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Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon City
Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon City, Gyeonggi-do Province, represents the latest features of fortification in Korea. The construction was planned by the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty, Jeongjo, when he moved his father's tomb from the Yangju area to Mt. Paldalsan in Suwon County in 1789. The fortress construction was started along Mt. Paldalsan in January 1794 and completed in June 1796, under the supervision of Chae Jae-gong, a former minister and the magistrate of Yeongjungchubu County.
The fortress sprawls on both flatland and hilly terrain, something seldom seen in neighboring China and Japan. It is designed to serve political and commercial as well as military functions. Under the influence of Silhak, or Practical Learning, which was the new trend of thought gaining ground at the time, the fortress was built scientifically utilizing newly invented construction equipment. Fortification facilities were enhanced by properly combining stones, bricks, and wood and by incorporating drainage, rampart slit embrasures, crenellated parapets with embrasures, and bastions. The Hwaseong Seongyeok Uigwe (Archives of the Construction of Hwaseong Fortress) was published in 1801. It records every detail of the project, from blueprints to engineering methods, required materials, workforce, budget, timetable, and so on.
The Hwaseong Fortress envelops downtown Suwon City in a huge ellipse running a total of 5.52 km. There are 41 existing facilities along the perimeter, including four cardinal gates (Paldalmun, Janganmun, Changnyongmun, and Hwaseomun), one sumun (floodgate), four ammun (secret gates), four jeokdae (gateguard platforms), two gongsimdon (observation towers), two jangdae (command posts), two nodae (multiple-arrow-launcher platforms), five posa (firearms bastions), five poru (sentry towers), four gangnu (angle towers), one bongdon (beacon tower), and nine chi (bastions). Each structure well harmonizes architectural splendor and function on a key strategic spot.
The fortress was registered on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List in December 1997.