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Exhibitions

Permanent Exhibition

[Overview of the Administration and Security Office]

From the opening of Kyungsung Prison by Japanese colonial rule in 1908 to the Seoul detention center in 1987, It is a syntactic exhibition space that shows expansion and anti-Japan independence movement over time.

  • Leper’s Building

    This is a separate building built in 1923, which was used to isolate inmates who had contracted leprosy. In the front part of the building there is a corridor, and behind it, there are two small cells and one larger one.
  • Execution Building

    This building was used for carrying out executions. This Japanese style wooden structure with 1 floor below ground and 1 floor above is estimated to have been built in around 1916. The Execution Building is surrounded by a 5 m high wall that separates it from the rest of the prison complex. On the 1st floor, a retractable wooden board, a noose above, and a lever to lower a board with are installed. The basement room below the wooden board was the place to retrieve the dead bodies.
  • Corpse Removal Exit

    The Corpse Removal Exit was a special passage used to take bodies outside to the mass grave after executions. Its original length was believed to be around 200 m, and it was rediscovered in 1992 during construction of the Independence Park. A forty-meter-long stretch of it has been restored. It was used to take bodies out from the prison in cases such as when the body contained evidence of torture, when it was feared that news of the execution would become known causing agitation, or when there were no family members of the deceased who could receive the body.
  • Gyeokbyeokjang (Exercise Yard)

    Gyeokbyeokjang built in the 1920s is a facility where the inmates exercised and got some sunlight. In order to prevent conversations and escape when exercising, partitions were installed to separate the inmates and monitor them. Designed as a typical panopticon structure, in a fan-like shape, a high monitoring tower was built to watch and monitor the inmates. It was demolished after the Liberation and restored in 2011 approximately 20 m away from its original location.
  • Warehouse

    The building was used to store goods and furniture required to operate Seodaemun Prison. At the time of its construction in the late 1910s its length was 23 m, but due to increases in the number of inmates it underwent 3 expansions, ultimately reaching a length of 53 m. After the Liberation, it was used not only as a warehouse but also as an auditorium, workshop, infirmary, and bathroom. It was demolished in 1987 after Seoul Detention Center was moved and later restored in 2019. It preserves a drain conduit discovered during the restoration and groundplot* of the collecting well, which is a facility to collect water.
  • Female Prison Building

    The Female Prison Building is a detention area for female offenders awaiting trial*, and was built around 1916, demolished in 1976, and restored in 2011. The space exhibits the relics related to independence activities by women. Locked in this place, the female independence activists went through hardships in the Japanese colonial era. On March 1st, 1920, a protest was staged at the Female Prison Building Cell No. 8 dedicated to the 1st anniversary of the March 1st Movement. Theㅋe was an unusual underground space, and there was a theory that Ryu Gwan-sun was locked up underground, which is groundless. After Liberation, the underground space was said to have been used as a warehouse for supplies. *An offender awaiting trail: a suspect or a criminal defendant locked up in the status without legal judgment because the trial is not over
  • Kitchen Barrack

    The Kitchen Barrack was used to prepare food for the prisoners. It was built in 1923 and expanded in 1937. Inside, there were three sections, a Boiler Room, Disinfection Room, and Cooking Room, and an exhaust airhole was made on the roof to release steam generated in the process of cooking. It was demolished in 1987 after moving the Seoul Detention Center and excavated and restored in 2011. It preserves trace of a boiler, a collecting well, and a smoke flue and fume duct that let out the smoke, etc. that were revealed after the excavation. Currently, it is used as an exhibition room of yugu, an education center, a museum shop, and an office.
  • Watchtower

    The Watchtower, which is 10 m high, was built to observe the prisoners and prevent them from escaping. Nowadays only 2 towers remain 6 of them, 1 at the main entrance and 1 adjacent to the back wall. Each of them had 8 observation windows, the tower at the main entrance was installed in 1923, and the one that at the back in 1930.
  • Prison Walls

    When Seodaemun Prison opened, only part of the prison walls were made of bricks in 1908. But it was reconstructed as a 4m-tall stone wall surrounding the whole area of the prison in 1923. The wall was originally 1,161 m long, but as of the present a 80 m section in the front and a 20 m section in the back have been preserved and restored.

(03732) Seodaemun Prison History Center, 251 Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul  TEL. 82-2-360-8590

ID number 110-82-10311  Representative Seung Sun Ho  Personal Information Protection Manager KIM Kyung-mi

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