Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Suwon
As we got off of the bus, we were greeted by this portion of the fortress.

One of the commander’s programs that I run as the chaplain is an orientation for newcomers to the brigade which gives newly-arrived Soldiers guided experience using public transportation, visiting a cultural site and eating at a Korean restaurant. Not wanting my first time there to be when I lead my first group, today my chaplain assistant took me, along with my incoming assistant and our KATUSA, on the trip to “recon” the site and “rehearse” our movement.

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On the right is my present (but leaving) chaplain assistant; on the left is my new one and in the middle is my KATUSA.

We started by meeting on post near the dining facility then taking the post shuttle to the gate. Exiting the gate, we walked to the train/subway station and got on the #4 southbound train (toward Samgakji) at the Sookmyung Women’s University stop. After changing trains in Geumjeong onto the #1 southbound (toward Gunpo), we arrived at the Suwon station. Making our way to ground level, we caught a bus (can take either the #11 or #13) to the fortress. After visiting the fortress then walking to the restaurant for lunch, we made our way back to the bus stop (again, either #11 or #13 in the same direction) for our return trip to Yongsan via the #1 northbound back to Geumjeong then the #4 northbound. On the return trip, however, we got off at the Samgakji stop which was a bit shorter of a walk onto post (and out of the now falling rain).

The Suwan Hwaseong Fortress was an interesting site to see, and we just saw part of it. According to the visitor’s map:

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Historic Sites No. 3, was built over two years and nine months, from January 1794 to September 1796, by King Jeongjo, the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty, to move the tomb of his father Crown Prince Jangheon, also known as Crown Prince Sado, because of his filial duty to his father.

The wall is approximately 5.7 kilometers long (varies between 4 to 6 meters at different points) and was designed by the silhak scholars Yu, Hyeong-won and Jeong, Yak-yong. It is known as a unique structure in the history of architecture because of its use of stones and bricks together in a modern fortress structure to deflect arrows, spears, swords, guns, and cannons; its use of standardized  materials; and its use of new scientific and practical mechanic apparatuses such as Geojunggi.

For 200 years, the walls and structures had been collapsing, particularly during the Korean War. The restoration and repair of the fortress began in 1975, based on books that recorded in detail the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Construction called Hwaseong Seongyeokigwe.

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a World Heritage Site in the 21st Assembly of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Napoli, Italy on the 6th day of December 1997.

Here are some more pictures from our trip. In some of them, it may appear as though we are having a good time, but in reality we were working…hard!

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Starting our trip on the post shuttle…
On the train on the way to Suwan, my assistant struck up a conversation with an old Korean.
On the train on the way to Suwon, my assistant struck up a conversation with an old Korean.

