Yìxīn Vocational High School 益新工商職業學校 is a relatively obscure but not entirely unknown ruin in central Taiwan. Located along the main road running through Línnèi 林內, Yúnlín 雲林, it seems to have been abandoned in the aftermath of the devastating 921 Earthquake, nearly two decades ago. Many schools were destroyed in the quake and scores more were condemned (most famously an entire university campus in Dongshi) but whether this particular school suffered the same fate isn’t certain.
Turning to the rumor mill of PTT, netizens suggest the school was already plagued by low enrollment, a common problem in Taiwan, and its closure after 921 may have been incidental. Official records are scant, possibly because this school was a branch of the much larger Da-Cheng Vocational High School 大成高級商工職業學校 in nearby Huwei. This parent school presumably absorbed the student body of this subsidiary in Línnèi 林內1. None of the government resources I usually consult had any further information about this school, not even while searching for its more formal name2, which is not unexpected if it hadn’t been registered as a separate business.
Several groups who frequent the ruins of Taiwan are already familiar with this particular location. Apart from local graffiti artists, whose work can be found on many of the interior walls, the school is also known to airsoft players (similar to paintball) and supernatural thrill-seekers. Few people who seriously believe in ghosts would explore a place like this—but curiosity often overpowers superstition. After exploring the school grounds in 2011 this thoroughly spooked PTT member shared their experience and asked for recommendations of a temple to visit, possibly for the sort of ritual exorcism described in this post.
Even those who have no fear of ghosts might have been rattled by what one college student encountered here in 2009. While embarked on a motorbike trip around the island—a common rite of passage for young Taiwanese—he stopped to inspect this mysterious roadside ruin. Entering a dusty classroom on the fourth floor he discovered a decomposing corpse, a length of rope still wound around the neck3, and an anguished note on the floor. After alerting to the police a brief investigation concluded the deceased was a military deserter and ruled out foul play. Three months had elapsed since his disappearance.
As usual I knew almost nothing of this place prior to slipping through the gate. It seemed rather unremarkable, another institutional building stripped clean and emptied of interesting relics. I wouldn’t have guessed that more than a decade had elapsed since it had seen any regular use—it wasn’t so overgrown nor worn by the elements. And inasmuch as I am always conscious of the possibility that I might also encounter something grim and disturbing, nothing alerted me to the dark history of this site until I began drafting this post.
Thus concludes another report from beyond the boundaries of everyday society in Taiwan. I wasn’t expecting much of this school—but it turns out to have a few surprises for those of us who peer over the barrier, wondering what transpires on the other side.
- It is worth noting that Línnèi 林內 is one of many rural districts suffering from population decline; according to Wikipedia it has lost nearly 20% of its population since 1981. ↩
- The full official name of this school was Yunlin County Private Yixin Vocational High School 雲林縣私立益新高級工商職業學校. I used the name on the sign out front for this post because it’s already long enough, thank you kindly. ↩
- Suicide by hanging has a special significance in some parts of Taiwan, something I explored in my post about Daodong Academy. I’ve seen nothing that would suggest any similar ritual was performed for this hanging, mind you. ↩