General inquiry about East Asian Fotresses (castles?)

Sep 2017
169
North America
#2
AFAIK, castles were a specific thing to the Japanese, while Chinese and Koreans built fortified cities with walls and moats surrounding them.

The best place to look for ancient Chinese fortified cities or towns is probably Southwest China, more precisely in the vicinity of Chongqing, where the Southern Song constructed numerous ones on top of hills or mountains to deter Mongol invaders. The most famous example is Diaoyu Cheng (Fishing Town).
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,681
United States
#3
A lot of examples of Korean fortresses are pretty run-down or had shoddy construction/repair in the past. The one in the picture is pretty run down and the walls appear to be missing the parapets which would add another 3-5 feet with holes and spaces for weapons.

The best examples of surviving Early Modern Korean fortresses would be Hwasong (built in the 1790s) and Namhansansong (built in 1624, sieged by the Manchus in 1636-1637). The walls of Soul weren't bad either.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,681
United States
#5
In Korea typically fortresses were walled cities (ŭpsŏng) or mountain fortresses (sansŏng). There were others such as the small circular or square redoubts (tondae) guarding the Yŏmha River, the strait separating Kanghwa Island from the mainland and the main route to the Han River, which were built in the 17th-18th centuries.
 
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May 2009
1,280
#6
The Chinese didnt really need tall stone castles because every major city was a castle of its own. You had a moat, a manned outer wall, and usually more walls inside to defend important parts of the city. An additional tall stone castle on top of all this would've just been overkill and unnecessary. Important cities were also supported by networks of other towns and maybe fortresses in the surrounding countryside.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,681
United States
#7
Castles were typically fortified residences, which did not exist in China or Korea because of the centralized political organization.

Places with more localized or decentralized political organization (Japan, Tibet, Europe) usually had fortified residences or castles.
 
May 2009
1,280
#8
Also bear in mind that the structure like the one in your pic is just part of an entry gate. The main gates of cities and fortresses often had large buildings on top of them, sometimes even multi-story buildings. Looking at a picture of one of these might give the impression that it's an independent structure all its own.

For example, this massive building is just the main gate of the Tang dynasty Daming palace. It looks like it could be a palace itself.

 
Apr 2015
1,704
Italy
#9
Why are Korean fotresses built so low in comparison to other East Asian structures? (Or forts in general)

http://cfile9.uf.tistory.com/image/2724423E51C6791B276F91

Did Chinese and Koreans have castles at all or is it specific to the Japanese?
one thing i never actually understood was why japanese castles were made of wood apart from the lower floor. was it just the lack of stones on the island? I mean the history of japan is full of castles being burnt down, one would think at one point they would learn.
 
Aug 2015
1,848
Los Angeles
#10
one thing i never actually understood was why japanese castles were made of wood apart from the lower floor. was it just the lack of stones on the island? I mean the history of japan is full of castles being burnt down, one would think at one point they would learn.
There are stones and wood. Also lots of these castle weren't made to for defensive purpose, but more to show power and prestige so it is made to look impressive rather than impregnable.
 

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