Introduction to Chungcheongnam-do
Chungcheongnam-do, which is also known as South Chungcheong Province in English, is located in the mid-western portion of South Korea. Chungcheongnam-do has a total population of 2,121,029, which makes it the fourth largest province based on population. But based on area alone, it’s the third smallest province at 8,204 km2. Hongseong is the capital of the province, and nearly a third of the province’s population is located in Cheonan at 689,000 people.
Chungcheongnam-do was first established in 1896 with the division of Chungcheong-do Province. During Japanese Colonization, Chungcheongnam-do was known as Chuseinan-do from 1910 to 1945. Chungcheongnam-do borders the province of Gyeonggi-do to the north, Chungcheongbuk-do, Sejong Special Autonomous City, and Daejeon to the east, Jeollabuk-do to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west.
Previously, Daejeon was the largest city in Chungcheongnam-do until becoming a Metropolitan City in 1989. And in early 2007, Korea decided to create a special administrative district out of a part of the present Chungcheongnam-do near Daejeon. This new district was called Sejong Special Self-Governing City. Originally, it was meant to replace Seoul as the capital, but it changed after some legal wrangling. Now Sejong acts as a National Administrative Capital and a secondary capital alongside Seoul. Sejong is home to 36 government ministers and agencies including the Prime Minister’s office since 2015.
With the separation of Daejeon and Sejong, these moves helped decrease the overall population of Chungcheongnam-do significantly. Now, Chungcheongnam-do is divided into 8 cities, which are known as “si” in Korean, and 7 additional counties, which are known as “gun.” Aside from Cheonan, which is the largest city in the province, the second largest city is Asan with a population of 283,000 people. The smallest of Chungcheongnam-do’s cities is Gyeryong at nearly 41,000 people. As for the largest county, it’s the capital of Chungcheongnam-do, Hongseong-gun (89,174). The smallest of the counties in the province is Cheongyang at just over 32,000 people.
Religiously, and as of 2015, the majority of people in Chungcheongnam-do are irreligious at 59.6%. The second largest religious group is Christianity at 26.8% (20.7% Protestant and 6.1% Catholic). The third largest group is Buddhism at 13.8%. And the fourth largest group, at 0.8%, are other religions like shamanism.
Chungcheongnam-do is home to a number of historic temples, some of which are located in Gyeryongsan National Park. These temples include Gapsa Temple, Sinwonsa Temple and Donghaksa Temple. Other historic temples in the province are Sudeoksa Temple in Yesan, Magoksa Temple in Gongju, and Gwanchoksa Temple in Nonsan. Another interesting temple, that’s a bit more modern in flavor, is Gakwonsa Temple in Cheonan. These are but a few of the amazing temples in Chungcheongnam-do. Below are even more Buddhist temples in this scenic province.
1. Magoksa Temple – 마곡사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do): 9.5/10
2. Sudeoksa Temple – 수덕사 (Yesan,Chungcheongnam-do): 9/10
3. Gakwonsa Temple – 각원사 (Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do): 8.5/10
4. Donghaksa Temple – 동학사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do): 8.5/10
5. Gapsa Temple – 갑사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do): 8.5/10
6. Gwanchoksa Temple – 관촉사 (Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do): 8.5/10
7. Janggoksa Temple – 장곡사 (Cheongyang, Chungcheongnam-do): 8/10
8. Gaesimsa Temple – 개심사 (Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do): 8/10
9. Sinwonsa Temple – 신원사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do): 8/10
10. Daejosa Temple – 대조사 (Buyeo, Chungcheongnam-do): 8/10
11. Banyasa Temple – 반야사 (Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do): 8/10
12. Muryangsa Temple – 무량사 (Buyeo, Chungcheongnam-do): 7.5/10
13. Ganwolam Hermitage – 간월암 (Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do): 7/10
14. Anmyeonam Hermitage – 안면암 (Taean, Chungcheongnam-do): 7/10
15. The Rock-Carved Buddha Triad in Yonghyeon-ri – 용현리 마애여래삼존상 (Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do): 7/10
16. Seongjusa-ji Temple Site – 성주사지 (Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do): 7/10
17. Jeongnimsa-ji Temple Site – 정림사지 (Buyeo, Chungcheongnam-do): 7/10
18. Cheonjangsa Temple – 천장사 (Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do): 6/10
19. Bowonsa-ji Temple Site – 보원사지 (Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do): 6/10
20. Anguksa-ji Temple Site – 안국사지 (Dangjin, Chungcheongnam-do): 6/10
21. Geumryongam Hermitage – 금룡암 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do): 5/10