Jinjuseong Fortress

The main gate

I had the opportunity during my trip to Daegu to take a day trip.  A friend and I opted to take a bus down to Jinju to see the fortress and museum located there.  The bus ride cost us about $8 US (8800 Won)  and was a comfortable 3 hour ride.  The bus stop was within walking distance of the park, so we took the opportunity to see the sights in the city and grab some breakfast before heading into the park.  Admission was 2000Won (< $2)  and well worth the price as it included admission to the museum as well.
Approaching the fortress from the river
 The fortress itself is a restoration of the original fortress that successfully resisted a Japanese attack during the Imjin war of 1592.  The design is basically a walled city, with a the wall butted against the Namgang river on one side and following the terrain of a hilltop to create a defensible position.  The fortress has existed in some form for at least the last 1000 years, and older finds indicate occupation as far back as 1000BCE.

Model of the fortress from the Museum

Like most of the fortifications I saw during my trip, there is a certain uniformity in the restoration.  The Japanese burned and destroyed many of these works both in the 16th century and later during the occupation of the 20th century.  Also, Korean defensive works between the Mongol period and the Imjin War were mostly just to fend off pirate raids, so the level of construction was not as enduring.  (something those same Japanese invaders would seek to rectify after the relative ease of seizing them during the Imjin war.)

One of the nicest parts of the trip was that Jinju fortress is now a park.  Thus the interior is filled with trees and park land, with several shrines, temples and statues.  This was a nice contrast to places like Suwon, where the interior is simply part of an active, bustling city with thousands of people, homes and businesses
The main gate with its Pavillion
 There were several models of the cannon of the time period scattered about the park. I had never seen this type before.  They were single piece castings with handles on one side.  Rather than stone or steel balls, they were designed to fire iron capped arrows or explosive darts.  I am not sure of their effect on infantry, but they were devastating to Japanese ships of the time period.
An array of Cannon facing the city

Close up of the larger cannon

Information placard
The total size of the walls was about 2km in circumference, with several gates, and wooden overlooks.  In some of the source material I read, it indicated that the Korean predilection for wooden structures  on their gates made them very susceptible to fire.  That said, the artistry that went into their construction and decoration was astounding.
River gate

Commander's overwatch on the high point of the fortress

One of the shrines in the park,

Another set of cannons on display

View of the river and part of Jinju

Unlike Suwon, the interior has some beautiful parks.

Nature now reclaiming the cleared fields of fire

Central pavillion

Close up of the wall on the river side

Yet another Pavillion

Buddhist temple inside the fortress 

Inside the temple grounds
Statue of a typical Korean soldier of the Imjin period

Statue to Kim Su-Min

His successful defense of the fortress not only prevented Japanese expansion Westward, it was a rare glimmer of hope during a devastating period of the invasion.  

Fortress gate on the City side
Fortress overlook at the cliff side near the river

The tour also included the Jinju national museum, but I will save those photos for the next update.  All in all, it was a very worthwhile trip, and will inevitably result in another period for painting miniatures....


  1. Now, those are very cool travel photos!

    1. I had a great time. It was also great to find a fellow history nerd to do a "staff ride" down to an ancient battle site. I just finished listening to "The Topics in Korean History Podcast" episode on the battle. I wish i would have found it before the visit.

  2. Great photos! the fortress itself looks both functional and ornate at the same time, and the guns are most unusual!

    1. The guns were definitely the most interesting. As I alluded to, the problem with the ornate parts are they tended to burn down, weakening the defenses and provided obscuration for the attackers.

  3. Nice pics. I was stationed in Taegu from 2002-2005. I wish I visited more historic sites when I was there. I did visit a replica Turtle boat in Namhae.

    1. Interesting. I was just at Camp Henry/2OC for 17 days for KR16, but I wish I had more time to explore. Thankfully, the trains are cheap and available, so I could get around. I had a choice to go for Suwon or Yeosu for one day. I chose Suwon, and wish I had gone the other way now. Is that the same boat?

    2. Oh and just to add to the confusion, apparently Taegu is now Daegu and Pusan is now Busan. I guess it is a Peking/Bejing thing.


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