Seodaemun Prison is a modern prison
built by the Japanese Empire.
It was used as a prison for 80 years from October 1908 to November 1987. The prison building was built in red bricks and constructed to have a panopticon structure, a circular prison, to enable effective surveillance of inmates.
It is a historical site: In the Japanese colonial era, a lot of anti-Japanese independence activists against colonization were locked up, and after Liberation, pro-democracy activists against the dictatorship and military regime were locked up. Its name was changed many times; Gyeongseong Prison in 1908, Seodaemun Jail in 1912, Seodaemun Prison in 1923, Seoul Prison in 1945, Seoul Penitentiary in 1961, and Seoul Detention Center in 1967. When the Seoul Detention Center was moved to Uiwang-si in Gyeonggi-do in November 1987, other facilities were demolished except for the Administration and Security Office, Prison Buildings 9 to 12, Labor Building, Leper’s Building, and Execution Building considering their historic nature and values.
Later, Seodaemun-gu opened the prison as Seodaemun Prison History Hall on November 5th, 1998 to preserve the site and make it a historical lesson. The museum is operated as a place that offers lessons of history, and remembering and commemorating the faith of independence movement activists and pro-democracy activists toward freedom and peace.
About the History Hall-Past and Present