• Gyeongsangnam-do

    Bokcheonjeongsa Temple – 복천정사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History It’s not often that you find an abandoned Korean Buddhist temple. When you do, it’s a haunting reminder of the passage of time and that time waits for no one and nothing. In my time in Korea, and during my travels to some five hundred temples, I think I’ve only ever encountered three abandoned Korean Buddhist temples. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do is located high up on Mt. Togoksan (855 m) about two hundred metres below the peak. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple formerly belonged to the Cheontae-jong Order. And the temple appears to have been abandoned some time around 2014, probably with the passing of the head monk at Bokcheonjeongsa…

  • 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…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Cheonbulsa Temple – 천불사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Cheonbulsa Temple is located to the north-east of Mt. Yongcheonsan (544.7 m) in the eastern part of Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. The name of the temple means “Heavenly Buddha Temple” in English, and it was originally constructed in 1974. Cheonbulsa Temple’s name refers to the energy of the temple that it gets from the heavenly realm of Tushita. When the head monk at Cheonbulsa Temple wanted to build a temple, he held a memorial service for one thousand days in a cave at Yaksuam Hermitage near Baekyangsa Temple in Gwangju. During this memorial service, the head monk received a divine revelation. In this revelation, he learned that he should find…

  • Busan

    Haeinjeongsa Temple – 해인정사 (Saha-gu, Busan)

    Temple History Haeinjeongsa Temple is located in Saha-gu, Busan. It’s located on the lower south-western slopes of Mt. Gudeoksan (545.3 m). Haeinjeongsa Temple is a modern temple. It first started being built in August, 1999. It has an overall size of 5,000 pyeong, or nearly 16,529 square metres. The first of the temple structures to be built was the main hall, the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, which started to be built in June, 2000. And the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall was completed in 2003. In total, there are half a dozen temple shrine halls for visitors to explore at Haeinjeongsa Temple. Temple Layout To get to the temple, you’ll first need to ascend a…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Yeoyeojeongsa Temple – 여여정사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Yeoyeojeongsa Temple is located on the western slopes of Mt. Geumosan (766.1 m) in southern Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. The name of the temple means “Watch, Listen, and Act With a Still Mind Temple” in English. The head monk at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple first opened a temple in Busan in 1995. He called this temple Yeoyeoseonwon Temple. Then, in 2005, he bought some land in Miryang, where he decided to build Yeoyeojeongsa Temple. And it would take a decade and a half to complete the temple. Temple Layout As you make your way up to the temple parking lot, you’ll pass by four stone statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. Having…

  • Busan

    Wonhyodae Temple – 원효대 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    Temple History Wonhyodae Temple is located in Gijang-gun in eastern Busan. Wonhyodae Temple is located up a long valley just to the south-east of Mt. Daleumsan (588.1 m). Wonhyodae Temple is named after the famous monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.), who lived and taught in this part of Busan during the 7th century. In fact, it’s believed that Wonhyodae Temple is located near what was a Silla-era temple named Chwijeongsa Temple, which no longer exists, but was founded by Wonhyo-daesa. And just to the east lies the much smaller Daedosa Temple. The temple site for Wonhyodae Temple is quite large at nearly 8,000 m2. It was first founded in October, 1898.…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gwanchoksa Temple – 관촉사 (Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Temple History Gwanchoksa Temple in Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do is located on the diminutive slopes of Mt. Banyasan (100 m). The temple was first founded in 968 A.D., at the start of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), by the monk Hyemyeong-daesa. The temple was rebuilt several times throughout the centuries. And the history of the temple is intermingled with several myths and legends. Gwanchoksa Temple is home to a National Treasure and a Korean Treasure. The National Treasure is the Standing Stone Mireuk-bosal Statue of Gwanchoksa Temple, which is also known as the Eunjin Mireuk Statue. For the longest of times, it was known as a Korean Treasure, Korean Treasure #218. Then in…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Nammireuksa Temple – 남미륵사 (Gangjin, Jeollanam-do)

    Temple History Located in Gangjin, Jeollanam-do, and surrounded by farms, the name Nammireuksa Temple means “South Future Buddha Temple” in English. First founded in 1980 by the monk Seok Heung, the temple doesn’t belong to any of the three prominent Buddhist Orders in Korea; namely, Jogye, Cheontae, or Taego. Instead, it belongs to the Saegye Buddhist Order. This order is so small, in fact, that it isn’t even officially recognized by the Korean government. The sect seems to have been established in the late 20th century as a breakaway from the predominant Jogye-jong Order. Temple Layout The temple grounds are broken up into three main temple courtyards that are, rather…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Ilbungsa Temple – 일붕사 (Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Ilbungsa Temple is located in the rural and remote Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do. And just to the south-west, you’ll find Mt. Seonamsan (528 m). For a Korean Buddhist temple, Ilbungsa Temple is uniquely situated next to the Yugok-cheon River in front of a sheer rock cliff wall. In 727 A.D., the monk Hyecho returned to the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) from a Buddhist pilgrimage to both China and India. During his travels, Hyecho had a dream in which Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) appeared. Jijang-bosal appeared in the Buddhist monk’s dream, while smiling peacefully on a cliff surrounded by rocks of fantastic shapes and sizes. In…

  • Busan

    Anjeoksa Temple – 안적사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    Temple History Anjeoksa Temple was founded by Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) in the first year of King Munmu of Silla’s reign in 661 A.D. to the west of Mt. Gamdimsan (308.4 m) in Gijang-gun, Busan. There is no early documented history about Anjeoksa Temple besides who founded it. With that being said, there is writing indicating that the temple was once named Unbongsa Temple. Also, there is architectural evidence at Anjeoksa Temple of a stone pagoda, roof tiles, earthenware, and more on the grounds, which points to the fact that Anjeoksa Temple existed at the end of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) and/or the start of the Goryeo…