Last Updated on 6 months by Probin Islam
Peace-seeking self-imprisonment of Koreans has already been in the human domain. Their thirst for peace and freedom through voluntarily confining themselves inside the prison by paying per night basis has triggered a new perspective to define ‘freedom’. Confinement is not always that bad to some while the intention is self-induced.
Prison is a scary, dreadful and unexpected place to be for people. Sometimes freedom and individual or national sovereignty is understood by considering it as a place of repression, torture where one’s freedom is mistreated. People, even if one is a notorious criminal, do not want to spend their time in any prison even if they are provided with all the necessities needed to enjoy their life in full meaning.
Because imprisonment is not meant for making marry or it is not a place to be identified your full human self, especially if you are a criminal. Moreover, one cannot enjoy one’s life with all the facilities provided, if one is bound to limited space or freedom of movement is hijacked.
Prison is to punish and correct. It stigmatises one who goes and lives in it. People would avoid being a prisoner or being imprisoned by any means. However, the idea of punishing offenders who could not pay fines developed by Greek philosophers, such as Plato. But the Romans were to be the first to use prison as a form of punishment.
Based on the severity and the form of crimes, the criminals are punished in various terms and conditions. But the cruellest form of imprisonment happens to be thrown into complete isolation, where human contact is not available and one has to live in complete isolation from human socialisation. How painful and dreadful that can be is seen in another Hollywood film Bridge on the River Kwai.
In numerous films, I have watched how people are punished by thrown into full solicitude. When some people see human contact and association as chaotic, disturbing and an invasion of personal space and painful, forceful isolation is even more painful. Therefore, prison-breaks take place and prisoners escaped in unimaginatively ingenious ways.
American TV Series Prison Break is a pure portrayal of how people desperately get rid of it even at the cost of their life. In Orange Is the New Black TV Series inmates fall in love with each other, marry, and care for each other inside the prison. How awkward to see your inmates are crying your release and smiling in your return to prison with a fresh offence?
In prison, some many rectify their character while others get even more violent. A prison is a prison no matter how comfortable it is. 64 prison escapes took place around the world since the 13th century while 20 offenders managed to escape multiple times. In the Roman Empire, the gladiators are seen to vouch their life to be free citizens. For them, death was better than living in constant repression of the empire where the state itself plays the part of a prison.
However, prison is not just a place where serve your term in order to serve the demand of justice of the land, it is also a space where numerous people bloomed, got wiser, became influential through writing. Mahatma Gandhi wrote his most influential work Hind Swaraj while he was serving imprisonment.
Going by the same sense of peace-seeking self-imprisonment of Koreans, it is very frightening when you realise that prison is the only place you find your existence, identity, peace and family. Indeed, for some, it can be a place where one can achieve peace of mind away from the concrete city. A place which can more liveable, expected.
Based on the life of notorious and celebrated British boxer Billy Moore’s life, the 2017 Hollywood film A Prayer Before Dawn shows that all he had to do was winning a fight against his opponent in the prison of Thailand in order to be released. A fight that landed him in the hospital.
The victorious addicted boxer was transferred to the British prison after the fight and in 2010 Moore was released on King’s amnesty.
In the 1994 Hollywood film The Shawshank Redemption, a convict, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank Redemption prison. Andy crawled to freedom through 500 yards of the sewerage pipe after making a tunnel through the prison wall. After 40 years of serving Red, another prisoner of Shawshank was released on the condition of rehabilitation.
But unable to cope with harsh reality outside of the prison where nothing made any sense to him, Red desired to break his parole so that the authority sends him back to the prison where he has everyone and feels at home. “I wanted to go back where thinks make sense”, says Red “where I would not have to be afraid all the time”. To break his parole Red crossed the border of the country to unite with Andy.
Peace-seeking self-imprisonment of Koreans
If not exactly a similar event took place in South Korea where people pay USD 90 a night to stay in prison. Unconventional as it may sound, the stressed-out workers and students chose to remain in solitary confinement away from the chaos of the city. “Ironically”, says
Park Hye-Ri, a 28 years old female voluntary prison participant, “I feel like prison is giving me a sense of freedom”. Here there is a ban on any kind of communication: mobile phones, clocks which allow them to get away from their busy life.
If phenomenon like ‘peace-seeking self-imprisonment of Koreans’ recurs across the globe what hope is there for humanity to be united for greater peace for a greater number? Why do people want to be alone?
When a prisons’ taking ones’ freedom away to punish is reprehensible, unacceptable and ignominious to many, these Koreans, in fact, find their freedom inside the paid-prison.
It is stress-relieving to them while for many going to prison is greatly depressing. Is scientific and technological advancement responsible for making us depressed and sending us to prison? Does this voluntary imprisonment await us?