• Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bogyeongsa Temple – 보경사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Bogyeongsa Temple, which is located in northern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, is situated to the east of Mt. Cheonryeongsan (774.8 m). Bogyeongsa Temple was first built in 603 A.D., during the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla (r.579 – 632 A.D.) by the monk Jimyeong. Upon his return to the Silla Kingdom from studying in Tang China, Jimyeong instructed King Jinpyeong of Silla, “If you discover an auspicious site on a famous mountain on the east coast, bury Palmyeong-bogyeong [scripture], and build a Buddhist temple, you will be able to prevent Japanese pirates from invading the Silla Kingdom, and you will unify the Three Kingdoms.” The king was happy to…

  • Gyeongju

    Chilbulam Hermitage – 칠불암 (Gyeongju)

    Hermitage History Chilbulam Hermitage, which means “Seven Buddhas Hermitage,” in English, is located on the eastern slopes of the historic Mt. Namsan (495 m) in Gyeongju, which was the ancient capital of Silla (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). The modern form of the hermitage actually only dates back to the 1930’s, when a nun was hunting for wild mushrooms on this part of Mt. Namsan. It was by mere chance that she stumbled upon a pair of statues that comprise the seven Buddhas statue at Chilbulam Hermitage. These statues were buried in the ground. Upon their discovery, the nun built a hut on the grounds. And in 2009, the present…

  • Gyeongju

    Golgulsa Temple -골굴사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Golgulsa Temple, which means “Bone Cave Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. East of Seokguram Hermitage, and over a mountain pass, you can find Golgulsa Temple to the south of the towering Mt. Hamwolsan (584 m) in a narrow valley. Golgulsa Temple was first built sometime during the 6th century by the monk Gwangyu. Gwangyu came back to Korea from India with some followers and built Golgulsa Temple to emulate the cave temples in India. According to the painter, Jeong Seon (1676 – 1759), pen name Gyeomjae, who painted during the mid Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), he painted Golgulsa Temple with a wooden antechamber in front of…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Unmunsa Temple – 운문사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Unmunsa Temple, which means “Cloud Gate Temple,” in English, is located in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Specifically, Unmunsa Temple is located to the north of Mt. Gajisan (1240.9m). The temple was first built over a three year period starting in 557 A.D. by the monk Sinseung. At first, it was nothing more than a hermitage. The temple was later rebuilt by the monk Wongwang-guksa (558-638 A.D.) in 608 A.D. Originally, the temple was named Daejakgapsa Temple, or “Great Magpie Hillside Temple,” in English. The monk Boyang-guksa reconstructed Unmunsa Temple in 930 A.D. The founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, King Taejo (r.918-943 A.D.), granted Boyang-guksa 500 gyeol (or 17,000 square metres)…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Chunghyosa Temple – 충효사 (Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Chunghyosa Temple is located in the very scenic Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. It’s situated to the north of the picturesque Lake Yeongcheon, which is a long and deep lake, and east of Mt. Giryongsan (965.5m). Chunghyosa Temple, which means “Loyalty to Nation Temple,” in English, is located in Chunghyo-ri. This part of Yeongcheon is filled with locations with similar names, too. Chunghyosa Temple was first built in the 1970’s, and it has continued to grow and expand throughout the ensuing decades. Chunghyosa Temple is not apart of the Jogye-jong Buddhist Order, or even the Taego-jong Buddhist Order or the Cheontae-jong Buddhist Order in Korea. Instead, the temple focuses on the…

  • Artwork

    Nahan-jeon – The Arhat Hall: 나한전

    Introduction One of the shrine halls that you’ll see at larger temples is the Nahan-jeon Hall, which is also sometimes called the Eungjin-jeon Hall. So what is a Nahan-jeon Hall? What does it look like? Why is it at a Korean Buddhist temple? Nahan-jeon Design The Nahan-jeon Hall is dedicated to the historical disciples of the Buddha. The Korean word Nahan is a transliteration of “Arhat,” a Sankrit word. And while less accomplished than a Bodhisattva, Nahan are still an exulted and important part of the Buddhist pantheon of religious figures. Nahan carry on the tradition of the Dharma (Buddhist teachings) from generation to generation. Furthermore, the Nahan were instrumental…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Daeheungsa Temple – 대흥사 (Haenam, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History 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 Daeheungsa…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bongjeongsa Temple – 봉정사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History 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 of…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Seonamsa Temple – 선암사 (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History 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 Temple…

  • Daegu

    Yongyeonsa Temple – 용연사 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

    Temple History 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 where…