Regular FeaturesTravel Diary
A Short Visit to the Joseon DynastyFinding out King Jeongjo’s love for his father in Suwon Hwaseong
Jo Eun-ho  |
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승인 2016.09.07  00:59:42
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COULD YOU believe it if there was a place where you canfind 7 national cultural assets and over 50 gorgeous traditional architectures in just one city? Suwon, home to Hwaseong, is this month’s destination. Hwaseong was built by King Jeongjo, the 22nd king of the Joseon dynasty. King Jeongjo’s father Sadoseja was destined to ascend the throne. But he fell victim to factionalism, and died after being locked away in a wooden rice chest. After witnessing his father’s tragic death, King Jeongjo sought initiate political reform, and thus constructed a fortress for the purpose of moving Joseon’s capital to a new city: Suwon*. Hwaseong is meaningful even today. It is designated as Historical Remains No. 3, and also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of December, 1997. Let us now begin our trip to the past.

A big fortress full of history
After arriving at Hwaseong, take a glance at the entire fortress it looks like a big circle. Start off from one of the four gates, since these are easy to find: Paldalmun, Hwaseomun, Janganmun, and Hwahongmun. As you pass through Hwahongmun, the north gate, and Dongbukgangnu (Banghwasuryujeong) – a tower above a pond called Yongyeon - you will find remarkably alluring scenery; beautiful flowers surround Yongyeon and willow trees are lined up along the lake. All you have to do is to sit on a pavilion and comfortably admire the Suwon River as it flows. Interestingly, the structure was originally one of the provisional battle command posts, but because the scenery of Yongyeon was so outstanding, Dongbukgangnu later became a place for feasts rather than battles.
King Jeongjo built the fortress not only because he was very considerate toward his father, but also in order to utilize the fortress as a national defense. Therefore, as you walk around Hwaseong, you will encounter structures that were used for attacking enemies as well as shielding and handling troops. You can take a look at various unique structures such as po-ru, a place for soldiers to rest and attack enemies; jang-dae, a command post; and bong-don, a communication facility built for the purpose of declaring a state of emergency. As you walk step by step around the fortress, you can find a total of 48 structures, including gates, command posts, cannon forts, and sentry towers. You can ride a Hwaseong train if you want to look around the fortress in a comfortable way. You only need \1,500 to ride this train, and it will comfortably lead you from Mt. Paldal to Yeonmudae.
▲ Buk-su-mun(Hwa-hong-mun), the North Floodgate
Hwaseong Haenggung, a temporary palace for the king to stay
After looking around the fortress, next you can visit Hwaseong Haenggung, a palace where the king would stay during a long journey. You can see a big field full of unique houses here. Each of the 20 houses is used for refuge, rest, and worship. To fully enjoy your Haenggung travel, buy a stamp tour paper (\500), and then walk around with the map that shows where the stamps are. As you walk along the path, finding the stamps one by one, you will be able to discover the magnificence of Haenggung.
Various events are waiting in Hwaseong Haenggung, such as the military training of the courageous soldiers of the Jangyongyeong, royal guards of King Jeongjo, and 24 martial arts performances. And the place may also be familiar as the set for such TV programs as One Night Two Days (a Korean entertainment program) and Dae Jang Geum (a Korean historical drama). Inside Haenggung, you can find life-sized dolls and props used in the drama Dae Jang Geum. Visitors may also find the places that appeared in the television.
▲ Ornaments in Hang-geung Street
Haenggung street: harmony between the past and present
   After looking around Hwaseong Fortress and Hwaseong Haenggung, now it is time to return slowly to the present. Come out from Hwaseong Haenggung, then turn right and go straight until you find Haenggung Street. The street is full of art workshops, cafes, galleries, and restaurants. Dolls, necklaces, rings, magnets, Korean traditional fans, and small sculptures are waiting for you, and various objects are used in assembling these ornaments: pressed flowers, sewing, and wooden crafts. Some individuals might think that these ornaments would be too old-fashioned because the shops are located right next to Haenggung, but this is not at all the case. Many of the ornaments are highly attractive, joining past and present in a beautiful harmony. After looking around the art workshops by the street, you can visit various traditional markets such as Paldalmun Market, Yeongdong Market, and Jidong Market.
*                 *                 *
   There are historical structures and interesting stories hidden in Hwaseong, though not many people are familiar with this cultural asset. But now is a perfect time to visit Hwaseong because you can enter there for free, if you add Suwon-si as a Kakaotalk plus friend; this event will last only for the calendar for year 2016, commemorating Hwaseong’s 220th anniversary. Visit Hwaseong this September – find out the intriguing stories there; experience Korean traditional events, and visit the unique markets!
*According to the tradition of many kings, changing the capital usually means to initiate political reform.
▲ Dae-jang-geum character dolls displayed in Hwa-seong Haeng-gung
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