• Gyeongsangnam-do

    Seongdeokam Hermitage – 성덕암 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Seongdeokam Hermitage is located in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. More specifically, it’s located on the north-eastern slopes of Mt. Daegoksan (516.8 m). Seongdeokam Hermitage was first built in 1933 by the monk Baekyongseong – 백용성. The hermitage was built for the well-being of local fishermen and townspeople, which makes sense, since it’s located so close to the Masan harbor. Currently, Seongdeokam Hermitage is home to ten different buildings, gates, and shrines spread throughout the entire grounds. Like most new temples, Seongdeokam Hermitage continues to expand and grow. Hermitage Layout After navigating your way down some local side-streets, you’ll finally be welcomed to Seongdeokam Hermitage by a three-in-one modern shrine hall.…

  • History

    Excess, Invasion and the Tripitaka – The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392)

    Early Goryeo – 918-1000 At the end of the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.), there was a lot of political turmoil and chaos. As a result of this political instability, the Silla Dynasty was highly weakened and vulnerable. Specifically, the loss of control over local lords at the end of the 9th century led the nation into civil war. Under the rebellious leadership of Gung Ye (869 – 918 A.D.) and Gyeon Hwon (867 – 936 A.D.), they formed two independent states. Gyeon Hwon formed Hubaekje (meaning Later Baekje), while Gung Ye established Hugoguryeo (meaning Later Goguryeo). It was under these tumultuous conditions that Wang Geon, a subject of Gung…

  • Gyeongju

    Daeheungsa Temple – 대흥사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Daeheungsa Temple is located in northern Gyeongju, and it’s situated at the start of a long valley to the south-east of Mt. Jioksan (569 m). Daeheungsa Temple is a modern temple that belongs to the Yeombul-jong Order, which is one of the twenty-seven Buddhist orders recognized by the Korean government. They give primacy to chanting, and they focus on Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) as their primary Buddha that they worship. Yeombul-jong Buddhism was first founded in 1991 by the monk Kim Yunbo, and its headquarters is located in the city of Daejeon at Wongwangsa Temple. As for Daeheungsa Temple, it’s built on the rather large…

  • History

    The Zenith – The Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.)

    During the Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.), Korean Buddhism would reach its zenith. A lot of the historic tangible cultural assets like National Treasures, Korean Treasures, and Historic Sites are datable to this time in Korean history. The Silla Kingdom, during the Three Kingdoms Period in Korean history, allied itself with Tang China in the mid-7th century. And in 660 A.D., in the sixth year of King Muyeol of Silla’s reign (r. 654-661 A.D.), the allied forces defeated the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). Then, in 668 A.D., now under the new kingship of the famous King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.), as well as…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Munsuam Hermitage – 문수암 (Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Munsuam Hermitage is located in western Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do. The hermitage is named after Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). Munsuam Hermitage was first established in 688 A.D., when the famed monk Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.) built it. Uisang-daesa was led to the top of Mt. Muesan (545.6 m) by Munsu-bosal and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). The two Bodhisattvas appeared as beggars to Uisang-daesa. Uisang-daesa had a dream in which a Buddhist devotee foretold the coming of these two Bodhisattvas. Outside of the hermitage’s foundation, very little is known about it through the centuries. The hermitage shrine halls are modern creations, and the stupa (budo) that houses the…

  • History

    The Conquered – The Gaya Confederacy (42 – 562 A.D.)

    The Gaya Confederacy existed from 42 A.D. to 562 A.D. It was situated in the south-eastern corner of the Korean peninsula near the Nakdong River basin around present day Busan and the Gyeongsangnam-do area. The Gaya Confederacy was centred around Geungwan Gaya (present day Gimhae). It was a small confederacy of city-states that grew out of the Byeonhan Confederacy, which consisted of twelve states. In total, there were six loosely organized city-states in the Gaya Confederacy. The Gaya Confederacy gained its independence from the Byeonhan Confederacy sometime during the late 3rd century. And while there are very few written records that can point to a definitive transitional period in Gaya…

  • Ulsan

    Sujeongsa Temple – 수정사 (Ulju-gun, Ulsan)

    Temple History Sujeongsa Temple is a modern temple that’s home to nuns. It’s located in the northwest part of Ulsan in Ulju-gun down a long valley. Sujeongsa Temple is also just some twenty minutes away from the famed Tongdosa Temple. Sujeongsa Temple is located in a very rural part of Korea; in fact, it almost feels like you fall off the edge of the map. But in the process of retreating from the sights and sounds of modern Korea, you find a beautiful Buddhist temple. Temple Layout You first approach Sujeongsa Temple up a narrow road down a long valley. After three kilometres, you’ll finally arrive at the Sujeongsa Temple…

  • History

    The Emergence of a Dynasty – The Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.)

    The Silla Kingdom, which was located in the east to southeastern portion of the Korean peninsula, was one of the longest sustained dynasties in all of Asian history. The kingdom spanned an astonishing 992 years in length from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D. The Silla Kingdom was founded by King Hyeokgeose of Silla (r. 57 B.C. – 4 A.D.) in 57 B.C.E. around present-day Gyeongju. It started as Saro-guk, which was a city-state within a twelve member confederacy known as Jinhan. By the 2nd century, Silla existed as a distinct state within the region. And by the 3rd century, the Silla Kingdom expanded its influence over the neighbouring city-states; however,…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Songnimsa Temple – 송림사 (Chilgok, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Songnimsa Temple is located on the southern slopes of the beautiful Mt. Palgongsan (1192.3 m) in Chilgok, Gyeongsangbuk-do. And the temple is located among other historical temples on Mt. Palgongsan like Donghwasa Temple and Pagyesa Temple. The name of the temple, Songnimsa, means “Pine Forest Temple” in English. The temple was first established in 545 A.D. during the fifth year of King Jinheung of Silla’s reign (r. 540 – 576 A.D.). Songnimsa Temple was built to enshrine the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) that were brought to the Korean peninsula from China by the Buddhist monk Myeonggwan. Songnimsa Temple was later destroyed in 1243. Fortunately for us, it was…

  • History

    The Exporter of Buddhism – The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.)

    The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) was a strong kingdom that existed for well over six hundred years. The Baekje Kingdom controlled a vast area of land at the height of its power. The Baekje Kingdom mostly controlled the western portion of the Korean peninsula from north of Pyongyang, North Korea down to the southern-most portions of modern day Jeollanam-do. It was founded by King Onjo (r. 18 B.C. – 28 A.D.) at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Also, the Baekje Kingdom became a significant maritime power with political and trade relations with both Japan and parts of China. A full twelve years after Buddhism arrived on the Korean…