Death & Kimchi: The Ghostly Side of Seoul

I’m one of those strange people in life that loves to be scared, even if I cannot deal with the aftermath.
I’ll subject myself to horror movies then spend the next 2 weeks sleeping with the light on and a can of hairspray under my bed so that should a Murderer or Ghost dare to attack me, I’ll Alberto V05 them to death.
When creepy stories are true, well that’s even better for my morbid fascination with the macabre…
When you think of South Korea, you think of the cutesy cute culture, the delicious food, and the beautiful nature, however like many places in the World, Seoul has its’ fair share of gore and ghouls…

Bongwonsa Temple

There is something hauntingly beautiful about Buddhist temples.
Often so exquisitely decorated yet isolated and located in the most remote of places, where one could wander for hours completely undisturbed.
Located at the foot of Ahn Mountain, Bongwonsa is no exception to this rule.

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Founded in 889 by Master Doseon, many of the temple halls now stand abandoned. Sand bags and tools conceal the floor in one Dharma Hall, as if it were a tool shed. In another, a ladder perches against the shelves of unlit candles.

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As I walk around the Temple Courtyard, I am completely alone. I hear the sound of a twig snapping among the trees in the distance but since nobody emerges, I chalk it up to wildlife. I like having beautiful places to myself, away from tourist hoards and apparently, so do Serial Killers…

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Between 2003 and 2004, Cannibal and Serial Killer Yoo Young-Chul killed over 20 people in Seoul – from wealthy business men, to prostitutes.
Once he had murdered his victims, he would bring their bodies to Bongwonsa Temple where he would mutilate them, eat their livers and bury them. He knew he wouldn’t be disturbed here, since no-one comes up to this site. Many of their bodies were never found and remain somewhere between these Dharma Halls.

Do you like the cute coffee shops and restaurants near to Mapo-Gu? Me too! As did his Victims. That was where he hunted his prey.

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A woodland trail leads from Bongwonsa, up Ahn Mountain. Creepy, but worth it for these breathtaking views of Seoul. Just try and get back down before it gets dark…

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Gwangtonggyo Bridge – The Cheonggyecheon Stream

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The Cheonggyecheon stream runs through Seoul’s Central Business District and is a beautiful contrast to the hi-rise Office buildings that surround it. Each neighbourhood the stream passes through decorates their section – from floral displays, to light shows, to bizarre and contemporary art.
Every day, friends and lovers walk its length, locals decorate their displays, and business people sit upon it’s banks eating their lunch.

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Stepping stones and bridges act as crossing points for the stream – The Gwangtonggyo bridge one example, crossed by thousands each day.

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In the 1300’s, King Taejo ruled Korea. After his first wife died, he wasn’t really fussed (Player!), much to the dismay of their Son Taejong who was furious that his father remarry and go on to have two Sons with his second wife, Queen Sindeok.

When Sindeok died, Taejo withdrew into mourning – an opportunity which Taejong seized murdering Taejo and Sindeok’s two sons to ensure that he had claim to the throne.
Taejo built an elaborate crypt for Sindeok in her memory but Taejong ordered for the whole thing to be disassembled and the stones of the tomb used to create Gwangtonggyo Bridge- so that people would walk over her every day.

Today, thousands of people cross the bridge and very few know the story behind it.
Sindeok’s body was not discovered until hundreds of years after her death, when it was found in a Peasant grave on the outskirts of Seoul.

Yanghwajin Foreigner’s Cemetery

56753303In the 1800’s, Heungseon Doewongun (Damn these Korean names are such mouthfuls!) worked as a Diplomat. He hated all things Western and at that time, a particular annoyance for him was the influx of Western missionaries introducing Korea to Christianity.
One day, he woke up on the wrong side of bed, rounded up around 3,000 Westerners, took them to the top of a mountain near the Han River and chopped their heads off!
The river ran Red with their blood, and their bodies were buried at a site that has since become the Yanghwajin Foreigner’s Cemetery.
Today, a number of notable Foreign Missionaries and Diplomats are buried here, and it is considered one of the most haunted sites in Seoul.

On second thoughts, writing this article has creeped me out… better get the Alberto V05 spray poised and ready.
Have you visited any spooky spots in Seoul?

14 Comments
  1. This is such an interesting post! I do sometimes find it creepy visiting a graveyard on a tour, but it is still interesting when you learn a bit about the history and culture behind it. The story about Heungseon Doewongun was scary!

  2. Woahhhh I NEVER knew any of this about these places in Seoul. I wonder if there are any creepy stories like this in Busan (where I’m currently living). On second thought, I’d rather not know!!

  3. I love the carvings on the stones under the bridge…and I applaud you for loving scary things…I’m that weird person who HATES being scared, like, HATES IT. So get on with yo bad self!

  4. So cool how there are so many haunted places in Seoul! I went on a ghost tour in Ottawa, Canada on a graduation trip and it creeped me out a lot too haha!

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