Learn About Korea's Colonial Past at Seodaemun Prison

Seodaemun Prison History Museum


Occupying the former Seodaemun Prison, a visit to the Seodaemun Prison History Museum is an eye-opening experience for anyone wishing to learn about Korea’s modern history and the hardships the country faced during Japanese colonization and military rule. Interactive exhibitions and realistic recreated historical scenes give visitors a deep sense of the horrors that occurred at the prison and how it shaped modern Korea. It’s a dark look at Korea’s past, but nevertheless an important one.


The prison was constructed in 1907 at the end of the Joseon Dynasty when Korea was a protectorate of Japan and used by Japanese authorities to imprison Korean independence activists throughout their colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. Prisoners were regularly beaten and tortured at the hands of the Japanese police, with some even executed at the prison. Visitors to the museum can visit the different areas of the complex: the jail cells, a historical exhibition hall, an execution room, watchtowers and the basement jail cells, where independence activists, such as the famous 19-year-old female activist Ryu Gwansun, were imprisoned and killed. There are also exhibitions detailing the activities and history of the independence movement and the hardships the Korean people faced under Japanese colonial rule. The Seodaemun Prison History Museum only details the prison’s history up to 1945, but it was actually used for decades after until 1987. Many democracy activists, including current Korean president Moon Jae-In, were imprisoned and tortured at Seodaemun Prison during the rule of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan, with some even executed for their activities. The prison was finally shut down in 1987 and moved outside of Seoul, then converted into a museum in 1992. 


The exhibitions feature information written in both Korean and English. English and Japanese-language tours are available but must be booked at least one week in advance by calling the museum at 02-360-8586. These tours are limited to 30 people. 

Price List

Adults (+19yo) 3,000 won
Teenagers (13~18yo) 1,500 won
Children (7~12yo) 1,000 won


Company NameSeodaemun Prison History Museum (서대문형무소역사관)
Category Family & Living Tickets & Passes Tour & Sightseeing
Languages Available English Japanese Chinese
Opening HoursMarch to October: 9:30 - 18:00 / November to February: 9:30 - 17:00
Closed DaysMonday (If Monday is a holiday, then closed on Tuesday), New Year's Day, Lunar New Year, & Chuseok

251 Tongil-ro, Cheonyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea 251

Take Line 3 to Dongnimmun Station and go out Exit 5. -> Enter the park on your left. Seodaemun Prison History Museum will be straight ahead.

Nearby Destinations