Jinju Fortress (Hanja: 晉州城) is a fortress which linked to the Japanese Imjin Invasion in 1592, was originally named Geoyeol Fortress (거열성/居烈城) during Samguk Period on Baekje's soil, later renamed as Chokseok Fortress (촉석성/矗石城) in the Goryeo Dynasty and finally settled as Jinju Fortress in the Joseon Dynasty. The fortress which is located at 626 Namgang Avenue/Namgangno, Namseong-dong 212-9 beonji, Jinju City, Southern Gyeongsang Province was used for the Southern Gyeongsang Provincial Office from 1896 to 1925.
The reinforced stonewall has a circumference of approximately 1,760m, 5m-8m in height and contains three wells and springs. According to Ha Ryun’s Seongmungi in the Survey of the National Geography of Korea, the castle had been frequently destroyed by the Japanese invasion and was later reinforced by Jinju’s minister, Kim Jung-gwang during the fifth year of Goryeo King Woo's reign (1379). During this period, the circumference was 800 bo (pace), with Uijeongmun Gate to the east, Jijemun Gate to the north, and Yehwamun Gate to the south.
Outside the castle, Cheongcheon River flows in the west and Namgang River in the south and a pond lies between the castle and the trench dug during the war times. As a fortress to safeguard from the Japanese attacks, it blocked the Japanese from advancing toward Honam Region during the 25th year of Joseon Seonjo King’s reign (1592). Within the temple lies Chokseongnu Pavilion, Kim Si-min Memorial, Uigisa Shrine, Seojangdae, Bukjangdae, Changyeolsa shrine, Jinju National Museum, Hoguksa Temple, and an outdoor stage.
During the First Siege of Jinju (1592), General Kim Si-min won a victory at this castle with a group of reinforcement led by Red-Robed General Chung-ik Kwak Jae-woo, which was one of three great victories in the war. However, General Kim died when a bullet was hit on the side of his head and fell, unable to command his forces.
And the next year (1593) - the Second Siege of Jinju, about 70,000 militia corps and government troops resisted to the last to die for their country gloriously. The Koreans resisted for ten days, until a section of wall was breached by Japanese sappers, who had hid in an armored cart called a "tortoise shell cart". This became the origin of the Uwajima Ushi-oni Festival, celebrated in Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The fortress was captured by the Japanese Invasion Forces with the loss of the garrison commander, Hwang Jin, and all of his defenders and civilians.
From 1969, the first Jinju Fortress Restoration Project was started. In 1972, Main Gate of Chokseongmun was completed, and in 1975, fortress repair was finished. From 1979, the second Restoration Project was conducted. Removal of 751 private houses was promoted and was completed in 1984. In 1992, as the third project, outer wall of castle was improved.
Standing grandly above the rocky cliffs of Nam River is Chokseongnu Pavilion (Hanja: 矗石樓), arguably one of the most beautiful ‘nugaks’ (multi-storied building without walls) in the Yeongnam region. Chokseongnu (historically known as ‘Jangwollu’) has undergone 8 renovations since its establishment in the 28th year of King Gojong Wang Cheol (1241, Goryeo Dynasty) and was once used as a stronghold for defending Jinju Palace in times of war. During times of peace, it was used for holding state examinations.
Although the structure was burnt down during the Korean War, it was restored in 1960 through the efforts of the Jinju Historical Site Preservation Society. The design of the roof is similar to that of an octagon and the stone pillars were built with rocks collected from Mount Chokseok, located in Changwon. The wood used for the structure was brought from Mount Odae, situated in Gangwon Province. Noticeable features of Chokseongnu are the four engraved signboards and a board that holds the works of renowned poets and calligraphers. From the tall structure, visitors can catch a bird's-eye view of the rest of the Jinju Fortress and of the surrounding area.