Column_November _1_Why I love
Namhansanseong is a fortress built to defend the nation in case of an emergent situation. The fact that a king stayed at this fortress implies a sad story. The most impressive part of Kim Hoon’s novel Namhansanseong was the beginning. The main character of the novel climbs the mountain covered with white snow, wading through the cold snow. All he could think of was the security of his king and the nation. The novel was made into a movie recently, so the voices of the actors are still resonating in my mind. I decided to experience personally the history of Korea while walking along the fortress. The splendid autumn foliage instead of white snow will tell of the different stories of the fortress.
Namhansanseong History Museum
When visiting historic sites, I recommend visiting a history museum beforehand. It would not be easy for common people to discover the historical significance by simply looking at the dilapidated interior of a building in a totally unfamiliar place. The more you know, the more you can appreciate. The storytelling presented at the history museum will provide a similar effect of making people visit filming sites after watching popular TV dramas. If you’re ready, let’s tour the inside.
As soon as you walk inside the museum, a large map of Namhansanseong greets you; it has a short description on the history of Namhansanseong, which was built in the mid-8th century by extending the old site of Silla’s Jujangseong Fortress to defend Hanyang, the capital city of the Joseon Dynasty. The fortress was designed in such a way as to hold the installation of firearms and cannons and is said to have reserved food that could sustain people for several years. One peculiar feature of this fortress is that there used to be 7 temples within the fortress including the existing Janggyeongsa Temple. Constructing Buddhist temples during the Joseon dynasty when Confucianism was promoted might seem strange, but it was intended to mobilize manpower for the construction of the fortress and to protect the fortress using the army of monks. The current beautiful appearance of the fortress has been protected by monks.
Namhansanseong was built to defend itself from modern-style weapons, and it can install guns and cannons through the holes made on the fortress. It also has the structure of bastion and barbican. Owing to these features, which aid in the understanding of the fortress’ history and function, it was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage.
I strongly recommend examining the map describing the battle of the Manchu Invasion in 1636 as well as the exhibition of topography presented in the center.
Namhansanseong Dulle-gil Trail (Course 1)
Sanseong Rotary – North Gate – West Gate – Sueojangdae Post – Yeongchunjeong Pavilion – South Gate -Sanseong Rotary
Sueojangdae, which is also called Seojangdae, is a post to watch over enemies and to surveil its surroundings while monitoring the fortress. In terms of listing in UNESCO, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was listed in 1997, whereas Namhansanseong was listed in 2014. I had once walked along Hwaseong Fortress. When I started walking up from the entrance of Paldalsan Mountain, I came across Seojangdae Post of Hwaseong Fortress, where I could see a temporary palace as well as downtown Suwon.
Therefore, when I headed toward Sueojangdae Post of Namhansanseong Fortress this time, I quickened my pace with the same expectations. Sueojangdae Post is a 2-story tower, and it looks bigger and loftier compared to Suwon Hwaseong. Unfortunately, only the first floor was open to the public, so I could not see the open view under the roof. In front of Seojangdae Post, I saw a black and white photo of our ancestors wearing a Korean traditional hat, taken during the 1980s. The image of the photo still remains in my mind, probably because of their sense of pride in having protected the fortress, so I was somehow able to get over my disappointment.
Because of the narrow fortress path and a thick forest up to Yeongchunjeong Pavilion, the scenic view is not open; once you get to the protruding curved shape, however, you will feel relieved. Yeongchunjeong Pavilion is probably the highest point in the area. The gray-colored city under the dark blue sky will look like a mystical world enclosed in a glass bead, and I got engrossed in the view. As I was enjoying the sound of unknown birds, I was not even aware that the sun was going down.
When you walk along the fortress wall, starting from the North Gate and walking toward the East Gate, you will get to the front of Janggyeongsa Temple. After passing one pillar gate, you can see the small temple. When the construction of Namhansanseong Fortress began in 1624, armies of monks were mobilized to the site from across the nation, and several temples were constructed to provide accommodations to them; today, only one temple remains. There used to be weapon storage and powder magazines within the temple. When I imagined monks taking out guns and gunpowder and pointing the gun at the enemies to protect the fortress, the image of monks who tried to fight against enemies with the power of Buddha by engraving Buddhist scriptures on wooden plates at Seonwonsa Temple in Ganghwado Island was juxtaposed. With the monks who protected Namhansanseong Fortress in mind, you can tour temples and walk along Dulle-gil Trail that passes between colorful trees.
Address: Namhansanseong-ro 792beon-gil, Namhansanseong-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Website: Click here
Namhansanseong Food Street
In the vicinity of Namhansanseong are several restaurants for visitors of Dulle-gil Trail. It is a time for enjoying delicious food after finishing a hike. Improve your health while appreciating the beauty of Korean traditional houses.
Gohyang Sancheon is famous for chicken soup, but it has a menu called “hyojonggeng,” which is as nutritious as chicken soup. The food was cooked all night, and it used to be delivered to wealthy houses within the fortress when the bell at the watch tower struck 33 times to notify the lifting of curfew at dawn. It was the first delivery of hangover soup in Korea.
Address: 763-30, Namhansanseong-ro, Namhansanseong-myeon, Gwangju-si
Gaemichon is a restaurant specializing in Korean table d’hote and local Korean chicken food in Namhansanseong. The building of the restaurant has a unique style created by the combination of Korean traditional house and convenient Western style. Representative menus include whole local Korean chicken soup and Korean table d’hote.
Address: 512, Namhansanseong-ro, Namhansanseong-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Website: Click here