• 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 Age of Renewal – The Republic of Korea (1945-Present)

    Since the liberation of South Korea from Japan, and much like the nation as a whole, Buddhism in Korea has undergone a modern day revival. After liberation in 1945, the celibate Korean monks that were marginalized during Japanese rule were able to return to their roles of authority at temples and hermitages. Also, a large number of men and women became ordained monks and nuns after liberation. In addition, a countless amount of new temples opened in the centre of cities and towns, which was unheard of during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). However, the regaining of Korean independence hasn’t always come without its problems for Korean Buddhism. Just as society…

  • History

    The Repressed – Colonial Korea (1910-1945)

    The Japanese annexation and colonial rule over Korea is one of the darkest moments in Korean history. Not only did the Korean population suffer terribly as a whole, but this suffering was mirrored in every facet on Korean Buddhism. Colonial rule by the Japanese began in 1910 and continued until the end of the Pacific theatre campaign of World War Two in 1945. With the ushering in of colonial rule in 1910, it brought to an end the five hundred years of Joseon Dynasty rule (1392-1910). The repressiveness that befell Korean Buddhism during the Joseon Dynasty would continue during Japanese colonial rule. Japan attempted to suppress traditional Korean Buddhism for…

  • Gyeongju

    Janghang-ri Temple Site – 장항리사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History The Janghang-ri Temple Site is located in eastern Gyeongju at the base of Mt. Tohamsan (745.7 m) to the south. And it gets its name from the local village where it’s located in Janghang-ri. The temple site is also located to the southeast of the famed Seokguram Hermitage, which is situated near the top of the mountain. Of all the National Treasures in Gyeongju, the Janghang-ri Temple Site, alongside Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site, is probably the least well known of the twenty-six. The temple at the Janghang-ri Temple Site was first founded during the Unified Silla Kingdom (668-935 A.D.). Unfortunately, the exact date of when it was first…

  • 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…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Seongdeokam Hermitage – 성덕암 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Seongdeokam Hermitage is located in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. More specifically, it’s located on the north-eastern slopes of Mt. Daegoksan (516.8 m). Seongdeokam Hermitage was first built in 1933 by the monk Baekyongseong – 백용성. The hermitage was built for the well-being of local fishermen and townspeople, which makes sense, since it’s located so close to the Masan harbor. Currently, Seongdeokam Hermitage is home to ten different buildings, gates, and shrines spread throughout the entire grounds. Like most new temples, Seongdeokam Hermitage continues to expand and grow. Hermitage Layout After navigating your way down some local side-streets, you’ll finally be welcomed to Seongdeokam Hermitage by a three-in-one modern shrine hall.…

  • History

    Excess, Invasion and the Tripitaka – The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392)

    Early Goryeo – 918-1000 At the end of the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.), there was a lot of political turmoil and chaos. As a result of this political instability, the Silla Dynasty was highly weakened and vulnerable. Specifically, the loss of control over local lords at the end of the 9th century led the nation into civil war. Under the rebellious leadership of Gung Ye (869 – 918 A.D.) and Gyeon Hwon (867 – 936 A.D.), they formed two independent states. Gyeon Hwon formed Hubaekje (meaning Later Baekje), while Gung Ye established Hugoguryeo (meaning Later Goguryeo). It was under these tumultuous conditions that Wang Geon, a subject of Gung…

  • 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…