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The
The “mall” in the Suwon train station.
The view of Suwon from the exit of the train station.
The view of Suwon from the exit of the train station.
The buses had TV and free WiFI!
The buses had TV and free WiFI!
Suwon
Our first view of part of the fortress as we got off of the bus.
Down this street you can see the long path of stairs we will be climbing!
Down this street you can see the long path of steps we will be climbing!
Many steps...
Many steps…
Many, many stairs!
Many, many steps!
Once we got to the top, there was a lot of neat things to see. This is Seosam Ammun. An
Once we got to the top, there were a lot of neat things to see. This is Seosam Ammun. An “Ammun” is a secret gate “set up in a deep spot to provide war supplies to the fortress without being caught by enemies. In case of an emergency, an ammun could be closed by filling it up with stones and laying some earth next to the gate.”
There were several Chiseongs or turrets
There were several Chiseongs or turrets “to monitor and attack enemies who had reached the fortress.”
This is SeoPoru. A
This is SeoPoru. A “Porus” is a sentry post.
This is the
This is the “March 1st Independence Movement Memorial.” It is “to commemorate Korean ancestors’ valuable resistance to regain the national sovereignty and pray for the repose of their soul.”
This is the Memorial of Korean Independence. It was
This is the Memorial of Korean Independence. It was “established on August 15th, 1948 by Suwon citizens to commemorate Korea’s restoration of independence.”
Now we come to the bell of Filial Piety. The bell is
Now we come to the bell of Filial Piety. The bell is “tolled” (?) every hour 1000-1800 daily, three times. The first toll is to show gratitude and respect to your parents. The second is to wish for your family’s health and harmony. The third is to wish for the realization of your dreams.
I had to give it a shot!
I had to give it a shot!
It was impossible to miss!
It was impossible to miss!
Of course my assistant had to give it a go!
Of course my assistant had to give it a go!
Up from the Filial Bell was another ammun which we went out and saw the outside of the wall up close.
Up from the Filial Bell was another ammun which we went out and saw the outside of the wall up close.
...and the other side.
…and the other side.
Then looking down the hill from the wall to an interesting formation of trees.
Then looking down the hill from the wall to an interesting formation of trees.
Moving on, we came to the highest point of the fortress, the SeoJandae. A jangdae is a command post and this one was
Moving on, we came to the highest point of the fortress, the SeoJandae. A jangdae is a command post and this one was “where military command was established around the fortress at the summit of Paldal Mountain.”
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From SeoJangdae there were great views of Suwon city below.
From SeoJangdae there were great views of Suwon city below.
From SeoJangdae there were great views of Suwon city below.
From SeoJangdae there were great views of Suwon city below.
From SeoJangdae there were great views of Suwon city below.
Starting down Paldal Mountain, there was a bronze statue of King Jeongjo the Great, the King who had this fortress built.
Starting down Paldal Mountain, there was a bronze statue of King Jeongjo the Great, the King who had this fortress built.  Notice the woman in red bowing down to the statue. Not sure if she was praying, or what but she had laid out a variety of food in front of the statue.
It was an impressive statue. Notice the woman in red bowing down to the statue. Not sure if she was praying, or what but she had laid out a variety of food in front of the statue. Before she kneeled down, I thought she was getting out her lunch to eat it...
It was an impressive statue. Notice again the woman in red spreading out a variety of food. Until I saw her kneel, I thought she was spreading out her lunch to eat it.
On the way down from Paldal Mountain, we saw the trolley which runs around a large portion of the fortress (though not to the top!).
On the way down from Paldal Mountain, we saw the trolley which runs around a large portion of the fortress (though not to the top!).
Getting back to
Getting back to “city-level,” we started up a small street (I think it was Rodeo Street) to the restaurant we take the group to.
...and here it is, *Something in Korean* Part I!
…and here it is, *Something in Korean* Part I!
Fortunately, we had our KATUSA to translate for us!
Fortunately, we had our KATUSA to translate for us! I’m not sure why we were so bunched up for this picture…my assistants must really like me!
They bring out a grill with hot coals to cook at the table.
They bring out a grill with hot coals to cook at the table. The pipe above it (and at each table) is a vent that sucks out the smoke.
Our KATUSA (as the youngest) also did the cooking!
Our KATUSA (as the youngest) also did the cooking!
I ordered the Bulgogi, which comes with a lot of extra stuff. It was great (much better than my Bulgogi Burger at McDonald's)!
I ordered the Bulgogi, which comes with a lot of extra stuff. It was great (much better than my Bulgogi Burger at McDonald’s)!
On the way back to the bus, we came across a Buddhist monastery. Like all traditional Korean architecture, the buildings were very colorful.
On the way back to the bus, we came across a Buddhist monastery. Like all traditional Korean architecture, the buildings were very colorful.
The other side of the entry arch showing more of the colorful and intricate architecture.
The other side of the entry arch showing more of the colorful and intricate architecture.
There were places for the Buddhist monks and others to pray. This building seemed to have separate booths.
There were places for the Buddhist monks and others to pray. This building seemed to have separate booths.
This appeared to be more like a temple.
This appeared to be more like a temple.
Here's the inside of the temple.
Here’s the inside of the temple.
The banner hanging higher, to the right, says something about praying for your children, that they will get into a good university.
The banner hanging higher, to the right, says something about praying for your children, that they will get into a good university.
Finally on the train on the way home, our KATUSA was wore out!
Finally on the train on the way home, our KATUSA was wore out!

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