Visited: April 18, 2013, May 10, 2014
Site Type: Cultural
Background and Opinion:
Namhansanseong is a fortress located in Gyeonggi Province just a few kilometers south east of Seoul. Ancient tradition states that it was the birthplace of Onjo, the founder of the Baekje. It is very similar in structure to Hwaseong as what remains today is traced back to that same era (Joseon Dynasty). It is most famous for its siege and defense against the invading Manchu army in the 1600s. Although Joseon eventually did surrender this fort, it was never destroyed as its walls could not be breached. It remains a local favorite for weekend hikes.
One of the best things to do here is hike the actual wall. While most Koreans love hiking, this wall is deserted as the locals prefer to try some of the restaurants within the walls. The temples are quite impressive and worth a look, too. I enjoyed coming here on weekends when the sun was bright, but not too strong.
The emergency palace was rebuilt not long ago. It was where the king would hide if the main palace in Seoul was overrun as it was protected by the mountains. There were quite a few of these ’emergency palaces’ in the past, but most were destroyed by the Japanese invasion and the Korean War.
1) Completeness and Originality (8/15): It is original, but with the hundreds of hikers coming every weekend, it is hard to appreciate it fully.
2) Extensiveness of the Site (2/15): You’ll be done in an hour and a half or so.
3) Cultural Significance (1/25):
4) Personal Impact (6/15): Great spring weekend getaway.
5) Logistics (2/10): Unfortunately, unless you speak Korean, this is not easy to get to. You must first take the subway to Namhansanseong station. For non-Korean speakers, just follow the crowds as they get on a local bus up the mountain (Korean hikers are easy to spot as they are almost always middle aged and wearing windbreakers of questionable fashion). The buses are usually marked, but only in Korean (I predict this will change now that it is a UNESCO site). On good weekends, prepare to be squished like a sardine and have an incredibly uncomfortable ride up the mountain for about 20 minutes. Your other option is to take a cab up the mountain which will cost about 15 USD.
6) Uniqueness (2/20): With Konju (and its wall) not yet a UNESCO site, I was wondering why this got picked first.
Combined Score 21/100
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