Sunday, June 06, 2004

Hwasong Fortress in Suwon

Hwasong Fortress in Suwon Henny Savenije describes the construction of this fortress built (1794-1796) in Suwon, Korea by King Jeongjo. He includes the original drawings for it from the manuscript book Hwasong Seongyeok Uigwe.

From the site:

The book, which contains the construction process of Hwasong castle, is a book, which is as famous as The Law of Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China. This book called the Hwasong Seongyeok Uigwe (ü¤àòàòæµëðÏù), or the Archives of the Construction of Hwasong Fortress, shows the construction of Hwasong castle (1794-1796) during the reign of Jeongjo (reigned 1777-1800). The book is now stored in Kyujangha (the cultural library of Seoul National University). Hwasong is also known as Suwonsong or the fortress of Suwon town.

Originally Suwon was located at the foot of the Hwasan mountain range. It's near Osan, about 8 km. away from Suwon some 30 km. south of Seoul. Hwasong castle was built by Jeongjo, the 22nd king of the Choseon Dynasty, for his late father. King Jeongjo's father, Sado Seja, the second son of the 21st king, King Yeongjo, had been installed as crown prince but was condemned by his father to be imprisoned in a rice chest where he died. King Jeongjo moved the tomb of his father from Beabongsan to Hwasong in Suwon and moved Suwon-bu to the vicinity of Padalsan mountain.

Jeongjo innovated domestic administration, enhanced learning to establish a library called Kyujanggak and encouraged industry and mechanics. Building the walled city, Hwasong, was one of his political deeds.

Hwasong was derived from Hwasan, the name of both the old town and the mountain were the tomb was located. The hwa in Hwasong and Hwasan were believed to have a phonetic resemblance. Hwasan was also called the 800 peaks surrounding a peak, therefore looking like a flower bud (Hwa) and the Hwa of Hwasong (Fortress of grass?)

The construction is an example of how Korean and Chinese construction could go together. The total length of the walls of Hwasong is 5,520 mtr. It is a flat type of mountain fortress build alongside the Paldal mountain in the west and on low hills and level ground in the east. It has various defensive facilities such as; four gates, a secret gate, a flood gate, a watch tower, an empty watchtower, empty signal fire towers, fortress tower, commander's pavilion. Until then the castles of Choson were divided into a castle to live in and a mountain fortress wall to protect refugees in times of war. Hwasong however stands out, since it has both functions.

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