A museum devoted to human rights has opened in Seoul in the same building where long back the South Korean pro-democracy activists were tortured. It is named the Democracy and Human Rights Memorial Hall and is located at the seven-floor construction which was the site for interrogation of individuals, mainly the students in the 1970s and 1980s. This was the time when Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan headed the country. Many activists from Seoul National University at that time took part in the struggle against the dictatorship of the two Presidents.
A South Korean democracy movement activist Park Jong-chul was detained over there for an investigation into pro-democracy activists. He studied in the Seoul National University's linguistics department in the 1980s. At the time of the interrogation, the officials reportedly used waterboarding techniques. He was tortured to death at the structure where now they have opened a Human Rights Museum. The doctor with an autopsy report disclosed the cause of Park's death to people which led to huge protests. This was the foundation of the June Struggle of 1987 in South Korea which forced the government to conduct elections. It ultimately led to the formation of the Sixth Republic of Korea. A South Korea movie was made in the year 2017 called 1987: When the Day Comes which focused on the events like the killing of activist Park and other events leading to the democratic movement in the year 1987. The accounts of students tortured in the 1980s have been written by author Han Kang in her book Human Acts: A Novel.
The structure is situated at the centre of Seoul close to the Namyeong subway station. The building has been revived for a good cause now after so many years. The Korean Democracy Foundation that manages it has said that the site would be a good learning to expand democracy. It will serve as the point of solidarity where countries and individuals can come together to aim for democracy collectively. The focus of the displays at the museum is worldwide democracy mainly Asia.
(With inputs from agencies)