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Suwon (Suwon-si) is the provincial capital and largest city of Gyeonggi-domarker, South Koreamarker. A major city of over a million inhabitants, Suwon lies approximately 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Seoulmarker. It is traditionally known as "The City of Filial Piety".

Suwon has existed in various forms throughout Korea's history, growing from a small settlement in tribal times to a major industrial and cultural city today. Suwon is the only remaining completely walled city in South Koreamarker. As such, the city walls are one of the more popular tourist destinations in Gyeonggimarker Province. As an industrial centre, Suwon houses a large Samsung Electronics factory. Suwon is served by two motorways, the national railway network and the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, facilitating transport of commuters, tourists and goods alike.

Suwon is a major educational centre, being home to 14 university campuses. This, along with widespread transport links, draws inhabitants from across the country and foreign population of 1.85%.

Suwon is known domestically as a footballing city. Suwon Samsung Bluewings Football Club has won the K-league on four occasions.


In ancient tribal times, Suwon was known as Mosu-guk (Hangeul: 모수국). However, during the Three Kingdoms era, the area comprising of modern Suwon and Hwaseong Citymarker was called Maehol-gun (매홀군).

In 757, under King Gyeongdeok of the Unified Silla, the name was changed to Suseong-gun (수성군). In 940, during the Goryeo Dynastymarker, the name was changed again in to Suju (수주). King Taejong of the Joseon Dynastymarker renamed the city to Suwon in 1413.

Japanese occupation

In 1592, during the Japanese invasions of Korea, Commander Yi Kwang, attempted to check the Japanese progress by launching his army toward the capital city, Seoulmarker (at the time called Hanseong). The army was withdrawn, however, after news that the city had already been sacked reached the commander. As the army grew in size to 50,000 men with the accumulation of several volunteer forces, Yi Kwang and the irregular commanders reconsidered their aim to reclaim the capital, and led the combined forces north to Suwon.

Construction of Hwaseong

Later during the Joseon Dynasty, King Jeongjo made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to make Suwon the nation's capital in 1796. Part of this project was the construction of Hwaseong Fortressmarker, a fortified wall running around the entire city partially intended to guard the tomb of his father, Prince Sado, which he had located there.

The walls were one of Korea's first examples of paid labour, (corvée labour being common previously). The walls still exist today, though they, together with the fortress, were damaged severely during the Korean War.

Hwaseong was originally constructed under the guidance of philosopher Jeong Yag-yong. In 1800, shortly after the death of King Jeongjo, a white paper detailing the construction of the fortress was published. This proved invaluable during its reconstruction in the 1970s.

The fortress walls once encircled the entire city, but modern urban growth has seen the city spread out far beyond the fortress. The walls are now a designated UNESCOmarker World Heritage site. and often used in materials promoting the city.

Korean War

The Korean War greatly affected Suwon, as the city changed hands four times. Very shortly after the outbreak of war, the 49th Fighter Wing of the United States Air Force was dispatched to Koreamarker from Japan and its first task was to evacuate civilians from Suwon and Gimpomarker. Suwon soon fell to the advancing North Koreans and, shortly before the Battle of Osan, the first conflict between United States and North Korean forces, on July 4, 1950, defences were erected on the road between Suwon and nearby Osanmarker (then still under Southernmarker command). The next day, Northern troops advanced south. In the 3½-hour battle which followed, 150 American and 42 North Korean soldiers were killed and the United States troops were forced to retreat. The North Korean advance southwards to take Osan was delayed by an estimated seven hours. on December 16, 1950, the Greek Expeditionary Force relocated to Suwon, attached to the US 1st Cavalry Division. From November 6, 1951, the United States Air Force's top fighter pilot Gabby Gabreski was in charge of K-13 Air Base in Suwon. By the end of the war, Suwon was in South Koreamarker. A memorial to the French military stands in Jangan-gu, near the Yeongdong Expressway's North Suwon exit.

Recent history

Suwon became the capital of Gyeonggi-domarker on June 23, 1967. Sojangdae watchtower was damaged by fire in 1996 and again by arson on May 1, 2006. It has since been restored.


Suwon lies in the north of the Gyeonggimarker plain, just south of South Koreamarker's capital, Seoulmarker. It is bordered by Uiwangmarker to the north-west, Yonginmarker to the east, the city of Hwaseongmarker to the south-west, and also shares a short border with Ansan to the west.

There are a few hills around Suwon. The highest of these is Gwanggyosanmarker to the north, on the border with Yonginmarker, though those to the east are more numerous. Gwanggyosanmarker is 582 metres above sea level.

Most of the streams passing through Suwon originate on Gwanggyosanmarker or other nearby peaks. Since Suwon is bounded to the east by other hills, the streams, chiefly the Suwoncheon (and one notable tributary being the Jungbocheon), flow southwards through the city, eventually emptying into the Yellow Seamarker at Asan Bay. The entirety of Suwon is drained in this manner.

