Hwaseong (Brilliant Castle/ Fortress), the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to honour and house the remains of his father Prince Sado, who had been murdered by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo having failed to obey his command to commit suicide. Located 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Seoul and enclosing much of central Suwon including King Jeongjo's palace Haenggung, UNESCO designated the fortress a World Heritage site in 1997. The Suwoncheon, the main stream in Suwon, flows through the centre of the fortress.
Hwaseong Fortress was built over two and a half years, from 1794 to 1796 according to the designs of the architect Jeong Yak-yong, who would later become a renowned leader of the Silhak movement. Silhak, which means practical learning, encouraged the use of science and industry and Jeong incorporated fortress designs from Korea and China along with contemporary science into his plans. Use of brick as a building material for the fortress and employment of efficient pulleys and cranes were also due to the influence of Silhak.
Construction of the fortress was also a response to the collapse of the Korean front line during Imjin war. At the time, the dominant model for building fortresses in Korea was to make a simple wall for the city or town and a separate mountain fortress to which the people could evacuate in times of war. However, this fortress was built to include elements of a wall, defensive fortress, and town centre, the four main gates being used as the gates for the town. The arrow-launching platforms built along ramparts with crenellated parapets and battlements were defensive elements of the fortress while the wall also held secret gates for offensive actions.
Overview Of Structures
The fortress has four gates: Janganmun (north gate), Hwaseomun (west), Paldalmun (south) and Changnyongmun (east). Janganmun and Paldalmun are the largest of the four main gates and resemble Seoul's Namdaemun in roof design and stone and woodwork. Indeed, Janganmun is the largest gate in Korea. Both the north and south gates are topped with two-storey wooden pavilions, while Hwaseomun's and Changyongmun's, those of the west and east gates respectively, have only one storey.
The wall is 5.74 kilometres (3.57 mi) in length and varies between 4 to 6 metres (13–20 ft), originally enclosing 1.3 square kilometres (0.5 sq mi) of land. On flat terrain the wall was generally built higher than that on either of the two hills over which it passes, as higher walls were seen as less necessary along hilltops. The parapets are made of stone and brick, like most of the fortress, and were 1.2 metres (4 ft) in height.
There were originally 48 structures along the wall of the fortress but seven have been lost to flooding, wars, or wear and tear. The fortress today features a floodgate, four secret gates, four guard platforms, two observation towers, two command posts, two archers' platforms, five firearms bastions, five sentry posts, four pavilions, a beacon tower and nine turrets. There were originally three watchtowers, but only two remain, both three-storeyed and with distinctive wooden pavilions on top and embrasures for guns and lookouts.
Festivals and Performances
Martial Arts Performance
Twenty-four martial arts are demonstrated following the routine used in King Jeongjo's time as king. The twenty-four arts were compiled in 1790 by Lee Deokmu and Park Jega, who had received orders as such from King Jeongjo and a master of martial arts at that time, Baek Dongsu. The textbook they made for instruction in martial arts was formed by the arts of the Joseon Dynasty.. These martial arts were then practised by the soldiers of Hwaseong under the supervision of Jang Yongyeong. The demonstration occurs at 11 a.m. daily from March to November excepting Mondays, and is performed on Saturdays and Sundays only in December.
Royal Guards Ceremony
This ceremony is a reconstruction of that which was held in Hwaseong in the 1790s by the royal guards who had been promoted to the position of hunryeon dogam, meaning training guards. There were twelve thousand guards housed in Korea's largest military camp. When King Jeongjo moved his father's body to Hwasan in Suwon in 1789 he named the tomb Hyeonryungwon and deployed soldiers from this camp to guard the new site. After changing the name of the fortress from Suwonbu to Hwaseong in 1793, a camp attached to Jang Yongyeong was built within the walls. Hwaseong's official website states that this performance occurs at 2 p.m. each Sunday from March to November.
- South Gate
- South-East Gate Guard Platform
- South-East Observation Tower
- South-East Pavilion
- East Turret 3
- East Sentry Post 2
- Beacon Tower
- East Turret 2
- East Sentry Post
- East Turret 1
- North-East Pavilion
- North Gate
- North-West Gate Guard Platform
- West Turret 1
- West Sentry Post