Hubby asked what will I blog today and I replied, “I will blog about you.” He did not take that seriously and asked twice, probably hoping for a better answer.
“What will you blog about today?”
HWAESEONG HAENGGUNG PALACE AND FORTRESS
Hubby and I rarely hop on an arranged tour being his planning and navigation skills proven and well tested in all our travels. But on our third day in South Korea, we both agreed to take advantage of some guided tours for convenience and perhaps, for some educational translation. Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace is also about an hour drive from Seoul so the guided tour appeared to be a marvelous plan.
Brief historical background. In the mid 18th century, Crown Prince Sado was born as the second son of the Korean King Yeongjo of Joseon dynasty and the heir to the throne after his older brother Prince Hyojang’s early death. However, Prince Sado was rumored to have become mentally ill and was royal decreed to be murdered by being locked alive and starved inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo after failing to obey the command to commit suicide. He died after 8 days and his remains was buried on Mt BaebongSan in Yangju. In 1789, Prince Sado’s body was moved by his son King Jeongjo to its current location, Hyeollyungwon, and built the new Suwon city, and constructed the city fortress, Suwon and Hwaseong Fortress. Within these walls, King Jeongjo built and completed the Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace in 1796 and served as his temporary royal palace during his visits to his father’s tomb.
King Jeongjo also held a splendid feast for his mother, Hyegyeonggung Hong, on her 60th birthday in this palace. Afterall, what better venue to show gratitude to a mother than hosting a feast in the largest palace in South Korea with 576 chambers to boast, right?
While the Hwaseong Fortress served to enshrine King Jeongjo’s tomb, it was of course for political and military purposes. 5.7-kilometer long, 5-meter high fortress wall features stone walls and towers accented with architectural splendor and a number of secret passages. Our tour guide, Mr.Mark, was also very proud to say that this fortress was a result of application of scientific knowledge using advanced and modern machines like cranes and pulleys thereby completing the construction earlier than planned. It is inscribed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1997.
HWASEONG TRAIN, ARCHERY, KOREAN POP INVASION
One of the enjoyable parts of the tour around the fortress is the ride on the Hwaseong Train Tourist that travels between Paldalsan Mountain and Yeonmudae. Boy, nobody gets to hop on a dragon train anywhere else than here. It reminded me of the anime Dragon Ball Z! However, I personally would have preferred walking around the fortress on foot, except that I would have died before I reach the mountain top. It was also spring-ish when we visited so there was a slight trace of Cherry Blossom left and it was splendidly beautiful.
There was also an archery range in front of Dongjangdae that showcases the traditional Korean archery or Gukgung with brief introduction on basic postures and shooting the arrow. I was excited to try but we were afraid we will run short of time.
Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace has been famous but had been dramatically popular in the last few years big thanks to the Korean TV drama Daejanggeum, famously known in Asia as the “Jewel in the Palace”. Scenes of young Jang-geum undergoing training at the palace in cooking competition, the training of women doctors and Naeuiwon (medical facility in the palace) scenes, and many others were filmed here.
During our Kyoto trip and while in this Seoul tour , we have come to notice that it is normal to see an ocean of kids ( insert exaggeration ) touring around as well, running and shouting and just being, oh well kids. But everyone paused and gathered in front of Sinpungnu Pavilion at 2pm to wait for the 24 Moves Martial Arts show to begin. We all, without exemption, awed at the elite guards of Jangyeongyong as they showcase their 24 Martial Arts of Joseon Dynasty moves ala real life ninjas. The 24 Disciplines of the Military Arts, or “Muye 24 Gi” refers to the 24 disciplines of the military arts described in detail in the book Muye Dobo Tongji (The Comprehensive Illustrated Manual of the Martial Arts of Ancient Korea) that was published in 1790, the 14th year of the reign of King Jeongjo. Korean kids were also very friendly, asking us politely for photos with them.
Here is a short clip of the Martial Arts show :
SUWON HWASEONG MUSEUM (수원화성박물관)
A quick trip to Suwon Hwaseong Museum which is right outside Hwaeseong Haenggung Palace is a good addition to our travel itinerary!
A day spent with my husband is always a blessing and a travel with him is always, always a treasure. But what made this tour extra special is having to enjoy it with one of my husband’s best friends, JT, who joined us for the entire day and shared some of these unforgettable moments.
Hubby asked what will I blog today and I replied, “I will blog about you.” Yes, there was an ounce of truth to that, but in a bigger picture, I write about our stories and memories. Life is, after all, about moments and about people coming into our lives and giving meaning to our otherwise lonely existence. Be a good memory.