• Artwork

    Myeongbu-jeon – The Judgment Hall: 명부전

    Hello Again Everyone!! Another prominent figure in Korean Buddhism is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Next to the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is the most popular Bodhisattva shrine hall at a Korean Buddhist temple. At major temples, Jijang-bosal is housed in his own hall, which is called the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, or the “Judgment Hall,” in English. It’s meant to symbolize a “dark court” or “underworld,” where the souls of the dead are being judged. The Judgment Hall is one of the more unique looking buildings at a temple because of its gruesome depictions of the afterlife, the uplifting paintings of salvation, the ominous judges, and the serenely redemptive…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gapsa Temple – 갑사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Gapsa Temple is located in Gyeryongsan National Park in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. Gapsa Temple is the most important temple in the Gyeryongsan National Park area. Originally, the temple was known as Gyeronggapsa Temple, which means “Rooster Dragon Foremost Temple,” in English. The temple was then called Gyeryongsa-sa in the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The first “sa” in the name meant “fundamental,” so the temple was called “Rooster Dragon Fundamental Temple,” in English. It was at the end of the 18th century that the name of the temple changed once more to Gyeryongsan Gapsa. Now the temple is known as Gapsa Temple, which simply means “Foremost Temple,” in English.…

  • Artwork

    Mireuk-jeon – The Future Buddha Hall: 미륵전

    Hello Again Everyone!! According to tradition, Mireuk-bul, or the “Future Buddha,” in English, will achieve Buddhahood in 5.67 billion years after the death of the historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. So Mireuk-bul is seen as both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva, which can sometimes be a bit confusing when you visit a temple and see that Mireuk-bul is Mireuk-bosal, or vice versa. They are one in the same, just at different stages of their spiritual journey. Mireuk-bul is the next in a long line of Buddhas much like Seokgamoni-bul (the Buddha we all know). Until then, Mireuk-bul resides in Dosol-cheon (Tusita Heaven) as a Bodhisattva, Mireuk-bosal. Currently, he passes his time by…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Donghaksa Temple – 동학사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do)

     Hello Again Everyone!! Donghaksa Temple, which means “Eastern Crane Temple,” in English, is located in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. Originally, the temple was first constructed in 724 A.D. by the little known monk Sangwon-josa. One source claims Sangwon-josa was a monk from Tang China. The temple was called Cheongryangsa Temple, or “Clear Cold Temple,” in English. It was called this in honour of the cool mountain stream that flowed, and still flows, in front of the temple. According to one legend, Sangwon-josa saved the life of a tiger. In order to repay the monk, the tiger brought a young woman to the temple. Sangwon-josa decided to adopt the young woman, and he…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Taeansa Temple – 태안사 (Gokseong, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Taeansa Temple, which is located on Mt. Bongdusan (753.8 m), or Mt. Dongrisan (as the temple calls this mountain), in Gokseong, Jeollanam-do. And even though it’s several kilometres away from Mt. Jirisan (1915 m), the temple is still considered part of the greater Mt. Jirisan area. The name of the temple means “Grand Peace Temple,” in English. According to historical documents, Taeansa Temple was first constructed in February, 742 A.D. by three master monks. Later, Great Meditation Master Hyecheol Jeogin-seonsa (785-861 A.D.), who received Buddhist teachings from Grand Master Seodang-jijang of Tang China, returned to the Silla Kingdom. He established Dongrisanmun, which was one of the Gusan…

  • North Korea

    Singyesa Temple – 신계사 (Onjong-ri, Kosŏng-gun, Kangwon-do, North Korea)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Singyesa Temple, which is located in Onjong-ri, Kosong-gun, Kangwon-do, North Korea, was first founded in 519 A.D. The temple was founded during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.), and it was once one of the largest Buddhist temples in and around Mt. Kumgangsan (1638 m). The location of Singyesa Temple was initially chosen as a site in the Mt. Kumgangsan area because of the mountain’s natural beauty. Through the centuries, Singyesa Temple continued to grow until it became one of the four major temples of Mt. Kumgangsan alongside Pyohunsa Temple, Jangansa Temple, and Yujomsa Temple. Singyesa Temple lasted until Japanese Colonization (1910-1945), when the temple…

  • Artwork

    Daeung-jeon – Great Hero Hall: 대웅전

    Hello Again Everyone!! When you visit a Korean Buddhist temple, you’ll see numerous halls dedicated to various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and deities. The diversity at a Buddhist temple comes from Korean shamanism, as well as Mahayana Buddhism. Within Mahayana Buddhism, there are literally hundreds of Buddhas (fully enlightened beings) and Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings, who through compassion forgo nirvana in order to help save other beings). And while Mahayana Buddhism has hundreds of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Korean form of Mahayana Buddhism usually only worships a select few. The central figure to Buddhism is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Inside the Daeung-jeon Hall sits a centrally located statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha)…

  • Artwork

    Cheonwangmun Gate – The Heavenly Kings Gate: 천왕문

    Hello Again Everyone!! The third potential gate at Korean Buddhist temple is the Cheonwangmun Gate, or Sacheonwangun Gate. This means either “Heavenly Kings Gate,” or the “Four Heavenly Kings Gate,” in English. This gate houses four figures that have intimidating stares, bulging eyes, and gnashing teeth. These four figures represent the Four Heavenly Kings that are Hindu in origin. They are said to stand in the four cardinal directions on Mt. Sumeru, and they serve King Sakra. King Sakra resides on the summit of this mighty mountain in a palace called the Palace of Correct Views. This area, at least according to ancient Buddhist cosmology, is the centre of the…

  • Gyeongju

    Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site – 황룡사지 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Everyone!! Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site, in central Gyeongju, means “Imperial Dragon Temple Site,” in English. The construction of the massive temple started in 553 A.D., during the reign of King Jinheung (r.540-576 A.D.), and it wasn’t completed until 644 A.D. during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r.632-644 A.D.). The temple stood over seventy acres, or 283,280 m2, in size. There are several legends surrounding this famously historic temple. The first is that King Jinheung planned to build a new palace northeast of the royal palace compound of Banwolseong, or “Half-Moon Palace,” in English. During this construction, a yellow dragon purportedly appeared, which was taken as an auspicious sign. So instead…

  • Gyeongju

    Bunhwangsa Temple – 분황사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Everyone!! Bunhwangsa Temple is located in downtown Gyeongju near Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site and Wol-ji Pond. Bunhwangsa Temple means “Fragrant Emperor/Imperial Temple,” in English. Bunhwangsa Temple was first established in 634 A.D. under the auspices of the famed Silla ruler, Queen Seondeok (r.632-647 A.D.). At this time, during Queen Seondeok’s reign, Buddhism was only a century old, having only been adopted by the Silla Kingdom in 527 A.D. by King Beopheung (r.514-540 A.D). Early in its history, Bunhwangsa Temple was a large temple. It consisted of an inner gate, three golden halls, an assembly hall, a gallery, and a stone pagoda (which is the only thing that still remains today…