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Ganghwa Fortress - 강화산성 (江華山城) (built 1232-34 onward)

The fortress at Song-ak mountain on Ganghwa Island was built between 1232 and 1234 in an effort to resist the Mongol domination of Korea. The Mongols had begun their campaign in 1231 under the command of Ogedei Khan. In 1231 as Ogedei's forces swept south across the Yalu river into the border town of Uiju, General Choe U, the de-facto ruler of Goryeo and the head of the Ubong Choe military regime, ordered the imperial court and the general population of Gyeonggi province to flee to the relative safety of Ganghwa Island off the west coast. Choe U recognized that the Mongol's traditional fear of the sea would cause considerable difficulties for the invaders if they chose to assault the island. The strategy proved relatively effective for several years, with the ruling elite able to maintain their standard of living by shipping tax renevue along coastal routes while leaving the Mongol army free to decimate inland areas. Eventually, the scorched-earth tactics of the Mongols and the disillusionment of officials with the leadership in Ganghwa paved the way for peace negotiations. However, it was not until the assasination of Choe Ui, the last of the military dictators, that King Wonjeong was able to negotiate the return of the capital to Gaeseong. As part of this agreement the defenses at Ganghwa Island were torn dorn and its garrisons returned to the mainland.

The fortifications that survive today were rebuilt in 1677 atop the remains of the Mongol-era walls. The roughly circular fortress runs 7,122 meters around Mount Song-ak and has four gates facing the four cardinal directions.

Address: 인천 강화군 강화읍 국화리 산3번지 일원. (Incheon Ganghwa-gun, Ganghwa-eup, San 3 Beonji Ilwon).


The approximate location of the west gate of the fortress is 37.748086' N, 126.476939' E (WGS 84 map datum).


All images copyright 2005 Timothy M. Ciccone

Cheon, Deuk-yeum & Jeon, Bong-hee. Hangukui Geonchuk Munhwajae 9: Jeolnampyeon.
  Kimoondang Publishers, 2001. Seoul

Korean Office of Cultural Properties

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