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Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Cultural Festival to open in October

All News 16:46 June 02, 2016

SUWON, South Korea, June 2 (Yonhap) -- An annual cultural festival at Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO-designated cultural heritage site, is set to return to the city of Suwon, just south of Seoul, this fall to be culminated by a full-scale reenactment of a filial monarch's pilgrimage to his father's tomb, the Suwon municipal government said Thursday.

The 53rd Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Cultural Festival, which will open on Oct. 7 for a three-day run, is held in celebration of the 220th anniversary of the fortress' construction. King Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), had the fortress built.

Suwon, a city in Gyeonggi Province located some 50 kilometers south of Seoul, has designated the year "Visit Suwon Hwaseong Year" and prepared for the festival in a way that will draw citizens and visitors into taking part in a variety of pastimes.

The festival's venues include Hwaseong Temporary Palace, its plaza and a parade ground, all around the fortress.

According to the local government, the festival has a total of 28 programs including the opening ceremony, the reenactment of King Jeongjo's travels to his father’s shrine, the reenactment of a royal birthday party for his mother Crown Princess Hong, and a martial arts demonstration.

As was the case with last year’s festival, this year's event has a strong orientation toward the people rather than focusing too much on the monarch, so that citizens are encouraged to participate.

The highlight of the festival is the reenactment of the king’s pilgrimage to Yunggeon Royal Tomb, where his father Sado is buried.

Crown Prince Sado was deposed by his own father, King Yeongjo, and later confined to a rice chest, where he starved to death in 1762 at age 28. After ascending the throne in 1776, King Jeongjo traveled to the fortress 13 times for the purpose of paying tribute to his deceased father at the tomb, also in Suwon.

His trips to the fortress were the largest royal processions during the dynasty. Leaving Changdeok Palace in Seoul, the procession stayed at Siheung Temporary Palace one night before reaching the fortress via the nearby town of Anyang and Jijidae Hill at the city's entrance.

In 1795, King Jeongjo embarked on an eight-day trip to Suwon Hwaseong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his reign and the 60th birthday of his mother. During the trip, the king was accompanied by a 6,000-strong entourage.

This pilgrimage to the tomb, during which the king accompanied his mother with care, was one of many deeds that he did to show his filial affection toward his father.

Under the city government's plan, organizers will reenact the royal procession on a route that spans 48.1 kilometers from the Seoul palace to the fortress based on its original form.

Reenactments of the procession have so far only taken place along the route in Gyeonggi Province and did not start in Seoul.

The Suwon city government will team up with the Seoul metropolitan government to reenact the 1795 royal procession to the tomb on Oct. 8-9, as described in a collection of documents called "Wonhaeng Eulmyo Jeongri Uigwe." Uigwe is a text that records and illustrates royal protocols used during the Joseon Dynasty.

A total of 930 people and 120 horses will be mobilized for the event.

On the eve of the festival, the organizers will hold a ceremony to toll the bell at Yeomingak Pavilion within the fortress to celebrate the festival's start and a lantern ritual on Suwon Stream to wish for a successful event.

Also during the festival, "gwageo," or the highest-level state-administrated civil exam to select military officials in the dynasty, will be reenacted, alongside a musical performance.

The organizers will also hold a quiz game in which participants must solve riddles involving people who lived during the reign of King Jeongjo.

One of South Korea’s top tourism products, a martial arts performance called "Mumuhwapyeong," and a concert at the fortress' Banghwasuryujeong Paviilion are expected to enthrall visitors. The organizers also plan to put on a farmers' group play, known as "daedongnori," which visitors can take part in.

Last year the festival drew 480,000 visitors.

An official at the city government said the city strove to come up with programs that could bring about a high level of participation from visitors.
"We will make efforts to keep the festival one that meets the need for cultural experiences held by people from various age groups and occupations."

namsh@yna.co.kr
(END)

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