Kyle Magnuson (United States of America):
Anyone familiar with Korea and its long history will know there are an incredible amount of fortresses in Korea. Current estimates number 2,400 total fortresses in Korea. (Offcourse varying degrees of intact fortresses remain, some only being earthen fortresses) Nearly every national or provincial park in Korea has at least one sanseong (fortress). There are basically three types of fortresses in Korea: Fortress to protect the Royal Family - Fortress to protect a town/city/village - Mountain Fortress (this being by far the most numerous). The fortresses included in this nomination are unique in the fact that all are located in the border region of Korea's ancient three kingdoms: Silla, Baekje, and Goguryeo. Nearly all 7 fortresses in this serial nomination were held, rebuilt, or restored by two or more dynasties. I visited Samnyeon sanseong & Sangdang sanseong. Samnyeon sanseong is unique in that it is very much a ruined fortress and was not rebuilt by the Joseon dynasty (This fortress is a Silla fortress, and was previously nominated individually on Korea's previous T-list) Perhaps unfortunately there is a completely rebuilt section of Samnyeon sanseong, and it stands out; also the fortress is kind of out of the way. (no tourist facilities) Sangdangsanseong is a much more common mountain fortress in Korea, heavily restored early in the Joseon Dynasty this fortress is mostly intact, with some newly renovated sections. Beautiful location and a pleasant 1hr hike. The vast amount of fortresses in Korea have played a central role in defending the nation. Ancient Korea was heavily fortified and because of the near impossiblity of enemy forces capturing countless formidable town and mountain fortresses, Korea remained largely independent for most of its history. One fortress would be captured, word would spread to a nearby fortress to prepare, and another siege would commence. So there is tremendous historic importance concerning Korea's ancient fortresses, however do they merit the label of OUV? I honestly don't know. Hwaseong is already inscribed, but that is a recent fortress only built in 1799. Samnyeon Sanseong is from the 7th century, and marks Silla's slow expansion and eventual success (together with Tang dynasty China) in defeating Baekje and Goguryeo. I am curious to see the outcome of this nomination. Hwaseong fortress itself cannot possibly encompass the variety and importance of Korean fortresses.
Date posted: June 2011
Have you been to Ancient Mountain Fortresses in Central Korea? Share your experiences!