Sinister Taiwan police station becomes cultural attraction

The Taiwan New Cultural Movement Museum is formerly a police station built in 1933

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(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Taiwan New Cultural Movement Museum in Taipei was once a police station but today it attracts daily visitors, who go there mainly to see the detention center and torture chamber that were housed in the dingy interior.

Built in 1933 during the period of Japanese colonization, the baroque-style building on Ningxia Road in the city's Datong District was nothing special, according to a police officer who worked there for 12 years before moving to a new precinct nearby.

During the Japanese era, it was the Taipei North Police Station, and after World War II it became the Datong Police Station, which was staffed by some 200 officers crowded into the drab interior, said the police officer, who asked not to be named.

He said files were stacked haphazardly everywhere and the street noises penetrated the walls day and night.

What was infamous about that police station, however, was its torture chamber, which was a water dungeon about half the height of the average man, the officer said.

He said that during his period of service at the police station from around 2000-2012, no one ever filled up the chamber but it always contained water, which was a mystery.

Another grim feature of the station was its detention room, a half-moon shaped enclosure that allowed the police to keep an eye on the prisoner from almost any angle, the officer said.

It was the space in which Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), a key figure in the cultural and intellectual movement in the 1920s, was held four times on accusations of being a threat to public security during the period of Japanese rule, according to the Taipei City government.

The police station was designated a municipal historical site in 1998 and was used initially in 2006 as the preparatory office for the establishment of the Taiwan New Cultural Movement Museum.

In 2015, work began to convert the structure into a historical attraction and the museum opened in October 2018 on a daily basis, the city government said.

Now, people can truly appreciate the enigmatic character of the structure, said the police officer who once worked there.

According to the museum's website, a seasonal exhibition featuring Taiwan's cultural movement in the 1920s is being held there until June 23.