As is true of all the South Koreanmarker mainland, there are no natural lakes in Suwon. There are, however, many small reservoirs, namely Seoho (서호) near Hwaseo Stationmarker, Ilwon Reservoir (일원 저수지) near Sungkyunkwan Universitymarker, Bambat Reservoir (밤밭 저수지) near Sungkyunkwan University Stationmarker, Ilwang Reservoir (일왕 저수지) in Manseok Parkmarker, Pajang Reservoir (파장 저수지) near the North Suwon exit of the Yeongdong Expressway, Gwanggyo Reservoir (광교 저수지) at the foot of Gwanggyosanmarker, Woncheon and Sindae Reservoirs (원천 저수지 & 신대 저수지) near Ajou University 아주대학교, and Geumgok Reservoir (금곡 저수지), a small reservoir at the foot of Chilbosanmarker.

At the closest point, being the Chilbosanmarker ridge (239m) to the west on the border with Ansan, Suwon lies 6 km from the Yellow Seamarker coast.


Suwon's climate is very similar to that of Seoulmarker. However, because of Seoul's significant urban heat, Suwon is usually slightly cooler than Seoul.

Administrative divisions

The city is divided into 4 gu (districts):

Romanization Hangul Hanja Pop. (2008) Area (m²)
1. Gwonseon-gu 권선구 315,512 47,355,349.2
2. Jangan-gu 장안구 290,732 33,119,867.5
3. Paldal-gu 팔달구 224,194 13,077,959.4
4. Yeongtong-gu 영통구 256,466 27,500,143.7

The newest of these is Yeongtong-gu, which was separated from Paldal-gu on November 24, 2003. These districts are in turn divided into 42 dong.


50.2% of the population in Suwon is composed of male residents. Indeed, it is only in Paldal-gu that the number of female residents is greater than that of males. 1.85% of the population is of foreign nationality, the highest concentration (2.3%) being in Paldal-gu. Further information regarding the residents of each district is shown below.

Total people Korean males Korean females Korean (total) Foreign males Foreign females Foreign (total)
Suwon (total) 1,086,904 535,906 531,211 1,067,117 9,914 9,873 19,787
Gwonseon-gu 315,512 156,783 154,004 310,789 2,314 2,411 4,725
Jangan-gu 290,732 143,737 143,351 287,088 1,742 1,902 3,644
Paldal-gu 224,194 107,929 108,926 216,855 3,652 3,687 7,339
Yeongtong-gu 256,466 127,457 124,930 252,387 2,206 1,873 4,079

Overall, the population of Suwon is increasing, but the domestic population is falling. For example, the Korean population of Suwon fell by 585 from December 2007 to January 2008. However, both genders of the foreign population increased in number in each gu in the same time period. It appears to be a pattern that the foreign population is increasing, as Suwon also saw a 13% increase in the number of registered foreigners residing in the city in the first half of 2007. The only gu currently showing an increase in population is Gwonseon-gu (though the same was until recently true of Paldal-gu), while all others have falling number of residents, especially Jangan-gu and Yeongtong-gu.


There are 14 universities in Suwon and 2 colleges, and these include Sungkyunkwan Universitymarker's Medical & Technical Campus,Kyonggi University, Ajou University, Kyunghee University, Suwon Catholic University, Dongnam Health College, Gukje Digital University, Hapdong Theological Seminary, Jangan College, Suwon Science College and Suwon Women's College. The University of Suwon is not actually in Suwon, but in the neighbouring city of Hwaseongmarker. The agricultural campus of Seoul National Universitymarker was located in Suwon until 2005, but is now in Gwanak-gu, Seoulmarker.

There are also 2 junior colleges, 33 high schools, 37 middle schools, 81 primary schools and 107 kindergartens in Suwon.

Suwon has three schools devoted to special education, namely the Jahye Institute, the School of Suwon Seokwang and Dream Tree Special School, and also has wings of mainstream schools for students requiring special education, being the Special Education School of Suwonbuk Middle School, the Special Education School of Suwon Girls' Middle School.


The main industrial employer in Suwon is Samsung. In fact, Samsung began in Seoulmarker in 1938, but at the beginning of the Korean War, inventories were so damaged that the founder, Lee Byeongcheol (이병철) was forced to start business again in 1951, this time in Suwon. Though Samsung Electronics was founded in Daegumarker in 1969, it now has its headquarters and a large factory complex in central Suwon and is the largest employer in the city. Other companies with offices here include Yeolmae Food.


Hwaseong Fortressmarker is Suwon's most notable attraction. Built in 1796, the entire city used to be encircled by the walls, but now Suwon has expanded beyond this boundary. Hwaseongmarker is also listed as a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site. Haenggung Palace, within Hwaseongmarker, is another noteworthy historical attraction. On completion of the Bundang Line extension, Suwon will also be only a few stops from Singal, the location of the Korean Folk Village, and the Everlandmarker theme park is nearby in Yonginmarker.


