Seodaemun Prison History Museum: A Touching Horror

Seodaemun Prison History Museum: A Touching Horror

You can get automatic admission to Seodaemun Prison History Museum when you purchase a Discover Seoul Pass here.

The Rundown

  • Seodaemun Prison History Museum is an attraction in Seoul that depicts the lives of Korean Independence Movement Fighters who opposed Japanese rule.

  • Through interactive displays and video materials, sobering stories of torture and courage come alive.

  • Underground cells, torture chambers, and killing grounds await you on your tour to Seodaemun Prison History Museum.

  • If you’re a holder of the Discover Seoul Pass, make sure to visit this partner attraction. You can check the rates of the pass here.

Also read: Build Your Seoul Itinerary: Top Things to Do & Attractions to Explore

Seodaemun Prison: A History

Seodaemun Prison was originally built to contain the Korean resistance against Japanese occupation. Originally known as Gyeongseong Gamok when it opened in 1908, this was where Korean activists were brought in for detainment, torture, and execution.

Seodaemun prison was notably large, with a maximum capacity of five hundred (500) inmates. It was more than what eight regular prisons could hold at that time, which was just around three hundred (300) in total. Despite its grandness, however, this detention center fell short in 1919 when the Japanese packed 3,500 inmates inside during the peak of the protests.

Here is a historical timetable for Seodaemun Prison:

  • 1908: Opened under the name of Gyeongeong Gamok

  • 1912: Renamed to Seodaemun Gamok

  • 1923: Became Seodaemun Hyeongmuso

  • 1945: Became Seoul Hyeongmuso

  • 1961: Became Seoul Gyodoso

  • 1967: Became Seoul Guchiso

  • 1987: Seoul Guchiso transferred to Uiwang-si, Gyoenggi Province

In November 1998, the Seodaemun Prison History Hall was opened to honor the activists who have given their lives for independence.

What to Expect in Your Visit to Seodaemun Prison History Museum

Image credit:  Exj  /  CC BY-SA 4.0

Image credit: Exj / CC BY-SA 4.0

To capture the valiant spirit that formed Korea as we know it today, visitors can come to Seodaemun Prison History Hall and check out the following:

1/F A Place of Reverence 

There is a video room on the first floor where you can watch a 7-minute documentary about the establishment of Seodaemun Prison. There is also a Special Exhibition Room where various displays are held. 

2/F A Place of History

To get an in-depth background of the anti-Japanese struggle in Korea, visit the National Resistance Room.  To see a layout of Seodaemun Hyeongmuso in 1934 and know more about the inhumane prison life, check out the Prison History Room and the In-Prison Life Room.

B1 A Place of Experience

For some eerie feels, visit the basement of Seodaemun Prison History Museum to see the infamous Temporary Detention Room and Torture Rooms. Dioramas that depict the torture crimes will be available for your appreciation.

'Experience Building' of Seodaemun Prison History Museum

seodaemun-prison-history-museum-address-location.png

SEODAEMUN

PRISON HISTORY MUSEUM

The eerie feels won't stop when you visit the Experience Building inside the Seodaemun Prison History Museum complex. Not only will you learn about (and feel!) what the activists experienced, you will also find the following:

  • Live voice testimonies and photos of patriotic ancestors

  • Life inside the prison

  • Torture methods

Other parts of Seodaemun Prison History Museum that you should not miss:

  • Central Building for Prison Guards

  • Engineering Work Building (what I would call the 'pain' shop!)

  • Reverence Monument

  • Execution Building (tiny but terrifying!)

  • Corpse Removal Exit (brutal tunnel!)

  • Underground Cell

Aside from experiencing the awful conditions of Seodaemun Prison during the Japanese occupation, you will also get to know about the developments that come afterwards.


BUY YOUR TICKETS!

