• Jeollanam-do

    Unjusa Temple – 운주사 (Hwasun, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Unjusa Temple is located in rural Hwasun, Jeollanam-do. The name of the temple, Unjusa Temple, means “The Place Where Clouds Stay Temple,” in English. The exact date of the founding of Unjusa Temple is unknown; however, it’s widely believed to have been established sometime during the beginning of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) in the late 10th century or early 11th century. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the temple was created by the monk Hyemyeong. And the temple prospered until the 12th century. The oldest historical record about Unjusa Temple is found in the book “Sinjeung Donggukyeojiseungnam” (“A Revised Book on Geography and Scenic Sites in Korea,” in English, from…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Songgwangsa Temple – 송광사 (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Songgwangsa Temple, which means “Spreading Pine Temple,” in English, is situated on the western slopes of Mt. Jogyesan (884 m), in Jogyesan Provincial Park. Songgwangsa Temple was first built in the waning years of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) in the 10th century by the monk Hyerin-seonsa. Hyerin-seonsa also built a neighbouring hermitage and lived there, as well. At this time, there were between thirty to forty monks that lived at the temple. However, since so little is known about the founding of Songgwangsa Temple, and Hyerin in particular, it’s believed by some scholars that Hyerin might have been invented. Songgwangsa Temple then fell…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Hwaeomsa Temple – 화엄사 (Gurye, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Hwaeomsa Temple, which is located in Gurye, Jeollanam-do, is on the very south-western edge of the famed Jirisan National Park. Hwaeomsa Temple means “Flower Garland Temple,” in English. Because of this name, it is directly linked to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). In Korean, the Flower Garland Sutra is known as “Hwaeom Gyeong – 화엄경.” And in Sanskrit, the sutra is known as the “Avataṃsaka Sūtra.” The temple was first founded in 544 A.D. by the monk Yeongi-josa, who might have come from India. The temple was then later expanded by Jajang-yulsa (590-648 A.D.) in 643 A.D. And during the reign of King Munmu of Silla (r.661-681…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Sujeongam Hermitage – 수정암 (Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Just south-west of the famous Beopjusa Temple in Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do is Sujeongam Hermitage. And like Beopjusa Temple, it’s beautifully situated in Songnisan National Park. Sujeongam Hermitage is one of twelve hermitages that’s located on the Beopjusa Temple grounds. Sujeongam Hermitage is believed to have been built around the same time as Beopjusa Temple in 553 A.D. by the same monk, Uisin. Unfortunately, very few records remain to tell about the hermitage’s history. However, records do exist stating that the hermitage had shaman shrine halls like the Sanshin-gak (Mountain Spirit Hall), Chilseong-gak (Seven Stars Hall), and Dokseong-gak (Lonely Saint Hall), as well as a Daeseon-bang (Great Meditation Hall)…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Guinsa Temple – 구인사 (Danyang, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Guinsa Temple, which means “Salvation of Humanity Temple,” in English is located in the Danyang, Chungcheongbuk-do. Guinsa Temple is situated up a long valley north of the towering Mt. Sobaeksan (1439.6m). The temple was first completed in 1945, when the contemporary founder of the Cheontae-jong Order, Sangwol-wongak, built a small hut from arrowroot vines. During his time here, he received a revelation about the truth of the universe, which is an interpretation of the Lotus Sutra. During the Korean War (1950-53), the temple was destroyed in the fighting. In 1966, Guinsa Temple was renovated and expanded. And in 1967, the Cheontae-jong Order was registered with the Korean…

  • Gyeonggi-do

    Yeonjuam Hermitage/Yeonjudae – 연주암/연주대 (Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! This is Giuseppe with my second contribution to the site. Hope you enjoy! Throughout my years of living and traveling in Korea, I’ve always had a small collection of “comfort” places that I tried to get back to now and again, depending on where I lived. I appreciate the sense of intimacy that develops from this relationship with a place; getting to know some of the locals, enjoying a specific restaurant, finding hidden trails, knowing a place through the four seasons. Since moving to suburban Seoul, Yeonjuam Hermitage, and its spectacular Yeonjudae, perched on the edge of a sharp cliff, has been one of those places. The…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Beopjusa Temple – 법주사 (Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Beopjusa Temple is situated in Songnisan National Park to the north-east of Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do. Beopjusa Temple means, “Dharma Residence Temple,” in English. According to the Dongguk-yeoji-seungnam, or the “Survey of the Geography of Korea,” in English, Beopjusa was first founded in 553 A.D. by the monk Uisin. After traveling to India to learn more about Buddhism, Uisan returned to the Korean peninsula with Indian Buddhist scriptures. Carrying these scriptures on a white donkey, he housed these texts at the temple he was to build: Beopjusa Temple. According to historical documents, the famed monk Jinpyo (8th century) returned to the Mt. Songnisan area and marked a location where…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gakwonsa Temple – 각원사 (Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Gakwonsa Temple is located in Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do on the northern side of Mt. Taejosan (420m). If the name of the mountain sounds familiar, it should. It’s named after the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, King Taejo of Goryeo (r.918-943). The name of the mountain is named after King Taejo because according to legend he built up his military forces in this area. Gakwonsa Temple is apart of the Jogye-jong Order, which is the largest Buddhist order in South Korea. Throughout the years, and especially more recently, Gakwonsa Temple has undergone numerous reconstructions and renovations. It almost seems like a brand new temple. Upon first arriving at the…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Sudeoksa Temple – 수덕사 (Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Sudeoksa Temple is located on Mt. Deoksungsan (495.2m) in Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do. In English, the temple name means, “Practicing Virtue Temple.” There is some ambiguity as to when Sudeoksa Temple was exactly built. There are two differing accounts as to when it was first built. The first states that the temple was established by the Buddhist monk Sungje during the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). during the reign of King Wideok of Baekje (r.554-598). And according to a different account, the temple was founded in 599 A.D. by the monk Jimyeong. There is recorded proof that the monk Hyehyeon (570-627 A.D.) taught at Sudeoksa Temple in…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Magoksa Temple – 마곡사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Magoksa Temple, which means “Hemp Valley Temple,” in English, is located outside the beautiful city of Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. There are two competing stories as to when the temple was actually first built. One states that the temple was first built by the famed monk Jajang-yulsa (590-658 A.D.) in 640 A.D. Jajang-yulsa is also the very same monk to have built Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. Another states that the temple was founded by the monk Muyeom (800-888 A.D.) upon his return to the Korean peninsula in 845 A.D. after studying in Tang China. Like so many temples in Korea, Magoksa Temple has quite the creation story surrounding…