• Jeollanam-do

    Daeheungsa Temple – 대흥사 (Haenam, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Daeheungsa Temple, which means “Great Emerging Temple,” in English, is located in Duryunsan Provincial Park on Mt. Duryunsan (700m), which means “Head Wheel Mountain,” in English. The temple is located in the city of Haenam, Jeollanam-do. Because the name of the mountain that Daeheungsa Temple is located on has also been called Mt. Daedunsan (673.4m), the name of the temple has alternated between Daedunsa Temple and Daeheungsa Temple. In 1993, the name of the temple, changed once more, from Daeheungsa Temple back to Daedunsa Temple. Finally, in 2003, it was changed to Daeheungsa Temple, perhaps for good? Throughout the years, the name of the mountain that hosts…

  • 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…

  • Daegu

    Yongyeonsa Temple – 용연사 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Yongyeonsa Temple, which is located on the northern part of Mt. Biseulsan (1083 m), is located in southern Daegu. The name of the temple means “Dragon Flying into the Sky Temple,” in English. Yongyeonsa Temple was first established in 912 A.D. by the monk Boyang-guksa. And no history about the temple exists until the end of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). However, with that being said, and according to the temple creation myth, there was a dragon that lived in the Yongyeon-ji Pond (Dragon Flying into the Sky Pond) at the temple. By flying up and into the sky, the dragon became a divine being. And this is…

  • Gangwon-do

    Naksansa Temple – 낙산사 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Naksansa Temple is located in Yangyang, Gangwon-do. The name of the temple, Naksansa Temple, is an abbreviation of “Botarakgasan.” The name “Naksan,” is in reference to Mt. Potalaka, which is a mythical mountain located in the seas south of India. It’s also believed to be where Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion in English, or Avalokiteśvara in Sanskrit) lives. Mt. Potalaka means “Brilliance,” in English. Gwanseeum-bosal is said to live on an island surrounded by the sea alongside guardian dragons under Mt. Potalaka. The temple was first founded in 671 A.D. by Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.) upon his return from Tang China. Uisang-daesa was an ambassador to Tang China…

  • Gangwon-do

    Woljeongsa Temple – 월정사 (Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Woljeongsa Temple, which is located in Odaesan National Park in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do, means “Moon Vitality Temple,” in English. The temple was first founded by the famed monk Jajang-yulsa (590-658 A.D.) in 643 A.D. Mt. Odaesan (1563 m) is a transliteration of the Chinese characters for Mt. Wutai-shan, which is where Jajang-yulsa met the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Munsu-bosal. But before getting too far ahead of ourselves, and like so many other temples in Korea, Woljeongsa Temple has quite the creation myth surrounding it. In 636 A.D., and according to the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, circa the 1280s), Jajang-yulsa traveled to Tang China to study Buddhism.…

  • Artwork

    Daejeokgwang-jeon – The Hall of Ultimate Silence and Light: 대적광전

    Hello Again Everyone!! A type of shrine hall that you can find at a Korean Buddhist temple is dedicated to Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). Birojana-bul is also commonly referred to as Biro-bul. The name of the hall that Birojana-bul occupies is called the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall. In English, this translates as “The Great Luminosity Hall,” in English. The reason why this hall has such a name is that Bironjana-bul spreads the light of Buddhist Truth in every direction. He is also the Buddha that embodies the Wisdom of the Universal Law. Expanding on this, the name Birojana-bul literally means “Great Sun Buddha,” in English. The idea behind this is the…

  • Gangwon-do

    Sinheungsa Temple – 신흥사 (Sokcho, Gangwon-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Sinheungsa Temple, which is located in Sokcho, Gangwon-do, is also situated, arguably, in Korea’s most beautiful national park: Seoraksan National Park. Sinheungsa Temple, in English, means “Spirit Arising Temple.” Sinheungsa Temple is believed to have been first built by the famed monk Jajang-yulsa (590-658 A.D.). Originally, the temple was called Hyangseongsa Temple. However, with that being said, there is some dispute as to when it was first built by Jajang-yulsa. It’s been argued that it was first built in 637 A.D. before the famed monk left to study in Tang China. And it’s also been argued that Sinheungsa Temple was built upon Jajang-yulsa’s return to the Korean…

  • Jeju-do

    Bomunsa Temple – 보문사 (Seogwipo, Jeju-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! On the south-west side of Jeju-do Island, and in the shadows of Mt. Sanbangsan and Sanbanggulsa Temple, is Bomunsa Temple. In fact, in order to get to Sanbanggulsa Temple, you’ll first need to pass through the Bomunsa Temple grounds. Bomunsa Temple has a commanding view of the South Sea and the southwestern coastline of Jeju-do Island. You first approach Bomunsa Temple past a crowded parking lot and up a set of wide stone stairs. Bomunsa Temple, much like the famed mountain that it rests upon, is frequented by busloads of visitors. The first thing to greet you inside the temple courtyard is the stone statue dedicated to…

  • Jeollabuk-do

    Seonunsa Temple – 선운사 (Gochang, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Seonunsa Temple, which is located in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do, means “Seon [Zen] Cloud Temple,” in English. The name of the temple implies how profound wisdom is found by staying in the clouds in the boundlessness of Seon meditation. Seonunsa Temple was first built in 577 A.D. by the monk Geumdan-seonsa of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. to 660 A.D.). There are three myths about the founding of Seonunsa Temple. The first myth centres around the idea that King Jinheung of Silla (r.540 – 576 A.D.) spent the night in a cave on Mt. Dosolsan, which is where Seonunsa Temple is located on the northern foot of the range.…

  • Artwork

    Bulimun: The Gate of Non-Duality – 불이문

    Hello Again Everyone!! The fourth potential gate at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Bulimun Gate, which means “The Gate of Non-Duality,” in English. At some temples, instead of being called a Bulimun Gate, it’s called the Haetalmun Gate, or the “Gate of Liberation,” in English. And even rarer, it’s sometimes called the Yeolbanmun Gate, or the “Nirvana Gate,” in English. These gates are usually adorned with beautiful pastoral paintings. Also, the structure itself can look similar in design to an Iljumun Gate in its open-pillar design like at Beomeosa Temple; however, it can also resemble the enclosed design of a Cheonwangmun Gate like at Tongdosa Temple. The greatest indicator…