Arguably the most famous haunted place in South Korea is the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital. When it was still standing it attracted a lot of ghost hunters, curious tourists and urban explorers. What was it behind the place that drew all these people?

One of the allegedly most haunted places in South-Korea was the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital. It was closed down in the 90s and the owner left the country after not documenting for the public the reason why it closed down. And the legends, rumours and tales started spinning, everything from murderous patients, mad doctors and so on.

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The Asylum: This is how the abandoned hospital looked before being demolished in 2018.

So spooky did the world find this place that even foreign tv-station CNN called it one of the world’s most freakiest places in 2012, really making it an international destination for thrillseekers. 

Situated near the small city of Gwangju outside of Seoul in a residential area the place was just remote enough to be considered spooky, and close enough to visit. Much to the locals’ nuisance.

According to those who tried to find their way there, the locals around the place are not so forthcoming with giving directions to the site. This of course has fueled the excitement for the urban explorers and paranormal researchers alike, and every year thousands of people broke through the barriers to get a glimpse of the allegedly haunted asylum. 

The Mad Doctor at the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital

So what really went down inside the asylum before closing? Let’s have a look at what the legend claims happened.

The Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital first opened its doors in 1961 and was a full functioning one all the way up to 1995. Nurses took care of the patients on the three floor hospital and the doctors made their rounds. But for the last ten years, mysterious things kept happening according to the legends the place left. 

The story goes that the patients started dying mysteriously without a good explanation. Also some of the staff was also known to have gone missing and turned up dead in the rooms. Medicals thought it could be an infection seeing as it also afflicted some of the patients family members as well, but no, it turned out to be something much more sinister. 


Apparently it was the owner of the asylum who went insane himself and kept many of the patients prisoners and killing them. It wasn’t until the government came to investigate that he was caught and fled to America, causing the hospital to shut down. 

According to the locals screams have been heard coming from the abandoned building along with mysterious figures around the building, believing it to be the haunted souls of the asylum. Poor victims that turned to vengeful spirits, haunting the premise. The people that dared to visit the place told of scary encounters of dropping temperatures, opening and closing of doors without a draft and voices of people that weren’t there.

The Unraveling of the Legends

Although it was such a well known place, the facts of the asylum’s history is hazy, at least at the first search online of the place. So it is true that the owner left in the mid-90s, but perhaps not because of being insane and being chased by the police after killing his employees and patients.

So why did the asylum close down? More mundane reasons like financial difficulties, unsanitary conditions and big problems with the sewage systems according to the owners of the building. 

According to some journalist making a piece on the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, they found out there had been no suspicious reports about the hospital, according to a policeman in the local police district. There are no reports about dead patients being found under suspicious circumstances. In fact, they were supposedly transferred to Yongin mental hospital.

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital Movie: The movie based on the legend from 2018 was a box office success. Screenshot from that iconic scene. //Photo: Source: IMDB

But movies like commercial successful Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (Korean: 곤지암) from 2018 didn’t help to quench the rumours about the asylum being haunted by ghosts. It was kind of a big controversy as the owner of the building tried to stop the movie as he feared it would affect the property value. But he lost and the movie was aired, making it a paranormal hot spot to visit, despite of the owner trying to keep people out. Barbed wire, cameras and warning signs have tried to keep visitors out since it closed down, to no avail. And the legend would not stop until the whole building disappeared. 

So, although alive in legend, the place is no longer there for those curious about the legend and the building. In 2018 the place was demolished. So perhaps now the legend will die out, as the building can no longer attract the curious people looking for a thrilling legend. Or maybe the spirits of the place now just lost their home?


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