South Koreans Are Willingly Locking Themselves Up, Here’s Why

This prison isn’t what you’d normally expect.

If the thought of packing yourself up and heading to jail doesn’t sound all that appealing, you certainly aren’t alone. But in South Korea, that’s exactly what some people are doing and they’re doing it happily!

And they’re even willing to pay $90 for 24 hours locked up!


About 60 miles outside of Seoul lies the “Prison Inside Me” facility in Hongcheon. This faux prison environment opened its doors in 2013 and has hosted more than 2,000 “inmates” over the years.


With so many guests, you’d expect that the prison-like name is simply a joke but it’s not. Upon arrival to the facility, guests are given a blue prison uniform to change into, eat rice porridge delivered through slots in the door, and stay in a 54 square-foot cell that they are literally locked inside.

Although the doors are locked on the outside, participants are shown how to undo the latch from the inside.


The “inmates” are locked in their cells for hours at time and not allowed out of their own accord. For safety reasons, and their own peace of mind, guests are shown how to unlatch the door from the inside, so there will be no need to call Birmingham based locksmiths in case of emergency! They must follow a few strict rules including not talking to other inmates outside of the designated times and mustn’t have cell phones or clocks with them.

Photo: Wall Street Journal


So why would anyone willingly check themselves into such an environment? Typically, those that check themselves into the “Prison Inside Me” facility are stressed office workers or students who just need a break from their everyday life.


Which makes sense! In a 2017 survey, South Koreans worked an average of 2,024 hours. This is the third longest work hour average after Mexico and Costa Rica!

It’s also a staggering difference from the normal average of 1,764 hours worked.


Not only that but many South Koreans used to work an average of 68 hours or more per week. Thankfully, to help people work less and earn more, the government recently raised the minimum wage and cut the legal cap on working hours down to 52 hours per week.


While the cap has been lowered, its still a stressful environment for many who come to the prison retreat to escape some of that stress. And while it’s like a prison in many ways, it’s also a very sweet retreat.

Photo by Matt Kwong/CBC


The cells each have a nice window with a view, heated floors, a small table with a diary, tea set, and yoga mat. Guests can also go for hikes and tend the retreat’s garden.


This place also offers guests the chance to take special spiritual healing classes to help melt some of their worries away!


So while it might seem crazy at first that South Koreans are willingly locking themselves up, it has actually proven to be a sweet retreat for the work-weary individuals.

Source: Reuters