and want an off-the-beaten-track activity, we recommend the Seodaemum Prison in Seoul.

In the heart of Seoul, South Korea, a seemingly unassuming structure stands as a powerful reminder of a turbulent past. Seodaemun Prison, with its austere facade and imposing walls, is a testament to the resilience of the Korean people during a period of great adversity. 

During our last trip to Seoul, we purposefully pencilled a day in to visit this historic site, and it left an indelible mark on our understanding of Korea's struggle for independence. In this review, We'll share our experience and take you on a journey through the sombre corridors of Seodaemun Prison.

The History

]Seodaemun Prison played a pivotal role in Korea's quest for independence from Japanese colonial rule. Built in 1907 during the Japanese occupation, the prison served as a symbol of oppression, where countless Korean activists and patriots were detained, tortured, and sometimes executed for their resistance to colonial rule. The prison bore witness to the indomitable spirit of those who yearned for freedom and democracy.

The Visitor's Experience

Upon arriving at Seodaemun Prison, the first thing that strikes you is the imposing exterior. The high, grey walls evoke a sense of foreboding, giving you a taste of the grim atmosphere that once pervaded this place. As you step inside, the entrance gate, known as the "Gate of Righteousness," offers an eerie reminder of the lives that were forever changed within these walls.

The prison is meticulously preserved, with many of its original structures and cells intact. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the various sections of the prison, gaining insight into the harsh conditions endured by Korean independence activists. The experience is both educational and emotionally moving.

Exhibition Hall ( Security Department Building)

The first stop was the Security Department Building. Built in 1923, it oversees the operations of Seodaemum Prision. 

Today, it holds several permanent exhibits. One of the more disturbing ones is at the National Resistance Room, where approximately 4800 prison record card of 'criminals' who were imprisoned at Seodaemum Prison are on display.

Korean Patriots

 Perhaps the most haunting part of the prison is the Underground investigation room. Here, the Japanese authorities subjected Korean activists to unspeakable cruelty in an attempt to quash their spirit. Instruments of torture are displayed, each telling a grim tale of the pain and suffering endured by those who dared to resist. While it is a difficult place to visit, it is crucial to confront the past and remember the sacrifices made for Korea's independence.

The Cells

One of the most striking aspects of Seodaemun Prison is its cells. These tiny, windowless rooms were designed to break the spirit of the inmates. As you wander through the narrow corridors and peer into these cells, it's impossible not to feel a profound sense of claustrophobia and despair that must have engulfed those who were confined here. 

The dim lighting, Spartan furnishings, and oppressive atmosphere transport you back in time, enabling you to empathize with the prisoners' suffering.

Execution Building

Seodaemun Prison also houses a chilling reminder of the ultimate price paid by some Korean patriots – the gallows. The execution grounds are a somber place where visitors can pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It's a stark reminder of the high stakes involved in the struggle for freedom.

Outdoor Exhibition

Head outdoors, and you can see several structures that remain today. From the 'playground'  of prisoners to leprosy houses to the community kitchen, history has been preserved for visitors to observe and learn.

Educational Significance

Seodaemun Prison is not just a place for sombre reflection; it is also a valuable educational resource. The site hosts guided tours, documentaries, and exhibitions, all of which offer a deeper understanding of the prison's history and its significance in Korea's path to independence. This makes it an excellent destination for students, scholars, and anyone interested in Korean history.


Seodaemun Prison is conveniently located in central Seoul, making it easily accessible to tourists and locals alike. It is well-maintained and equipped with facilities such as gift shops and a small cafe, making it a comfortable place to spend a few hours.


In conclusion, Seodaemun Prison is a poignant and historically significant site that sheds light on a tumultuous period in Korean history. A visit to this prison is not merely a tourist attraction; it's a journey through time that allows you to connect with the brave men and women who fought for Korea's independence. It serves as a stark reminder of the sacrifices made and the indomitable spirit of a nation that never gave up on its quest for freedom.

We cannot recommend a visit to Seodaemun Prison enough. It is an experience that will leave you with a profound appreciation for Korea's history, resilience, and the enduring human spirit in the face of adversity. It's a place where history comes to life and where we are reminded of the importance of preserving the past to shape a better future.

For a complete SEOUL itinerary, do visit the post here.

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