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    After the suppression of the ‘Giyu Rebellion’ and the execution of the punishments for those involved in the uprising were completed, the court and the military began their post-rebellion handling.

    “Though it’s called post-rebellion handling… it’s more accurate to say that it involves identifying and refining the deficiencies encountered during the suppression of this rebellion,” said the Minister of Military Affairs, who was leading the meeting, to which King Sejong, Hyang, and the ministers all nodded in agreement.

    The Minister of Military Affairs continued speaking.

    “Just before the recent rebellion, we had drafted an escape plan which, in the event of an emergency, involved immediately escorting His Majesty and key figures to Changdeokgung Palace. Of course, during the last treasonous incident, no one had to flee…”

    Ehem!”

    Cough!”

    Sejong and Hyang turned away, trying to cover their embarrassment with a cough at the pointed remark of the Minister.

    After the incident, both of them had been in trouble with Queen Soheon for a while.

    * * *

    When Grand Prince Yangnyeong led the counter-insurgency during the rebellion, the Golden Army soldiers guarding the Junggungjeon followed the plan to escort Queen Soheon, the concubines, and the princes to Changdeokgung Palace.

    “Has His Majesty already evacuated?”

    Queen Soheon, upon learning that Sejong was still holding out in Geunjeongjeon, scolded the Golden Army military officer who was about to take her away.

    “You fool! His Majesty is facing a crisis, and you’re dallying here!”

    At Queen Soheon’s rebuke, the officer responded awkwardly.

    “This is the established plan and procedure…”

    “Silence! Chief Court Lady!”

    At Queen Soheon’s call, the Chief Court Lady, who was standing nearby, rushed over.

    “Yes, Your Highness!”

    “Bring me my bow at once!”

    “Your Highness…”

    The Chief Court Lady hesitated at Queen Soheon’s order to fetch her bow. Queen Soheon, grasping the hem of her skirt, went back inside the room and came out with her bow.

    “We’re heading to Geunjeongjeon! Soldiers, follow me!”

    “Your Highness!”

    “Quiet and follow!”

    Following the Queen’s command, the officer in charge of the Golden Army soldiers at Junggungjeon resignedly instructed his subordinates.

    “First and Second Squads, follow me. The rest, escort the concubines, princes, and princesses to Changdeokgung Palace. Move out!”

    “Yes!”

    * * *

    Thus, after leading the soldiers to Geunjeongjeon, Queen Soheon collapsed from relief once the situation was resolved.

    Afterwards, Sejong and Hyang had to plead earnestly for forgiveness from Queen Soheon.

    “I am sorry,” Sejong, sitting in front of the bedridden Queen Soheon with his head bowed, sincerely apologized. Hyang, sitting beside him, felt the same.

    “Royal Mother, please forgive us.”

    “Ugh…”

    Groaning in discomfort, Queen Soheon propped herself up and admonished Sejong.

    “Your Majesty… You are the sole sovereign of this nation. How could you stay in such a perilous place?”

    “Well, there were guards…”

    “Your Majesty! Even with guards, that place was extremely dangerous! It was fraught with arrows and iron bullets flying in every direction!”

    “I, I am sorry.”

    “And the Crown Prince too! How could the future foundation of our nation wander around the battlefield! What were you thinking?”

    “I have made a mistake!”

    “Ugh!”

    Groaning again, Queen Soheon lay back down and turned away.

    “This is serious…”

    Realizing that Queen Soheon was deeply upset, Sejong turned to the court physician, who silently shook his head. Sejong let out a long sigh.

    “Sigh…”

    Ultimately, Sejong and Hyang had to repeatedly seek Queen Soheon’s forgiveness over the next three days.

    * * *

    As Sejong and Hyang coughed awkwardly, the Minister of Military Affairs continued the meeting.

    “After the situation was resolved, the Joseon Army’s General Staff revisited the plan. Upon review, we concluded that the plan implemented this time was quite flawed.”

    “Flawed?”

    Sejong, showing interest, prompted the Minister to nod.

    “Yes, Your Majesty. If the scale of the rebels attempting an uprising had been larger, simply moving the royal palace would not suffice to ensure Your Majesty’s safety.”

    “Hmm…”

    Sejong stroked his beard, looking unconvinced, which prompted Hyang to join the conversation.

