Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hwaseong Fortress Part 1

On Sunday we slept in and headed to Hwaseong Fortress around 11am. In ancient times the Hwaseong Fortress wall surrounded the town center of Suwon (Suwon city is about 30km south of Seoul) and was built in 1794 by King Jeongjo to house and honor the remains of his father Prince Sado, who had been murdered by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo after failing to obey the command to commit suicide. 
From Wikipedia 
It had been reported to his father that he was mentally ill, wantonly killed people, and was very erratic. This was a disappointment to his father, and with the consent of Lady Yi, Yeongjo finally ordered him to be sealed alive in a large rice chest, where he died within eight days. His son Yi San became King Jeongjo in 1776, after King Yeongjo's death.
Unfortunately, like much of Korea's ancient architecture, much of the fort was destroyed by the Japanese as part of their attempt to eliminate Korean culture from the face of the earth. What the Japanese didn't destroy, the Koreans severely damaged during the Korean war. During the Korean war Suwon changed hands 4 times and much fighting took place in the city. There are some original structures/parts of original structures which still stand to this day, but much of it was rebuilt in the 1970's which was a little disappointing for me because even though they tried their best to recreate the fortress, it has a "new' feel about it and just isn't the same. 

There are a lot of different structures scattered throughout the center of Suwon and I didn't have time to check them all out so I will have to come back another day. I spent a couple of hours wondering around the detached palace which was at the center of it all. The palace (Haenggung) was built within the walls of Hwaseong Fortress to house King Jeongjo when he was away from his palace in Seoul worshipping at his fathers tomb. 

Enough history. It is picture time^^.

This is the main gate to the palace.

I am not sure what the correct wording is, but the next 4 pictures are basically the room where the kind lived and did his work.

This was at the rear of the king's room (left) where the servants lived (right). 

A servant in his room. I managed to get most of the room in the picture. It is very small.

We were able to walk part of the way up the mountain at the back of the palace. You can see the palace roof lines down below the trees. 

I don't know what significance (if any) this tree had. I just thought it looked interesting and really really old. 

Pictured here is Naknamheon which was a specially designed facility for various events. It is the only building in the palace complex which was not destroyed and is still maintained in its original form. It is doing pretty well for 220 years.

This structure (Hwaryeongjeon) was built to enshrine a portrait of King Jeongjo in his military uniform. Hwaryeongjeon means "return to pay respects to parents". King Sunjo (son of King Jeongjo) would visit to pay his respects and hold sacrificial rites whenever he visited. 

Portrait of King Jeongjo

This is one of the royal wells where pure water was used for the rituals at Hwaryeongjeon (pictured above).

Some massive jumbo sized goldfish!

Koreans are short.

An example of the food that was prepared for the great feasts held at the palace. 

The main palace kitchen. Jihyeon told me that her grandmother had a kitchen similar to this. 

Some pots used to make Kimchi or bean paste. 

This is what the money used to look like back then. It had a hole in the middle so you could keep your money on a string. 

We had a photo taken wearing some traditional royal clothing. 

A traditional Korean game. I am not sure what it is called exactly, but is is both frustrating and fun. 

Woot! I did it. 

Another really old tree. People were writing their wishes on paper and then tying them to a string that was wrapped around the tree. 

We decided to give it a go too.

We then headed to the main palace gate for a ceromony that was performed whenever the king arrived at the palace. 

We then headed to a restaurant famous for their boiled chicken for lunch. It was great. 

The first side dish arrived. It was a giant slice of radish which must have been growing near where the North Koreans were testing nuclear weapons. It was huge. We cut it up so we could eat it. Note that using scissors to cut vegetables and meat is normal in Korea. 

And the boiled chicken arrived. It didn't look super appetizing but it tasted great. We were given a small bowl of seasoned salt to dip the chicken in before eating it. It was good. 

Then we ordered a second main dish of spicy noodles (I am unsure of the exact name). I impressed everyone and went back for seconds. It was too hot for Jihyeon and her sister. It looks like eating all that spicy food in the lunch cafeteria is paying off. 

After lunch we headed to the train station and back home. 

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