OPTION 1: Buy Door Tickets (Walk-in)

Here are the regular entrance fees for Seodaemun Prison History Museum for offline/walk-in transactions (prices subject to change without notice):

  • Adults: (19-64 years old): ₩3,000 (around ₱146 or $2.79)

  • Teenagers (13-18 years old): ₩1,500 (around ₱73 or $1.39)

  • Children (7-12 years old): ₩1,000 (around ₱48 or $0.92)

  • Seniors and Kids below 7: FREE admission to Seodaemun Prison History Museum

**Group rates available for 30 members or more.

OPTION 2: Get a Discover Seoul Pass

Your budget-friendly all-in-one attraction pass in Seoul! Screengrab from  Klook

Your budget-friendly all-in-one attraction pass in Seoul! Screengrab from Klook

If you’re set on buying the Discover Seoul Pass, you can get automatic access to Seodaemun Prison History Museum and at least 30 more top attractions in Seoul. The list of partner sites includes Gyeongbokgung, Museum Kimchikan, N Seoul Tower, etc. You can check the full list of attractions here. (Depending on availability, the pass could also give you discounts in other partner establishments!)

🏷 PRICE of Discover Seoul Pass: starts at ₱1,960 or $37.40 for the 24-hour pass, if not discounted!

  • Other options include passes for 48 and 72 hours.

  • Discover Seoul Pass also works as a T-Money Card so you don't have to buy one.

  • For more information, read these articles about Discover Seoul Pass and T-Money.

Here’s a review that we got from the booking page of Discover Seoul Pass:

‘This Seoul Pass was one of the most helpful tool during our entire trip in Seoul… We were able to…explore different tourist attractions... The city tour brought us to famous attractions such as the Gyeongbukgung…Namsan Seoul Tower and… other famous attractions in the city.’

Discover Seoul Pass Review

TIPS!

  • When you tour the Seodaemun Prison History Museum, go up the 2/F of the main hall and find out why Kang Ugyu, an independence fighter, bombed Namdaemun Station (now Seoul Station).

  • In the Experience Building, know all about Gwan-sun Ryu, who was said to resemble Joan of Arc.

  • Ideal length of Seodaemun Prison Museum tour: 1-1.5 hours

  • While Seodaemun Prison History Museum strives to convey Korea's struggle against the Japanese forces in a tourist-friendly manner, some materials are not fully translated yet in English.


Seodaemun Prison History Museum: Tour Reviews

Here are some reviews that we got from the TripAdvisor page of Seodaemun Prison History Museum in Seoul:

‘…Walking around, I did not believe that these buildings used to be a horrific hell, where people were jailed, starved, tortured and killed… Personally, this visit was an emotional experience, knowing more about the history of Korean people and discovering another part of Seoul.’

Seodaemun Prison History Museum tour review from TripAdvisor

‘Chills on prison hall… You can tour the whole facility for 45mins - 1.5hrs. Close to Seodaemun Independence park.’

Seodaemun Prison History Museum tour review from TripAdvisor

‘I have been to a few prisons and this one was pretty interesting although I would have liked to see more displays…’

Seodaemun Prison History Museum tour review from TripAdvisor

To get a glimpse of this attraction in Seoul, you can also check out geotagged photos on Instagram by clicking below:

Seodaemun Prison History Museum: Address & Operating Hours

Seodaemun Prison History Museum is located in this address: 251, Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Here’s how you can get to Seodaemun Prison History Museum:

  • By Subway: Take Orange Line and get off at Dongnimmun Station (Exit 5)

  • By Bus: Get off at Independence Park

    • Blue Bus: 471, 701, 702, 703, 704, 720, 752

    • Green Bus: 7019, 7021, 7023, 7025, 7712, 7737

    • Red Bus: 9701, 9703, 9705, 9709, 9710, 9711, 9712

This historical attraction in Seoul observes the following schedule:

  • March to October: 9:30am-6pm

  • November to February: 9:30am-5pm

  • Last admission: 30 minutes before closing

  • Seodaemun Prison History Museum is CLOSED on Monday's (or Tuesday's, if Monday is a holiday), January 1, Lunar New Year, and Chuseok

Contact Info

For more information, visit the official website of Seodaemun Prison History Museum here.

Stay Updated

Like ManilaxSeoul on Facebook to get the latest Seoul travel guides and tips!

Museum Kimchikan: From Side Dish to a Notable Attraction

Museum Kimchikan: From Side Dish to a Notable Attraction