Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seoul survivor

I didn't spend all that much time in Seoul - certainly not as long as the inexhaustible supply of Seoul/soul/sole puns would allow. But while I was here, I had to check out some of the city's bleaker historical sites, if only to counteract the torrent of cute cartoon optimism in every shop window.

The DMZ made me angry and frustrated, but Seodaemun Prison made me feel depressed and (this is the strange part) like I was back in the UK (specifically England), more so than anywhere on my trip so far. This was probably due to a combination of the first snow I'd seen in two years and the functional architecture resembling my secondary school. Which was also built to imprison free spirits and torture independence activists - ha ha ha ha ha! No seriously, my school was a Japanese labour camp.

Seodaemun Independence Park

Dongnimmum Independence Gate and plinths (1897).
I know the word 'dong' is in there, but can we show some respect and behave like adults?

Dongnipgwan Independence Hall.
'Dong,' 'nip' and an anagram of 'wang'? Alright, respectful mirth is permitted in doses

Songjae Suhr Jae-Phil. Or 'Phil,' as I like to imagine his friends called him

Seodaemun Prison
(서대문 형무소)

All in Front and Just to the Left of the Watchtower (Bob Dylan's lesser-known sequel)

Prison History Exhibition Hall

Reverence Monument (2010) and Leper Building (background). Like I'm going in there

Wailing poplar and high-turnover execution hall (1923). Apparently, people used to grab hold of this tree in a desperate last-ditch effort to delay the inevitable. I hope you were having a nice day before you started reading this

Prison buildings 9 and 10.
Those jolly Republic of Korea flags are possibly not authentic historical reconstructions

Prison buildings 11 and 12.
It is quite like a school, isn't it? Except for the bars

Exhibition Hall

Shiny memorial hall

Less shiny water torture room. That's right, it's the minor return of harrowing torture mannequins!

Though disappointingly, that's about it. You'll just have to imagine the fingernail torture yourself. No, really imagine it - that's right. Ow, that's disgusting

If you thought Siamese torture made the Japanese look like pussies, taking a tumble in the spiked box should clear that up (on the positive side, there could at least be some acupuncture benefits)

Not so for the more psychological narrow room torture.
Look at that Z axis - that's pretty narrow

These are labelled Sword of Warden. Not exactly Porridge, is it?

Um... should someone tell this guy the war's over now?
It's been so long, it feels a bit awkward...

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