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South Korea’s Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital was picked as one of the freakiest places in the world by CNN Go, CNN International’s new travel website.
On October 31, the website picked seven of the freakiest places in the planet : Czech Republic’s Sedlec Ossuary, Ukraine’s Chernobyl Amusement Park, Japan’s Aokigahara Forest and Battleship Island, Togo’s Akodessewa Fetish Market, Mexico’s La Isla de las Muñecas, and Korea’s Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital.
The website reported citing local legend that the hospital’s patients started dying mysteriously at the hospital 10 years ago and the head doctor was crazy like other patients, eventually forcing its closure. It added that the hospital is now an abandoned, dirty building with only the most disturbing remnants of its former life, such as rusted wire fences and disintegrating examination chairs.
Being introduced as a scary and creepy place, the hospital has been popular material for many domestic and international media for many years. It is also famed as one of South Korea’s three major haunted places along with the Youngdeok haunted house, roamed by ghosts from the Korean War, and the Neulbom Garden, a former restaurant where it is said that you can still hear someone washing dishes in the kitchen.
Now, the hospital is one of the popular tourist attractions that about 1,000 people visit there to look around every year.
However, the facts about those places are not that scary or creepy at all. Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital was closed mainly because it had a serious problem with its sewage disposal system. What made matters worse was the owner of the hospital moved to the U.S. without doing any paper work of the building and the land. The rumors about people dying or crazy doctor are all not true.
Other places named as “haunted” are in the same position. Those places were just empty houses at first. Korea has witnessed a lot of vacant or abandoned houses due to an aging society and a low birth rate. This happens especially in rural areas as people move to big cities. According to Korea’s National Statistical Office, the number of unoccupied houses in Korea has rose from 720,000 in 2005 to 790,000 in 2010.
If people who leave their houses destroy them or sell them to others, no problems occur. However, it is hard to look for people who want to buy these houses not in big cities, and there also exists complex tax problems. So, people just abandon their houses without doing anything about them.
Once the house is abandoned, it quickly begins to be destroyed, since there in no one to take care of it. Sometimes, it is occupied by the homeless, or animals. Either way it becomes devastated.
The next thing waiting for these devastated houses is the scary rumors such as “ghost,” or “someone’s suicide.” Once those rumors are spread, people who enjoy scary stories start to visit those places, making them more famous.
South Korea’s three major haunted places, including Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, have experienced this process.
These haunted places might provide some people with a joyous time, but they are actually a huge worrisome for people who live around them. They usually have a bad effect on the town’s reputation, making people leave or making others not want to move in. Sometimes, they are used as a hideout for criminals. In 2010, Kim Gil-tae, who killed a 13-year-old girl, actually hid in abandoned house in Pusan, Korea to avoid the police dragnet.
Even though the facts of the haunted place are not scary or freaky, it is a stark reality that their existence is still not that pleasant.