Discover Korea #1: Suwon (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Korea Tourism Organization)

During the era of the Three Kingdoms, (under the occupancy of Goguryeo from the end of the 5th century until the United Silla era), Suwon was called ‘Maehol’. During the following United Silla Period (under the rule of King Gyeongdeok-a.d. 757), the city was renamed Suseong-gun, and again renamed Suju during the Goryeo Dynasty. Here, ‘seong,’ ‘gun’ or ‘hol’ are merely geographical suffixes representing the division of administrative districts, and the real meaning of the name lies in the key words ‘su’ and ‘mae’. It seems definite that the word ‘mae’ is phonographically related to the Korean term for ‘water’. In the absence of Korean characters, proper nouns were marked using the sound and meaning of Chinese characters, in a writing method using borrowed terms.

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Originally, the centre of Suwon was located at the foot of Mt. Hwasan, about 8 kilometres to the south from the current location. Jeongjo The Great, of the Joseon Dynasty, moved the Yungneung Mausoleum of his father, Crown Prince Sado Seja, from Mt. Baebongsan in Yangju to the current location of Mt. Hwasan in Suwon in the 13th year of his reign (1798). The village and houses below it were moved collectively to the foot of Mt. Paldalsan, forming the beginnings of the Suwon city of today. The Great Jeongjo launched the construction of fortress to express his filial piety for his father and to strengthen the royal authority in the 18th year of his reign (1794). And he completed it in two years later in 1796. Hwaseong Fortress was built by Jo Sim-tae, county governor of Hwaseong, under the supervision of Prime Minister Chae Je-gong, based on the theories of fortress designs of Yu Hyeong-won and Jeong Yak-yong, scholars of the Practical School.
The most scientific of all fortress walls in Korea, its structures are elaborately arranged, assuming graceful and majestic aspects. Nothing a few special features of the fortress: stone and mud bricks were used in combination; a modern structure of defense was prepared not only against arrows, spears and swords, but also against guns; the materials standardized and the machines such as conventional cranes were used. The total length of the wall is 5.7 kilometres. Various kinds of structures are systematically arranged, including the gates of Changnyongmun Gate to the east, Hwaseomun Gate to the west, Paldalmun Gate to the south and Janganmun Gate to the north, as well as a variety of towers. A royal palace was built at the foot of Mt.Paldalsan for the king to stay temporarily while visiting Hyeonreungwon (the Yungneung Mausoleum of today).
However, the walls become dilapidated and the structure collapsed after a lapse of more than 200 years. The gate tower was destroyed during the Korean War and reconstructed 1975. The section between Paldalmun gate and the southeast tower couldn’t be restored because the city business area had already occupied a part of the wall site at that time. Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a World Cultural Heritage site at the 21st general meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, held in Naples on December 6,1997.

Mt. Gwanggyo
Located in Sanggwanggyo-dong, Suwon City, Mt. Gwanggyo stretches about 2 kilometres north-south between the Gyeongbu (Seoul-Busan) Expressway and the Seoul-Suwon highway. The gentle and secluded ridges of the mountain are thickly wooded in all directions, presenting an ideal place to enjoy a peaceful day’s mountaineering. Mt. Gwanggyo has been considered among the eight scenic spots of Suwon from ancient times. The beauty of the snow piled up on the trees on Mt. Gwanggyosan places it at the top of the eight scenic spots.

The seasoned ribs of Suwon
The smell of grilling ribs attracts the gourmet’s tongue. After seasoning the ribs with various sorts of ingredients, such as sesame oil, garlics, green onions, toasted sesame seeds and peaches, they are then grilled them over a charcoal fire. They are beyond comparison, not only in taste, but also in size. The grilled ribs of Suwon, one of the best foods enbodying the taste of Korea, are very much loved by tourists both from home and abroad. Lee Kwisong opened a restaurant named “Hwachunok” on “the rice store street” in the Yeongdong Market of Suwon in the 1940s. It became famous for it’s unique taste of ribs grilled over charcoal, and has become acknowledged to be a traditional food of Suwon. Presently, twenty five model restaurants are maintaining as part of the reputation of grilled ribs in Suwon. The Grilled Ribs Festival is held annually to celebrate the ‘taste of ribs’ the traditions of Korea. Today, a lot of restaurants are gathered around “the old pine trees area”, as well as the ramp of Gyeongbu Expressway in the East Suwon District.

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