GONJIAM PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Seoul, South Korea
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital is one of the seven freakiest places in the world according to CNN. According to the stories, the hospital was up and running until 1996. I would have loved to see the place in 1996. The hospital sits on top of an hill at the end of a narrow cement road, surrounded by forest. The sunset hits beautifully through the windows cascading from around the trees. The hospital is over an hour away from the city, so the area is quiet and peaceful in the forest. But, like every workplace, the leadership can make or break a business. Unfortunately, these were patients and not workers, so they couldn't just quit and leave the toxic owner of the hospital. I can only imagine why patients were suddenly dying. Psychological torture? Science experiments? Bullying? Serial killer nurse? I've seen too many movies and TV shows for my own good. Regardless, the clinically insane owner ran away to America in 1996. What happened to the rest of the patients? What happened to the workers? Why did it shut down and no one else resumed ownership?
Growing up in Dayton, OH, with the Witches' Tower, the haunted Victoria Theatre, the abandoned Dayton arcade, and crawling through the hidden tunnels of Oakwood High School, I learned to LOVE haunted and abandoned places. This haunted, abandoned hospital did not disappoint. Like every abandoned place, you will be faced with the challenges to enter. The first challenge is finding the place.
Google Maps: [37.362433, 127.33474]
With the grid coordinates, a navigation system and a vehicle it was not too hard finding the place.
The second challenge was getting in. The locals are not very supportive of any tourism in the area for the hospital, unlike Yongma Land Abandoned Amusement Park. Since the start of the Gonjiam movie, they have repainted the white metal fence, and put up brand new wiring fences around the place making it nearly impossible to find an entrance. All the signs are in Korean, but the locals make sure to tell you that CCTV is watching. They will point to the cameras all around the area, and make hand gestures signifying that the police will come and handcuff you if you try to break in. You could have crawled under the white gate, but during the day it would have been too obvious, and CCTV would have seen it at night. I stood there, waiting for something to happen. I didn't travel far to get there, but I couldn't just accept defeat and leave without seeing inside the fence. As I waited, a BMW pulled up in front of the gate. A 30-year-old Korean man gets out of the car, with his girlfriend in the front seat. They meet with the local neighbors, and have a long 20 minute conversation in Korean, pointing to the fence and the hill. I thought maybe they had an 'in', or could pay for them to look the other way. As they continued their long conversation in Korean, to my left, I saw a bunch of younger Koreans walking through the forest, crawling through a 3-foot broken piece of the wired fence behind a privately owned property by the side of the road. A 15-year-old looking Korean girl and I made eye contact, and a grin broke out on her face. While the Korean couple in the BMW distracted the neighbors, Chasen and I retreated back to the abandoned building on the side of the road where we met with the Koreans who just exited from the secret path from behind the building. They didn't speak English, but they could tell us that there were ghosts. One of them showed us the path they took, and gave us a thumbs up for good luck. I slowly made my way through the dead leaves to the 3-foot slit in the bottom of the fence. To my right, about 50 meters down, was the white metal fence, with the neighbors standing there shooing away the tourists and going about their day. I got through the fence and made a run for it. I started running up the hill, in hopes that they wouldn't see Chasen and I sneaking in. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins, my eyes wide, scared that they might have seen me run up the hill. We were in!
Before the movie, the hospital was boarded up. Before, people would climb up ladders to sneak through windows to get into the hospital, making it even creepier. There was more furniture and objects from when the hospital was up and running. Ever since they filmed the Gonjiam movie, the psychiatric hospital is wide open. You can literally just walk up the steps and go straight into the hospital, there aren't even doors. It is too easy to get around on the inside of the hospital. Unfortunately most of the furniture was taken out after production. What's left is some furniture, construction, things left behind from other tourists, and sexual, creepy drawings on the wall. The rooms were mostly all empty, and what was left behind was the building structure. To get the best pictures, I recommend going before sunset. You'll get beautiful light for your photos, and the beginning of night, to get a little bit of the spooky feeling. People will run away from the building in fear of ghosts, but all I saw were things left behind from other visitors and a neglected building. The only thing we ran away from were the sirens we heard from the roof, in fear that the neighbors did call the cops on us. I highly doubt they did, and those sirens could have been going anywhere. As cool as this place was, and the amazing potential of photos I could have gotten, none of it was worth getting locked up abroad. Definitely a must see, however, be careful!