On Saturday we met up with a new friend, Shawna, who is living in Gimpo and teaching at a public school. We decided to visit Seodaemun Prison which was a prison built by the Japanese while they attempted to colonize Korea in the early 20th century. It was a strange experience and I tumbled across someone else's blog about their visit to Seodaemun and it summed things up much better than I can.
I don't think a museum like this could exist in modern day North America. The main purpose of the museum wasn't to educate about this period in Korean history but to cultivate and encourage anti-Japanese sentiments. All of the exhibits here were going for shock value and even though I know that many of the torture scenes depicted were accurate, I know that Korea isn't full of innocent puppies and kittens either. I guess for me it's hard to take something seriously when it's obviously not objective or balanced.
The musuem was filled with different lifesize manniquins covered in fake blood and accompanied by haunting audio tracks of people screaming and crying. Most of the signs were translated into semi-decent English but they may have been better off not including some of the information because it revealed how incredibly biased the writers were. Also I felt a bit uncomfortable since most of the other people at the prison were families with young children. I imagine that these parents were probably taking their children to each exhibit to point out how barbaric and horrible Japanese people are. Nothing like a nice Saturday trip with the purpose to teach your children to hate. Especially since the Dok-do debacle resurfaced, anti-Japanese sentiments have been out in full force. To digress a bit, I'm pretty sick of hearing about or being asked about this stupid island that is basically made entirely of rock and how awful the Japanese are for trying to "steal it".
In one section of the prison museum you can sit on a bench in front of a jury and a recording will play sentencing you to death (in Korean) before the bench drops a bit. Despite the sign prohibiting children (and pregnant women) the main people I saw sitting on the bench were children. Usually hoisted up by their parent(s). I took a little video of Matt awaiting his fate. Sorry about the low quality, but you get the idea. If you want to see more pictures from Seodaemun Prison you should go here.
Anyway, it was fun hanging out with Shawna and afterwards we we to CO-EX for awhile. I introduced her to Art Box and took some pictures of some hilarious pajama pants that I wish I could fit into. Trust me, it's worth it to click on the pictures and read the text. Do it.
While Shawna was visiting we discovered a couple of strange and interesting things. One was the new "Straight" Tea and the other was a giant bathtub outside of Lush that the employees filled with water and bubbles. I'm not sure what the hell they were doing but it was weird. Maybe some sort of promotional thing so you could see how the product worked/smelled? Not too appealing after all the mosquitoes drown in it but whatever...