Situated nearly in the center of the Suwon Fortress, and in the shadow of Paldalsan, is the Hwaseong Haenggung – meaning detached palace. It was the hope of King Jeongjo to move the seat of power from Seoul to Hwaseong during his reign, an event that never fully manifested. However, the creation of this retreat stands as a monument for his desire.
Finding the Haenggung is easy, as a number of busses crisscross the area, transporting residents and tourists along main arteries connecting Paldalmun (South Gate), Changnyongmun (East Gate), and Jangangmun (North Gate). Ample public parking is also available on-site, or nearby at the Archery field near Changnyongmun for those wishing to provide their own transportation.
Entrance to the Haenggung is granted by passing through Sinpungmun. The gateway means new hometown and further reflects the king’s desire to settle here. Initial construction began in 1789, but was expanded during the fortress’ creation between 1794 and 1796. The end result was a compound with 600 rooms. It was the largest haenggung in Korea at the time.
The Hwaseong Haenggung never fulfilled its purpose of being a palace in Korea, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t utilized for official purposes. Not only was the retreat used when King Jeongjo visited his father’s tomb, other officials would rest here when traveling on the behest of the king. The compound included twenty-two buildings at its completion, not including servants’ quarters.
Today visitors to the Haenggung are able to walk the grounds of this reconstructed retreat, for it was nearly completely destroyed during the Japanese occupation period. Guests can play traditional games, make rice cakes, or even choose to experience being trapped in a rice chest as King Jeongjo’s father (Crown Prince Sado) was – which ultimately lead to the creation of this location.
The Hwaseong Haenggung isn’t as lavish as the Grand Palaces of Seoul, and probably leading to some of its charm. It literally is a retreat and walking the grounds gives visitors that sense. Many who take the time to visit the detached palace do so in a leisurely manner. While several tours are available, and it’s quite popular with local schools, many guests take the opportunity to relax in open rooms and pavilions. It’s something that can’t be done in Seoul, and a welcome change. During the annual Suwon Cultural Festival, extra events take place on these historic grounds, like the civil service exam and King Jeongjo’s Procession. At times, neighboring Hwaseong City collaborates with Suwon to lead a procession from the Haenggung to Yonggeollung, where King Jeongjo’s father is entombed.
Constructed in 1801 was the Hwaryeongjeon, a small complex built to house the portraits of King Jeongjo. He was never able to see its completion, so it was finally erected during the first year of King Sunjo’s reign. Other such buildings typically retain ancestral tablets, but that is not the case here. Housing royal portraits is an act usually reserved for living monarchy and is something of a rarity in Korea.
Address: Gyeonggi-do Suwon-si Paldal-gu Namchang-don
Phone: +82-31-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese) / +82-31-228-4677 (Korean)
Hours: March through October 09:00~18:00 / November through February 09:00~17:00
- Individual – Adults 1,500 won / Youth 1,000 won / Children 700 won
- Group (20+) – Adults 1,200 won / Youth 800 won / Children 500 won
Directions: Suwon Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 6. Cross the road, turn right, and walk 100m to the Yeokjeon Market bus stop. Take Bus 7, 7-2 or 32-1 and get off at Hwaseong Haenggung.
Next week, The Korea Blog will look at some activities to watch and participate in when visiting.