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A Peaceful Prison

CJ Green, “A Peaceful Prison,” Mockingbird Blog (11-30-18)

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A Peaceful Prison

We've all been there. Exhausted from the daily grind … Overwhelmed by expectations from work and family and social commitments … Needing the peace and quiet of a nice, structured jail cell … Wait, what?

The Mockingbird blog noted a story about a mock prison where “inmates” pay $90 to spend 24 hours in solitary confinement, away from all phones, clocks, and people. Photographer Kim Hong-Ji shows inmates meditating and resting, depositing cell phones into baskets. Dunno what this says about me, but it all looks just a little bit wonderful … The facility is called the "Prison Inside Me," and the name seems telling—that the self could be a such prison that we might need to utterly lock-down, in an actual prison, in order to get some rest.

"I was too busy," said Park Hye-ri as she sat in a 54-sq-foot cell. "I shouldn't be here right now, given the work I need to do. But I decided to pause and look back at myself for a better life."

Clients get a blue prison uniform, a yoga mat, tea set, a pen, and notebook. They sleep on the floor. There is a small toilet inside the room, but no mirror. The menu includes steamed sweet potato and a banana shake for dinner and rice porridge for breakfast.

Co-founder Noh Ji-Hyang said the mock prison was inspired by her husband, a prosecutor who often put in 100-hour work weeks. "He said he would rather go into solitary confinement for a week to take a rest and feel better," she said. "That was the beginning."

Noh said some customers are wary of spending 24 or 48 hours in a prison cell, until they try it. "After a stay in the prison, people say, 'This is not a prison, the real prison is where we return to,'" she said.

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