Tag Archives: Korea

Seodaemun Prison History Hall

The notoriety of the Seodaemun (meaning the Great Western Gate) Prison may have been equivalent to those of the Auschwitz or Mauthausen in Korea during the first half of the twentieth century. To most young Korean-borns, it must be known as the site where Yoo-Gwan-Soon, a young, heroic female independence activist, was imprisoned and died at the bare age of sixteen. Even after the Liberation shortly after the conclusion of the WWII, the prison continued to be used to jail pro-democracy activists who resisted the authoritarian regimes. It’s living proof of the brutal human rights abuses during the colonial and modern periods.

I have been longing to visit this historic site ever since I read the biographies-for-children of the Korean nationalists who perished at the harsh treatments by the Japanese. Once there, the skyrocketing apartment buildings now surrounding the old construction gave me a weird feeling, but I was somewhat appreciative at the same time of the ongoing efforts to preserve such a historically meaningful site regardless of the commercial approaches.

The museum preserves and displays Seodaemun Prison signifying the suffering and pain of Koreans during the modern period. Here, independence and pro-democracy activists were jailed and martyred. Despite such a history of suffering, Koreans achieved independence and democracy. The Seodaemun Prison Hall represents the history of struggle to achieve Kroea’s independence and democracy with such indomitable spirit and potential. 

9-20 079

9-20 0809-20 0829-20 0839-20 084

The basement was where the worst forms of physical and psychological tortures and interrogations were perpetuated. Some of the tools and cells were preserved and displayed for the visitors to interact with.

9-20 086

9-20 087

9-20 0919-20 090 9-20 098

9-20 101

My favourite… The cells.

The halls were adorned with illustrated commemorations of the dying wills of the Korean nationalists.

9-20 102

9-20 103

After nearly seventy years after the Liberation, the colonial history still haunts between the nations. You may have read from the newspaper about the increasing tension between the two nations in a number of issues. In my opinion, there are still a LOT to be done to successfully get over the humiliating history…  In the end, there is no justice to be done… It’s all about power. The Jews, now enjoying significant influence over the world, may have deserved to be sympathized and apologized for their past sufferings. Do Koreans have that same amount of power to yield the sincere apology from their past transgressors? I don’t think we are there yet.


Leave a comment

Filed under Outdoors

GyeoyungbokGung: Korean Royal Palace

Chuseok (Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving) is one of the major national holidays celebrated in South Korea. While I stayed in Canada it didn’t mean much, but since I revisited my home country after 13 years it was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with my relatives in Seoul.

Right after the day of Chuseok, I decided to pay a visit to several historic sites around the city. Gyeoyungbokgung is one of my dream destinations but I have never had a chance to pay a proper visit to the place until now.

For the Chuseok holiday, the place offers free entry to the visitors in Han-bok, Korean traditional costume, but I had to line up for about 20 minutes to get the pass.

Here’s a brief introduction to the site written on the ticket:

In 1395, three years after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty by King Taejo (Yi Seong-gye), the new main palace, Gyeongbokgung was completed after the capital of the new dynasty was moved from Gaegyeong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). The palace was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion of 1592 and was not reconstructed until 1867, the fifth year of King Gojong. During the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945, most of the palace was torn down; only a few buildings including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Geunjeongjeon Hall were left standing. An effort to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its former glory has been ongoing since 1990.

9-20 020

9-20 022

9-20 028

Geunjeongjun, the Throne Hall.

So freakin’ crowded!!

9-20 031

Sajeongjeon, the Reception Hall

9-20 035 9-20 036 9-20 039 9-20 041

Gangnyeongjeon and Gyotaejeon, the King and Queen’s Bedchambers. I didn’t know they were just behind the Throne Hall and Reception Hall.

The Queen must know the king’s every move if her bedroom was that close to his working space.

9-20 0489-20 0499-20 056

Hyangwonjeong, The King’s Garden

My favourite

9-20 0669-20 072

Gyeonghoeru, the King’s Party Hall (my translation;;)

One of the most well-known constructions in the palace. Please pardon my rough photograph…

You should reserve 24 hours earlier in order to get entry to the hall.

I was only happy with the gorgeous external sight.

9-20 074

With my company, my first uncle!

Leave a comment

Filed under Outdoors