Surveying the Hwaseong Fortress
The Haenggung is a subsidiary palace of the Joseon Dynasty, and the Hwaseong Haenggung served that purpose for King Jeongjo when he made visits to the area for the memorial services for his father, Crown Prince Sadosaeja. The Hwaseong Haenggung became a popular tourist attraction after the Hallyu (‘Korean wave’) drama "Daejanggum" was filmed there.
The Hwaseong Haenggung has many peripheral structures, including the "Noraedang", which means "house to which to return in old age,” reflecting King Jeongjo's aspirations to use the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress as second capital and place of retirement. The huge size of the Hwaseong Haenggung when compared to the other Haenggungs of the Joseon Dynasty further suggests the strategic significance of the Hwaseong Haenggung. The Hwaseong Haenggung consists of 567 kan (a kan is the space between two pillars in Korean architecture), which is significantly more than the 150-180 kan found in the average Haenggung.
The Hwaryongjeong is located next to the Haenggung. It is a royal shrine that honors "Oeijin", a portrait of King Jeongjo. The original portrait of King Jeongjo was confiscated by the Japanese during the Japanese oppression in the 20th century. A copy was produced in 1992 with reference to the portrait of King Yeongjo, the grandfather of King Jeongjo. The Unhangak, located inside the Hwaryongjeong, exhibits this portrait. The sign plate of the Unhangak was written by the late President Park Jung-Hee, and he even dated the plate by writing "Byungojungchu", which means ‘the year 1966’ in Chinese characters. There is a well inside the Hwaryongjeong that had been deserted for a long time. The Korean government tested the well’s water and was surprised to find it potable.
③ The wall of Hwaseong Fortress
The wall of Hwaseong Fortress represents the peak of engineering technology of the Joseon Dynasty. The wall of the Hwaseong Fortress has a uniquely-designed "Chiseong" (turret), a portion of the wall that juts out, aiding in the detection of and attack against invading enemies. King Jeongjo was well aware of the deficiencies of other Fortress walls constructed without the provisions of the Chiseong (turret) in the Joseon Dynasty prior to the Hwaseong Fortress. The walls of the fortresses constructed prior to the Hwaseong Fortress were vulnerable to enemy attacks and had often fallen during foreign aggression.
Hoping to avoid the same devastating outcome, King Jeongjo added sixteen Chiseong (turrets) around the outer walls of the Hwaseong Fortress. The unique design of "Ongseong (semi-circular protective wall)" that encloses the Janganmun and Paldalmun in the shape of a pot also served the same defensive purpose as the Chiseong (turret). The idea of constructing a Chiseong (turret) by laying bricks to make walls had been suggested by the scholars of Silhak (practical learning). Park Ji-won, a leader of the Silhak movement, had learned the superiority of bricks as a construction material when he had made a journey to China. However, the construction of the walls with this material required the huge task of baking a variety of soils, which took a long period of time and a huge amount of money. Despite all the odds, King Jeongjo chose to use a brick structure to support and adopt the ideas of the scholars of Silhak (practical learning). The immense public project of constructing the Hwaseong Fortress was successfully completed only within thirty-four months of the construction period (actual construction took only 28 months) with the help of inventions made by Jeong Yak-Yong, including the Geojunggi (wooden crane) and the Osungji.
Spending time on the Hwaseong Fortess
The first attraction for visitors coming by car is the Changyongmun. Visitors are offered the chance to experience traditional Korean archery at the Gukgungjang three times a day (AM: 11:00; PM: 1:00, 3:00), and each session is one hour long. Visitors will face the big building structure called "Yeonmuda", where military exercises were conducted in the Joseon Dynasty. A walking route of the Hwaseong Fortress begins with the Yeonmudae along the wall of Fortress. When visitors start in a clockwise direction, the order of attraction sites is Changyongmun, Paldalmun, Seojangdae, Hwaseomun, Janganmun, Hwahongmun and back to the Changyongmun.
The 5.7 kilometers takes about 3 hours to complete on foot and showcases the unique features of the Hwaseong Fortress, including the Mangru (observatory tower), the Nugak (Korean styled story building), the Poru (cannon post), and the Ongseong (semi-circular protective wall).