Destination: Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

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Suwon is quite proud of its Hwaseong Fortress, and rightfully so. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage, and the biggest tourist draw to the area. A place not as visited by the tourists is the nearby Hwaseong Haenggung (수원화성행궁) – a detached palace that was also used as both a government office and a retreat for the king. First built in 1789 and completed in 1796, the palace was reconstructed a bit more recently. Above is part of the open-air plaza with a huge glimpse at the number of people used in the ceremonies.

One of two 350-year-old zelkova trees outside the front entrance. While the sign nearby is a little unclear, it seems to say meeting under this tree will help one become engaged in right politics.

The Joseon-era court’s clothes were a little difficult to photograph thanks to the glare from the glass. In-person, there’s a little bit of everything from a royal wedding dress to outfits worn by officers of the court.

A reconstruction of King Jeongjo’s apartments, where the king would rest and entertain audiences. The vivid colors add a sense of depth to the place, while the doors fold up into the ceiling

Definitely not the king, but it is a nice chance to take in some Joseon-dynasty styles up close and personal.

Just inside the building’s outermost wall, looking at the second layer’s outer side.

Some of the ceremonial foods presented on a large table; you’ll also see stacks like these at a person’s 60th birthday party.

Unhangak – just outside of the main palace walls (and closer to the nearby public school) is the building that holds King Jeongjo’s portrait.

What a handsome guy.

The annex to Unhangak offers a place to house the portrait whenever there’s repair work or maintenance going on. They’re connected by a covered corridor – a reminder of how seriously they protected the king’s portrait.

Nearby is 내포사 (Naeposa), a beacon in the palace’s backyard to warn the residents of any danger.

Some of the larger musical instruments – each finely tuned, although off-limits to try out.

A fairly typical array of souvenirs- typical, if you venture up to Seoul. It’s a nice enough place to pick up your mother-of-pearl business card holder, but nothing particularly unusual.

If combined with a trip to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, there’s plenty to see in the area to make it a day trip; by itself, it’s worth a couple hours. It’s easy to arrive via public transportation, and is a great place to bring the kids or a date.

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Directions to Hwaseong Haenggung: Take line 1 of the Seoul subway system to Suwon station. Take exit 2 to street level, then turn left and walk to the bus stop. Hop on any of the many buses that head to Paldalmun, the fortress front gate (currently under construction). Go exactly ONE MORE bus stop to the Hwaseong Haenggung stop. Once off the bus, backtrack about 300 meters to a three-way intersection. Cross the street to the large open space and the palace’s entrance. 1,500 won admission. For more admission, check out

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011
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