The Democracy and Human Rights Memorial Hall is located in a seven-story structure where many people, primarily students, were brought for police interrogations in the 1970s and 1980s, a period when Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan were the country’s presidents.
Among these students was Park Jong-chul, a Seoul National University undergraduate, who was tortured to death at the site in 1989. A doctor who performed Park’s autopsy revealed the cause of death to the public, sparking massive outcry and protests.
Ultimately, this event was the turning point that led to the June Democratic Movement (June 10-29) in 1989, which eventually resulted in general suffrage for South Koreans.
The building, located in central Seoul near the Namyeong subway station, has recently taken on a new life.
Museum displays also focus on global democracy, with a particular focus on Asia. A representative tells CNN Travel there are plans to build a „democracy theme park“ on the site, although it’s not clear what that will look like.
Since Park’s death, his legacy continues on. In 2016, acclaimed South Korean author Han Kang wrote about a 1980 uprising in Gwangju in which college students were beaten and raped by police officers, in her novel „Human Acts.“
In 2017, a film entitled „1987: When the Day Comes“ dramatized the events around Park’s death and the subsequent June Democratic Movement.
CNN’s Yoonjung Seo contributed reporting.