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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part III: Mongchon Toseong, Seoul Songpa-gu

Mongchontoseong (Hanja: 夢村土城) is the remains of some earthen fortifications from the Baekje Kingdom period (18 BCE – 660 CE). It is considered to be a historically important Baekje site along with the nearby site of Pungnaptoseong (Earthen Fortress). The excavation was started prior to the construction of the Olympic Park in 1984. The earthen fortifications were restored through six excavations. Today, Mongchontoseong is located inside the Olympic Park (Specific Location: Oryun-dong 88-3 beonji, Seoul Songpa-gu) and is a very popular place, providing Seoul citizens with areas for relaxation and peaceful promenades. 

The excavation of Mongchontoseong started in 1983 prior to the construction of the Olympic Park. Since then a total of six excavations were undertaken up to 1989 when the construction of the Olympic Park was completed. Since the excavation of Pungnaptoseong was added, Mongchontoseong has become even more actively used for the study of the Baekje Kingdom.

Mongchontoseong is one of the best examples of earthen fortifications from the early Baekje Kingdom period. Wooden barricades were built on the site to provide added defense. It is strongly suggested that nearby Pungnaptoseong was the king's castle known as Wiryeseong, and Mongchontoseong was an auxiliary castle. The fortification was in use until Baekje moved its capital in response to Goguryeo attacks. After the attacks, the fortification site became Goguryeo territory. It is presumed that the fortifications were out of use from 475. The Three Kingdoms Period refers to the time when there were three ancient kingdoms in Korea: Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla.

The Olympic Park was created with no boundary between the fortifications and the park, and so Mongchontoseong has been providing a welcome green space to relax and unwind for tourists and residents alike. A massive juniper tree stands alone on the wide green field of grass; hence the tree is known as “single tree”. Amid the lush green of the field, the still deeper green of the tree represents a famous image of Mongchontoseong. In the spring, oilseed rape flowers create beautiful scenery. The color contrast between the huge green expanse and the yellow flowers makes for another enjoyable experience when visiting Monchontoseong.

The Mongchontoseong promenade extends along the long fortified wall. As you walk along, the scenery changes constantly. The walk along the wall takes you to various points of interest, such as Seongnaecheon (Stream) and the defensive wooden barricade etc. It is also very interesting to see how the scenery changes with the seasons.

Mongchon Museum of History is situated close to Mongchontoseong. The museum displays artifacts from the excavation of the earthen fortifications as well as other artifacts of the Baekje period, giving a glimpse of Baekje culture. A model of a Baekje dugout hut site reveals ancient dwelling patterns.