Seoul Fortress Trail
Thanks to Korea’s particular love and appreciation of their own language, I did not have to work last October 9, or Hangul Day as it is commonly known here in Korea. Wanting to do something befitting of this wonderfully unique, Korean holiday, I decided that a walk around Seoul was in order. But not just any walk. I’ve done that plenty. This walk had to serve a purpose---it had to be both strenuous AND educational. And so with those parameters in mind, I decided to walk the entirety of the Seoul City Wall Trail.
An Introduction To The Seoul City Wall
The Seoul City Wall, also commonly known as Seoul Fortress, is 18.6 kilometers long and has an average height of around 5 to 8 meters. It crawls over each of Seoul’s four major inner mountains---Bugaksan, Naksan, Namsan, and Inwangsan---and then links them together, creating a physical barrier that was useful for keeping the city safe centuries ago.
Construction on the wall first began in 1394. With the help of a 197,400-person strong workforce, the original wall was built in only 98 days. It immediately served its purpose well in protecting the inhabitants of Seoul. Indeed, it was a strong wall.
However, as a result of wars, colonization, and the rapid modernization of Seoul, the wall became the hapless recipient of more than its fair share of neglect and disregard. The total demise of the wall appeared inevitable. Never to be defeated, Korea made sure that the wall’s many unfortunate periods of desuetude were followed by valiant attempts to restore the wall. Currently the city of Seoul is involved in a huge restoration project, and as of 2014, reports that around 70% of the wall has either been restored or preserved.
As part of that restoration project, the wall has been made pleasantly accessible. Walking trails follow the length of the fortress wall for almost its entire length. The trails never stray too far away from the wall---most of the time the wall is within arm’s reach. There is also plenty of information that has been made available (and a lot of it is in English!) In fact, a museum dedicated to the wall recently opened. You can find the museum just uphill from Dongdaemun Gate. It is the first building you come to as you begin your ascent of Naksan.
So with all the information I needed at hand (thanks to the convenient museum and the more convenient internet) and a full day at my disposal, I set out to walk around the city of Seoul in true Hangul-Day-worthy fashion.
Interested In Walking The Trail? Here Are A Few Useful Links.