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Cultural Heritage Sites print

Unveiling the secrets of the Hwaseong Fortress

The word "Hwaseong" originates from one of the scriptures of Confucianism, "Jangja." In Chinese characters, Hwaseong means ‘the place ruled by the morally perfect sage-Emperor Yao’. Emperor Yao was a legendary emperor in ancient Chinese history whose benevolence and diligence served as a model for future Chinese monarchs and emperors. The rein of Emperor Yao was referred to as the most peaceful and prosperous time in ancient Chinese history. Among the many Haengsungs in the Joseon Dynasty, the Hwaseong Fortress is the only Haengsung in which the name contains significant meaning. All the financial and technological capacities of the Joseon Dynasty in the eighteenth century were directed towards the construction of the Hwaseong Fortress. The Jwaeuijeong, the second highest ranking civil servant of the day comparable to the deputy prime minister of today, was in charge of the project. The scientific and practical design of the fortress wall was made possible due to the contributions of the scholars of Silhak (practical learning) such as Jeong, Yak-yong, who invented the Geojunggi (wooden crane) to make the immense tasks of lifting heavy materials possible.


The magnitude of the construction project was enormous, with 700,000 laborers working on the project from January 1794 to September 1796. Local residents were compensated through relocation.

A water reservoir was constructed to secure farmland near the fortress. After the completion of the fortress, 5,000 troops belonging to the royal guard unit were stationed in the fortress. Though Hwaseong Fortress ultimately failed to become the second capital of the Joseon Dynasty, it remains a symbol of both the ingenuity and technological advancements of the period.


Hwaseong Fortress, the world’s first planned city
Unveiling the secrets of the Hwaseong Fortress
Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
Surveying the Hwaseong Fortress/Spending time on the Hwaseong Fortess