Imperial Japan forced the Joseon government to sign the Eulsa Treaty, thus depriving the country of its sovereignty. The first thing that Imperial Japan did in Korea was to build Seodaemun Prison, a large wooden building that could accommodate more than 500 inmates, being more than twice the size of all the country’s prisons combined.
In 1910, the Japanese colonists staged a fake assassination of the Japanese Governor-General in Korea and threw 105 Korean independence activists into this prison on trumped-up charges. With the emergence of the March 1919 Independence Movement, the number of inmates in the prison quickly exceeded 3,000. Many independence fighters were tortured and killed here. The inmates were also forced to produce military supplies in a facility within the prison.
After the country’s liberation, the prison was used to accommodate peoplewho protested against the military dictatorship. Seodamun Prison has witnessed the twists and turns of the country’s modern history.