Hwaseong, the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to honour and house 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 having failed to obey his command to commit suicide.
The Suwon fortress was beautiful. I couldn't have asked for a better day with nicer weather, and the grounds are absolutely huge. I didn't get to see the whole thing in the time I had, so it's still a possibility to visit again before I leave. Some pictures, if you want to live vicariously through me!
You can take a bus from Suwon station to the fortress (and the palace), but it was such a nice day (and since I had forgotten which exit from the station put you in the right bus direction) I walked it. I also got English bombed by an ajosshi drinking makgeolli straight from the bottle at 2 in the afternoon. I HAD MAD RESPECT FOR YOUR RAMPANT ALCOHOLISM UNTIL YOU TRIED TO HOLD MY HAND, MR. AJOSSHI.
Because I walked, I also came upon the fortress by a kind of weird side way instead of from the "entrance." So you get a sideways chronological tour instead of a normal ways achronological tour.
The first of many, many stairs to be climbed, because it's a fortress and so naturally it's on a hill.
Nice view, though.
All along the watchtower...
The fortress walls enclose a lot of greenery.
At this particular pavilion I had a nice sit and read for a while. Despite the innumerable hordes of people there, I was alone for quite some time, maybe half an hour? It was a dead end off the main fortress "trail" so that's probably why. I pretended I was the only person in the fortress and tore through The Poisonwood Bible.
Close up of the sign on the pavilion.
After the pavilion I wandered down the wall on the other side of the hill and nosed around the palace.
Traditional Chuseok game that's kind of the opposite of a seesaw. You jump and try to launch your partner up in the air. Not pictured: doofy foreigners attempting it as well.
The wishing tree! I left a wish (in Korean!) tied on it as well.
My wish. It's secret, though! Otherwise it won't come true. (Not a Korean thing; that's my own superstition.)
Decorative roof tile.
Lots of bits of the palace seemed to be under (re)construction, as they were not painted or not fully painted:
I'm sorry Korea, but I kind of prefer your architecture without the salmon-colored walls. =/
The history behind this particular fortress and palace is that it was built to commemorate a dead king who was sentenced to death because his father thought he would make a terrible heir. The dead king's son (somehow this guy managed to reproduce despite vague "mental illness," I guess) had the palace built to commemorate his father.
How was the dead king killed? Buried in a rice chest.
I spied this going on in the corner of the main courtyard:
"Hm, what are they doing? Let's saunter over to look! There's an informative sign!"
"This looks fun!"
RICE DEATH CHEST!
I'm trying to make the most of my remaining time here. This weekend is a fireworks festival over the Han, which I plan to attend with a few friends. At some point, though, a weekend will have to be devoted to packing (and shipping home what I can). Dislike.