• Gyeongsangnam-do,  Tongdosa

    Seochukam Hermitage – 서축암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Seochukam Hermitage is located on the Tongdosa Temple grounds in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do in the southern foothills of Mt. Yeongchuksan (1,082.2 m). Seochukam Hermitage is one of nearly twenty hermitages on the Tongdosa Temple grounds; in fact, it’s just 150 metres away from neighbouring Jajangam Hermitage. The hermitage was first founded by the monk Wolha in 1996. In total, there are only a handful of buildings on the hermitage grounds. Hermitage Layout You first make your way up to the hermitage up a long, forested roadway, until you eventually come to the hermitage parking lot south of the walled-off grounds. To the right of the hermitage parking lot, you’ll…

  • Artwork

    Mulgogi – Fish: 물고기

    Introduction It’s rather interesting that you see so many fish at Korean Buddhist temples, especially since there is no direct connection between fish and Buddhism. Additionally, fish were never objects of worship in Buddhism, as well. An argument has been made that the reason that fish exist at temples, whether it’s as a painting, a wind chime, or carp swimming around a temple pond, is that they are meant to remind practitioners to remain vigilant and focused on their practice. The reason for this belief is that it’s thought that fish never sleep. While this is one interpretation, there are several other interpretations concerning the fish you might see at…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bulgulsa Temple – 불굴사 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Bulgulsa Temple, which means “Buddha Cave Temple” in English, is located to the north of Mt. Muhaksan (588.4 m) in northern Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Purportedly, Bulgulsa Temple was first constructed in 690 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). But this would be rather difficult, since Wonhyo-daesa died in 686 A.D. After its initial founding, very little is known about the temple’s history. However, it’s believed that at the height of its popularity, there were 50 buildings housed at the temple, as well as 12 hermitages directly associated with Bulgulsa Temple up until the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In 1723, Bulgulsa Temple was reconstructed; however, it was largely damaged…

  • Artwork

    Koggiri – The Elephant: 코끼리

    Introduction While perhaps not as common as tigers or dragons in Korean Buddhist artwork, the image of elephants is still quite prevalent. Whether it’s on stupas, paintings, or sculptures, the elephant can be seen at Korean temples if you look close enough. History of Elephants in Buddhism According to a Buddhist legend, one night during a full moon, and while sleeping at the palace of her husband Śuddhodana, the queen, Queen Maya had a vivid dream. In this dream, she felt carried away by the Four Heavenly Kings to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas. After being bathed in the lake by the Four Heavenly Kings, the four kings clothed the…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Jangnaksa Temple – 장락사 (Jecheon, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Temple History Jangnaksa Temple is located in the eastern part of Jecheon, Chungcheongbuk-do in the western foothills of Mt. Wangbaksan (597.5 m). Jangnaksa Temple was first built during the Three Kingdoms of Korea Period (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). In total, Jangnaksa Temple was rebuilt a total of five times, and it was a prosperous temple during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The temple remained as a fully functioning temple until the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The temple would eventually fall into disrepair in the 17th century. For the longest time, all that remained of the temple was the “Seven-Story Stone Brick Pagoda in Jangnak-dong,” which is Korean Treasure #459. It isn’t…

  • Artwork

    Yeonggot – The Lotus Flower: 연꽃

    The Lotus Flower and Korea In Korean Buddhism, and Buddhism more broadly, the lotus flower is arguably the most popular symbol used. In Korean Buddhism, it can appear almost anywhere including in paintings, latticework, altars, nimbus, mandorla, statues, bells and pedestals. In general, the lotus flower is associated with faithfulness, spiritual awakening, and purity. Additionally, the lotus flower is also known to symbolize purity of speech, body, and of the mind. The reason for this is that the lotus flower emerges from the muddy and murky water perfectly clean. This symbolism is manifested in the purity of the enlightened mind rising above the muddy midst of the suffering of Samsara.…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Jukjangsa Temple – 죽장사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Jukjangsa Temple is located below Hyeongje-bong Peak (532 m) in northern Gumi, Gyeongsangnangbuk-do. Jukjangsa Temple is a branch temple of Jikjisa Temple and belongs to the Jogye-jong Order. The temple is believed to have first been founded during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). However, the exact date of its founding and by whom are unknown. Additionally, very little is known about the temple’s history until the start of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), when the temple was recorded as Jukjangsa Temple in the 29th volume of the “Sinjeungdong-gukyeoseungram” in 1530. So obviously, Jukjangsa Temple existed and was operating at this time. Eventually, however, the temple would…

  • Artwork

    Moran – The Peony: 모란

    Introduction Next to the lotus flower, arguably the second most popular flower you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the peony, which is known as “moran – 모란” in Korean. The peony represents loyalty, prosperity, beauty, good fortune, and wealth. Additionally, while the lotus flower is symbolic of spiritual growth within Buddhism, the peony is associated with religious nobility and dignity. In addition to peonies appearing alone at Korean Buddhist temples, they can also be joined by other flowers like the rose. If a peony and a rose appear together in a Buddhist painting, this is meant to symbolize wealth, honour, and a long spring. However, if a peony…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Deoksansa Temple (Naewonsa Temple) – 덕산사 (Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Deoksansa Temple, which was formerly known as Naewonsa Temple, is located in the eastern part of Jirisan National Park in Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do. Deoksansa Temple was first established in 657 A.D. purportedly by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). The temple was later reconstructed by Muyeom-guksa (801-888 A.D.) during the ninth century. It was at this time that the temple was quite popular thanks in large part to Muyeom-guksa’s influence and reputation. It was at this time that the temple was originally known as Deoksansa Temple only to be changed to Naewonsa Temple during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). Naewonsa Temple means “Inner House Temple” in English. During the Confucian-oriented…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Yunpilam Hermitage – 윤필암 (Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Hermitage History Yunpilam Hermitage is located on the Daeseungsa Temple grounds in Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The hermitage is located to the west of Daeseungsa Temple and Mt. Gongdeoksan (914.5 m). According to the “History of Daeseungsa Temple,” Yunpilam Hermitage was first founded in 1380 by the monk Gakgwan. However, the “Record of Yunpilam Hermitage” states that the temple was founded by the monk Gakgwan and Lady Kim, who was the wife of the civil official Kim Deuk-bae. The hermitage was later rebuilt by the monks Seojo and Takjam in 1645. In 1862, there was a fire at the hermitage that completely destroyed all the buildings at Yunpilam Hermitage. In 1885, and…