A faux prison called "Prison Inside Me" has become a favorite retreat for overworked South Koreans looking to gather their thoughts and a place to reflect on life. South Korea is rapidly inching towards a high tech rising economy giving rise to competitive and stressful school and work environment which has also seen an upsurge in suicide and depression among youngsters.
Located in Hongcheon, South Korea, the faux prison offers solitude for a cost of $90 to spend 24 hours in prison. The prison adheres to strict rules where inmates are not allowed to interact with each other. The inmates are given blue uniform and their cellphones are seized. Instead the inmates are provided with a yoga mat, tea set, a pen and notebook.
The cell is relatively barren and free from technology. The cell is said to have a small toilet inside the room without any mirror. The clients have to sleep on the floor and are provided a humble meal of steamed sweet potato and banana shake for dinner while the plain old rice porridge is offered for breakfast.
According to a Reuters report, Prison Inisde Me co-founder Noh Ji-Hyang was inspired by her husband who was overstressed with over 100 hour work per week as a prosecutor. "He would often go into solitary confinement for days to take rest and feel better" she said.
Based on a survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Koreans had put in 2,024 hours of work on an average in 2017. Korea ranked third behind Mexico and Costa Rica. In an effort to tackle the issue, the South Korean government has raised the minimum wage and reduced the legal working hours from 68 to 52 hours per week.
From its inception in 2013, "Prison Inside Me" has hosted more than 2,000 inmates who seek solitude from the country's demanding work and academic pressure. Noh said, "After a stay in the prison, clients say that the real prison is where we return to".