• Gyeongsangnam-do

    Bokcheonjeongsa Temple – 복천정사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History It’s not often that you find an abandoned Korean Buddhist temple. When you do, it’s a haunting reminder of the passage of time and that time waits for no one and nothing. In my time in Korea, and during my travels to some five hundred temples, I think I’ve only ever encountered three abandoned Korean Buddhist temples. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do is located high up on Mt. Togoksan (855 m) about two hundred metres below the peak. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple formerly belonged to the Cheontae-jong Order. And the temple appears to have been abandoned some time around 2014, probably with the passing of the head monk at Bokcheonjeongsa…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Munsusa Temple – 문수사 (Gurye, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Munsusa Temple, which is named after Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), was first constructed in 547 A.D. by the Buddhist monk Yeongi. The temple is located in Gurye, Jeollanam-do in the southwestern portion of the famed Jirisan National Park. Throughout the years, several prominent Korean Buddhist monks such as Wonhyo-daesa (617 – 686 A.D.), Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.), Seosan-daesa (1520 – 1604), and Samyeong-daesa (1544 – 1610) have all called Munsusa Temple home at one time or another. Much of what you currently see at Munsusa Temple was built in 1984, nearly four hundred years after it was partially destroyed by the Japanese during the destructive Imjin…

  • Artwork

    Frogs and Toads – 개구리와 두꺼비

    Introduction Rather interestingly, you’ll find several stories related to frogs, toads and Korean Buddhist temples. Some great examples of this can be found inside the Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple, which has a frog relief sitting in front of a lotus flower on the ceiling of this temple shrine hall. You can also find a similar image inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple, as well. You can also find Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) and dongja (attendants) holding a frog or toad, as well. They almost appear to be like a toy in their hands that they’re playing with. These frogs and toads can be found as…

  • Gyeongju

    Seondosa Temple – 선도사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Seondosa Temple is located in the south-western portion of Gyeongju on Mt. Seondosan (380.6 m). The mountain was regarded as the Pure Land in Korean Buddhism during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). Sadly, the mountain has been negatively impacted by forest fires in the not too distant past, which is made plain by the charred landscape. And near the peak of Mt. Seondosan is the diminutive Seondosa Temple. Near the base of the mountain, you’ll find the Royal Tomb of King Jinheung of Silla, which is Historic Site #177; the Royal Tomb of King Beopheung of Silla, which is Historic Site #176; as well as…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Cheonbulsa Temple – 천불사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Cheonbulsa Temple is located to the north-east of Mt. Yongcheonsan (544.7 m) in the eastern part of Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. The name of the temple means “Heavenly Buddha Temple” in English, and it was originally constructed in 1974. Cheonbulsa Temple’s name refers to the energy of the temple that it gets from the heavenly realm of Tushita. When the head monk at Cheonbulsa Temple wanted to build a temple, he held a memorial service for one thousand days in a cave at Yaksuam Hermitage near Baekyangsa Temple in Gwangju. During this memorial service, the head monk received a divine revelation. In this revelation, he learned that he should find…

  • Busan

    Haeinjeongsa Temple – 해인정사 (Saha-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Haeinjeongsa Temple is located in Saha-gu, Busan. It’s located on the lower south-western slopes of Mt. Gudeoksan (545.3 m). Haeinjeongsa Temple is a modern temple. It first started being built in August, 1999. It has an overall size of 5,000 pyeong, or nearly 16,529 square metres. The first of the temple structures to be built was the main hall, the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, which started to be built in June, 2000. And the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall was completed in 2003. In total, there are half a dozen temple shrine halls for visitors to explore at Haeinjeongsa Temple. Temple Layout To get to the temple, you’ll first need to ascend a…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Yeoyeojeongsa Temple – 여여정사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Yeoyeojeongsa Temple is located on the western slopes of Mt. Geumosan (766.1 m) in southern Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. The name of the temple means “Watch, Listen, and Act With a Still Mind Temple” in English. The head monk at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple first opened a temple in Busan in 1995. He called this temple Yeoyeoseonwon Temple. Then, in 2005, he bought some land in Miryang, where he decided to build Yeoyeojeongsa Temple. And it would take a decade and a half to complete the temple. Temple Layout As you make your way up to the temple parking lot, you’ll pass by four stone statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. Having…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Geojoam Hermitage – 거조암 (Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Hermitage History Geojoam Hermitage is located on the eastern slopes of the famed Mt. Palgongsan (1193 m) in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. And Geojoam Hermitage is a branch hermitage of the neighbouring Eunhaesa Temple. Originally, the hermitage was known as Haeansa Temple. However, there is some dispute as to when the temple was first built. In fact, there are three theories as to when the temple was first built. The first theory states that the temple was first completed under the watchful eye of Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) in 693 A.D. However, since Wonhyo-daesa died in 686 A.D., it’s highly unlikely that he founded Geojoam Hermitage in 693 A.D. Another theory states that…

  • Busan

    Wonhyodae Temple – 원효대 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    Temple History Wonhyodae Temple is located in Gijang-gun in eastern Busan. Wonhyodae Temple is located up a long valley just to the south-east of Mt. Daleumsan (588.1 m). Wonhyodae Temple is named after the famous monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.), who lived and taught in this part of Busan during the 7th century. In fact, it’s believed that Wonhyodae Temple is located near what was a Silla-era temple named Chwijeongsa Temple, which no longer exists, but was founded by Wonhyo-daesa. And just to the east lies the much smaller Daedosa Temple. The temple site for Wonhyodae Temple is quite large at nearly 8,000 m2. It was first founded in October, 1898.…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gwanchoksa Temple – 관촉사 (Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Temple History Gwanchoksa Temple in Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do is located on the diminutive slopes of Mt. Banyasan (100 m). The temple was first founded in 968 A.D., at the start of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), by the monk Hyemyeong-daesa. The temple was rebuilt several times throughout the centuries. And the history of the temple is intermingled with several myths and legends. Gwanchoksa Temple is home to a National Treasure and a Korean Treasure. The National Treasure is the Standing Stone Mireuk-bosal Statue of Gwanchoksa Temple, which is also known as the Eunjin Mireuk Statue. For the longest of times, it was known as a Korean Treasure, Korean Treasure #218. Then in…