Excursion to SUWON - Country Palace and (Fortress) City Walls

Sunday, November 3, 2019 -
9:00am to 6:00pm
Suwon, Gyeonggi Province
43,000won for members; 51,000won for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Mr. Peter Bartholomew

Excursion to SUWON:  

Country Palace and (Fortress) City Walls


Meeting Point:  In front of the Yongsan Post Office, near Exit 1, Sinyongsan subway station (신용산역) (Blue line/Line 4, #429). At 9:00 am.   

Please RSVP by Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by clicking here.

(Reservations confirmation on Wednesday, October 30.)

The walled city of Suwŏn is the best constructed (late 1700’s), most original and well-preserved example of monumental fortifications in Korea. It is the largest walled city in Korea, second only to Seoul. The city walls were built to protect the new royal country palace, the “Hwasŏng (Hwaseong) Haeng Gung.”         

The Haeng Gung (palace) is an exquisite example of Korean monumental architecture, constructed on a more human and aesthetic style for its country setting and purpose, sitting at the foot of a vast forest garden with gazebo and pleasure pavilions.

On this excursion to Suwǒn we will walk through the palace and along the impressive city fortress-like walls, with their beautiful gates. There will be continuous lecture descriptions of every detail and many historical events that bring to life this remarkable work of architectural and landscape art.

The excursion leader will be Mr. Peter Bartholomew, a 50-year resident in Korea who has made intensive study of the Chosŏn (Joseon~조선) period (1392 – 1910) from an architectural and historical perspective.

Mr. Bartholomew will explain the background of history and complex intrigues woven into this impressive gem of Korean architecture, its links with the court in Seoul and the personal lives of royal family members, including the insane and often violent prince who was suffocated by his father, the King, in a rice chest and his wife, the gracious (and suffering) Lady Hong Hye Kyŏng whose legendary 60th birthday party was celebrated in the Suwŏn Hwasŏng Haeng Kung (palace). This fascinating and impressive collection of wood palace & stone architectural treasures will be brought alive to all who accompany us.

이미지: 사람 1명

(Photo: Sǒ Jang Dae Command Post Tower at highest point of Suwǒn City Walls, with “fearless leader” (Mr. Bartholomew ☺) lecturing to the RASKB Excursion Attendees!)

Each attendee will receive a 30-page hand-out with written explanations of the history and architectural attributes of this remarkable city, including with and wood block prints, 18th Century paintings and old photos depicting the city, its palace with fortifications of course and the famous 10-day birthday party!

Today Suwǒn (meaning "water source") is the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, but its history has been inextricably linked with nearby Seoul since the beginning of the Chosŏn Dynasty in 1392.

Some of the major sites to be visited are:

 Hwa Ryŏng Jŏ(Hwa Ryeong Jeon): This is the ancestral memorial shrine constructed by King Sunjo in the first year of his reign (1800) for the yearly Confucian memorial ceremonies for his father, King Chŏngjo (Jeongjo). This is one of the finest examples and best original-form preserved of exquisite ancestral memorial shrine buildings. It still enshrines the portrait of King Chŏngjo. Memorial ceremonies are continuously held there annually by descendants of the Yi royal family.

이미지: 하늘, 나무, 집, 실외, 자연이미지: 실내

(Photos: Left, HWA RYONG JON ~ ROYAL MEMORIAL HALL FOR King Chŏngjo (Jeongjo); Right, Portrait of King Chǒngjo in Hwa Ryǒng Jǒn Memorial Hall)

 Hwa Sŏng (Hwa Seong) Haeng-Kung: The Haeng-Kung (country palace) was built at the orders of King Chŏngjo (Jeongjo) who reigned 1776-1800. King Chŏngjo was one of the most enlightened kings of the dynasty, presiding over Korea’s last major renaissance (in the 1700’s) of art and culture of which Suwŏn’s architecture is extant evidence.

King Chŏngjo was the son of Crown Prince Sado, whose outrageous and violent behavior became such a scandal that in 1762 his father, King Yeongjo, had him enclosed in a rice chest, where he was left until he died. After becoming king in 1776, King Chŏngjo did everything he could to express his respect for his father, moving his grave to a much more honourable site at Yungnŭng (Yungneung) a short distance to the north of today's Suwon.

In 1794, King Chŏngjo began to build this new palace within magnificent and well-crafted stone city  walls surrounding the entire city. The palace was said publicly to be for use when he visited his father’s grave to pay his respects. However, it is generally accepted that the more important reason was linked with more long-term plans to move the capital away from the intrigues of Hanyang (Seoul) and to escape the summer heat and stench from open sewers of the capital city, Seoul!

In 1796 King Chŏngjo celebrated his mother’s 60th birthday there with one week of partying, court dances and feasts. These events are meticulously recorded in paintings and wood block prints (some included in the RAS’s hand-out to excursion attendees).

During the Japanese occupation period (1910-1945) the palace was almost completely destroyed, with the exception of two buildings: the main audience hall, Nak Nam Hŏn (Heon) and the Hwa Ryŏng Jŏn, described above. The other palace buildings are recent reconstructions (1980’s & 1990’s), based on the stone foundations remaining, detailed documentation and wood block prints in the royal archives.

이미지: 테이블, 실내

(The photo: King’s Chambers in Suwǒn Haeng Gung (Palace))

Hwa Seong Sŏng (Seong) City Wall (Fortifications): UNESCO designated the extensive and impressive city walls a World Heritage site in 1997. Over 5 kms long and averaging 9 meters high, this is Suwon's most impressive landmark, and was the last and most modern of Chosǒn (Joseon) period fortifications, a stonework masterpiece of city-wall fortification construction.

The person in charge of the engineering and architecture for this huge project was none other than Dasan Jŏng Yak-Yong (1762-1836), the greatest scholar of the age. He drew on Chinese models as well as previous Korean ones and used mechanical cranes for lifting stones and large wooden beams that were invented in Europe and described in books written in Chinese by the early Catholic missionaries to China. The walls, magnificent gates and gracious pleasure pavilions blending into these walls have been restored to their former splendor. We will visit some of the gates and while walking along the city walls.

이미지: 사람 1명 이상, 사람들이 서 있음, 산, 하늘, 실외, 자연


* NOTE: There will be a fair amount of walking, so it is very important that you come in comfortable walking shoes.

The excursion bus will depart at 9:00 a.m. from the Yongsan Post Office (Line number 4, blue line, Sinyongsan Station #429 exit 1). We plan on returning to Seoul around 6:00 p.m. We will stop for a Korean lunch at a restaurant in Suwon. The lunch cost ranges from ₩8,000 to ₩12,000. The cost for lunch is not included in the price of the excursion. You may also bring a packed lunch if you prefer.

Please register your RSVP for the Excursion to Suwon
by Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by clicking here.
Please register one RSVP at a time.

                 ☞Payment to be remitted to the following account:
         SHINHAN BANK ACCOUNT # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)


Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

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Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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