On November 4, 2017, I began to explore Hwa-seong in chilly weather. Although we had famous world heritage site in my city, I have never heard of explanations or comments except when I was very young. There is a saying in Korea that you see as much as you know. Therefore, I am going to explain the historical background and scientific principles to people seeking Hwa-seong in Suwon.
The word "Seong" in Korean means a fortress. There are four doors in Hwa-Seong. Each door is located at north, west, south, east. The fortress wall is about 6Km and its height ranges from 4 to 6 meters. It was completely planned before construction, and multi purposed building for defense & residential area. Although it was almost destroyed during Korean war, the original form was almost perfectly restored by traditional method based on historical data. This was possible because book documenting the construction process have been archived today.
It began its construction in 1794 and completed in 1796. The fortress constructed before Hwa-Seong used granite. But, as artillery began to develop rapidly Hwa-Seong used bricks to protect soldiers from shock coming from outside. Although a small country in East Asia is built Hwa-Seong, it has a structure that can be optimized for defense and residence by combining the characteristics of the European and East Asian fortresses. Moreover, even though it was built in the Middle Ages, it was able to advance the completion period by providing wages commensurate with the labor provided by the people.
Since the basic shape of Hwa seong is round, it is possible to take a look everywhere wherever you begin your journey. The course I recommend begins from the highest place in Hwa seong, Seo Jang Dae. To reach Seo Jang Dae, you should take bus which take you to bus stop named “Hwa seong Hang goong”. You may see traditional Korean building located at top of the mountain. That is the building called Seo Jang dae. Korea’s “Jang Dae” means kind of control tower. Like the gate, Jang Dae is located one side west of the east and west. The word “Seo” means west. Because it is located in highest place in Hwa Seong so you can look the entire wall at there.
1 The defensive wall of Hwa Seong.
2Seo Jang Dae Located at top of Paldal mountain Suwon
One more structure you may see is called “Am moon” which means secret gate in Korean. This was gate for war supplies such as food and live stocks. As you may guess in the name of it, the door was so small so that enemies couldn’t find it. You may see one more structure near Seo jang dae which looks like observatory. This is called No-dae. No dae was structure for launching very heavy arrows against enemy. This structure is evidence of the development of military science in the Middle Ages.
3 No Dae which is next to Seo Jang Dae
After looking around Seo Jang dae you should begin walking around the wall. As you walk down, you can take a look at many special features only Korean fortress have. First, I would like to introduce “Chi”. It is protruded part of wall which made soldiers to protect the fortress properly. Chi means pheasant in Chinese letter. This is because Pheasant hide well and protect themselves.
As you walk down you may meet different door. Northern door/ main gate is Jang an moon. It was door for king and that is why it was main gate of Hwa seong. The Southern gate is Pal dal moon. The name Pal Dal means it is opened to everywhere. East door is Chang Ryong moon. It was destroyed during Korean war. But restored in 1978. Though it is not the main gate, It is the biggest door in Hwa seong. Western door is Hwa seo moon. And has similar shape with Chang Ryong moon.
The common feature of Hwa seong’s gate is that it has structure called Ong Sung. Ong sung is semimonth-shaped wall installed by one open shape surrounding each gate. The outer gate is smaller than inner gate to make soldiers defense the wall more properly.
5 Ong Sung, Suwon Hwa Seong.
The final structure to introduce is called “Bong-Dae” & “Soo Moon”. Bong Dae is Signal Fire in Korea. It has five holes for signal. Each number of fire has different meaning to communicate in far distance. There are two soo moons in Hwa Seong. Soo moon means flood gate in Korean. Though it is was for preventing floods in Suwon, it also has traditional features of Korean constructing culture. It also performed defensive role. Each gate is positioned at Northern and southern of Hwa seong. I hope tourists visiting Hwa Seong gather and study about science and historical back ground of it. It’s gonna be more than tracking experience as you study more about it.
[This article was written as part of SCVA(Suwon Center's Volunteer Activators) activities.]