It's been a long time since I've done anything solo. Since I had a dentist appointment in the morning I decided to go somewhere new and also to see the new Hello Kitty café. My dentist is in Apgujeong (Gangnam) so I headed to Hongdae after. I never eat breakfast, so I was starving. I randomly saw this really cute Spanish restaurant called "Spain Club", so I decided to give it a try.
The weather was so beautiful I decided to sit out on the patio. Also, I like to people watch to keep me entertained.
This restaurant was pretty pricey. For main courses the lowest was about 25,000won, so I opted for tapas. Tapas are basically appetizers. I ordered a tomato salad and grilled garlic calamari and of course an alcoholic beverage; a mimosa.
You can't go wrong with a salad, so of course it was good. In my head I was expecting fried calamari with aioli sauce....then I realized I didn't order that. But this calamari was delicious and the portion was huge.
After I was finished I headed to the Hello Kitty café for dessert. I first went to the Hello Kitty café about a year ago. Since then it has moved to a new location which is huge. I think this location is about 6 months old so it's very clean and nice. They have added a lot of different things to this café. Check out more pictures here. Address: 364-14 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Again, this is a specialty café so food and drinks will be more expensive that usual. They have even added real food, salads & sandwiches, to their menu. I just ordered an ice tea and a slice of cake, which wasn't that great. This is the first floor seating area below.
I literally drank my drink and ate really quickly because I wanted to continue with the other stuff I had to do. But I went upstairs to check out the rest of the café and realized there is a Hello Kitty bedroom. Super cute!
This is the second floor seating area.
After the café, I headed north to Seodaemun prison.
The lovely security guard took this picture outside the main building for me!
I've heard numerous rants from my students about the Japanese, like really horrible things that they say about them. I don't really know much about Korean history, especially with the Japanese but I learned a lot from this prison visit. Korea was invaded by Japan multiple times and was also colonized by them. I'm not going to give a history lesson because I don't know all the facts but Korea and Japan have a looong violent history. Seodaemun prison is a reminder of how Korea achieved it's independence. Click for more pictures.
In the history hall, you can see original that were used on the prisoners like handcuffs, chains, etc. They even had a can that was a secret knife used for protection. There is also original records you can look at of violent governing by the Japanese.
The memorial hall is a place to pay tribute all the activists who lost their lives for national independence. There were 5,000 people who died and their booking photos are all up on the wall.
After, I went to the basement to watch a little history film, of course I had no idea what was being said. After that I went to the torture chamber, which was really eerie. They had cells that had real scenes of the different methods used by the Japanese to torture inmates. They had methods like water torture, detention rooms, interrogation rooms, fingernail torture, box torture, and other methods. Check back for more pictures.
Next, I went to the Central Prison Building which monitored and controlled the whole prison. You can see the warden's office and displays of inmate clothing, meal time scenes and even everyday life of the prisoners. Below is the Prison Building. This is what the original building looked like. If you look through some of the cells you can see real scenes of things prisoners used to do in their cells. You can also go into the open cells to get a feel of the size of the room.
An example is wall tapping communication- inmates in adjacent cells would tap on the walls to communicate to one another.
Even walking through to the other building is creepy. It just looks very depressing.
This is the smallest hole I have ever seen. I'm not sure what this was used for. It is on the wall in the Prison Building.
Below is the Leper's Building, where the segregated inmates with Leprosy.
From the Leper's Building you get a good view of the Central Prison and the huge Korean flags hanging from the buildings.
This is the Reverence Monument which was created to honor patriotic martyrs who died in Seodaemun Prison.
I love nature, so when I saw this tree I thought it was really beautiful. Not knowing it had a sad story behind it. The building behind it is the Execution Building. I read that patriots who were being dragged to be executed would grab this tree and wail, which is why it is called "Wailing Poplar". The only place you cannot take pictures is inside of the execution building.
This is the Corpse removal tunnel. It was a tunnel made by the Japanese to secretly remove the dead bodies after execution.
The last place I visited was the women's cells. There was also a solitary confinement underground which was destroyed. This building was torn down after Korean liberation and then rebuilt recently in 2011. There aren't many cells, but there is a lot of information about the female activists who passed fighting for liberation.
In one of the cells they have a tribute to all the female martyrs with their pictures.
- Take the subway to Dongnimmun Station (orange line 3)
- Take exit 5
- Go through the little ark on the left hand side and follow the signs
Cost: 3,000 won
Hours: 9:30am- 6pm
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