For most people, prison is a place to escape from. For South Koreans in need of a break from the demands of everyday life, a day in a faux jail is the escape.
“This prison gives me a sense of freedom,” said Park Hye-ri, a 28-year-old office worker who paid $90 to spend 24 hours locked up in a mock prison.
Since 2013, the “Prison Inside Me” facility in northeast Hongcheon has hosted more than 2,000 inmates, many of them stressed office workers and students seeking relief from South Korea’s demanding work and academic culture.
This is no resort, either:
Prison rules are strict. No talking with other inmates. No mobile phones or clocks.
Clients get a blue prison uniform, a yoga mat, tea set, a pen and notebook. They sleep on the floor. There is a small toilet inside the room, but no mirror. […]
Noh said some customers are wary of spending 24 or 48 hours in a prison cell, until they try it.
“After a stay in the prison, people say, ‘This is not a prison, the real prison is where we return to,’” she said.
Koreans take things to the extreme; this may be their defining national characteristic. And the pressures of modern life are so extreme in Korea that sometimes you just need to spend a day in prison to escape from it all.