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Construction of Namhan Mountain Fortress in Joseon

Construction of Namhan Mountain Fortress in Joseon

From early on, Joseon government officials discussed the need to rebuild a fortress at Namhan-san. However, the plan kept being postponed because of the hardship such a project would bring to the people. The actual construction commenced in 1624, during the reign of King Injo. A rebellion by General Yi Gwal had erupted that year, and the Korean Peninsula was being threatened by the Later Jin in Manchuria.

Upon completion, the fortress walls were 12.356km in circumference with a shallow wall (yeojang 女牆=parapet) consisting of 1,940 merlons atop the regular fortress wall for added protection, 3 ongseong (甕城 looping secondary walls to protect the gates), 4 major gates, 16 hidden gates and numerous bastions. Inside the compound 80 wells and 45 springs were dug, and a temporary palace was constructed for the king. Ten temples were also established on the site, and the Buddhist tradition flowered here subsequently. The king and his top ministers took refuge here during the Manchu Invasion of 1636, and they held out against a force of 130,000 for 47 days.


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