    “I believe it is a valid point. Although the palaces are separated, they are not far apart. If the rebels are large in number, they could easily launch simultaneous attacks.”

    “Are you suggesting another rebellion might occur?”

    Sejong’s question was promptly answered by Hyang.

    “While we hope it won’t happen again during Your Majesty’s reign, we can’t be sure. Moreover, similar situations could arise in the future.”

    Sejong nodded in agreement with Hyang’s reasoning.

    “That’s a sensible point from the Crown Prince. So, what’s the alternative?”

    At Sejong’s query, the Minister of Military Affairs quickly responded.

    “We propose building fortresses to the north and south of Hanyang.”

    Heo Jo immediately objected to the Minister’s suggestion.

    “Build fortresses? Isn’t that a bit excessive?”

    “It’s not excessive. The purpose of building fortresses is not only to prepare for rebellions. In case of foreign invasions, though our Joseon army would valiantly resist and repel the invaders, if we are unable to protect the capital and it’s in danger, these fortresses would also serve as strategic points for His Majesty to continue the resistance.”

    Heo Jo challenged the Minister’s statement again.

    “Do you really think foreign enemies could penetrate this far into our capital? Is that even possible?”

    The Minister of Military Affairs retorted briefly.

    “Have you forgotten the events of the previous dynasty?”

    “Ah…”

    At the Minister’s reminder, Heo Jo fell silent.

    During the reign of King Gongmin of Goryeo, remnants of the Red Turban Army had invaded Goryeo and even captured Gaeseong. At that time, King Gongmin had to retreat as far as Andong.

    And it wasn’t just the Red Turbans.

    In the first year of King Gongmin’s reign, Japanese pirates invaded, ravaging Ganghwado and even threatening Gaeseong.

    With the Minister of Military Affairs citing these events from just two generations prior, the opposition was effectively silenced.

    Having quelled the opposition, the Minister of Military Affairs continued speaking.

    “The fortresses to the north and south are not merely for His Majesty’s evacuation. They serve to regroup our forces and defend against the enemy, allowing time to gather the Joseon troops stationed in other regions to attack the enemy’s rear. This is one of the most fundamental tactics, the ‘hammer and anvil,’ where these fortresses act as the anvil.”

    Sejong posed a question upon hearing the Minister’s explanation.

    “What if the invading enemies ignore these fortresses and pass by, heading either south or north of the capital?”

    Hyang responded in place of the Minister.

    “The enemies cannot simply bypass these fortresses.”

    “How so… Ah!”

    Sejong, about to ask for an explanation, stopped himself and nodded in understanding.

    “I see. These are the places where the King of Joseon resides; they would not dare to simply pass by. It makes perfect sense.”

    Nodding in agreement and understanding, Sejong turned to Hyang.

    “Is this your doing?”

    “I just added a little touch.”

    At Hyang’s response, Sejong chuckled.

    “Just a little touch? You must have set the whole table. Knowing the kind of person you are.”

    ‘Exactly! Of course, it is!’

    ‘The Crown Prince is like a snake in the grass, full of cunning! How many times have we been deceived by that face!’

    The ministers vigorously nodded in agreement with Sejong’s words, each of them internally acknowledging Hyang’s shrewdness.

    However, for Hyang, this was somewhat unfair. Even before Hyang’s involvement, the renowned military enthusiast Munjong, during his time as Crown Prince, had advocated for the construction of Bukhansanseong. The issue was that Bukhansanseong was constructed much later, during the reign of King Sukjong.

    What Hyang had done was merely suggest the addition of Namhansanseong[1] alongside Bukhansanseong.

    Bukhansanseong

    Source: https://issuu.com/hyunukpark/docs/____________2017_ 

    Namhansanseong

    * * *

    “Let the one who expanded the plan explain in more detail.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    Upon Sejong’s command, Hyang stood up. As Hyang took the lead, the Minister of Military Affairs quickly handed over the pointer and returned to his seat.

    The reason for this was not the complexity of the matter, but rather the pressure from the ‘high-ranking officials.’ Although the Minister himself was among the high-ranking, the array of dignitaries in front of him was dauntingly eminent.

    As Hyang stood in front, the ministers began their questioning.

    “We understand the need for fortresses. Do you have suitable locations in mind?”

