One of the earliest public demonstrations of Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation, Samiljeol was initiated by thirty-three core activists who came together at the Taehwa-gwan Restaurant in Seoul and announced the Korean Declaration of Independence.
They then took it to the streets where they were joined by many others, marching and shouting "Manse!" which means "long live Korea". As more and more people joined the procession, the Japanese officials panicked and asked the military forces to intervene. Many of the Korean protesters were arrested, but many more were killed. Apprehended activists were brought to Seodaemun Prison, where they were locked up, tortured, or worse - executed.
|The entrance to Seodaemun Prison History Museum.|
Ticket prices: 1500 Korean won for adults, 500 Korean won for kids.
|The Administration Building, used mainly for interrogations.|
This now serves as the exhibition hall of Seodaemun Prison History Museum.
Originally covering an area of 1600 square meters, Seodaemun Prison was designed to accommodate 500 arrested activists and freedom fighters. As the anti-Japanese movement became widespread, more and more Koreans were arrested and detained, and by 1919, the number of prisoners has grown to a massive 3000. As such, the prison was expanded by adding more buildings. Out of the original 15 buildings that were built during the Japanese occupation period, 7 of them have been fully restored and were made open to the public in 1992.
|The Seodaemun Prison History Hall.|
|A glimpse of the Interrogation Room.|
|A woman held captive in the Underground Solitary Confinement.|
|The Engineering Work Building.|
|Yue watching a short documentary.|
|Learning about the Gyeongsong bricks.|
|The Leper Building.|
|The view from below.|
Right across the 'leper building' is an interesting structure that's shaped like a fan. This is the 'Gyeokbeokjang', where prisoners engaged in outdoor physical activity. A wall separates each prisoner to keep them from communicating with each other, while prison guards would stand on each end to keep a close watch of the inmates.
|Yue though this was a maze, lol.|
And then there's the Central Building, where you'll see the actual prison cells that held many inmates over the years. You can walk inside most of the cells, and get a closer look at the biographies, anecdotes, and photographs of the independence fighters who were detained there.
|The Central Building.|
|The Taegukgi on one side of the building.|
|Extended corridors formed a panopticon.|
|A prison diary.|
|Some of the prisoners' personal belongings.|
The scarred walls, tiny windows, and thick steel doors of each cell are stark reminders of the persecution of the Korean patriots, and the lengths that they went through in their fight for freedom.
|One of the corridors in the Central Building.|
|Yue looking at the displays in the Central Building.|
|A life-like statue of an angry warden.|
|The actual cell where Ryu Gwan Sun was detained.|
|A rose for Ryu Gwan Sun - Korea's Joan of Arc.|
|The Wailing Poplar.|
|The Execution Hall.|
|The Corpse Removal Exit.|
Now as we celebrate the centennial of the March 1st Movement, may we always be reminded of Korea's fight for freedom and the blazing patriotism of the independence activists. Let us not forget
the men and women who stood up against oppression and fought for democracy, and that the freedom Korea is enjoying today came with a price - the lives of more than 400 people.
|The Reverence Monument, built in honor of the patriotic martyrs who died in Seodaemun Prison.|
|Manse! Manse! Manse!|
To get to Seodaemun Prison History Hall, take exit 5 of Dongnimmun Station (Line 3).