• 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…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Beopjusa Temple – 법주사 (Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Temple History Beopjusa Temple is situated in Songnisan National Park to the north-east of Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do. Beopjusa Temple means, “Dharma Residence Temple,” in English. According to the Dongguk-yeoji-seungnam, or the “Survey of the Geography of Korea,” in English, Beopjusa was first founded in 553 A.D. by the monk Uisin. After traveling to India to learn more about Buddhism, Uisan returned to the Korean peninsula with Indian Buddhist scriptures. Carrying these scriptures on a white donkey, he housed these texts at the temple he was to build: Beopjusa Temple. According to historical documents, the famed monk Jinpyo (8th century) returned to the Mt. Songnisan area and marked a location where it…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gakwonsa Temple – 각원사 (Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Temple History Gakwonsa Temple is located in Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do on the northern side of Mt. Taejosan (420m). If the name of the mountain sounds familiar, it should. It’s named after the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, King Taejo of Goryeo (r.918-943). The name of the mountain is named after King Taejo because according to legend he built up his military forces in this area. Gakwonsa Temple is apart of the Jogye-jong Order, which is the largest Buddhist order in South Korea. Temple Layout Throughout the years, and especially more recently, Gakwonsa Temple has undergone numerous reconstructions and renovations. It almost seems like a brand new temple. Upon first arriving at…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Sudeoksa Temple – 수덕사 (Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Temple History Sudeoksa Temple is located on Mt. Deoksungsan (495.2m) in Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do. In English, the temple name means, “Practicing Virtue Temple.” There is some ambiguity as to when Sudeoksa Temple was exactly built. There are two differing accounts as to when it was first built. The first states that the temple was established by the Buddhist monk Sungje during the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). during the reign of King Wideok of Baekje (r.554-598). And according to a different account, the temple was founded in 599 A.D. by the monk Jimyeong. There is recorded proof that the monk Hyehyeon (570-627 A.D.) taught at Sudeoksa Temple in 601…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Magoksa Temple – 마곡사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Temple History Magoksa Temple, which means “Hemp Valley Temple,” in English, is located outside the beautiful city of Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. There are two competing stories as to when the temple was actually first built. One states that the temple was first built by the famed monk Jajang-yulsa (590-658 A.D.) in 640 A.D. Jajang-yulsa is also the very same monk to have built Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. Another states that the temple was founded by the monk Muyeom (800-888 A.D.) upon his return to the Korean peninsula in 845 A.D. after studying in Tang China. Like so many temples in Korea, Magoksa Temple has quite the creation story surrounding its…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Jikjisa Temple – 직지사 (Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Jikjisa Temple, which means “Finger Pointing Temple,” in English, sits at the base of Mt. Hwangaksan (1111.3m) in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The temple is scenically located with quiet forests, towering mountain peaks, and rolling streams. According to temple legend, Jikjisa Temple was built in 418 A.D. by the monk Ado-hwasang. There are three theories as to how the temple got its name. The first states that after first seeing the location, Ado-hwasang pointed to a spot on the mountain and said that a large temple should be built at its base. The second story states that in 936 A.D., Master Neungyeo, while reconstructing the temple, instead of using a…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Buseoksa Temple – 부석사 (Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Buseoksa Temple, which means “Floating Rock Temple,” in English, is located in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The temple was first established by the famed monk, Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.), under the royal decree of King Munmu of Silla (r.661-681 A.D.), in 676 A.D. Upon his return from Tang China, Uisang helped spread Buddhism throughout the Korean peninsula. In fact, he used Buseoksa Temple as a base to help spread the message of Hwaeom Buddhism for which he’s renowned. In fact, there’s a famous story about Uisang-daesa’s return to Tang China that was written in the Samguk Yusa. In this story, Uisang met a Chinese woman named lady Seonmyo. Uisang met her…

  • Artwork,  Video

    Video: Yongwang: The Dragon King – 용왕

    Hello Again Everyone!! Of the four major shaman deities that you can find at a Korean Buddhist temple, which includes Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), it’s probably Yongwang, the Dragon King, that’s least understood. Perhaps because he’s not as well represented as the other three, but Yongwang still has incredible significance both in Korean Buddhism and Korean shamanism. So enjoy the video and learn about the shaman deity that lives under the sea and provides security to the Korean peninsula. Enjoy!

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Gatbawi Shrine – 갓바위 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Shrine History Gatbawi Shrine, which is officially known as the “Stone Seated Buddha at Gwanbong Peak in Palgongsan Mountain, Gyeongsan,” according to the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, is located on the famed Mt. Palgongsan (1192.3m) in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do. In Korean, it’s officially called “Gwanbong Yeorae-jwasang.” Gatbawi is simply a statue on top of Gwanbong Peak (852.9m). Surprisingly, Gatbawi isn’t a National Treasure; instead it’s Korean Treasure #431. Shrine Layout The name of the shrine, Gatbawi, is in reference to the name of the bamboo hat, a “Gat,” which is a traditionally worn by men. So Gatbawi is a compound word. It’s a combination of “Gat” with the Korean word…

  • Daegu

    Donghwasa Temple – 동화사 (Dong-gu, Daegu)

    Temple History 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 Samguk-yusa,…