Korean markets in everything, prison meditation edition

In the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Hongcheon, 58 miles northeast of Seoul, Kwon Yong-seok runs “Prison Inside Me,” a stress-reduction center with a penal theme. A meditation building, auditorium and management center sit on a 2-acre piece of land.

It is like this:

In June last year, the construction of the prison-like spiritual house was completed. It took a year and cost Mr. Kwon and his wife Roh Ji-hyang, head of a theater company, 2 billion won, or $19 million. Parts of the cost were covered by donations and loans from friends and relatives. Mr. Kwon says the goal of the facility, which has 28 solitary confinement cells, isn’t to make a profit.

On top of private meditation sessions, paying guests are helped to reflect on their lives and learn how to free themselves from what Mr. Kwon calls the “inner prison,” through meditation, spiritual classes and “healing” plays in a group session in the auditorium. A two-night stay costs 150,000 won or about $146.

But it may not succeed:

So far, it hasn’t been as easy for the couple to run the place as they had envisioned. They had to cut the length of stays to as little as two days because people aren’t willing to, or simply can’t, take time off. Also the facility had to make another big concession to modernity—allowing guests to check their smartphones at least once a day.

The full story is here, and for the pointer I thank Ben Smeal.


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