Today the weather changed. Rain has given way to light snow, strong winds, and subarctic temperatures. Gusts of up to 60 km/h have rattled windows and knocked over street furniture. After drying my shoes from the previous night’s misadventures I left my hostel for Insadong, intent on grabbing a hearty breakfast, but as the minutes began to drag I only allowed myself time to grab one of those delicious mung bean pancakes and a coffee. I didn’t know it at the time but I was bound for one of the darker parts of Seoul.
Seodaemun Prison (Hangul: 서대문형무소) is not a happy place but my visit there was a tremendously educational experience. It housed thousands of political prisoners over the course of most of the 20th century—many of whom lost their lives here, either through neglect, overwork (it was also a forced labour camp), or by way of the “body removal tunnel”. A memorial to many of Seodaemun’s victims can be seen in the photos below.