Abandoned hospitals (along with, hanoks, schools and shamans’ houses) are my favorite places to explore. Namgwang Hospital will always be the measuring gauge on abandoned hospitals. If I can find a place where its equipment, medical records, and cancer jars are still undisturbed, then it will be a memorable visit. The Gwangju Red Cross Hospital is high on my list of explorations, mainly because of its historical connections to the events of 5.18, but is a notch below Namgwang because some areas being inaccessible. Further down below the Red Cross Hospital is Gonjiam. By the time I visited the infamous psychiatric hospital, vandals had trashed it. The possibility of finding another Namgwang Hospital with all of its equipment, medical records, cancer jars, and ambulances intact is what keeps me on the lookout.
A former ex-pat informed me (Thanks, Jeff!) of the hospital we explored yesterday in the southern half of Gyeonggi-do. Jeff visited it once but was only there for a hot minute, as he was in the area for another purpose. But the photo he took of an abandoned MRI machine piqued my interest. I’d been keeping this location in the forefront of my brain for some time; part of me was worried it would be a waste driving the hour-and-a-half down to find a shell of its former self.
Despite the summer heat, the day was gorgeous. The air was clean; the clouds were clouds and not smog. It was pleasant escaping out of the Seoul metropolitan area, which was a minor victory. We arrived in the mid-afternoon; across from the abandoned, dead hospital, within clear sight, are mourners gathering at an active and very much alive funeral home. We must proceed with caution; fortunately for my wife and me, everyone entering and leaving the funeral home are preoccupied with more important matters.
We walked into the hospital as if we had a minor medical emergency. It was apparent that the hospital wasn’t in use anymore; A giant piece of plywood covered a broken window. Yet, it was also evident that someone was tending to the place; doors were wide open with blankets used as doorstops. The power in the elevator is on, and the emergency route signs are running. My initial thought is that the funeral home is taking care of the hospital.
Walking around, ears hyper-vigilant of the slightest sound, we find the remnants of a once functional hospital. Beds, stretchers, and medical equipment still in their wrappers are in their designed places. It was not the shell I feared it would be, but it wasn’t a wonderfully morbidly weird wonderland like Namgwang Hospital. There were left-over biohazard waste bins but nothing as mind-boggling jars of tumors. I’d still recommend visiting this place if you are in the area; it is worth a quick stopover.
The basement was the only place I didn’t visit. Fans spooked me off, as well as an active imagination. I imagined the basement was being used as extra morgue space by the funeral home and decided against searching it. Oh well, next time I’m in the area, I’ll give it another shot.
After a simple internet search, the hospital is indeed taking care of the funeral home. They are renting it out, hence the wide-open doors for ventilation and the tiny section of room set up for someone whose job it is to sit and watch over a place. Also, the hospital’s history is unbelievably short; It opened in July 2014 and closed in August 2015. In its short time open, the hospital employed eight doctors and two hundred other staff. We couldn’t find a reason why it was closed down. Other than that basic information, the trail runs dry. However, boxes all over the hospital with emblems similar to the judiciary branch of Korea with the word “집행” (enforcement) suggest a suspicious ending.