South Korea is known for having a strict and stressful culture around academic and work life. So much so that for some citizens, prison sounds like a better deal. That’s why Noh Ji-Hyang co-founded a 24-hour fake prison in Hongcheon back in 2013. For their customers, the simulated incarceration experience actually gives them a sense of freedom.
Since opening, they’ve hosted more than 2,000 overworked employees and students looking to escape their everyday life. For $90, they can stay in the fake prison for 24 hours, isolated from all types of communication including phones and clocks – and there’s even a ban on mirrors, too. In their “cell,” they’re fed through a door hatch, wear prison jumpsuits, and have access to a yoga mat, diary and panic button.
Ji-Hyang explains that she was inspired to start the fake prison by her husband, who’s job as a prosecutor had him working up to 100 hours a week. “At first people say it would be stuffy to be in a prison cell,” she adds. “But after their stay, they say this isn’t a prison – the real prison is where they return to.”