    “Yes, there are. Eunuch, bring the map of Hanyang and the surrounding area.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    At Hyang’s command, an eunuch brought a scroll with a map attached.

    As the strategic discussion progressed, several items, including maps, were always kept on hand in Geunjeongjeon.

    Hyang placed the map beside him and pointed to a location on it with the pointer.

    “For the northern fortress, we plan to expand Jungheung Fortress. In the south, we are considering the site of Jujang Fortress[2] from the the Three Hans period, located in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province.”

    “What is the reason for choosing that site?”

    “Yes, the location has been historically significant as a fortress site since the Three Hans period. Its distance from Hanyang is also ideal for quick movement. Lastly, it allows us to actively utilize the Han River, a crucial geographical defense.”

    Hearing Hyang’s explanation, the ministers nodded in agreement.

    “If an attack comes from the south, the Han River can serve as the first line of defense, while Bukhansanseong prepares for a defensive stance. Conversely, if the attack comes from the north, the Han River again serves as the first line of defense, and Namhansanseong can be fortified.”

    Seeing the ministers convinced, Hyang pointed out another location.

    “To prepare for any incursions through the Han River from the sea, we will construct a fortress here in Haengju. This site, too, was once a fortress during the Three Hans period, making it a strategically significant location.”

    Hyang continued to explain how these three fortresses would interconnect.

    “The fortresses in the north and south won’t just serve as temporary capitals during wartime. Properly integrating these three fortresses will significantly strengthen the defense of Hanyang.”

    “Hmm…”

    Sejong and the ministers weighed the effectiveness of Hyang’s plan.

    “This is promising…”

    At Sejong’s words, the ministers nodded. Indeed, as Hyang had explained, building fortresses in these locations would greatly enhance the defense of Hanyang. The fact that these sites were once military fortresses in the Samhan period further underscored their strategic importance.

    However, there was an issue.

    After a moment of contemplation, Kim Jeom spoke up.

    “Although I acknowledge the necessity, constructing fortresses in such terrain is no easy task. I have not been to the southern site, but the northern site is visible from Bukhansan and Inwangsan, which reveals the ruggedness of the terrain. Constructing fortresses in such harsh mountainous areas will require significant labor from the people, not to mention the considerable construction costs.”

    “You’re right. Building fortresses requires a lot of stone, and transporting it to those high and rough mountains is no ordinary task.”

    Starting with Kim Jeom, the ministers pointed out the geographical challenges of construction.

    At these concerns, Hyang, along with the Minister of Military Affairs and military officials, smiled knowingly. The ministers, noticing Hyang’s smile, felt a sense of unease.

    ‘What’s going on? What am I missing?’

    While the ministers were pondering, Hyang spoke up.

    “Have you forgotten? We have iron-reinforced concrete.”

    “Ah…”

    At Hyang’s words, the ministers looked as if they had been hit with a realization.

    The concrete first used by Hyang in road construction, had been officially named ‘Iron-reinforced concrete’. The ministers were well aware of its usefulness. With proper formwork, iron-reinforced concrete could be used to construct buildings in shapes and forms that were impossible with traditional wood or stone construction.

    “I had forgotten about that.”

    “Of course, transporting aggregates, reinforcing bars, and concrete mix to the fortress sites is not an easy task. However, it requires less labor than quarrying, refining, and moving stone.”

    At Hyang’s explanation, the ministers had nothing to do but nod in agreement.

    Eventually, Sejong made a decision.

    “I will accept the proposal of the Ministry of Military Affairs. The Ministry of Taxation should calculate the necessary budget, and the Ministries of Public Works and Personnel should devise plans for sourcing the required labor for construction.”

    “We shall comply with Your Majesty’s command!”

    Kim Jeom and the heads of the relevant departments responded with a somewhat troubled expression, understanding the magnitude of the task ahead.

    In contrast, at Sejong’s decision, Hyang, the officials of the Ministry of Military Affairs, and the military officers bowed their heads in deep gratitude, loudly expressing their appreciation.

    “Your grace is boundless!”

    1. Namhansanseong was designed as an emergency capital for the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), in a mountainous site 25 km south-east of Seoul.[]
    2. Jujang Fortress is from the period of Unified Silla, also a current site for Namhan Fortress or Namhansanseong[]
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