Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Something to Remind Us Lest We Forget

Once again my sadistic side led me on an adventure this last weekend: Seodaemun Prison. For those of you who are unaware, South Korea is a relatively new country, about fifty years old. Sure the actual country has been around for longer than that, but at one time or another the country has been under the rule of the Chinese, the Russians or the Japanese. If you ask the North Koreans they'll say that South Korea is under American control right now. I think most of the occupation consists of western style food franchises and ESL teachers.

Anyway, back to the prison. I thought it would be interesting to go to a place that people were trying for decades to get out of; sort of like visiting Alcatraz. The difference with Seodaemun Prison is it was built in 1908 (I believe) by the Japanese to house Korean Nationals. A concentration camp or reeducation camp is a better description than a prison. All the interrogation rooms are intact as well as the different torture devices. There are graphic portrayals of physical, mental and sexual torture; as well a displays of interrogations and executions. It's creepy, but the really creepy thing was to think that not so long ago this was a reality, and that I wasn't standing in a rebuilt building but the actual place where all of this went on.

Every county has their awful history, the Nazis and the Jews, the US government and the Native Americans, the Conquistadors and the Aztecs, the Canadians and the beaver population. I'm not quite sure what dirt Canada has on it but I'll find some. The point is we learn about these things in schools and we hear about this on the news, but it gets glossed over and is just another statistic after awhile. Places like Soedaemun make you see the awful truth. I'd like to joke, to end on a lighter note, but I can't. Soedaemun is a place I'm glad I went to go see, and a place I probably won't go back to.

On Saturday we went bungee jumping. Fun.

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