Destinations

A Day in Seosan: Korean History Buff Destination

Have you ever heard of Seosan? Chance are, you probably haven’t. However, in my opinion, you are missing out on something amazing. This city in Chungcheonnam province offers everything from nature, and culture to tasty food. You’d be surprised how close it is to Seoul and Incheon. In less than 2 hours you can reach the city center and explore the city and its surroundings. I spent three days in Seosan and I loved it! So, let me introduce the sites I visited on the first day that you can easily access via public transportation.  

How to Get to Seosan

Seosan is closer than you think. You can easily access the city by taking a bus from Seoul to Seosan. You can take a bus from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to the Seoson Bus Terminal. It takes around 2 and a half hours to reach the destination. From the Seoul Express Bus Terminal, it takes 2 hours.

However, if you live in Incheon you can get there even faster. From Incheon, you can arrive within 1 and a half hours. There are other ways to go, easy to find when you look for it, but by bus seems to be the most convenient.

What to do in Seosan?

There is quite a lot to do in and around Seosan. If you are not sure what to visit, Seosan has 9 famous attractions that the city summarized in a stamp book. So if you’d love to collect them, get this book & start exploring the region. After collecting all of the stamps, you can receive prizes depending on how many stamps you collected.

You can check out the homepage of the city of Seosan (Click here), where you can find information about the sites and suggestions for tour courses, depending on the theme.

One Day in Seosan

As I mentioned before, Seosan has a lot to offer in my opinion. From a walled town to a pilgrimage place, to some preserved Hanok houses, you will see and learn a lot in such a short time. You would definitely need more than one day to see everything. My one-day itinerary in the city includes just one of the 9 sights of Seosan.

Haemieupseong Walled Town

(서산 해미읍성)

So let’s get started with an exciting day in Seosan. This place is number 1 of the 9 sights of Seosan and when you visit you will understand why the city has placed so much importance on this landmark. As soon as you arrive, the various gates provide the perfect photo spot.

The fortress was built during the early 14th century as a military base during a Japanese invasion and was used as a walled town from the 16th century on. Haemieupseong also played a tragic role in the persecution of Christians in the second half of the 18th century.

The whole area is surrounded by a massive wall. So, when you enter, it feels totally different from the outside. One of the first things you’ll see is the information center, where you can also get the stamp and stamp book. Follow the path straight and there is a small outdoor exhibition on siege weapons used hundreds of years ago. You also will find a prison inside which was used during the persecution of Christians.

The whole town offers different experiences. You can try out traditional games, make music with traditional instruments, or learn how to shoot a bow. If you get lucky you can also see elder citizens perform using traditional instruments. Haemieupseong also has a festival in the fall, which is definitely worth a visit (Check it out).

Haemieupseong Walled Town (서산 해미읍성)

Address:  143, Nammun 2-ro, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Korean address: 충청남도 서산시 해미면 남문2로 143
Operation Hours: March-October: 05:00 - 21:00
November-February: 06:00-19:00

Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground

(해미순교성)

Not far from the Walled Town is the Shrine for the Christians killed in the 18th century. It takes around 20 minutes to walk there from the walled city. On your way to the shrine, you will pass the bus station you probably arrived at, and after that, you’ll see a little stream on your way.

The holy ground was built on the spot where more than 1,000 people were buried alive for their Christian faith in the mid-1800s. This place commemorates the nameless martyrs that lost their lives there. On the grounds you can find a church, an exhibition hall, and the Way of the Cross, which tells the story of the martyrs. It was visited by Pope Francis in 2014 and declared a pilgrimage site by the Vatican in 2021.

Even if you are not religious, I think it is worth a visit to learn more about this part of Korean history.

Address:
13, Seongji 1-ro, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do
충청남도 서산시 해미면 성지1로 13 (해미면)
Directions: same as Haemi Walled Town (10 minutes’ walk)

Gyeongju Kim Clan’s House

서산 경주김씨 고택

The next stop we visited was the house of the Gyeongju Kim clan. You can visit it if the door is open, but be aware that is operated as a Hanok-stay. So there probably will be some guests you run into. So, keep this in mind when you visit and don’t disturb the guests. Maybe you can also book it as your accommodation when you travel to Seosan.

Kim is one of the most popular last names in Korea. And, while there are many different Kim clans in South Korea, one of the most prominent ones is the Gyeongju Kim clan. Nearly 2 million South Koreans can trace their heritage back to this single clan which was the first ruling family of the Silla Kingdom which began in 57 BCE.

The house was built in the 19th century as a representative dwelling for the descendants of this ancient clan. It has its entrance in the north which is something special when it comes to traditional buildings. It is also connected to the birth house of Queen Jeongsun. Both of the houses are designated as important folk cultured properties.

Queen Jeongsu’s birthplace

(정수왕후 생가)

This Hanok house is privately owned. However, you can enter if the door is open, just don’t be too loud. The house is connected to the house of the Gyeongju Kim clan. It is famous as it is the birth house of Queen Jeongsu (1745 – 1805), the second wife of the 21st king of the Joseon dynasty. And, it is also the birthplace of an important leader of the independence movement during the Japanese occupation, Kim Yonghwan (1892 – 1919).

There is not much to see, but if you like Hanok-style houses and have time, it is a good idea to check these two houses out. However, you don’t need much time there.

Conclusion

I loved the places we visited that day, especially Haemi Walled Town. I was surprised at how much we could do on a weekday. From playing games, seeing a performance, and shooting a bow. It was so much fun and I definitely plan on going back when I have time. There are also some nice cafes close to the Walled Town, which we couldn’t visit, but are on my list. All of the attractions were free, so this is a great way to explore Korea if you are on a budget. The only thing you need to pay for is the bus ticket there. It is not very expensive, and the distance isn’t too far if you are in Seoul.

I would recommend visiting Seosan at least once during your time in Korea, especially if you stay longer.

Want to visit more unique travel destinations in South Korea? Click Here to learn about Bongjwa Village!

🇦🇹 Neith

Adventurer, nature and coffelover currently living in South Korea. I love exploring new places, hiking and unique cafes.