• Gyeongju

    Jingwangsa Temple – 진광사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Jingwangsa Temple is located in eastern Gyeongju near the East Sea and the famous the Gameunsa-ji Temple Site. Unlike the majority of Korean Buddhist temples that fall under one of three main Buddhist orders – the Jogye-jong Order, the Taego-jong Order, and the Cheontae-jong Order – Jingwangsa Temple belongs to the Jodong-jong Order. The Jodong-jong Order is a transliteration of the Caodong school. It is one of the 27 Korean Buddhist sects and orders, and it was first founded in May, 1989. The Jodong-jong Order is headquartered out of Cheongryongsa Temple in Jongno-gu, Seoul. In this form of Buddhism, Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) is the central Buddha of…

  • Gyeongju

    Mujangsa-ji Temple Site – 무장사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History Mujangsa-ji Temple Site is located in a long valley in Amgok-dong, Gyeongju. According to the Samguk Yusa, Mujangsa Temple was built by Kim Hyo-yang, who was the father of King Wonseong (r. 785-798 A.D.), in memory of his uncle. As for the name of the temple, Mujangsa Temple, it comes from a story related to King Muyeol of Silla (r. 654-661 A.D.). King Muyeol of Silla is credited with first attempting to unify the entire Korean peninsula by first defeating the Baekje Kingdom in 660 A.D. But before he could completely unify the Korean peninsula, King Muyeol died in 661 A.D. Instead, the defeat of the Goguryeo…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Gyeongju

    Seondosa Temple – 선도사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Seondosa Temple is located in the south-western portion of Gyeongju on Mt. Seondosan (380.6 m). The mountain was regarded as the Pure Land in Korean Buddhism during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). Sadly, the mountain has been negatively impacted by forest fires in the not too distant past, which is made plain by the charred landscape. And near the peak of Mt. Seondosan is the diminutive Seondosa Temple. Near the base of the mountain, you’ll find the Royal Tomb of King Jinheung of Silla, which is Historic Site #177; the Royal Tomb of King Beopheung of Silla, which is Historic Site #176; as well as…

  • Gyeongju

    Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain – 남산불곡석불좌상 (Gyeongju)

    The History and Design of the Statue Officially, this statue is known as the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain – 남산불곡석불좌상, and it’s located on the north-east side of the historic Mt. Namsan (494 m) in Gyeongju. In fact, the name of the valley, which means “Buddha Valley” in English, is named after this statue. This statue is also known as the Bucheogol Halmae, or the “Buddha Valley Grandmother” in English. While little visited, women continue to pray at this shrine to have their wishes come true. You’ll first approach the one metre tall statue of the Buddha up a trail that leads through a bamboo…

  • Gyeongju

    Baengnyulsa Temple – 백률사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Baengnyulsa Temple is located just to the north of Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju on Mt. Sogeumgangsan (176.7 m). Supposedly, and according to the Samguk Yusa, the temple was built to commemorate the martyrdom of Ichadon (501 – 527 A.D.). Originally, the temple was called Jachusa Temple. In English, “ja” means “pine nuts,” while “chu” means “chestnut.” Later Jachusa Temple changed its name to Baengnyulsa Temple. It was common at this time in Korean history, during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), that if a temple had the same sound and/or meaning, the name of the temple could change. With this in mind, “baek” means “pine nut”…

  • Gyeongju

    Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site – 정혜사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History The Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site is located in a long valley in northern Gyeongju east of Mt. Jaoksan (569.9 m) and Mt. Dodeoksan (707.5 m). The Jeonghyesa Temple Site is home to one of the most unique pagodas that you’ll find in Korea. The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site is also National Treasure #40. As for the history of the actual temple, there is very little known about it. With that being said, historians assume that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the Later Silla Dynasty (668-935), but there’s no specific foundation year to this temple. It’s also known that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).…

  • Gyeongju

    Wolji Pond – 월지 (Gyeongju)

    History of Wolji Pond Since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Wolji Pond was known as Anapji Pond. The name Anapji is a combination of three Chinese characters: “An – 雁,” which means “goose” in English; “Ap – 鴨,” which means “duck,” and “Ji – 池,” which means “pond” in English. The reason for this name is that after Later Silla collapsed (668-935 A.D.), and Donggung Palace was abandoned, the pond was occupied by wild geese, ducks, and reeds. During the excavation of Wolji Pond, a lock with the inscription “Donggunga” on it suggested that the pond’s original name was Wolji. The reason for this is that the name “Donggunga” was in…