• Gyeongju

    Yongjangsa-ji Temple Site – 용장사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History Yongjangsa-ji Temple Site is located up the Yongjanggol Valley in Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The valley, which is named after the former temple, is the longest and deepest of the valleys on Mt. Namsan. The exact date of the temple is unknown. However, and because of archaeological evidence, we know that Yongjangsa Temple must have existed during the early Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). We also know that it existed until at least the 15th century because it was where the scholar and poet Kim Si-seup (1435-1493) lived and wrote the Geumo Sinhwa, or “The New Stories of the Golden Turtle” in English. As for Kim Si-seup, he was one…

  • Daegu

    Biroam Hermitage – 비로암 (Dong-gu, Daegu)

    Hermitage History Biroam Hermitage is located on the famous Donghwasa Temple grounds on Mt. Palgongsan (1193 m) in Dong-gu, Daegu. Biroam Hermitage is the closest of the hermitages directly associated with Donghwasa Temple on the main temple grounds. Biroam Hermitage was first founded in 863 A.D. during Later Silla (668 – 935 A.D.). The Donghwasa Historical Chronicles – 동화사사적기, which is a historical document that describes the history of Donghwasa Temple, has an entry about Biroam Hermitage. Interestingly, the entry describes Biroam Hermitage as Biro-jeon Hall. The Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, which is the main hall at Biroam Hermitage, is believed to have been built in the late 18th century. What makes…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Gunwi Grotto (2nd Seokguram) – 군위 석굴 (제2 석굴암) (Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Grotto History The Gunwi Grotto in Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do goes by a few names that include the 2nd Seokguram Hermitage and the Samjonseokgul Cave. The Gunwi Grotto is located on the northern side of Mt. Palgongsan (1,192.3 m). The Buddhist temple founded on this site was believed to be first established during the early part of Unified Silla (676-935 A.D.). The stone cave is located twenty metres above ground, and the height of the cave is 4.25 metres tall. Additionally, the cave is 4.3 metres deep, and the floor of the cave is flat. What makes the Gunwi Grotto so important is that it precedes the founding of the renowned Seokguram…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bulyeongsa Temple – 불영사 (Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Bulyeongsa Temple is located in the very scenic Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the northwest of Mt. Cheonchuksan (653.3 m). Bulyeongsa Temple means “The Reflection of the Buddha’s Shadow on the Pond Temple” in English. The temple was first established in 651 A.D. by Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.). According to one legend, Uisang-daesa built Bulyeongsa Temple near Mt. Cheonchuksan because it resembled Mt. Cheonchuksan in India, which is where the image of the Buddha was reflected on the water. Another legend behind the creation of Bulyeongsa Temple is that Uisang-daesa saw five Buddha images hovering above a pond in the area. So Uisang-daesa drove out the dragons that were residing there,…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Oeosa Temple – 오어사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Oeosa Temple is located in southern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the east of Mt. Unjesan (479.5 m). Oeosa Temple was first founded during the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) during the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla (r. 579 – 632 A.D.). At first, the temple was named Hangsasa Temple. The temple gained its current name through a rather interesting tale about the monks Hyegong and Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). One day, while attempting to revive two fish that had been swimming in the neighbouring lake, one of these two fish came back to life. Both claimed that they were the one to revive the fish, so from…

  • History

    The Dark Ages – The Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)

    Early Joseon (1392-1468) During the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the main purpose behind Buddhism was to ward off natural disasters, protect the nation from foreign invaders, and to bring good fortune to the Korean people. However, at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, Korean Buddhism had become extremely corrupt both socially and economically. As a result, monks and nuns, as well as temples and hermitages, profited from this corruption. It was due to this corruption that Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism in Korea started to gain ground on Buddhism with court officials. It was in July, 1392 that the Goryeo Dynasty came to an end, and with it, over five hundred years of…

  • 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…

  • 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…