The path around the walls of Hwaseong Fortressmarker is popular with locals and tourists for sightseeing and walking. Manseok Parkmarker in northern Suwon has a 1200m track around a lake. Other facilities at Manseok Parkmarker include tennis (indoor & outdoor), soccer (dirt and artificial turf) and the Suwon X-Games skatepark. Various other parks are dotted around Suwon and several ski resorts and hiking trails are within easy reach of the city.


Suwon has several sports facilities, including an archery field, badminton courts, ten-pin bowling lanes, indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, soft tennis courts and football pitches.

Suwon Gymnasiummarker hosted the handball events in the 1988 Summer Olympics; it has a capacity of 5,145.

Suwon is home to the Suwon Big Bird Stadiummarker, a venue during the 2002 FIFA World Cup and home to K-League team Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

The city was also the base of the Korean Baseball Organization team Hyundai Unicorns, which played beside the Suwon Civil Stadiummarker, and the Samsung Bichumi Women's Basketball team.


Suwon has three major multiplex theaters: Megabox and CGV theaters in the Suwon Stationmarker complex in the city center, as well as Kinex 5 in the district of Yeongtong-gu. There are also other theaters that show fewer foreign films: Cinema Town, Taehan Theater, Piccadilly Theater, Jungang Theater, Royal Theater, Dano Theater and Dano Art Hall.

Woncheon in the Yeongtong-gu district also has two amusement parks, Woncheon Greenland and Woncheon Lakeland.

Other amenities

Suwon City Council prides itself on the condition of its public lavatories. It has made efforts in recent years to make new lavatories clean and to improve existing facilities using Japan as a model, and now offers visitors guided bus tours of the municipal restrooms.


Suwon Station
Suwon is a regional transportation hub and Suwon Stationmarker is an important stop on the Gyeongbu railway line between Seoulmarker and Busanmarker. There is a bus service to the KTX high-speed train station at Gwangmyeongmarker. Suwon is connected to Seoulmarker and other nearby cities by city and express buses with departure points across the city. There are also two bus terminals in Suwon with inter-city and express bus connections to most cities in Korea. These are Suwon Bus Terminal and West Suwon Bus Terminal, which is located near Sungkyunkwan Universitymarker.

Suwon has several stations on Seoul Subway Line 1, which runs North-South through the city, namely Sungkyunkwan Universitymarker, Hwaseomarker, Suwonmarker and Seryumarker. An extension of the Bundang Line to cross Suwon East-West, terminating at Suwonmarker, is under construction, as is a further line connecting Suwon Stationmarker to Incheon. Until 1973, the Suryo Line also connected Suwon to Yeojumarker.

The Yeongdong Expressway (Number 50) passes through Suwon and two exits on this motorway lie within the city limits, being North Suwon and East Suwon. Suwon is also served by the Suwon exit of the Gyeongbu Expressway (Number 1), though this lies a short distance east of the Suwon's limits, near Singal in the city of Yonginmarker.


There are two newspapers based in Suwon. These are the Gyeonggi Daily (경기일보) and, since 1960, the Gyeongin Daily (경인일보). The former is based in Jangan-gu, with the latter's offices being in Paldal-gu. Neither offers news in foreign languages.


The Air Force has a base in Suwon. This was used by the United States Air Force during the Korean War. The base is now occupied mostly by the ROKAF (Republic of Korea Air Force), though the US Army houses half of a battalion there presently, and there are a limited number of US Air Force personnel.


As in most of South Koreamarker, according to 2006 statistics compiled by the government, about 25.3% of the population profess to follow no particular religion. Christians account for 20% of the population and Buddhists 52%. The Catholic Diocese of Suwon was created in 1963 by Pope Paul VI. The diocese was a part of the Archdiocese of Seoul prior to the establishment of the see. The current bishop is Choi Deok-ki (최덕기).


Suwon is famous for Suwon galbi, a variation on the style beef short rib enjoyed throughout Koreamarker. The city also has the same variety of Korean dishes served throughout the peninsula and has a wide variety of restaurants serving food from outside Korea.

Flora and Fauna

Suwon's wildlife is similar to that of most of Gyeonggi-domarker. A notable species, however, is the Suwon tree frog. This is one of only two tree frogs to inhabit the Korean peninsula and lives in the Gyeonggi-domarker area only.

Famous people

Famous people from Suwon include:

Sister Cities

See also


  1. 수원시통계
  2. Turnbull, Stephen. 2002, pp. 116-123.
  3. Charles E. Heller and William A. Stofft, eds. America's First Battles, 1776-1965 (1986)
  4. Roy E. Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu (1960) Office of the Chief of Military History, US Army

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