Suwon, the capital and largest city of Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province), with a population close to 1.2 million, lies about 30 kilometres south of Seoul. During the Joseon Dynasty, from 1794 to 1796, King Jeongjo, constructed the Hwaseong Fortress, a fortified wall running around the entire city, to house and honour the remains of his father Prince Sado, who, suffering from mental illness and deemed unfit to be a king, had been executed by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father, King Yeongjo, after failing to obey the command to commit suicide. King Jeongjo wanted to make Suwon its capital, to be away from the intrigues that plagued his administration in Seoul.
He had a "haenggung" built, a temporary palace where the king and royal family could retreat during a war: Hwaseong Haenggung, although small when compared to the palaces in Seoul, became the largest of those "haenggung" and was not only used by King Jeongjo and his family in times of trouble, but also when he came to worship at his father's tomb. The palace was the location of a splendid feast held on the 60th birthday of his mother and many other events, including award certificates for successful candidates of special national exams.
The palace was destroyed during the Japanese occupation, but, because very detailed records of it existed, it could be meticulously rebuilt and visited today. It has splendidly reconstructed buildings - the gates leading into various parts of the complex, the main building, Bongsudang, where in 1795 King Jeongjo celebrated the 60th Birthday of his mother, Hyegyeonggung Hong. Most of Suwon Hwaseong Haenggung was burnt down in the early 20th century, during Japan's colonial rule, but a restoration project began in 1996, marking the 200th anniversary of the construction of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, and it has been open to the public since 2003. A guard ceremony and demonstrations of traditional martial arts in Joseon period costumes are held in front of the Sinpungmun, the main gate.