Geumjeong-seongsan: My First Fortress in South Korea


Right after I saw Beomeosa, I went on my ~very first hike~ in South Korea. I had years ago met a guy who had done lots of hiking in South Korea who totally loved it, so I was excited to start ~my very first hike~ in South Korea, right in Busan.

The map shows that Busan is on the southeastern tip of South Korea

Right next to Beomeosa I got on a trail which went through a rocky forest. I wasn’t sure if I were on the right trail, and the fact that all of the signs were in Korean didn’t help me.


Nonetheless, it was a lovely forest, with a lovely stream winding its way through all of the rocks.


I also got to see my ~very first squirrel~ in South Korea.


The trail I was on was apparently okay, since I eventually reached the point I wanted to reach – ‘Bukmun’ (North Gate) of Geumjeong Fortress.


This was my ~very first fortress gate~ in South Korea.

Geumjeong Fortress is a really long wall encircling a large area with four gates. It was built after attacks by the Japanese and Manchu’s make the Joseon government realize that it needed to improve its defences, especially its coastal defences. Thus Geumjeong Fortress was built in 1703, and is the largest mountainous fortress in South Korea today.

The wall of Geumjeong Fortress with the top of Geumjeongsan in the upper right corner.

The wall of Geumjeong Fortress with the top of Geumjeongsan in the upper right.

I decided to pass on going to the top of Geumjeongsan since I figured I had enough in my hiking itinerary already (I was planning to hike over 10km that day). Instead, I got lost inside Geumjeong Fortress since I didn’t have the good sense to follow the wall.


While wandering inside Geumjeong, I found this pagoda. Since I had just arrived in South Korea, I thought it was worth photographing.


I also still thought classic Korean gate decoration was unique and fresh. I hadn’t been to a bunch of Korean fortresses/temples yet.


I also liked the appearance of this building.

Inside Geumjeong Fortress is like a town in the countryside. It does not seem like part of a big city (even though it’s in Busan city limits), but they have schools, public buses, grocery stores, and the kinds of things you find in towns. They also grow vegetables.


I finally found by way back to the fortress wall, and when I found it again I stayed with it.


This may not seem like part of a metropolitan city, but I’ve been to enough metropolitan cities in East Asia to know that areas which seem to be rustic and rural end up often inside city limits, usually because they are on top of or tucked into the hills which form the perimeter of the city. Thus, I was not surprised to find a place like Geumjeong Fortress in Busan.


Speaking of the big city – there it is, the sprawling city of Busan. No doubt the fortress was constructed here partially because of its good views.


I finally reached Nammum (South Gate).


I took one last look at the peak of Geumjeongsan before walking out the gate and going towards the next spot on my itinerary.



About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Forest, Fortress, Gyeongsangnam, Hike, Joseon, Mostly Photos and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Geumjeong-seongsan: My First Fortress in South Korea

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  7. Kathryn says:


    I stumble upon your blog which researching on the Geumjeong Fortress hike. I have a few questions regarding the hike you did from Beomeosa to North gate to South gate then finally to Seokbulsa. Was the hike difficult? Roughly how long did it take you to hike from North gate to South gate? Was there any actual climbing involved, as in like climbing on/over a huge rock? How was the direction signage?

    Hopping to get a reply. Thanks! šŸ™‚


    • Sara K. says:

      Since that was a year ago, I don’t remember exactly how long it took me to get from the north to south gate. I did get lost, but that’s because I tried to take a shortcut – if I had followed the wall the entire way, I would not have gotten lost at all.

      The signage between Beomeosa and the North Gate was all in Korean, but I’m not sure if I took the most widely used path. When you follow the wall from North Gate to South Gate, the hike is super easy – it’s really a walk, not a hike. Beomeosa -> North Gate is uphill and a little rough in spots, but no climbing – you could definitely do it in ordinary shoes.

      Seokbulsa is supposed to be hard to find, but somehow, I managed to get from the South Gate to Seokbulsa without getting lost. You basically follow a road, so the surface is easy, but it is a very steep road.


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