The “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong” is located in central Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the north of a trainyard and to the east of Homeplus. This brick pagoda is believed to have once belonged to Beomninsa Temple, which was written about in a couple of sources. One of these records is the “Dongguk yeoji seungnam – Augumented Survey of the Geography of Korea,” which was written in 1481. Another source is the “Yeonggaji – Record of the Andong Region,” which was written in 1608. According to the “Yeonggaji – Record of the Andong Region,” the brick pagoda at Beomnimsa Temple was a seven-story structure. As a result, historians believe that the current five-story structure differs greatly from its original design. It’s believed that this change in the brick pagoda’s design took place some time during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) during a major repair of the structure. The “Yeonggaji – Record of the Andong Region” also states that there used to be a gilt-bronze finial atop the “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong,” similar to the “Seven-story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site” also in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. However, the finial atop this seven-story brick pagoda was stolen by soldiers of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) right after the Japanese invasion of the Korean Peninsula during the Imjin War (1592-1598). The brick pagoda was further damaged during the Korean War (1950-53). It was finally restored in 1962.
The “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong, Andong” is Korean Treasure #56.
The “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong, Andong” is situated on a compact tract of land in central Andong. When you first approach this 8.35 metre tall brick pagoda, you’ll notice that the bricks aren’t uniform in colour. Each brick measures 27.5 cm in length, 12.5 cm in width, and 6 cm thick. Each story of the brick pagoda has a niche opening that formerly housed a statue of the Buddha. On the southern side of the structure, on the other hand, you’ll find that the second story of the structure houses a stone panel of reliefs dedicated to two temple guardians. The width of the eaves to each story are rather short in size compared to other stone pagodas. The simple reason for this is the use of brick instead of set stone. There are black roof tiles that adorn each of the five stories of the structure. These roof tiles are made of wood. And the roof design with niches is meant to emulate a wooden pagoda. Unfortunately all that now adorns the top of the pagoda is the base to the missing bronze finial.
The only other structure still in place at the former Beomnimsa-ji Temple Site is the “Flagpole Supports in Unheung-dong, Andong” to the west of the historic brick pagoda. These flagpole supports date back to Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.), and these flagpole supports measure 2.6 metres in height. The upper part of the supports were partially damaged during the Korean War (1950-53).
How To Get There
From the Andong bus terminal bus stop, you’ll need to take either Bus #210, Bus #211, Bus #212, or Bus #410. In fact, there are quite a few buses that go in the direction of the “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong, Andong” from the bus terminal. You’ll need to get off at the “Kyobo Saeng-myeong” bus stop. The bus ride will take about 25 to 30 minutes. The brick pagoda is to the southeast and behind the neighbouring Homeplus.
But if public transportation isn’t your thing, you can simply take a taxi from the Andong bus terminal. It’ll take 15 minutes, or 5.7 km, and it’ll cost you about 6,000 won.
Overall Rating: 4/10
The “Five-Story Brick Pagoda in Unheung-dong, Andong” is only one of a dozen historical brick pagodas in Korea. And while it’s tucked away, and a bit hidden, it’s one of the most beautiful pagodas you’ll find at a temple site. It’s quite large in size and has subtleties to its overall design like the stone guardian reliefs on the south side of the structure and the niches on all four sides of the structure. Also accompanying the historic brick pagoda on the temple site is the flagpole supports to the west. It’s definitely well-worth a visit the next time you’re in central Andong.