I timed my visit in the middle of the PERFECT season! As it was late spring, the azaleas were blooming EVERYWHERE! The fortress is beauuuutiful and the flowers were like jewels on a crown.
There's a tradition to take walk around the fortress with a stone on your head, called "Dapseong Nori." The myth is that if you make the walk once around the fortress, your legs will be healed, twice around will prevent diseases and give you a long life, and three trips around will gain you entrance to heaven. I made it once around without a stone; I wonder what that gets me? Later in the year, they have a whole event where women dress in hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and do the Dapseong Nori properly, stones and all. I WILL BE GOING BACK FOR THAT.
The weather was great when I got there, but about an hour into my visit it clouded over and started raining. Guess whose iPhone weather app LIED to her? Rain at 10 pm. HA. Luckily, my friend Jacques lives in Gochang and didn't have to work that evening, so he brought me an umbrella and showed me around the grounds. I'm a *little bit* directionally challenged, so when he got there I was all like "Yeah I'm up on the back wall, geeking out over the azaleas!" And he was like "...the wall goes around the entire fortress. Are you near the bamboo forest?" And I was like "THERE'S A BAMBOO FOREST?!? Cool!!!" ...somehow we ended up in the same place, and just in time too, since it was just starting to rain.
It was so beautiful, y'all. If you get a chance to go to Jeollabukdo, the Gochang Fortress is soooo worth a trip! There's almost nothing else to see in Gochang, but do it anyway! It's like walking through an Asian Braveheart.