by Eunhye Ko
It is quite common to see students running up to the dormitory, Hanwoori Hall, located at the top of the school ground around 10:50 p.m. In order to keep the curfew, which is 11:00 p.m., and to avoid receiving penalties, students have to obey the rules. A similar scene could be imagined even decades ago as the curfew also existed in the past
Ewha’s dorm history begins with its foundation. The school was not only a place to learn but a place where students resided. One thing that can not be left out when talking about dorm life is the string of rules students had to obey. In addition to curfew, there were many other rules throughout Ewha’s dormitory history.
In the 1920s, there were rules that restricted visiting hours of non-residents to one hour per day. Students were also only allowed to go out once a month to buy their necessities and only those who had relatives in Seoul were allowed to visit them on Sundays. The dormitory superintendent screened all mail and did not allow students to receive letters from males other than their families and relatives. Also during this period, students were not allowed to wear jewely or imported shoes inside the dorm. It was also mandatory for students to exercise 30 minutes outdoors every day.
In the 1940s, students were encouraged to study two hours daily, from 7 to 9 in the evening. According to “The Story of 100 Years of Dormitory Life of Ewha,” printed by Ewha Press, Sun Jung-sun (a graduate in the 1940s) said, “We had studying hours called mookhak time. The students had to study in their own room quietly and if they were caught gossiping by the superintendent they received penalties.” She also added that “All lights had to be put out at ten, so during the examination period we had to study under candle light, and cover the windows with black cloth.”
Compared to the past rules have become much more lenient today. Currently, the only rule that still exists is the 11:00 p.m. curfew. In 1972, the school library extended its operating hours to 10:00 p.m. which made the dormitories change the curfew from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Additionaly, in the 1980s the school library hours were again extended, increasing the current curfew to 11:00 p.m. at the Hanwoori Hall.
“When I attended school in the beginning of 1980s, there were demonstrations going on regarding political issues. Since the dormitory was a place where college students could gather and take action, whenever the protests occurred in Sincheon, the dorm always closed leaving us without a choice but to go back home which was far from Seoul,” said a anonymous graduate of 1982 who resided in the dorms for 3 years.. “Students nowadays do not need to worry about such things, and they only share a room with one roommate, whereas we used to live in a small room with four people” she added, smiling.