Some might consider it the ultimate silent retreat.
A mock prison called “Prison Inside Me” has become a retreat for harried South Koreans looking for a clean break from the daily demands of their careers. Located in the Hongcheon county, in Gangwon province east of Seoul, paying visitors are issued a standard blue uniform and must follow the facility’s strict rules. The “inmates” can’t speak to each other, nor do they have access to their phones, or even a clock. Meals, slipped under a swinging door to their cell, are fairly spartan.
Prison Inside Me has hosted a few thousand visitors in the past few years, Reuters reports. Many of them are seeking temporary solace from the stresses of South Korea’s competitive schooling and job market. These stresses have been amplified due to an economic downturn in the country.
One visitor, 28-year-old Park Hye-ri, bluntly described why they would withdraw from the world in such a dramatic fashion, telling Reuters, “This prison gives me a sense of freedom.”