Destination: Seosaengpo Waeseong – Japanese fortress in Korea (Ulsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

A hat tip to Jason Teale at The Sajin and Eddie over at Tigers and Magpies for their excellent write-ups on the area.

Don’t confuse this with other fortresses in Korea – unlike Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress or the fortress in Gongju, I’m surprised this one’s still here. It was first built under the direction of Japanese General Gato Kiyomosa in May 1593 during their invasion of Korea. The walls of step-style stones weren’t enough to fend off the locals, of course. After the Japanese left in 1598, the Joseon Dynasty’s navy used the mountain fortress as a lookout to the southern sea. While there’s no information about the restorative work, I’m fairly certain we were the first foreigners to see this place in awhile.

Starting from the road where the bus drops you off, begin heading up the modest 133-meter-tall hill, zig-zagging up the one-lane roads of the rural community. There’s no gate, ticket booth, or anything of the sort – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the first map of the area (only in Korean) and a couple of bathrooms.

It may not feel like a fortress at this point – but consider the advantage your military has when you’ve forced the enemy into proceeding up a set path.

April’s cherry blossoms (벚꽃, pronounced bawt-goat) are a highlight of spring, and of course there are plenty of them to go around this Japanese fortress.

If your travels to Korea allow for a trip to the Ulsan during spring, consider this area a MUST-SEE.

While I doubt the area would ever be used in this way, it would be an AWESOME place to play paintball.

A lookout from near the top – the water’s not that far away, and present-day Jinha beach is a few more bus stops down the road.

Once at the top, there’s plenty of room for a picnic (quite a few locals were doing just that), and some good look out points. The trees prevent a wide panoramic type of shot, but get to the top for the best views anyway.

It’s over an hour bus ride, and there’s little to do there – that said, on a nice day all you need to do is relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks – How do I rate destinations?):

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Directions to Seosaengpo Waeseong: get to Ulsan. From Ulsan’s Express Bus Terminal, head out the main exit, cross the street, and turn left to walk to the bus stop. Hop on bus 715 (comes every 30-40 minutes), and ride it towards Jinha beach. Expect the ride to take a little over an hour, and get off at the Seosaengpo Waeseong bus stop.

From the bus stop, look for the single-lane side road right by the bus stop, or the brown sign pointing the way. Walk about 500 meters from the main road, following the brown signs as you zig-zag left and right up the hill. Admission: free. Hours: open 24/7.