Date: June 6, 2012
Time: Departure: 10AM @ Namhansanseong Station (Line 8); Return:5PM@ Namhansanseong Station (Line 8)
Price: Free (transportation to and from event not provided; participants should expect to spend about 10.000W on lunch and snacks)
Description: Namhan Mountain’s Namhansanseong Provincial Park is one of the most popular and accessible hiking destinations in Korea, thanks to its stunning vistas, 17th-century architecture, hidden gates and ancient fortifications–all just 20 minutes south of Seoul.
Namhansanseong (literally “South Han Mountain Castle”) is administratively located in the city of Gwangju, Gyeonggi, about 24 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Seoul, but the fortress area stretches to Hanam and Seongnam. Today, Namhansanseong refers to not just one fortress, but four fortresses on the mountain.
According to park officials, more than 2.8 million people visit Namhansanseong every year.
In the winter of 1636, King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) took refuge in Namhansanseong during the second Manchu Invasion of China’s Qing Dynasty. He stayed inside the fortress for 47 days, but eventually surrendered to the Manchus.
Throughout history, Namhansanseong never fell to enemy hands. However, King Injo’s bitter moment during the second Manchu Invasion still stigmatizes the image of Namhansanseong to this day. Despite being an impregnable fortress, Namhansanseong was unable to save the king from his fate. But from the Baekje (18 B.C. to 660) to the Unified Silla (668 to 935) and Goryeo (918-1392) periods, the fortress protected the people of Seoul and stands to this day.
After defending against two attacks from Mongol forces in the Goryeo Dynasty, Namhansanseong was renovated during the reign of King Injo of Joseon, starting from 1623. He decided to establish a village with military and administrative functions inside the fortified area. The king built the Haenggung (temporary palace), Jongmyo (royal ancestral shrine) and Sajik (altar for state guardian deities and the land and grain gods), including 10 temples.
The fortress still has 12 cultural assets, although the Buddhist system was abolished in 1894 and such valuable heritage structures were burnt to ashes by the Japanese army in 1907 during the colonial era.
To promote and introduce the fortress to the world, the Cultural Heritage Administration last February decided to file Namhansanseong in the tentative Unesco world heritage list. The government agency is planning to submit its official application next January. The result is expected to come out in June 2014.
In a related move, the renovation and repair work of Haenggung is almost close to the final stage, opening to the public six times on the weekends only. The full-time opening is scheduled for May.
“It will be fun to just hike and stroll near Namhansanseong, but I think it is also important for visitors to appreciate the history and cultural heritages in Namhansanseong,” said Choi Dong-wook from the Namhansanseong Cultural & Tourism Initiatives.
Seoul Fringe Festival
Date: 08.2012 (exact dates TBD)
Price: 5.000W-15.000 per indoor event
Description: The Seoul Fringe Festival, the most representative independent arts festival of Korea, will be held for its 15th year this year in the Hongdae area. The festival aims at presenting and supporting the indie culture of Hongdae that is in danger due to the rapid commercialization of the district. The festival showcases various artists and their works, exposing guests of all ages to new forms of cultural arts that are difficult to encounter during daily life in Hongdae.
The 3 key components of the Seoul Fringe Festival are the artists, audience, and venue. The highly-supported BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) system encourages artists to personally seek sites that compliment their works or performances, providing the audience with the opportunity to observe art in a new light. During the festival, cafes, clubs, and galleries in the Hongdae area will serve as a dynamic site for artists of varying fields to gather and experiment new methods of expressing their art.
During the festival period around 50 teams will be giving live dance and drama performances, revealing the charm of the hidden and unnoticed areas of the Hongdae area. The subway station, alleyways, Samjimadang, and parks will all serve as informal outdoor venues for this magnetic street art.
KoreaNow! will be choosing a few specific highlights from the festival to attend, so check back soon for more details.