Gyeongbokgung

Hyangwongjeong 1

Gyeongbokgung 경복궁 (Hanja: 景福宮) is a historic site in downtown Seoul, the site of an opulent palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. Few, if any, of the structures in the photographs below are original; the palace was more or less razed by the Japanese occupiers in the colonial period or during the Korean War. Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction and a curiously contrived window into traditional Korea.

Seodaemun Prison

Seodaemun Prison Cell Block

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.