• Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bongjeongsa Temple – 봉정사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Bongjeongsa Temple, which is located in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, was first built in 672 A.D. However, there is some dispute as to who first built Bongjeongsa Temple. According to the Yangbeopdang-jungsu-gi, the founder of Bongjeongsa Temple is the famed temple builder, Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.). However, according to the Sangnyangmun records of the historic Geukrak-jeon Hall, the temple’s founder was Neungin-daedeok (a disciple of Uisang-daesa). These two aforementioned documents, which document the history of Bongjeongsa Temple, are the two oldest documents regarding the foundation of a temple in Korea. However, it seems as though Neungin-daedeok is the more probable founder of Bongjeongsa Temple. According to the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Seonamsa Temple – 선암사 (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Seonamsa Temple means “Immortals Rock Temple,” in English. The name of the temple is in reference to a flat rock west of the temple where Taoist monks used to play baduk (Go). Seonamsa Temple is located on the western side of Jogyesan Provincial Park. And both Seonamsa Temple and Jogyesan Provincial Park are located in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do just like its famous neighbour: Songgwangsa Temple. There are two competing foundation stories as to how Seonamsa Temple was first built. One states that the missionary monk Ado-hwasang built a hermitage that was named Biroam Hermitage (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy Hermitage) in the same location as present day Seonamsa…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Hyangiram Hermitage – 향일암 (Yeosu, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! The coastal temple of Hyangiram Hermitage is located on the very southern tip of Dolsan-do Island in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do. Hyangiram Hermitage is perched in and among the cracks, crags and crevices of Mt. Geumosan (320.8m), which means “Iron Turtle Mountain,” in English. The hermitage was first founded in 644 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). It was here, at Hyangiram Hermitage, that Wonhyo-daesa had a vision of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Another interesting story pertaining to Wonhyo-daesa relates to a rock called Gyeongjeon-bawi, or “Buddhist Scripture Rock,” in English. This rock is precariously placed on top of other rocks to the rear of the…

  • 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)…

  • 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…

  • Daegu

    Donghwasa Temple – 동화사 (Dong-gu, Daegu)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Donghwasa Temple is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan (1193m) in Daegu. The name of the temple means “Paulownia Blossom Temple,” in English. Originally, the temple was built in 493 A.D. by the monk Geukda and was named Yugasa Temple. However, it was later rebuilt in 832 A.D. by the monk Simji in 832 A.D. The name of the temple refers to a legend around the time of this reconstruction. According to this legend, and during the dead of winter, wild paulownia trees were in bloom all around Donghwasa Temple during the temple’s reconstruction. This was thought of as an auspicious sign. According to the…

  • Gyeonggi-do

    Yongjusa Temple – 용주사 (Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Yongjusa Temple, which means “Dragon Jewel Temple,” in English, is located in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do. The temple was first established in 854 A.D.  by Yeomgeo Hwasang. Originally, the temple was called Galyangsa Temple. And during the reign of King Gwanjong of Goreyo (r. 949-975 A.D.) the National Preceptor, Hyegeo Guksa, resided at the temple and prayed for the welfare of the nation. And during the 10th century, the temple was further expanded. In 1636, the temple was completely destroyed during the Qing Invasion of Joseon (Dec. 1636 to Jan. 1637). But in 1790, under the orders of King Jeongjo of Joseon (r.1776-1800), the temple was rebuilt to honour…

  • Gyeongju

    Seokguram Hermitage – 석굴암 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Seokguram Hermitage on Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju houses the most famous statue in all of Korea. In English, Seokguram Hermitage means “Stone Cave Hermitage.” Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1995 alongside Bulguksa Temple, it’s also National Treasure #24. The artificial cave at Seokguram Hermitage was first constructed by Kim Daeseong in 751 A.D. However, it wasn’t completed until after his death in 774 A.D. It’s believed, at least according to the Samguk Yusa (“Legends of the Three Kingdoms,” in English), that Bulguksa Temple at the base of Mt. Tohamsan was built for his parents in his current life and that Seokguram…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do,  Video

    Video: Sinheungsa Temple – 신흥사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Sinheungsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do has one of the more mysterious origins. Purportedly, the temple was built in 301 A.D. and later destroyed. However, according to Korean tradition, Buddhism didn’t enter the Korean peninsula until 372 A.D. in the northern kingdom of Goguryeo. The only possible answer is that Queen Heo of the Gaya Kingdom, who was Indian in origin and married King Suro, brought Buddhism with her to the peninsula and helped influence its spread earlier on than once thought. This is one potential answer. In addition to the temple’s mysterious history, the temple is filled with beautiful Buddhist artwork, especially in the main hall. Most…

  • Busan

    Samgwangsa Temple – 삼광사 (Busanjin-gu, Busan)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Samgwangsa Temple is situated on Mt. Baekyangsan (641.3m) in Busanjin-gu, Busan. Unlike the majority of temples in Korea like neighbouring Beomeosa Temple and Tongdosa Temple, Samgwangsa Temple doesn’t belong to the Jogye-jong Buddhist Order. Instead, it belongs to the third largest Buddhist Order in Korea: Cheontae-jong Order. The temple is a rather recent creation with it being built in 1983. Throughout the years, it has continued to grow with recent additions like the Myeongbu-jeon Hall and the Geukrak-jeon Hall on the upper hillside. Specifically, Samgwangsa Temple is dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Gwanseeum-bosal. And Samgwangsa Temple is best known for its lantern festival that it hosts…